Play writing with Lewis Hetherington at Lochend Community High School

Thanks to generous funding from the Live Literature Fund and Glasgow City Council’s integrated grants fund, three S6 students from Lochend Community High School have been taking part in a creative writing project with playwright Lewis Hetherington. The students are each working on writing a play and these are due to be performed by professional actors at Platform in The Bridge in Easterhouse in April.

In preparation for Lewis coming to Lochend, different genres of writing were examined but students focussed on creating verbatim poetry on the topics of War and The London Riots and activities that acted as a stimulus for writing short stories. All these pieces of writing are currently being constructively criticised by Lewis and it is hoped that an anthology of our best work can be produced at the end of the initiative.

To date two sessions have taken place with Lewis. In the first session newspaper clippings were used to form the basis of an idea for a plot and constructing a beginning, middle and end of a story. After critical discussion with the other group members and Lewis, students were in a position to develop their storyline and undertake writing its beginning in play form.

Pupils at work at Lochend
In the second session Lewis focussed on dialogue within plays and how there are many different ways to portray a story through it. Students were shown extracts from three plays written in three very different styles. This was especially interesting for our budding writers as it allowed them to see how completely different forms of dialogue can all contribute to driving forward plot. The task for the next session was to choose one of the three plays shown and base a small piece of dialogue upon it. Initially this proved extremely difficult, but after some practice the task became easier and incredibly rewarding.

The remaining sessions with Lewis will focus on the development and expansion of the students’ original ideas. In conjunction with Matt Addicott at Platform at the Bridge, the students will get to share their vision for their works with actors at read-through sessions in school. After this, formal rehearsals using the actual performance space at Platform at the Bridge will allow for final preparation before curtain up.

I am absolutely certain that the sessions have improved and enhanced the students’ play writing skills. The students are also incredibly excited to be working with a successful playwright of Lewis’s calibre and with real actors in helping them take their plays from page to stage. Although there is a lot of hard work to undertake before the plays are performed in front of a paying audience, the three budding writers are relishing the thought of the journey ahead.

I cannot thank Scottish Book Trust, Glasgow City Council, Lewis and Matt enough: their input has allowed three of our gifted and talented pupils the opportunity to turn a dream into a reality.

Gordon Fisher

Gordon Fisher is Principal Teacher of English and Drama at Lochend Community High School