In the Can

We recorded our last monologue.

As a culmination of the writing residency in Carlow examining the mechanics of dramatic writing, I set the writers’ group an assignment to write a one-minute monologue for radio.

I wanted the group of twenty-odd writers to create something as a final assignment. I also wanted them to write something that could be produced during the residency. I stressed throughout the programme that, unlike literary writing, dramatic writing only exists to be performed. Performance means collaboration, and collaboration implies a toing and froing of creative input. To understand the nature of drama as a writer, you must understand the needs of actors, producers and directors.

So that was the requirement, to have something completed and then have it performed. It wasn’t reasonable to expect neophyte writers to produce a screenplay, even a short film screenplay, in that time, much less have it filmed. Covid obviated a staged performance; having actors and an audience in a room was not feasible. So I settled on monologues; these could be written and re-written within the schedule, and, again, considering the time constraints, actors could rehearse and perform them. I also chose the radio as the medium. The actors would not need to commit the lines to memory, and the potential audience would be more significant than whatever audience we could fit in a room.

Not every member of the group submitted a piece, but we had the actors from the Carlow Little Theatre Society read every monologue completed. Out of a dozen or so monologues, we picked 8 to rehearse and subsequently record. Carlow College, St. Patricks was very helpful in supplying a large room to rehearse and a sound-proofed room to record, and Monica Hayes of KCLR FM was very kind in coming twice to record. A covid scare meant one of our actors, Gemma Lawlor, was unavailable before Christmas to record Dorenna Jennings moving piece ‘Number 3 Store Street’, so we taped it in January.

In a subsequent post, I will supply details of all the pieces, including writers and actors and the recordings themselves, but it’s nice to know it’s all in the can.