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  • Ned Manning

A month in the country

Updated: May 26

I spent most of last week with my 7ON colleagues working on a project called Platonic. It is, most appropriately, about friendship. We spent long days and longer nights telling stories and reflecting on the nature of friendship. We talked about how best to create this piece of theatre and who we might collaborate with. We were not only driving content but form and style as well. It was strangely empowering to be tossing around names of potential collaborators. It was as if, for once, traditional roles in theatre were reversed and the writers were running the show. Of course, we all understood that the day would come when normal transmission would be resumed and we would be seeking support from one company or another.


Working together was seamless. We were happy to challenge and be challenged. I may well have even been told to "shut up" once or twice. Can't think why! It was so refreshing to be in a place where we could all be honest.  And I'm not just talking about a mental space. Being in a farmhouse in the country was strangely liberating. The conditions were pretty basic but that seemed to work for us. Outside a herd of hereford cows wandered by from time to time. It was as if they were checking us out. I'm not sure what they made of us but there was no bullshit inside the farmhouse that's for sure. 


One night we read my new play. I'd never heard it read before. It's long. Very long. As the clock ticked past midnight I began thinking I'd written the longest play in history and was starting to feel guilty about keeping everyone up. And we'd only reached interval. Act 2 contains quite a few monologues. Very long ones it seemed at that hour. We ploughed on and finally reached the end. Then everyone started talking and commenting, offering suggestions, amongst them a few ideas for much needed cuts to the monolgues. I've written a few plays and I'd never experienced anything like it. Not only did they get what I was trying to achieve but they also gave me the kind of criticism I needed. Good, constructive criticism.

We've come away with the skeleton of a show and I've got the added bonus of some really great notes to work on my new play with. I feel reinvigorated and ready to meet the writing challenges ahead. Where I'm incredibly lucky is that I won't be facing them alone.

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