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Bite sized drama

By SPP Reporter

Play Pieces co-ordinator Lindsay Brown.
Play Pieces co-ordinator Lindsay Brown.

AFTER successfully introducing the concept of lunchtime theatre to the Highlands, Play Pieces returnswith some bite-sized chunks of homegrown theatrical talent.

Inspired by the success of A Play, A Pie and A Pint at Glasgow’s Òran Mór theatre, last year Play Pieces ran a series of monthly plays at The Ironworks, Academy Street, Inverness. Performed by a mix of new and established theatre companies from the Highlands and Moray, the series of hour long plays mixed comedy, drama and even puppetry.

This month Play Pieces returns in a new location and a new format giving new talent, whether writers or performers, a chance to showcase their work.

Play Pieces Shorts will run over three nights at IG:LU, Church Street, Inverness, with a changing line up of short plays, none of them over 15 minutes long, which Play Pieces co-ordinator Lindsay Brown hopes will encourage new theatre talent.

"I see Play Pieces as having several different activities, one being the lunchtime activity and the other being Play Pieces Shorts, working with the student drama class at the college or any of the local playwrights groups, or any writing groups," she said.

"Play Pieces Shorts is a way of getting people involved in writing new material and giving them the opportunity to perform it to an audience and work with local actors."

For Play Pieces Shorts, though Brown (née Dunbar) did not want to limit contributors in the type of material they offered for the Shorts run, she did decided on a central theme. Inspired by the debate on British-ness that followed the Royal Jubilee and London Olympics, that theme is "Red, White and Blue", and Dunbar says it has been fascinating to see the writers’ and performers’ response.

"It’s worked really well," she said.

"I had no idea how many plays we were going to get, but we’ve managed to get quite a nice mix.

"Some shows are going to be on all three nights, some two, and one show will be happening over the course of three evenings. We’ve tried to programme it so if people can only come for the first hour of each evening they should be able to see quite a lot of the performances and if they came for one whole evening they would get quite a range."

Again that range will run from serious monologues to quite light hearted sketches. One performer has even turned IG:LU’s toilet into a venue.

"That’s what’s so exciting about the talent that’s out there. There are so many good ideas," Brown added.

"A few pieces explore the theme of cultural identity, some quite lightly, some in quite a dark way, but some people have just picked up on the one colour and explored that as well. In some pieces, it’s very subtle in the way they have used colour, using props and lighting. The theme has been picked up in so many ways."

Writers have also been encouraged not just to have their involvement stop with the written word, but also get involved with directing and casting their contributions, Brown added.

"A lot of the students at the college stepped up to take on acting parts and we had an evening where we brought the actors and the playwrights together so they could discuss their ideas and match up who could take what role," she continued.

"There are already great networks out there for the professional acts and most of them are connected with the theatre companies, but we want to make people aware of the new talent that’s out there."

Like The Ironworks, which is better known as a music venue, IG:LU is not a traditional theatre space, though it operates as an art gallery and has staged music events and film screenings. Brown hopes this will help attract an audience new to theatre.

"It’s a blank canvas and is really intimate, which is great for short pieces," she said.

Brown also confirmed she was looking at potential venues outside of Inverness.

"I’m exploring the idea of doing some sight-specific work across the Highlands and I think that could be quite fun," she said.

Play Pieces could return in its original lunch time format next year, dependent on the success of a grant application to Creative Scotland, but ideally Brown would like to see Play Pieces and Play Pieces Shorts become annual events.

In the meantime, however, she just wants people to try the first Play Pieces Shorts run and have a fun evening.

"Sometimes people go to theatre and they are concentrating so much on what they should be getting out of it and what the message is, that they forget to enjoy themselves," she said.

"I would love it if people went away having really enjoyed it, then tell their friends about it and be encouraged to see more local theatre."

• Play Pieces Shorts will be at IG:LU, 19 Church Street, Inverness, from Thursday 22nd to Saturday 24th November, with a different line-up of short plays, sketches and monologues each evening from 7pm. Entry is free.

Thursday: It Ain’t Jus’ Jazz That Can Swing; Touchy-Feely; Rage; Making OCD Pay; Big Bad Wolf?; English Lessons; Behind Closed Doors; Blurring the Colours; The Erpp Man; Colour Factor 2012; Talking Bonny; Travellers; Tears in the Snow; My Life & Death.

Friday; Talking Bonny; The Erpp Man; Colour Factor 2012; Blurring the Colours; Big Bad Wolf?; Travellers; Making OCD Pay; Rage; Touchy-Feely; Tears in the Snow; Behind Closed Doors; It Ain’t Jus’ Jazz That Can Swing; Undecided; English Lessons.

Saturday: Undecided; English Lessons; Behind Closed Doors; How; Touchy-Feely; Rage; Blurring the Colours; The Erpp Man; Colour Factor 2012; Making OCD Pay; Travellers; It Ain’t Jus’ Jazz That Can Swing.

Running throughout every evening: Reflections in the Toilet Bowl — stories and songs about the triviality of everyday life.

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