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Workshops for Writing, Producing and Acting Radio Drama, Documentaries, and Comedy

Radio Plays as Poetry

Censorship and Script Layout.

Listen and enjoy: Winston in Europe

The late, Peter Tinniswood, one of our finest radio dramatists always laid out his scripts in the form of blank verse.  Thus the actors (who do not learn their parts) pick the speeches off the page very much with the music and rhythm that the author intends.

This excerpt could have been censored by the BBC, but because the politically incorrect statements were voiced by a character who is clearly an eccentric and because the targets of his prejudice are scattered indiscriminatingly from Japanese to Gregorian chant to the present state of Eccles cakes, we felt he had got away with it and that no listener would complain; as indeed proved to be the case.

I should like to assure Japanese surfers that absolutely no offense is intended.  The joke is on the prejudiced character of Father, not on any interested surfers.

Notes to actors:

Notice how the actors, Maurice Denham and Shirley Dixon,
pick up, contrast, counter point or complement each other's energy, timing, pace, pitch and tone.  
Thus they invest the scene with a beguiling and accurate musicality.

Winston in Europe by Peter Tinniswood

FATHER: I've decided, Nancy.
NANCY: What have you decided, Father?
FATHER: To move house.
NANCY: Oh my God!
FATHER: It's the wanderlust, you see, Old Boy.
NANCY: Wander lust?
FATHER: Yes. Itchy pants.
A slow deep yearning in the creaking cockles of the heart.
A constant, throbbing ache in the nether regions of the popping crease.
I want to be off on my travels again, Nancy.
I want to experience new sights, new sounds, new smells.
I want to be stimulated and excited and enchanted and have my soul completely refurbished.
NANCY: Father, I'm not going to live in Harrogate again and that is that!
FATHER: The screech of monkeys and the grunt of tiger.
Temple gongs crooning soft in forests thick with teak.
Pantiles blistering with summer sun in the Auvergne.
The salt spit of winter barges on the Zuider Zee.
Oh my God, I could murder an Eccles cake.
NANCY: What!?
FATHER: Well this country's going to the dogs, Nancy.
You can't get a decent Eccles cake for love nor money these days.
In my youth, in the days of my prime, England was bursting at the seams with Eccles cakes; succulent, sticky, oozing with sensuous spices from the Orient.
And then the bloody Nips came along and ruined it all.
NANCY: What?
FATHER: The Nips, Old Boy, the Japs.
Fearful little slant-eyed stinkers, hell-bent on destroying our planet.
Killing all the dolphins, massacring the whales, poisoning the air we breathe with their ghastly gibbering motorbikes.
What's wrong with Norton and A.G.S and Meschersmitts?
Bloody Nips!
If I had a medium sized toothpick handy, I'd kebab the whole lot of them, string 'em up as food for the tomtits.
I can't stand Gregorian chant either.
NANCY: What?
FATHER: And Woman's Hour has gone to the dogs too!
Well what do I care about the menstrual problems of one parent lesbian bus conductors?
NANCY: Father, I'm not quite clear what you're getting at.
FATHER: Well, what I'm getting at, Old Boy, is quite simple.
I don't want to live in England any more.
NANCY: Well you can't live in Scotland, Father.
You know perfectly well how Kenneth McKellar brings you out in hot flushes.
FATHER: Ah, I don't want to live in Britain, Nancy.
NANCY: What?
FATHER: I want to live in Europe.
NANCY: Father, I don't want to be pedantic or even geographical if it comes to that, but are you sure you know where Europe is?
Are you certain you know what living in it entails?
FATHER: Oh yes, it entails living with Wops and Frogs and Huns and Dagos, chaps like that.
Chaps who wouldn't recognise a decent tie pin if it jumped up and nipped them on the ankles.
Oh you get storks in Europe.
NANCY: What?
FATHER: And Alpine Chuff and gold teeth and slim single-decker trams and inedible cold sausages and women with hairy armpits and tiny bakelite saucers for your aperitifs and tobacco pouches with integral smokers' compendiums and zoos with all the signposts written in foreign languages.
I want to live in Europe, Nancy, I like the way its postmen fart in public.
NANCY: I see, Father, I see.
In that case I think we should convene a family conference, don't you?
The above is from Chapter 6: Character and Comedy from Writing for Radio 
by Shaun MacLoughlin, obtainable from www.amazon.co.uk
The late Peter Tinniswood was a close friend of Shaun's and the book also examines 
Tinniswood's masterly Radio Monologue technique in his The Wireless Lady.

The book also has a chapter on acting.
Shaun Macloughlin has produced about 400 Radio Plays, Documentaries, Poetry Programmes 
and Readings.   He has also won the Sony Comedy Award.

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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..