2017 April AGM and meeting report

Sussex Playwrights 82nd AGM April 2017

AGM minutes currently being checked and will be published shortly.

Members’ News

Judy Upton – half hour play Tough Times, Difficult Decisions is performed at the Jermyn St Theatre London next week Tuesday and Wednesday

Christine Foster – Mixed Doubles II is performed at the Coach House Rottingdean 20-22 April

Simon Moorhead – Producing a new play Protect and Survive at the Brighton Fringe – a warning note on the nuclear Pandora’s Box and the current world situation, inspired by BBC 1980s play Threads. Directed by Thomas Everchild, featuring Philippa Hammond and a cast of actors from the area. Tickets are going fast. 9-15 May 5.30pm at Sweet St Andrews’ Waterloo Street

Jenny Rowe – Maydays present three improvised plays inspired by Tim Burton at the Warren 18-20 May

See details of all news in Brighton Fringe brochure www.brightonfringe.org

We’re busy joining the dots between Sussex Playwrights, Brighton Actors Networking, Shooting People, Brighton Film Makers Coalition and TBC Audio, to make Brighton a force to be reckoned with.

Part two of the April meeting featured an entertaining performance from Doug Devaney and Ross Gurney-Randall – an excerpt from their Fringe show, followed by Q and A and audience discussion.

Review by Simon Jenner:

Ross and Doug Present Scenes From The Life And Death Of Lord Haw Haw, Britain’s Most Patriotic Traitor

Ross Gurney-Randall and Doug Devaney gave an extraordinarily spirited series of excerpts from their play about William Joyce. Scenes might be too delicate and (dis)respectful of the deconstruction we were offered. This may be a chronological survey of a chronically unpleasant man but we’re not going to be dragged through decades forwards when backwards is more fun.Nevertheless in these snapshots of a man’s early life a glimmering of motive is more than nudged.

Gurney-Randall makes it clear he doesn’t want to be William Joyce so we’re not left guessing about who’s been foisted onto the role. That name rings – yes it’s the traitor Lord Haw-Haw. Think National Theatre of Brent meets Gurney-Randall’s take on traitors: remember his way with them in A Private Audience With Henry VIII in 2015’s Fringe?

Joyce was born of Irish parents in 1906, but in the USA; Joyce however is never registered as an American, which would have been useful later on. When they relocate to Ireland the Civil War pushes Joyce in 1921 to take the British side, and one scene has a couple of edgily stage Irishmen arguing whether to kill a fifteen-year old informer or not. Sad choice. The Joyce family now marked decamp fast, and Joyce grows up moving to the far right politically. He’s several times taken and renewed British passports and indeed doesn’t take up a German one till it’s war, in 1940, which by then is a treacherous act. On such stretches of law stretch necks. At this point we broke off.

Gurney-Randall’s avuncular menace is wondrously suited to all kind of shock savagery, and one laments he’ll only be a hangman once here, he’s clearly born for such roles. In this one he’s also the fact-finder, the obsessively accurate would-be historian, countering Devaney’s wayward sprite and continual carpings. Devaney’s thoroughly shifty and argumentative, and their timing in fact is superb. Devaney starts a grievance rolling and Gurney-Randall tosses it back harrumphing.

Devaney’s role is to tell truth but tell it slant, thus disrupt the action because his disruptive imagination challenges Gurney-Randall‘s neatly linear sense of things. This is where the personalities of story-tellers a la Brent disrupts the characters the storytellers interrupt themselves playing. A continual sense of overhearing is cardinal to the show, one that one hopes can never quite manage to conclude. It’ll leave us dangling though for the main event.

Easily one of the most spirited run-throughs I’ve seen, it was more than a free preview and after-event talk. Sussex Playwrights continues its upward path, enlivening itself with events like these.

Simon Jenner

Next meeting

Our Brighton Festival-time event on May 7th features the playwright, screenwriter and novelist William Nicholson in conversation on writing for stage, page and screen. [Shadowlands / Gladiator / Les Miserables].

Website: www.williamnicholson.com

IMDB entry: www.imdb.com/name/nm0629933/