I love writing dialogue and, back in the 70s, the BBC was a wonderful patron of aspiring writers. I sent them scripts which (I realise now because I still have some of them) were embarrassingly bad. But, instead of throwing the stuff back at me with a ‘Stop wasting our time’ rejection slip, they always found something positive to say about my dialogue, humour, characterisation or whatever. And that was enough to encourage me to have another go. Today, you have to promise them your firstborn or something just to get through the first of many filters. But radio drama is still a wonderful medium and the BBC is still a terrific patron.
An Old Man and Some People (Radio 3 and Radio 4) March 1971
Poor Tom, Poor Martha (Radio 4) May 1972
Shapes in Another Day (Radio 4 and the Australian Broadcasting Commission) April 1975
The Land of Nod (Radio 4) May 1979
Inside Stories (Radio 4) April 1987
Around the same time, I wrote lots of stage plays, which were performed in Scotland and the USA (because of my connection with the Theater Department of the Universityof Rhode Island). I also wrote plays for children, some of which were commissioned by Aberdeen Children’s Theatre and gave me great pleasure because you can’t beat kids for enthusiasm, energy and creativity. There’s no point listing titles because they were written very much as performance scripts and never published but it’s perhaps worth noting one for adults which I called The Initiation Game. It was performed at the Edinburgh Festival by the URI group and did well for them at the box office – but that was probably because, with my permission, the director renamed it after its three characters – The Whore, The Virgin and The Cleaning Lady.
Revue sketches & songs
Almost as far back as the plays are my sketches (skits in the USA) and songs. I wrote them for several revues which my wife and I took to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Our revues were called ARC (for Aberdeen Revue Company) with 1, 2 and 3 added to indicate the progression. The shows were very successful and I enjoyed both the writing and the performing. However you do it, making people laugh gives you a great buzz.
I don’t really want to stress this because it’s too much like hard work. I have, though, translated a few things from French, the most successful probably being three one-act plays by Molière which I was commissioned to produce by the URI Theater Department. One of them, Sganarelle, which I translated into rhyming couplets, won a British Comparative Literature Association prize and, in order to impress you, I’ll point out that it was published in Comparative Criticism Volume 23 Humanist Traditions in the Twentieth Century.