Tuesday, 13 August 2019

'The Judgement' in the Meanwood Institute

The Judgement

Conrad Beck writes:
Douglas Sandle
All seats were filled by an appreciative audience in the Victorian Meanwood Institute on Friday evening, 2 August , for this script-in-hand, hour-long two-hander by LitFest stalwart Doug Sandle. The performers were Doug, playing Adam, and Dave Robertson (he of Theatre of the Dales), who was the Interviewer.  It was a part philosophical, part psychiatrist's case study, part personal memoir which held everyone's attention throughout, and was at times quite tense.

Autobiographical influences are apparently embedded in the script, as evidenced by the many references to the Isle of Man, which is where Doug spent much of his youth. The place names give things away. Peel castle is in there, but perhaps strangely, Douglas isn't.  Without putting Doug on the couch, some of the traumatic childhood memories which his character tells the interviewer about are impossible to verify, but they were fascinating all the same.

All that stuff about spiders, for example, and the way it led to what might have been notes from an experiment by a psychologist investigating primate behaviour: a fake spider was placed in front of a chimp in a cage, who looked at it in fear for a while, then reached out and touched it curiously because it did not move. When it was clear to the chimp that it was fake, he picked it up and waved it in the faces of the other chimps, who scattered in terror. The chimp's power swelled.

David Robertson
The interviewer is a kind of St Peter figure processing applicants for citizenship in Heaven, but not entirely. He is also a patronising and unsympathetic headmaster figure. Are we at the pearly gates? Adam is not sure about the exact extent of his agnosticism, so perhaps he is speaking to himself, or perhaps not. Dave was incisive and rather predatory. Doug was absolutely convincing as Adam, portraying him as an intellectual loner who sometimes sums up his life as a series of lost opportunities and disappointments, and sometimes as a history of just about surmounted challenges. Adam, is, in the end, very upset at not coming to any final conclusions about God and the purpose of life, and that makes him sympathetic.

The play's origins - Douglas Sandle comments:

Some of the play -i.e. the climbing of the hill was a short story written I think in the mid. 60s - it was published in  a student magazine whose title I have long since forgotten. The story was then incorporated into the play -I think around the mid/late 70s, (it was typewritten and therefore before the days of PCs!) It was forgotten until a few months ago when I dug it out with three other dusty plays/stories and gave them to local actor and director David Robertson around May. 

David came back to me several weeks later to say he thought they had good potential for performances and we decided to give The Judgement a try-out at his house before as a dramatic script-in-hand reading to a small audience at the end of June. Response was very good so we arranged to present it at the Meanwood Institute last Friday 2nd of August and it played to an attentive full house and was again very well received. The general opinion was that it was a thought provoking piece of sustained drama. 

We plan to follow up the performance with another play reading from another of the ‘dusty’ scripts (about a playwright struggling to write a play but distracted by domestic ‘going-ons, which was written sometime after The Judgement, which is briefly referenced in later piece).

While several (many) years ago I wrote several political pantomimes for the local Constituency Labour Party, my creative writing efforts have mostly been poetry and a few short stories, although I did have a radio play broadcast on the former BBC’s Third Programme in 1979, (which was also broadcast by Radio New Zealand in 1982) and won a prize for a short play script in a competition held by the drama department.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Comedy with Isma Almas - Friday 28 June


       About a Buoy – Adventures in Adoption

Stand-up comedian Isma Almas gives a full preview of
her show before it reaches the Edinburgh Festival.
Isma is British multiculturalism at its best. In her down
to earth and engaging style, she explores transracial adoption, 
gender, religion, sexuality, race, one
homophobic mother and Freddie Mercury.

As seen in BBC2’s The Big Asian Stand Up
‘A one-woman antidote to Islamophobia’ Leeds Guide

            7.30pm Friday 28 June 2019,
HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN
Tickets £5 from 0113 275 4548 or on the door

A message from Amit Dhand

Amit Dhand, crime writer and Headingley pharmacist, writes:

One Way Out  - Opening chapter below...

And. Here. We. Go! He's back and this one is BIGGER than ever! Harry Virdee returns for the 4th book in the series.


THE OUTDOOR CINEMA SCREEN in City Park cut out. The children’s movie went black. Most of the thousand-strong crowd didn’t notice, too busy playing in the fountains, a welcome respite from the sun’s inhospitable rays. Then a message started to flash on the screen, bold and threatening:


No ‘please’.

No hint that this was optional. Confusion rippled through the park. People stared at one another, wondering if this was some sort of joke. The screeching of car tyres and the overhead roar from two helicopters answered their doubts. Police officers jumped from their cars with megaphones, screaming for the crowd to disperse. They did not enter the park but kept to the perimeter. At first, the shift was slow but the domino effect didn’t take long to come into play and the few became the many. Bodies jumped from the pool and ran, some barefoot, others holding their shoes. Parents grabbed their children as the stampede began.

Bradford was under siege.
Crime writing workshop and meet the agent.
I will be hosting a crime-writing workshop with award-winning author, Abir Mukherjee and literary agent, Simon Trewin, on Saturday 29th June, at Bradford Literature Festival. Last year, this event sold out quickly, so this year, we have expanded on it. Abir and I will focus on writing, craft, pace and structure and Simon will provide a session on publishing, agents and take any questions. Early booking is advised for this event.