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Writer’s first play to hit the stage

The biennial Chesil Theatre New Writing Festival has grown from just ten writers in 2008, to a nationwide competition attracting over 400 entries.

Christina Pye, from Kings Worthy, is delighted that her first play, All Our Lives, is one of the ten which will have a full production in October.

I was inspired to write a play by the Creative Writing course run by the Adult and Higher Education Division (AHED) of Peter Symonds College,” said Christina. “I had always written poetry but wanted to develop and expand my writing.”

“Several classes, day and evening, run throughout the year,” explained Nicky Morris, who has run Creative Writing classes as part of the Leisure programme and Access to Higher Education course for 16 years. “At Easter we launched a new venture on Autobiography and Memoir, which is a different challenge we hope people will enjoy.”

Many of the participants come back every year; Christina has been attending for six. Other classes choose to stay together and meet in members’ homes or pubs. One, the Black Boy Group is still flourishing after many years and in 2009 published a book of their writings.

A wide variety of styles and genres are explored using different stimuli such as music, poems, numbers, a word or an object. “I like to think I have never repeated a session topic,” said Nicky. “I get such a buzz and enjoyment out of the writers’ responses, the way they gain confidence and support each other.” She brings competitions to their attention and several students have been winners in previous Chesil Theatre new writing events.

The theme for 2021’s Take Ten competition is ‘The Road not Taken’. “At first I thought of a physical road,” said Christina. “But then I realised it could apply to how circumstances and choices made change the path of life.”

Her play features two women who receive different examination results then covers their diverse experiences over 20 years. She has used an unusual and effective technique in which the script starts as two parallel monologues and then overlaps.

“I lost count of the number of drafts I completed, with the ten-minute limit being the most difficult restraint,” said Christina. “I can still see places where it could be improved, but it is the hands of the director and cast now.”

Nicky will certainly be in the audience, along with others from her classes. “We love to see work inspired by the course published or performed. It encourages us all to keep writing.”

Chesil Theatre Chairman David Small said: “We have been delighted that TakeTen has been well received with so many participants from all across the UK. Chesil Theatre is pleased to play its small part in giving writers the challenge of creating a unique work within a prescribed format and theme, with the opportunity to see their work premiered on stage.”

All the winning plays have now been cast with 10 directors and 24 actors. Christina’s play, along with the nine other winners, will be performed later in the year.

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