We have just had Cast Iron IV, the latest in our series of short plays, written by local playwrights, and directed / performed by a rep group (rather than a rap group) of Brighton-based performers.
The name Cast Iron IV, it should be acknowledged, is a tad misleading. This is not, in truth, the fourth time we’ve put on a show. It is, precisely speaking, the sixth, because we had special one-off nights for both Halloween and Christmas. And I’ve always been somewhat taken aback by what a good response we get.
Not because of how good the plays / the productions are, but because I had kind of assumed that this thing would take slightly longer to get traction. I don’t entirely believe that ‘if you build it, they will come’ .. in the creative industry, I earnestly believe that you can a lot of time, energy and money building, creating and advertising the damn thing, and no bugger whatsoever even turns up. I assumed that it would take at least a couple of years of struggling for audiences before people worked out we weren’t going anywhere, and finally checked us out for ourselves.
It didn’t turn out like that. From the first performance, we had a full house, and from then on, we doubled our performance run. This is obviously enormously gratifying. Particularly when you consider the second reason why I started Cast Iron in the first place. The first was because I was perplexed as to why there wasn’t already something like it in Brighton. Or if there was, it was an excellently kept secret. Yes, there were new writing nights where stuff was performed, but in the main these were mainly preoccupied with prose or poetry. There appeared to be no ‘pub theatre’ nights of short plays, the sort of thing that I rather romantically thought (and continue to think) that happens above every third pub in London.
The second reason, of course, was entirely self-serving. I wanted to get my on stuff up on stage, as well. I’d written a thing for a local short play competition, and it had got rejected. I happened to think it was pretty good, and so purely out of frustrated ego, I decided to forge ahead and set up my own short play night (and because of a desire to nuture local talent and put something back in the artistic community; yes, that too.)
A year on, and it seems to be going pretty well. As I said, we’ve just had our fourth (sixth) show, which as ever was packed out. We had six plays on, plus a couple of ‘rapid response’ plays – pieces that are written within hours of the actual show. The idea behind that is to allow people to base a play on some current news event – genuinely, a rapid response – although I’m not entirely sure how successful that’s been so far.
As ever, one of the things – perhaps the major thing – that excites me about this whole process is that it allows people to write, or to direct for the very first time. Either of those tasks is undeniably daunting, and in the case of the former, people very rarely have a arena for their words. As for directors, it’s unlikely that they’ll be given a platform – certainly not for a full length play – without having first ‘proved’ themselves in some way. Cast Iron is, I hope, that opportunity to provide a ‘calling card’. So far, we’ve always had a first time writer on the rosta, and almost always a first time actor. It’s genuinely very exciting.
We’ve just opened up the submissions window for new scripts for the June event (as well as asking for actors and directors) and so the whole thing cycles through again. By the way, we’re having a very informal meet at the Iron Duke pub from 5pm this Sunday. It’s by no means compulsory to turn up, but it can be damn useful for us to see people – so that we can chat about scripts in progress, and begin to match actors with directors.
We’re already beginning to get scripts submitted. The deadline is Friday May 15th. So get writing ..