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Your First Radio Play  -  Writing for Children  -  and Angels

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The following is the beginning of the first play by Lee Hall who went on to write Spoonface Steinberg, a famous radio play, and the film Billy Elliot.

He has a particular gift for writing for children.  He listens to how they speak and he keeps their sentences short so that they can pick the words off the page and act unselfconsciously and naturalistically.

In the following delightful excerpt - in this production - would you know that Gabriel is an angel?  Try reading it yourself, possibly casting the role of Gabriel differently.

I Luv U Jimmy Spud by Lee Hall

Notice how the first scene is a "curtain raiser" and how the announcement comes at the end of this scene.

GABRIEL: Now just a few questions.  I have to ask you to consider the answers carefully.  Although this is not a formal examination your answers will be taken into account during the final decision making process.  The pass rate is 70%.  Are you ready?
GABRIEL: Are you ready?
JIMMY: Er. yes.
GABRIEL: Okay, I'll begin.  General knowledge.  Who was the first President of the United States of America?
JIMMY: George Washington the first.
GABRIEL: Where did Judas Iscariot kiss Jesus Christ?
GABRIEL: I'm going to have to hurry you.
JIMMY: Er.  On the nose.
GABRIEL: Gethsemane.  Arithmetic.  If it takes four men four hours to dig a hole four feet by four feel, how long will it take two men to dig the same hole, two by two?
JIMMY: One hour fifty minutes.
GABRIEL: Theology.  Does God exist?
GABRIEL: I'm going to have to hurry you on this one.
JIMMY: Yes.  No.  Pass.
GABRIEL: Relativity.  Which is lighter a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?
JIMMY: A pound of lead.
GABRIEL: Which is better to have loved and lost or never to have loved at all.
JIMMY: To love at all.
GABRIEL: Which famous author on entering the United States of America said I have nothing to declared except my genius?
JIMMY: Oscar Wilde.
GABRIEL: Who put the bop in the bop showop de bop?
JIMMY: Rocky Sharpe and the Replays.
GABRIEL: Is the redemption of the proletariat in Marx through the transformative power of labour merely a teleological mystification or does it have real claims to a materialist theology?
JIMMY: Er.  Yes.
GABRIEL: If I spat in your face would you turn the other cheek?
JIMMY: What?
GABRIEL: Genealogy.  Which came first the chicken or the egg?
JIMMY: The egg.
GABRIEL: The chicken.  Eschatology.  Does the contradiction in monotheistic systems of thought between agency and determination pose a problem for the notion of a redemptive after life?
JIMMY: Pass.
GABRIEL: If you had all the money in the world, what would you do?
JIMMY: Buy things and give the rest away.
GABRIEL: If you had one wish, what would it be?
JIMMY: Oh!?!
GABRIEL: You are shipwrecked on a desert island, which ten records would you choose to have with you.  In descending order of preferences
JIMMY: Bohemian Rhapsody by Freddie Mercury.  Erm?
GABRIEL: I'm going to have to hurry you.
JIMMY: That one by Ultravox.
GABRIEL: Sorry time up.
JIMMY: Can I go to the loo now?
GABRIEL: You'll have to wait until the end of the assessment.
JIMMY: How did I do?
ANNOUNCER: "I Luv U Jimmy Spud" by Lee Hall.

   Notes to actors:

The excellent performances in the above are achieved by bearing some of the following in mind:
  1. Are you a generous actor?
  2. If you are a man with a naturally deep projecting voice, do you upstage your female or child fellow actor's lighter, less prominent voice?
  3. Should you lower your voice or edge away a little from the microphone to compensate?
  4. On the other hand do you upstage yourself by looking down at your script, losing your higher registers, sounding muffled and appearing to be talking in a paper box?

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We recommend the following, which can ordered from Amazon.co.uk :

We also recommend the following radio scripts: Polaris by Fay Weldon in Best Radio Plays of 1978, I Never Killed My German and Of the Levitation at St Michael's by Carey Harrison in A Suffolk Trilogy, The Village Fete by Peter Tinniswood in Best Radio Plays of 1987, Cigarettes and Chocolate by Anthony Minghella in Best Radio Plays of 1988, Death and the Tango by John Fletcher and Song of the Forest by Tina Pepler in Best Radio Plays of 1990 and In the Native State by Tom Stoppard in Best Radio Plays of 1991.  Sadly some of these scripts are out of print.  However you should be able to order them from your local library

We also recommend the recording of Lee Hall's wonderful first radio play, I Luv U Jimmy Spud.  Lee went on to write the screenplay of Billy Elliot.

The Well Tempered Audio Dramatist

We also recommend:   The Well-tempered Audio Dramatist by Yuri Rasovsky, a Guide to the Production of Audio Plays in Twenty-first Century America.  The book features chapters on every aspect of audio drama production including Project Management, Microphone Techniques, Casting and Sound Effects. You can read the entire text online at The United States National Audio Theatre Festivals..