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Scorcher

Wilkinson, Julie (2004) Scorcher. Action Transport Theatre.

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Abstract

‘Scorcher’ extends into original scriptwriting the overall playwriting and dramaturgical research project which develops a dramaturgy serving to function as a component of social change. ‘Scorcher’, a play for 14+ audiences, was commissioned by Action Transport Theatre (Director Joe Sumsion), and funded by an Arts Council Writers Award. First inspired by Cathy Kiddle’s book about Traveller Education, the play is rooted in the author’s oral history research with the community of travelling showmen, including the Showman’s Guild, Vanessa Toulmin of the Travellers Archive in Sheffield, and the Travellers Educations Services in Lancashire and Cheshire. Drawing on the traditions and experiences of travelling fairs, it centres on a sibling relationship, and the ownership and control of the invented ‘Scorcher’ fairground ride. The central relationship is itself a variation on a theme first explored in the author’s earlier young people’s play, ‘Todd’s Climb’ (Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, 2001) and continues the writer’s imaginative investigation of the dramatic and psychological significance of sibling relations, inspired by Juliet Mitchell’s theoretical work in this area. The dramaturgy sets realistic scenes which, in style, derive from the author’s television soap writing (Emmerdale, Children’s Ward – Granada TV, 1999 - 2002) but are here relocated in the context of non-naturalistic choric set pieces, which punctuate the flow of the action and are accompanied by music. The play aims to offer a critique of nostalgia by showing that the grandmother’s resistance to change ironically brings about the opposite of what she wants to achieve. Performed in schools the play formed a basis for teacher-led work on racism. Tour: schools and theatres in North West 22nd September – 13th November, 2004.

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