Sunday, February 17, 2008


To the theatre for closing night. A nice lively crowd to send the play on its way. Resisted the temptation to snap off a bit of Richard Foxton's set to take home. A few (more) drinks. Farewells. Six weeks gone in a flash. And today? Well, the usual. I'll spare you my inner turmoil. Life goes on. I need to knuckle down and write another play.

I wrote the following for the official blog but it didn't get used. So, for posterity...

The first draft of On A Shout was written in February 2007 and the next 11 months in the run up to rehearsals were spent thinking about redrafting, talking about redrafting and, on rare occasions, actually redrafting.

There comes a point when the writing's done. Certainly by the third day of rehearsals I had become a spare part, sat watching on the sidelines as director Gareth Tudor Price and the cast of On A Shout took ownership of the play that had once been just a few scraps of paper on my cramped computer desk. Yes, there was the odd question that I was expected to answer and did so unconvincingly, trying to remember what various RNLI crew had told me, but there was nothing really that I could do by this stage, other than say daft, unhelpful things like “wow!”, get in the way or eat a slice of Ed Peel's many and varied cakes (Ed loves his baking and, more importantly, sharing the end results). I witnessed Richard Foxton's rugged set being built but, again, you don't want a soft-handed writer hanging about when there's timber to be crafted. So I left them all to it.

And then it came: The play's opening. There are many things to fear on opening night. I mean, cripes, my mother was in and she'd not read the warnings about the strong language. There are jokes in On A Shout but would anyone laugh? Would they laugh and feel inclined to rustle their sweet wrappers during the serious bits? And what would them pesky critics think? The anxious, alarmist in me (you may have seen him heading straight to the bar that night) also panicked that tonight was the night that the play would be watched by Humber Lifeboat coxswain Dave Steenvoorden.

The good – no, great – news is that all went according to plan and Dave, bless the fella, told us that he'd enjoyed every minute. “You were bloody listening to everything you bugger,” Dave told me as we said our goodbyes before he was whisked back to Spurn and his ongoing life as a real hero on that thankless spit of land. “And you've bloody used it all too.” I'm eternally grateful to the crew and families at Spurn who were so giving and generous when I was researching On A Shout, sharing their anecdotes and inner thoughts freely with me and not having me carted away from Spurn Point for “observing” them too much. They're an amazing bunch of people and I hope that they all feel happy with the end result and that we did them proud.

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