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A Rather Dramatic Interview with Bob Stone

It was a first for TAUK Publishing today as we assisted in publishing the book Scripted. Why was it a first? Well, we have never published play scripts until today. It gave us great pleasure to assist Bob Stone in launching this collection of four one-act plays. During his busy schedule, he managed to have a chat with us.

With novels and children’s books under your belt, this book is a little different from what you have written before. Tell us why?

Writing plays was really where it all began. I’d written all sorts of bits and pieces for my own entertainment, but the plays were the first pieces of writing shared with other people. I won the Creative Writing Prize at school for two years running with plays, and that was the first time I felt like I might be able to write. One-act plays like these aren’t much different from short stories; you still have to introduce and develop characters and tell their tales in a short space of time. It’s a more visual medium, but it’s still a way of telling stories, which is what I love to do.

Did you write all four plays, one straight after the other?

No, I don’t think so. I’m not 100% sure of the timescale, but I’m fairly certain there were other plays in between which haven’t survived, as far as I can see. They may lurk somewhere, but I haven’t found them yet!

Have these plays ever been performed?

Three of them have. The plays were all written when I was a member of the Lucilla Dramatic Society and trying to find plays to direct. Because the choice of plays that suited the society’s personnel and resources was somewhat limited, I wrote my own, tailoring the cast and setting to what I knew I could do. ‘In After School’ was performed three times, which was a fascinating experience. They even performed it after I had left the Lucilla. ‘Crossing the Border’ was written for the Lucilla One-Act Play Festival, and I was delighted when it won the Shield for Endeavour. ‘Night of the Long Beards’ was written to provide entertainment for the Lucilla Christmas party one year, which is why it’s rather less serious than the others. ‘Some of Us Are Looking at the Stars’ has never been performed, not yet, anyway. Maybe that will change now!

The Lucilla Dramatic Society Clubhouse in Crosby, where all of Bob’s one-act plays were produced. The society still produces plays today.

 

You wrote these plays a while ago. Why publish them now, after all this time?

I didn’t even realise I still had them until I was looking for something else on an old laptop. I found it quite interesting to revisit them and hope everyone else will find it interesting too.

Would you like to go back to treading the boards or even directing?

Acting, no, mainly because I wasn’t actually that good. That was why I started directing! I really enjoyed it and sometimes miss the camaraderie and adrenaline of being backstage, but I wouldn’t have the time or energy right now. Amateur dramatics has a bit of a bad press and is often portrayed on TV for comedy purposes. In reality, members of amateur drama groups are very hard-working, dedicated people and often have to juggle full-time jobs and real life. The only difference between that and professional theatre is that amateurs do it for the love of it. If you want to do it well, it does take up a lot of time.

Bob outside the stage door of the (now closed) Crosby Civic Hall, where Lucilla performed full-length plays.

 

Have you ever thought about turning one of the plays into a novel?

Great question! Not until now, no! These plays would be better as short stories, but it would be an interesting experiment. It’s a completely different discipline because everything a character thinks or feels has to be expressed purely through dialogue. I might have a go now that you’ve mentioned it!

Which is your favourite play and why?

‘In After School’ was the one everyone kept talking about and went down well with the audience. I think ‘Crossing the Border’ is a better play, though. I was quite pleased with that one, and it worked very well on stage.

Who would you cast in it?

Because the plays were written with specific members of the Lucilla in mind, it’s hard to see past that and think of anyone else in the roles. A brilliant actor named David Sumner played the part of Palmer in all three productions of ‘In After School’. Even though he sadly passed away quite recently, it’s hard to imagine anyone else. I must also mention that my wife, Wendy, had roles in the three plays that were performed. Her performance as the Young Woman in ‘Crossing the Border’ was outstanding, and she found depths in the role that I didn’t know I’d written. I played Travis in the first production of ‘In After School’, so obviously, that would have to be someone like Tom Hardy or Jensen Ackles, maybe David Tennant at a push. He’ll do anything!

Is this book aimed at any particular reader?

I’d like to think it’s not just aimed at people interested in theatre. Stories are stories, whatever the medium, so I hope everyone can enjoy them. Who knows? It might encourage readers to try reading a bit more drama.

What’s next for Bob Stone?

Good question! I’ve got lots of things on the go, but I can’t seem to finish anything. I’ve got a World War One ghost story novella nearly finished, but I’ve now distracted myself by getting interested in writing a middle-grade novel about the cat on the Titanic (true story, apparently!). Whatever it is, I’ll probably be publishing it through TAUK Publishing because of the care they take over the books and the kindness and generosity of time and spirit they give to their authors is second to none. Thank you.

Bob’s book is available from Write Blend Bookshop in Liverpool or you can order from Amazon.

 

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