Swallows is the second show brought to the Old Fire Station by Oxford-based company Living The Drama. It’s here 23 & 24 March. Company member Stephanie Connell tells us more about how the play came about…
Sipping tea and chatting as close friends, the Creative Team at Living the Drama finally got down to business to discuss its future aims. Carolyn Lloyd-Davies founded Living the Drama, a not for profit theatre company, in April 2015 and her play Silent on the Matter was produced at the Old Fire Station not long after.
Let me introduce the team before I rattle on. We are Carolyn, Jo Boston, David Travaskis and myself. The four of us are a natural fit and with the combination of all our talent, we wanted to put it to good use. What innovative and creative idea could we come up with to broaden Living the Drama’s horizons? With the teapot empty, pads scrawled with numerous action points, we finally got there.
One objective was to start a playwriting course in Oxford. It would be different; it would be for anyone 50 and above. Other courses lean heavily towards younger people, why couldn’t new writing be from older people? We saw a gap and felt “it’s never too late to create”. We also wanted to prove that age is not a barrier to creativity – we’ve all lived the dramas of life. What wonderful fodder to put fingers to keyboard; potential tenderness, conflicts, secrets, love, betrayal and more.
The other objective was to hold a competition for the best written play by the course members and to professionally produce it at the Old Fire Station in Spring 2017.
With that in mind, we contacted Tricia Brant of AgeUK Oxfordshire, who thought it was a marvellous idea and gave us enormous support. We held our first course in May 2016, it was fully booked. It proved to be so successful; members didn’t want to stop but continue onto the next level and named their group, Third Act. When the second course finished, its members became part of Third Act.
Third Act scribbled away finishing off their scripts whilst the team started crowd funding and ended up raising well over £4,000. By December, 11 plays were submitted to the independent judging panel, which consisted of Anna Glynn, joint Artistic Director of Flintlock Theatre, Lucy Maycock, Artistic Director of The North Wall Arts Centre and David Trevaskis, our Creative Director. The panel deliberated on a very difficult decision, and finally Bob Whorton’s play Swallows was chosen, based on the quality of his writing, the compelling story line and the contemporary nature of the play. Bob, a hospice chaplain at Sobel House, wrote what he knew about.
Swallows is set a few years into the future and probes the impact of a controversial new law, demanding all hospices, hospitals and residential homes provide a suitable ‘dying room’ for those who wish to end their lives. The play explores with sensitivity the choices facing Professor Raymond Parker and the conflict which exists between the different ethical and emotional viewpoints of his son and the medical profession.
Some of the other plays submitted will have Rehearsed Readings at local residential homes around Oxford in May and October 2017.
This is such an exciting community project; we are all very involved behind the scenes and for some, this is a totally new experience altogether.
Rehearsals are in full swing as I write this, with Michael E Curran, Richard Matthews, Patsy Prince and Katharine Moraz being directed by David Travaskis.
We hope you enjoy Swallows. The professional cast, director and stage designer make Bob’s moving script leap off the page – we’re proud to be part of Third Act’s journey into the creative world of theatre.