Albion Sky: Some Writing Backstory

Things I have never done before as a writer: co-write a play.

The decision to co-write Beneath the Albion Sky happened somewhat haphazardly (as I’m sure many of the best decisions do) in a phone call from a Canterbury to London train. The phonecall pretty much went along the lines of:

Corinne: Hi Charlie, I thought you’d better know – we’re going to scratch a show with the BAC at Latitude. Next week.

Charlie: [displaying an impressive amount of fortitude in the face of me Springing Stuff On Him At The Last Minute] Crikey.

Corinne: It’s about a man who walks the St Michael’s ley line which runs through Henham Park where Latitude is held. It’s sort of a fantasy travelogue – with stuff like dragons and Boudicca. Definitely Boudicca. But also, I want the audience to think this is actually a real travelogue. Also, there’s a thing about Paul – that’s the man’s name – a thing about Paul’s Dad.

Charlie: Have you thought about the writing of this?

Corinne: Not really.

Charlie: ‘Cause we could co-write it.

Corinne: Brilliant. Let’s do that. Seven days to write enough for a scratch. And, erm, rehearse it.

Charlie: I’ll get us an actor.

I am sure this will not go down in history as me being my most professional or measured when it comes to WBN projects. But what is the point of indulging in this if you can’t make a 15 minute piece of theatre in under a week because you want to go dance in a field to boys-with-guitars?

Given that we were most definitely On A Deadline we decided to go about the initial writing process by: talking a bit about Paul, discussing which bits of the walk we wanted to cover, doling them out, writing separate sections, swapping sections, swapping the sections again, indulging in minor line quibbles and then probably repeating these things a couple of times before we realised that we actually did need to sleep at some point in the week prior to Latitude.

If we exclude a minor panic (on my part) about the use of expletives, it all went well and we made a 19 minute script masquerading as a 15 minute one which we were both happy with. And, possibly fuelled by all the caffeine and the lack of sleep, we decided that i) we were both still interested enough in the script to continue writing it to full length and ii) we wanted to do this together.

And, on and off over the last year, that’s what we’ve been doing. After our initial scratch at Latitude we did a second, slightly longer and slightly less interrupted by sounds of Rhianna, scratch at the BikeShed in November. We then embarked on getting together a full-length script. Which culminated last night, at around 10.23pm, with my sending the We Promise To Make No More Changes To This Without Your Rehearsal Room Consent Draft to Andy, our actor for this incarnation of Albion Sky.

And then, because we’re cool like that, Charlie and I high-fived.