The Bitch doesn't get out much (too busy bitching on the page), but on Tuesday she was taken along to a gathering of actors, directors and producers, organised by actors Dave Slack and Amanda Hennessey, the inspired and energetic founders of 24:7, the Manchester Theatre Festival now in its third year and which takes place the last seven days of July. Now this is a festival run on a shoestring, unlike the major arts festival planned for Manchester next year (see today's post on the Art of Fiction), and I must say that one actor there said she had never heard of it before in spite of now being in her final year of the Salford drama degree, but its reputation is growing and, importantly, this is a festival devoted entirely to local talent and with proven success at nurturing it. Last year two 24:7 plays were nominated for a Manchester Evening News award, one of them, The Hanged Man by Alison White and Dean Ashton, winning.
On Tuesday the Loft Bar in Tiger Tiger was teeming with actors touting their CVs and accosting the somewhat overwhelmed writers whose plays have been chosen for the festival. A local actors' agent was there talent-spotting, and a young actor I spoke to had just been given an impromptu audition out in the corridor and was taken up on the spot, with an interview with a casting director lined up for Friday. And just as I was ready to leave I met three guys who asked me to talk to them about writing a screenplay.
Such a buzz, such a sense of opportunity through simply going out and making contact with others and doing it for yourselves! I came away feeling most uncharacteristically unbitchy and reflecting on the sad difference between this world and that of prose fiction, with its closed structures and smaller opportunities policed by the chosen few, the editors and exclusive literary agents and all-powerful booksellers.