We arranged the room in such a way that it would be easy to fit everyone in, depending on how many writers would turn up. This was an unknown quantity. Under the eclectic mix of different sized tables, we discovered the beautiful wooden skittle alley: a secret world lurking beneath painted plywood covers.
At this point shouts from the main bar indicated a football match was under way. Would the noise detract, or add to, the creative atmosphere in the room? Meanwhile, David tacked to the wall 3 sheets of A1 paper….
In the end 14 writers appeared. All of them had, with one exception, come to one of our taster writing sessions.
To start the evening David explained that the outcome of these sessions was to produce a piece of work for the actors to perform on May 20th here at the King’s Arms. He challenged everyone to try and write in a different way from their normal style or in a different genre. We discussed the group dynamic, and everyone stuck a post-it note (hooray for post-it notes) onto 2 large pieces of paper stating what they felt they ‘Can’ do in these sessions, and also what they felt they ‘Can’t’ do. In this way David can ascertain the hopes and fears of the group and prepare the sessions accordingly.
Next, using the third large piece of paper (and a fat pen), David listed the differences between prose, poems and theatre writing, with a large circle in the middle for where they cross over. Then he sent the writers off to explore the pub, inside and out, to think about the performance and to ask themselves the question “What if….”
Here is a selection of some of them:
1. What if the bar was full of drunks swearing.
2. What if TV hadn’t been invented.
3. What if Big Brother was watching us.
4. What if the four men in the bar drinking cider were murderers.
This opened up a discussion about how we could use all the different spaces, and in what ways, for the final performance.
Time for a group poem. David wrote the word ‘Somerset’ on a piece of paper, and we all came up with two words that we associate with that word. He wrote them down creating a word-hoard. Next we all wrote a line using two words from the word-hoard (not your own). We then read them out one by one around the circle to produce our first group poem about Somerset. It worked. The repetition of the phrase “Mendip mist” brilliantly linked the poem together. Read the transcription…
Finally, David spoke about 8 different ways to think about ‘place’. He explained the differences between topography, architecture, geography, location, site and environment in terms of writing. Then he spoke about the dynamic of a space; where is the risk/threat? Lastly, he asked what is the metaphor for the space?
With all these questions still mulling in our heads, the session was over. For homework David suggested we set ourselves our own writing target, and spend half an hour working towards it.
I realised the loud football enthusiasts had not infringed on the evening, in fact they had enhanced the experience of writing in a pub. They were the pub.
I am intrigued to know a) How many of these 14 will come back next week. b) How many will do the homework. c) What creative gems will be produced for our performance on 20th May?