Five playwrights brand-new plays have been selected for performance by Newport Playgoers Society at Newport’s Dolman Theatre this spring.
The plays are the winners of a one act playwriting competition held by the society in 2020 when the theatre was closed during lockdown. The prize for the five winners is the production of their scripts now that the theatre is open to the public again.
“The judges were absolutely thrilled at the high standard of work submitted to this competition, as well as the sheer range of topics and approaches,” says competition judge Kevin Myers.
“It’s always a joy to read new work, and we’re certain our audience will very much enjoy the final selection. You’ll get to meet some great new characters and there’s a blend of poignancy, fantasy – and even a soupcon of local history, all brought together in celebration of creativity.
“We gathered via Zoom to discuss all the plays submitted, and so we too are looking forward immensely to seeing them brought to life, finally, on the Dolman stage.”
The Balloon Girls by Adele Cordner
The Balloon Girls by Adele Cordner is set in Belle Vue Park in Newport one September night in 1940. It is based on the true story of a barrage balloon squadron that brought down a World War Two German bomber but with tragic, unexpected consequences. Adele is a published poet and playwright from Newport who recently had a short play performed by Dirty Protest as part of Newport Rising.
“When I discovered this story, I really wanted to dramatise it,” says Adele. “I think it’s an important piece of Newport history which I would like more people to know about.
Thanks For Listening Grandad by Niamh Jones
Niamh Jones’ play Thanks For Listening Grandad follows an eccentric young woman as she adapts to her grandfather’s terminal illness by talking to him whilst he is in a coma.
Niamh is 17 and studying for her A Levels at St Joseph’s RC High School. She is delighted to be one of the winning playwrights. “I’ve always enjoyed creative writing, poems especially, but until the announcement of the one act play competition, I hadn’t considered ever writing a play,” says Niamh. “I’ve definitely caught the playwriting bug and hope to write more in future!”
Plagued By Doubt by Julia Lewis
Julia Lewis’ play, Plagued By Doubt, is a comedy set in London as it faces the ravages of the bubonic plague.
Julia is a doctor as well as a successful local playwright whose work has been produced by Theatre AdHoc and Dramatic Moose, among others. Her performance piece about the beginnings of the NHS was performed as part of the Man Engine Tour and the Aneurin Bevan Festival in Tredegar.
“As a doctor myself, I have an interest in ancient medicine and how our forefather’s understood illness and its development,” says Julia. “The current pandemic is clearly not the first in history and this led me to explore the idea of a comedy that combined contemporary references with the primitive medicine of the time.”
Windows by Alice Lynch
Alice Lynch’s winning play, Windows is set in an isolation hotel at the beginning of the pandemic. Four strangers must isolate in a hotel room where the walls are so thin, they hear everything their neighbour says. With nothing to do, they strike up a conversation and discover things about each other with unexpected consequences.
Alice, an award-winning playwright from Dublin co-founded The Moogles Theatre Company in 2011 to produce and promote new writing by women. In 2017, Alice was awarded Best New Playwright at The All Ireland One Act Finals with Shooting Stars which she also directed.
“Like everyone else, when lockdown began, I felt like my world had come crashing down,” Alice says. “Adjusting to a world without theatre or any other social outlets was difficult, until I considered how other people may be experiencing the same lockdown.”
Drawing The Line by Ross Salvage
Also presented at the festival will be Drawing the Line by Ross Salvage. A retired primary school teacher from Cross Keys, Ross now lives in Llangattock. He started writing in his spare time 20 years ago, having comedy sketches performed for two review shows, Newsrevue and The Treason Show. Since then, he has focused on script writing, reaching the last ten in the ITV Wales ‘It’s My Shout’ screenplay competition.
“Drawing the Line is a comedy drama about Amy, a fastidiously tidy woman in her forties, who unexpectedly finds she has a stepsister,” says Ross. “This is revealed in her father’s last will and testament. Carys, a fastidiously untidy twenty-something has been left half the flat Amy lives in. It turns out that Carys is down on her luck and is homeless. But not anymore!
How To See The Winning One-Act Plays At The Dolman Theatre
The five winning plays will be performed at Newport’s Dolman Theatre over two weeks in groups of three and two plays. Firstly, The Balloon Girls, Thanks for Listening Grandad and Plagued By Doubt will run from Tuesday 23rd until Friday 25th March 2022 at 7:15pm, with a matinee on Saturday 26th March at 2pm.
Windows and Drawing The Line will open on Wednesday 6th April and run until Friday 8th April at 7:15pm with a matinee on Saturday 9th April at 2pm.
- To book tickets visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk or call 01633 263670.