New Series of Unstaged Scripts Launched on The Guardian

In its new series, Future Plays, launched yesterday, a collection of unstaged ‘dazzling new scripts’ will be showcased every fortnight.

Future Plays, a series of unstaged ‘dazzling new scripts’ was launched yesterday on The Guardian. It is written by emerging as well as established writers from the UK wherein some of the scripts may have a confirmed production while others may not.

In each part of the series, a playwright will be writing about their play along with a key extract from it.

The series, which started with a compelling scene from Abbie Spallen’s epic 19th-century Norfolk Island convict drama, Sheep on Fire in Penal Australia, will be published fortnightly.

Discussing her work in Future Plays Spallen said, 

“I like to say I speak four: French, Spanish, Irish and a smattering of colonist. Writing this felt like I was creating a new language and then trying to forget it to keep the thing natural. I wanted to stay true to the period but keep the rhythm current. It took years. It stalled for two while I figured out how to keep an audience with a protagonist while the action switches from Norfolk to London … without the protagonist.”

Abbie Spallen

Future Plays, originally ideated by Tamsin Oglesby, comprises carefully chosen, “raucously funny and politically urgent” plays that are “not confined by the limitations of a pandemic staging” and illuminate the present by sometimes revisiting the past. 

While arts and cultural venues remain closed in the UK with limited access to outdoor events, Oglesby approached The Guardian with the idea that running extracts from unstaged plays could engage audiences while theatres remain closed. 

“In trying to think how the flame might be kept alive in however small a way, I reckoned that the written word has none of the pitfalls of the journey from stage to screen; it’s in its element, it looks good on the page, dialogue is dynamic, you can get the essence of characters and story from a few pages. So why not take excerpts from plays that are slated to go on, or should be, and offer readers and audiences something to look forward to? Like a series of trailers.”

-Tamsin Oglesby

Tamsin Oglesby has written a number of plays for stage and radio and is widely known for Future Conditional, a critically acclaimed play directed by Matthew Warchus that “tackles the nightmare of British schooling through a myriad of characters” including twenty-four young performers.

To choose the initial scripts of the series, Oglesby conversed with several directors, dramaturgs, writers, artistic directors and producers from around the UK and said that it was invigorating to talk to them about “new inspiring plays”. 

 “When theatre comes back it has to move forward. This pandemic has made it obvious that a lot of things were broken and need fixing – and theatre is no different. The phoenix won’t rise from the ashes on the wings of monologues, or two-hander revivals by Mamet, or – God help us – pandemic-themed Shakespeare or updated classics begging for contemporary relevance,” she added.

“Let him go. Shakespeare can afford a sabbatical. Living writers can’t.”

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