OLD PLACES, NEW VOICES

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Bring your surroundings to life with some dramatic creative writing.

Hello, I’m Lynn Whitehead and for over 40 years I’ve worked as a professional theatre-maker and writer, creating dramatic characters for performance.

I spent several years at both the New Wolsey, Ipswich and the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, where I live. Since recently gaining my MA in play writing (late in life!), my passion has become characters who illuminate the heritage of a place.

I’d like to invite you to create a fictional character who helps shed light on an aspect of your village.

In just four really simple steps, you can come up with a whole new being whose voice has never been heard before!

Have fun inventing – you’ll be surprised how quickly the character you create gets a personality all of their own that you might not be expecting!

Step 1: FIND A FEATURE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

Have a look in your immediate neighbourhood for an architectural or natural detail that has a bit of age to it. This could be either in or around your own house or when you’re out for your exercise. For example, it might be …

– a garden gate

– a gnarly old fruit tree

– a corner-stone on a building.

But find your own – something that catches your eye. Something with a history. If you can’t get outside you could look up old photos of your village on the internet and start with one of them. Here are a some photos from my street:

Step 2: CONNECTED CHARACTERS

With your feature in mind, try to think of 2 or 3 types of character (not actual real people!) and when/why they might have been connected to the feature in some way. You can travel through history, don’t forget! For example,

– an old man who painted the gate in 1958 – or the dog who brushed up against it when wet!

– a small girl who posted a sandwich into the post box during the war.

You could do a spidergram of the ideas and choose the one which one jumps out at you most.

Step 3: WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE?

Think of some questions you would ask the character if they were real. Get them to talk about the feature. Why are you painting the gate? Is it your gate? Is it new?

Why did you post the sandwich – to get rid of it? To try to get it to your dad who is away? Because the postbox looked hungry?

You get the idea; write down as many questions and answers as you can imagine. Keep it simple and just get your character talking about why they are engaged with the feature.

Step 4: HOW DOES THIS CHARACTER SPEAK?

At this point, you’ve got two choices; you can either …

Send in all your ideas and scribblings about the character and I’ll dramatise your ideas into a short monologue OR

Get the character talking yourself. Try to write as the character would speak to explain their connection to the feature. What kind of language do they use? What words and pauses and mumblings? Get them talking about what is unfolding at the time, rather than looking back and telling a story that is past.

Either way, please send in what you’ve written, from photos of spidergrams and lists of features you’ve thought of, to your very own dramatic monologues, so that we can hear what your village is made of through the new voices you create for it.

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