So, we were going to turn my story about the former clothing manufacturer with a song up his sleeve into a play. Good I thought! I had eventually found a home for all those one-liners. Wrong again! Ray, who had far more experience as a writer, kept banging on about the same three words. Character! Character! Character! Before even thinking about putting pen to paper, we had to know our characters backwards.
That was the next problem. Who, other than our leading man Larry, were they? I couldn’t answer that question because all I had prepared was a brief synopsis. I had to start afresh. Now, apart from fleshing out the main premise, I had to devise various other subplots that could be interwoven into a story capable of being turned into a ninety-minute stage play.
What followed were countless pages of character biogs and scribbles on stacks of white postcards listing personality traits of our intended cast.
What had I got myself into? Even more mysterious was why this accomplished director of film and TV should want to waste the day a week he had designated to me at his studio on the embankment to pursue the project. It had to have been more than the sandwich lunch sat on a bench in the freezing cold overlooking the Thames!
Months later, we had a proper story, defined our characters and had a bare bones of a script.
“What’s next,” I asked? “Better find a theatre,” I was told; preferably one not too bothered about staking their reputation on our literary masterpiece. Not having the faintest idea about the process of submitting a script, I had underestimated the problems in getting one accepted, especially from a pair of unlikely looking writers.
Nevertheless, I received a sympathetic reception from a fringe theatre near to where I lived. They appeared to like the reworked synopsis and were prepared to consider giving us a six-week slot that they needed to fill before Christmas, but only once they had approved the script.
I was ecstatic. Foolishly I had allowed the cost of hire of the eighty-seat theatre and the fact that I would be the one having to pay for it to drift over my head!