London Playwrights find support from StudiO K

The London One-Act Festival (LOAF) and the Fringe Festival are both great for playwrights in town. They provide a structure that makes it relatively easy (emphasis on the word “relatively”, please) to get a new play up in front of an audience. They don’t cater specifically to people with new scripts, but they are certainly used that way.

Now there is another initiative in London that actually commissions new work, and then takes ownership of the production — the 2003 Theatre Series produced by StudiO K.

StudiO K has already commissioned works by Caitlin Murphy (May Contain Nuts) and Jason Rip (three short plays dubbed the Rip Fest). Now, thanks to funding from the City via the London Arts Council, project co-ordinator Karen Try is offering a performance space (The Spriet Family Theatre), advertising, administration, a fee for the playwright, and even honouraria for actors, directors and stage managers.

This is music to the ears of Jayson McDonald, London’s busiest playwright, who no longer has the beloved and maddening Black Lodge to house his new plays. Over the first eight months of 2002, five of his scripts (produced by four different companies) premiered at the Black Lodge. Now it’s gone, and the question is where he will find avenues for his writing.

The short-term answer is: at the Spriet. His latest play, Monster in the Dark premieres on January 23rd at 7:30 pm and runs to Saturday the 25th. The playwright describes his latest work as follows: “With the help of her imaginary childhood friend, a desperate woman launches a final assault on an age old enemy — The Monster In the Dark — in an effort to realize her most fervent desire…. the death of fear.” Mr. McDonald has explored the realm of the psychological before (Empty, Subterrain) with some very good results, so this will be well worth the night out.

The next plays in StudiO K’s 2003 Theatre Series will be presented from February 27 — March 1, also at the Spriet. Two one-act plays — one by J.G. De Souza and the other by Ben Sanders — will be presented as a double bill. De Souza’s quirky, funny, absurd and somewhat existential theatre has been seen at the Fringe and LOAF, and he also has a piece in the upcoming Playwrights’ Cabaret at the Grand. His contribution to the StudiO K series is called You Kiss by the Book.

The other one-act is Sheltered, by Ben Sanders. He, too, wrote and produced a play for LOAF last year, but he is also known for his work on stage – he played Fagan in Oliver! at the Grand (The High School Project), the King in Subterrain and several roles in A Reaney Playbox (Readings from the works of James Reaney). Sheltered is about a homeless community, and its characters are based upon playwright’s experiences and interviews with homeless people.

Congratulations to StudiO K for its support of London playwrights. Anyone interested in tickets or information on StudiO K’s Theatre Series can call 432-4991.