Monday, 30 January 2017

Next Leicester Shindig!

Next Leicester Shindig: Open-Mic Poetry Evening, hosted by the Centre for New Writing, Crystal Clear Creators and Nine Arches Press: Monday 30 January 2017 from 7.30pm at The Western Pub, Leicester. Free and open to all! Sign up for open-mic slots on the door. Featured writers are Andrew Button, Deborah Tyler-Bennett and writers from Under the Radar Magazine.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

"Caterpillars" by Hannah Stevens

Here is a piece of flash fiction by Hannah Stevens, which was first published in The New Luciad - the literary magazine hosted by the Centre for New Writing at the University of Leicester. The New Luciad will be open for submissions again soon.

Hannah Stevens is from Leicester and is a PhD student in Creative Writing at Leicester University. She has published a short story collection called Without Makeup and Other Stories (Crystal Clear Creators, 2012) and has had stories published in Crystal Voices (2015), The New Luciad (2015) and others.


They’re laughing. They think it’s all a joke. The youngest one is collecting them from the low leaves of trees. She screams when they move in her hand. The older one holds them beneath the water in the bucket with a stick. 

They are my children and they’re drowning caterpillars. I wonder if they know that these crawling things would’ve become butterflies. 

Soon, the childminder will be here. Maybe she will tell them. Maybe they will cry. 

My bags are already in the car. I have written a note that I will leave by the kettle when I go.  

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Interview with Natalie Beech, by Sonia Tailor

Natalie Beech is the Associate Playwright for Written Foundations Theatre Company, with her play Collegiate making its debut at The Bread & Roses Theatre last year. Her short plays have won competitions with Sheer Height Theatre Company and Unmasked Theatre Company, going on to be performed at Arcola Theatre, The Hawth Theatre and Story City Festival. She also works with local universities to run workshops and create issue-based drama, with short plays The Island and Currents recently performed at De Montfort University.

A few weeks ago, Natalie gave a playwriting Masterclass, along with director Brigitte Adela, for students on the M.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester

ST: How do you explore modern issues through the use of drama?

NB: I think it’s important to examine points of view that are not yours, in order to explore an issue properly. Audiences are intelligent and it’s important that you don’t insult that, or leave them feeling you are biased or haven’t considered something properly. I personally want to use drama because I think live performance and theatre commands people’s attention in a way almost nothing else does right now. If you’re watching a film, reading a book or an article, you can easily be distracted by your phone, social media etc. With drama, there’s a human being in front of you, emotionally responding to the impact of the issue you are exploring. There’s something very intimate and powerful about that.

ST: Why is it important for you to present the perpetrator’s viewpoint in your plays?

NB: I don’t think we really get anywhere in tackling issues if we don’t explore the perpetrator’s point of view, or try to understand why they commit an act or their mentality at that time. Plus - I think it is fascinating to go into the mind of someone who is very different to you, that’s the fun of writing!

ST: What techniques do you use to create strong voices?

NB: I often use the voice of people I have met or know, to help get speech patterns accurate and realistic. I am a firm believer that character is the most important aspect of drama, so making sure you know your characters inside out will mean that they become real people in your head, and write the story themselves.

ST: How do you maintain a balance between exposition and drama?

NB: Exposition can be used interestingly, particularly with monologues. Having your characters decide what they want to tell an audience about themselves and what they want to hide is great on stage, and allows audiences to come to some of their own conclusions about your characters and story. It’s fairly obvious, but I think I would just advise not to show all of your cards at once, slowly reveal things over the course of your story, and that will create drama in itself.

ST: How do you effectively intertwine dialogue with monologues?

NB: Monologues can be quite hard going for an audience, so it works to break it up with dialogue and vary things a bit. I tend to use monologues when I want the audience to see the drama through the perspective of a character, and dialogue when I want them to see how something is in in reality. This dictates how I intertwine them and why I decide to use dialogue or monologue.

About the interviewer
Sonia Tailor is a political writer, studying an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. She has organised vigils and demonstrations, and in 2007, she travelled to Jordan to make a documentary about Iraqi refugee children. For many years, Sonia was the Youth Page editor for Peace News (newspaper) and she currently runs a book blog on Instagram: @soniareads.