I submitted my script for Dirty Gifted and Welsh broken and bleeding. Not just emotionally.

During the course of writing 'Forest Boy' I sprained my ankle in a freak (drunken) accident (moment of idiocy).
That slowed me down alright.

As a result, I started to take an evangelical interest in the horticultural activities of my neighbours.
Every day, in one of my neighbour's windows, I would see a cloth Pierrot doll, slumped into the corner. He would always be in a different position, as if he came to life at night.
I could feel him watching me as I stopped each morning, and took pictures of a rose bush.

The seed of my play started years ago. I read a newspaper article about the 'Forest Boy', a teenager who turned up in Berlin claiming to have been missing in the Bavarian forest for 5 years. Media went wild. I thought it would make a great drama.
It was a long time before the seed was anywhere near a bud on a rose bush.

Two years later I moved to Berlin. I visited the place the forest boy was 'discovered'. What interested me most about it, was the way I thought the media, police and officials had reacted to him. There was a sort of hysteria, created by the fact that someone had 'escaped' from normal society for so long.
I put pen to paper - the bud was on the tree. I mapped out characters and thought about structure. But I wasn't getting it.
And then I met some of the Dirty Protest crew, who were in Berlin with the National Theatre Wales. As we talked about the play, I realised I was especially interested in telling the story of how this boy could change one person's life, I was thinking about a male character. Someone said "why isn't it a woman"?

As soon as I started to think from the female perspective, the play started to open up to me, started to bloom.
But it was a slow process. After being asked to write a Play in a Bag the play eventually had a structure - one actor, one small set of props. Reducing the scope of theatrical possibilities was really helpful for me.

Narrowing it down to one character and their experience, making it specific, unlocked the writing. I could see what type of flower the play was shaping up to be.
Sometimes it surprised me.
But the play was still growing - instead of doing what a normal person would when faced with notes and a week deadline, I decided I needed to totally rewrite it after the first draft.

My main character needed fleshing out and the story wasn't quite dramatic - I was too focussed on passing on the facts that I knew about the story, rather than thinking about how the play would affect the audience, what I wanted to say with this script.
I tried to just edit it, but found myself rewriting, and couldn't stop. That was around the time I had my injury, so I would sit with my ankle on ice and my laptop open, bashing away.
And everyday, I would go out and take a picture of my neighbour's rose bush. It grew a little more each time, and that gave me heart.
And then one day I walked past, and the bud had blown open overnight. It was in bloom.

I felt the reflected glory. As if my observing had made the flower flourish. I applauded.

That night I finished 'Forest Boy'.

I think it's still growing too, but like the rose bush it's come a long way.

(Look forward to discussing plays, plants and pogo dancing with y'all on Sunday at Dirty Gifted and Welsh!)


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Comment by Catrin Fflur Huws on October 14, 2014 at 14:14

I am glad to hear that there are other 'slow' writers out there. I really enjoyed the piece on Sunday. Can I ask though - how do you see it - as a play or as a performed story? Perhaps it doesn't matter - I'm just interested that's all.

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