Head of Drama at Trinity College London, John Gardyne does not lecture in the art of playwriting, yet he makes an engaging host for this one-hour workshop encouraging the craft. Perhaps best known as an exam board for music, Trinity College also supports young people’s playwrights for by running the International Playwriting Competition. Encouraging entries from worldwide, winners get to see their plays produced and receive generous cash prizes. Indeed, last year’s winner for teenage audiences, Mariama Ives-Moiba, has her play, ‘A Concrete Jungle Full of Wild Cars’ performed by Wac Arts at theSpace as part of the Fringe.
Using examples from previous years’ winners of the competition -acted out by members of Wac Arts - Gardyne guides the audience through the central tenets of developing a play, but is also keen to point out that rule-breaking can make for exciting drama. Peppered with anecdotes from his twenty years experience as a director, writer and producer, Gardyne encourages contribution from the audience on topics including narrators, age-appropriate subject matter, casting, and the linear nature of conventional plays.
This year’s Fringe is chock-full of new plays, yet relatively few are aimed at a younger audience. Gardyne points out that plays for young people should not be considered practice versions of adult plays, but constitute an artform in their own right. Looking around the room and listening to the comments, it was clear that many in the audience were budding playwrights and/or professionals in children’s drama therapy. At the end of the hour, each participant was given a half-price entry ticket for the competition, along with the published book of last year’s winners. Given that the workshop is free, I would highly recommend attending the session for any serious playwright.