The One Acts Are Back!

Feb 15 2022 | By More

SCDA One Act Festival is this week

The Edinburgh region rounds of the SCDA’s One Act Festival return this week, Thursday 17 and Saturday 19 February 2022 to the Church Hill Theatre, with six plays in competition over the two nights.

The Festival has been running since 1927 and sees amateur companies perform one-act plays in competition. Winners are decided by an adjudicator and go on to perform in the regional and then national finals.

The SCDA logo

Given this year’s short run-in time, entries are somewhat curtailed. However, there will be two entries to the youth section on Thursday 17: Mill Youth Theatre with Too Fast by Douglas Maxwell and St Kentigern’s Academy YT with Platform Party by Alan Richardson.

There are four plays to look forward to in Saturday’s Open Section, being staged by two different local amateur clubs. Although the number of plays is understandably small, it is heartening that three of the four are new scripts by company members.

Leitheatre has two them: The Resurrectionist by Bob Allan and The Wall by Fiona Schofield. The Edinburgh Makars have a new play by Mike Appleby, Chekhov’s Gun, as well as the one-act comedy staple, Last Tango in Little Grimley by David Tristram.

Burke and Hare

The Resurrectionist takes the old children’s rhyme “Up the close and doon the stair; But and ben’ wi’ Burke and Hare. Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief, Knox the boy that buys the beef” and asks whether that is, in fact, the whole picture.

Playwright Bob Allan introduces a fourth player into the take of serial murder, the driver behind the bodysnatching trade in Edinburgh 1828 – Mrs Mary Tyrell.

Allan says: “In this retelling of one of Edinburgh’s most compelling criminal stories, the Irish serial killers William Burke and Billy Hare meet more than their match in a woman driven by the need to protect her family.”

Mike Appleby has gone a bit more meta in Chekhov’s Gun, which draws on the principal that every element in a story must be relevant. Chekhov’s illustration of the point – that if there is a gun on stage in Act 1, someone must use it in Act 2 – has given the principal its name.

Appleby says: “I thought it would be interesting to see Chekhov himself appearing, with a gun on the stage which may or may not be used, and with other possible examples of ‘Chekhov’s Gun’ occurring throughout.

“We meet Chekhov in the Black Forest spa of Badenweiler in 1904, where he has come in an attempt to address his severe tuberculosis, attended by a local doctor. He is accompanied by his younger wife, the actor Olga Knipper.

“Chekhov is advising student Andrei on his writing and emphasises the principle of ‘Chekhov’s Gun.’ But Andrei is confused: does this just apply to the play he is writing, or also to the scenes he is experiencing – which form the play we are watching?

“We can ask ourselves the same question!”

Charles Dickens

The third play of the evening is The Wall by Fiona Schofield, who told Æ that she was inspired by the discovery that Charles Dickens had turned against his wife, Catherine, after twenty years of marriage.

“It wasn’t just a case of filing for divorce,” Schofield says. “In addition to taking legal steps, he also employed a builder to erect a wall down the middle of the marital bedroom and decreed that Catherine should no longer have access to her nine children.

“In short, my sympathy for his wife outweighed my admiration for Dickens’ impressive literary output and his considerable philanthropy. I felt that the public deserved to know about the other side of his character, as well as the questionable decisions and actions that he took.”

Schofield added: “This was very much a lockdown project. I had never written a play before, but, like so many others, was looking for something productive to do in order to fill all those long empty days in spring 2020.”

The final piece of the evening is David Tristram’s much-performed comedy, Last Tango in Little Grimley, about a failing amateur dramatic society, down to four members, with similar audiences numbers.

“There’s only one thing that sells tickets these days” argues Gordon the Chairman. “Sex!” So beings the chaotic and hilarious build-up to an evening of extraordinary home-grown drama…

Listings and links

SCDA One Act Festival
Church Hill Theatre 33a Morningside Road, EH10 4DR

Youth Section
Thursday 17 February 2022.
Evening: 7pm (Doors 6.30pm).
Tickets:  Book here.

Open Section
Saturday 19 February 2022.
Evening: 6pm (Doors 5.30pm).
Tickets:  Book here.

Further details:

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