I've always been interested in writing. I wrote a book of 11 poems for my mother's birthday before I was eight, and in my teens I started writing songs. At university I went along to the local Folk Club and sang a number of my own songs. In 1964 I had a couple of short stories published in national Science Fiction magazines (and wrote many others which didn't get published). Later I wrote several songs which were performed at the Hastings Scout Show which my father was involved in, and I was in a Folk Duo who were asked to sing songs for a series of evenings run by King's Road United Reformed Church in Chandler's Ford where I was then living; I ended up writing eight or nine songs for that. In 1973 I performed two of my own songs at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the 6th National Scout and Guide Festival of Folk Music. In 1977 I finished writing a musical “Moses” which was performed by Tulse Hill School in South London; two years later we took it to Germany and spent an exhausting week performing it at several schools.
Around that time I switched from being a Folk Singer to a Folk Dancer, and started writing dances (usually with their tunes) rather than songs. I've now written over 280 — see the page Colin Hume's Dances
if you want to know more.
For no good reason, the fiction writing got forgotten until 2009 when I went on a “Writing for Performance” course in Letchworth, just round the corner from where I live. The tutor was good, and there were three excellent guest tutors who wrote for Television, Theatre and Radio. The writer for Theatre, Michelle Golder, told me about her group WRiTEON!
in Cambridge which gives writers a chance to see their work performed and get feedback on the plays. They also have a Script Evaluation Group which meets once a month; we read all or part of whatever plays have been brought along and give lots of useful feedback. I've now had several short plays staged by WRiTEON! and taken many along to the Script Evaluation Group. I started submitting radio plays to the BBC. Their policy is to read the first ten pages (which takes three months): if they aren't interested they send it back with no feedback. That's now happened four times, and I was getting somewhat disheartened. But WRiTEON! also publishes a newsletter giving details of play-writing competitions, and one of these was:
|The International Playwriting Competition run by Trinity College, London. I was impressed by the helpful guidelines and found the play quite easy to write; I wanted to create lots of characters which children would enjoy playing, and to mix fairy tale and modern worlds in a fun way. The result was “Quest of the Four Princesses”. Nearly 200 aspiring playwrights from 20 different countries entered the competition in 2011. Writers were asked to submit either a play to be performed by young children under the age of 12 or a play to be performed to young people between the ages of 12 and 16. I'm delighted to report that mine won the first category! It had two performances at the Unicorn Theatre in London on Saturday 14th January, and the kids (and director Alison Goldie) did a great job with not much time to rehearse. A book containing the successful plays from the competition was handed out to anyone who wanted it — if you contact Trinity College they will probably send you a copy, or you can Contact me and I'll e-mail you my script. I was presented with a surprisingly heavy trophy and my prize of £1,000. Click here for some photos of the production.|
Naturally this spurred me on to further efforts. From the WRiTEON! newsletter I learnt of a young West End producer looking for musicals, so I got the vocal score of Moses out of the loft and sent it off to him, followed by a CD of some demo tracks, but he eventually said he was too busy with a web system for theatre tickets. I sent the script of what everyone thinks is my best radio play so far, “The Woodcarver's House” to The Script Readers
who immediately put it on their list, and on December 1st 2011 I went along to hear an excellent reading of the play followed by a very useful in-depth discussion. I'm now rewriting parts of it in accordance with their suggestions. I also submitted plays to several more competitions, including plays in both categories of the Trinity competition for 2012, but got nowhere.
In July 2012, Essex Audio Theatre produced a recording of my radio play “Open Garden Warfare”. You can download it here
In September 2012 Julia Bolden of WRiTeON! ran a writing workshop at the Cambridge & County Folk Museum
with the idea that we would be inspired by one of the rooms or something in it, and on October 31st and November 1st the ten attendees had ten short plays performed there, with five audiences moving from room to room. The writers were also the tour guides. The Museum was originally an inn, and my play “Leaving the Inn” was set in what is now the shop but would have been the entrance hall in 1800. It's about a woman who has been running the inn since her husband and son died, and her granddaughter who wants to get married and move to London. It was directed by Sarah Ingram
and performed by Anne-Marie Hughes
and Emma Miles
, and was very well received.You can download the script here.