I am seeking support for development of a new draft of my play Mercy & Redemption. This will take the form of workshopping the current draft with my creative team, four actors and the director in February.
By the end of March, we aim to hold an un-staged reading of the draft to an invited audience of London fringe theatre artistic directors and relevant sex abuse charities and stakeholder communities, to generate interest and on-going feedback.
After feedback and reflection on the reading, I will create a new draft of the play and then approach interested theatres with a view to staging a production in late 2013 or early 2014.
The play is set in the aftermath of the Church’s apology for the clergy’s abuse of children in their care. It’s about Frank and Ursula who on the face of it couldn’t be more different but who, in fact have similar wounds. Over the course of the play, they will help each other begin to heal.
The play follows Frank and Ursula as they are forced to renegotiate their view of themselves, as they tussle with the seductive grip of denial and with the pain and relief of truth.
Frank is a middle-aged Irish immigrant who has been in London for over thirty years. Ursula is a young middle-class newly trained outreach worker. Their separate worlds collide when Frank responds to a call from a local Diocese to support and compensate victims of abuse, and Ursula is the outreach worker who interviews him.
Frank fled abuse at a Belfast orphanage as a teenager, taking his younger brother Johnny with him to London – but not long after, Johnny died in the city’s drug scene.
Frank has never come to terms with Johnny’s death and neither has he ever spoken of the abuse, so Ursula’s questions prove way too much for him. The interview results in an explosive and powerful game-changer for both Frank and Ursula.
Eventually though, Ursula's intervention helps Frank explore his long-repressed trauma and later Frank is able to help Ursula, resulting in a redemptive journey for them both.
The play is a celebration of the transformational power of being heard by another person who can listen with compassion and the play also celebrates the unlikely places we find forgiveness and solace for our grief.
Your donation would be an essential part of a development process for the creative artists involved, and for me to continue the process that I have been begun with this play.
Your funding will be essential to cover the costs of the R&D process.
So, what the funding will achieve?
• It will be a part of the overall costs of the Research & Development towards the creation of a new draft of the play
• Enable me to undertake more research with survivor groups and charities
• Book rehearsal space to allow for workshops with the actors and director
• Present an un-staged reading at the end of March 2013 to an invited audience of fringe theatre directors and relevant charities
• Integrate feedback from this reading for next draft of play to submit to selected theatres for them to consider staging a full-production later in 2013 or early 2014.
Play Background & Critical Success in 2012
The current draft of the play has already received critical recognition.
The project started life under the title The Sisters of Mercy & Redemption when it was a short film script that was shortlisted for the Best of London Borough Awards back in 2007.
Over the last two two years, based on some feedback I received, I decided to rewrite it as 2-hander short play which was showcased at a Scratch Night at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre in 2011.
In 2012, the play was recognised by the following awards:
February - Finalist of Steyning Theatre Trails Competition
March - Shortlisted Drip Action Theatre
April - Shortlisted Windsor Fringe Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama
June - Shortlisted Dramatic Association of Wales One Act Play Competition
Over the course of 2012, I've developed the piece further, into a full-length play with 4 characters which is the current draft the creative team will workshop in February 2013.
What I aim to achieve?
The play is my creative response to theme of abuse of power, and the question, how does a person recover from the trauma caused by such betrayal of trust?
The play explores the long-term mental health issues linked to child abuse and deals with the importance of supporting victims so that they can safely grieve their loss innocence and begin the journey to being free of blame or shame.
The play also explore grief, as Frank comes to learn the paradox that only by facing his feelings over his loss can he be free of their burden, which allows Johnny back into his life as a consoling presence.
The play draws inspiration from the mind-addling effects of grief so eloquently expressed by C.S Lewis' A Grief Observed.
But the process of facing grief is such difficult work that most of us need help and survivors of sex abuse, especially do. The play points to the importance for support for characters like Frank, on the edges of society, who all too often fall through the cracks.
Research Already Undertaken with Key Charities
Initial interviews with some leading bodies working directly with victims of child sex abuse has been very positive.
Below are some of their comments on the work in progress I recently showed them:
“This play has a great deal to offer an audience. I would strongly hope for funding and support for this play to be in the public domain... I see great value in it, especially at a time when child abuse continues to be both hidden and yet so at the forefront of the media still”
Dr. Margaret Kennedy, Founder of MACSAS – Minister & Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors
"As someone involved in this work for twelve years at NAPAC and many years before in my personal journey to healing, I can safely say that you have been able to devise a effective dramatic structure to address some of the recurrent themes that can affect survivors of abuse. You have clearly explored the problematic relationship dynamics, which so often flow in a jagged switchback ride lasting many years in adulthood. I wish you every success with your important work and look forward to opening night!”
Dr. John Bird, NAPAC – National Association of People Abused in Childhood
“I feel this play would be really beneficial in helping raising awareness of the issues that can arise for survivors in adult life and the support they need to deal with those problems. The emotions expressed in your play are both credible and dramatically conveyed”
Cat Allen, Clinical Co-ordinator, One In Four
“I wholeheartedly lend my support to this piece of drama. It is credible and I was immersed in it from the very opening page.'
Peter Garsden of AbneyGarsden, Abuse Lawyers
My wish is to create a great piece of drama that illuminates a subject that remains under-represented in theatre.
I hope it can engender more support and funding for charities to respond to the growing needs in this area.
Any additional financial support raised through Kickstarter will be added either to the R&D process or the final production in the future.
Risks and challenges
If we don't raise the target of £500, it will limit the research and workshopping and development of the play. This may limit the interest from fringe theatre venues to stage it.
Garnering this support through KickStarter, however, will give the project a great critical mass, which will also in turn, help raise awareness of the need for more funding to support survivors.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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