Book

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Melville Lovatt appreciation

Melville Lovatt

It is thanks to Melville Lovatt that TSL started the TSL Drama imprint. At the time he was with the now-closed Harrow Writers’ Circle and at one of our input sessions, liked the look and quality of our printed books (thanks lulu.com). In addition, the script company he was with, New Theatre Company, had decided to close after the death of one of the partners. The other major influencer was that TSL’s ethos seemed to mirror that of New Theatre Company. It’s good to know there are (and have been) others out there with similar views.

As a result, TSL has published Melville’s catalogue of scripts which include monologues, one act and full length plays as well as more recently poetry. A number of his pieces have won prizes as you’ll see on his TSL bio page and some of the book covers. One of the things I found, especially with Melville’s monologues, are that his character voices come to life in ways not all writers manage. It’s rare (at least in my experience) that one hears a distinct and different voice whilst reading through his work. Melville is a keen observer of situations which comes across in his scripts and poetry – he captures an essence of what I see as English life in much of his work, and on occasion has played around with different takes on the same event as seen in two of his scripts: The Lamp and Small Mercies.

Moving into the world of drama and theatre has been a journey for TSL especially as it’s not the major focus of the company nor its directors – who can only claim to have regularly attended alternative (and protest) theatre back in the day in South Africa with the odd audience excursion into theatres in the UK. Theatre is a tough world to break into – it’s mainly down to the script writer developing relationships with potential directors and theatre group creative decision makers and this requires tenacity. It also requires the script writer to know when best to have their script published as not all theatres like to work with material which is ‘already out there’. The network is also important and thanks to Melville, TSL has links with Player Playwrights which meet in Kilburn, London, and more recently through extended networks has made links with London Playwrights (watch this space…)

Due to Melville’s tenancity and involvement in the world of theatre, a few of his plays have been performed, most notably by East Lane Theatre Club, London. See his bio for other performance venues.

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Josie Arden appreciation

Josie Arden

Josie is one of TSL’s early signings. At the time, she was a member of the Harrow Writers’ Circle (sadly since closed) along with various other TSL authors. In some ways, Harrow Writers’ Circle could be said to have provided TSL’s core.

Josie had self published her Broken Ties of Time as a paper and hard back book which TSL launched as an ebook. This is an epic read, covering continents and classes. For all its length I recall it being a fairly fast and engaging read. Drugs, shady business dealings and double crossers out for their own gain abound.

In addition to Broken Ties of Time, Josie also published two collections of short stories – essentially pieces she wrote for Harrow Writers’ Circle competitions, etc. These cover a variety of topics and styles. You can see a bit more below of what I thought of the collection soon after publishing it.

At the time I was working with Josie on both Broken Ties of Time and the two volumes of This and That, she was nearly blind. Her tenacity in ensuring all was as perfect as it could be are an enduring memory. Josie is old school – something to be valued in this day and age of quick change. Whilst she could, although not engaing with social media, she would promote her books in her own way, sadly however that was not for long as her declining sight restricted her independence. Her three books, all available through TSL are testiment to a bye-gone era of writers.

The two volumes of This and That contain a total of 47 short stories arranged alphabetically by title. In some ways it’s an odd assortment of stories, all written for competitions at various stages throughout the author’s writing career.

In the main, however, the stories can best be described as sweet and gentle, ideal for someone wanting relaxing, pleasant read without having to work too hard. It’s the kind of book one can sit down and enjoy with a cup of tea. Having said this, there are some twists and turns in many of the tales, some going in unexpected directions.

The following stories stand out for me, months after having read the book, which is testament (at least in my opinion) to a story well told or which hit a nerve:
Can do Cindy (vol 1): This is the only story in the book which is specifically for children and was written to help the author’s granddaughter through a difficult patch. I love the talking trees.
Foxton Locks (vol 1): It must be the history research aspect of this story that hooked me. Investigating a painting can lead to some incredible discoveries.
Lotta Terracotta (vol 1): the colours evoked by the terracotta and the twist in the tale make this one a highlight.
Just a little pet (vol 1): every parent’s (and aunt’s) nightmare come true. Little boys will be little boys. I say no more, except mention reptile, so as not to give the story away. The young lad should be given credit for ingenuity.
York Express (vol 2): Things are not what they appear in this station encounter. How many times do we misread a situation and end up suffering the consequences unless a chance encounter gives us a second chance.
Norwegian experience.
The last rose of summer (vol 2): people are not always what they seem, but a bad situation can be turned to something good.
Carry on Red Cross (vol 1): What a community can achieve working together, or is it because of who you know?
The Spanish Christmas (vol 2): all’s well that ends well. Who knows how and why things go the way they do. A story of love and friendship.

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Somo ML Seimu appreciation

Somo ML Seimu

Seimu joined TSL as an author following his submission to There Came A Time 2 of two articles on the legacy of the First World War in Tanzania in relation to coffee and cotton production.

Having studied in the UK, Seimu is based in Moshi, Tanzania, where he is now a professor at the local agriculture college/university.

His monograph published by TSL on the history of co-operatives in Tanzania gives an insight into the trade of coffee and cotton in East Africa from the time of the German occupation of what is mainland Tanzania (Tanganyika) in the late 1890s through to 2013. Having spent many a week in Tanzania over a nine year period, and having a very fond spot for Moshi and Kilimanjaro in particular, as well as being a coffee drinker, the topic of this book really appealed to me. Reading the text was treading familiar ground with many of the places mentioned.

With a great interest in the Great War in Africa I also enjoyed discovering what men who had been involved in the First World War in East Africa did after the conflict – such as Charles Dundas; and to see how the local chiefs worked with and against the colonial and, later, the national government infrastructures.

This book should appeal to mainly readers interested in African economics and politics, although social historians should also find something of interest in it. And for coffee lovers – well, discovering what happens behind the scenes might make you appreciate that cuppa a little more… although we shouldn’t forget the role of cotton in the manufacture of clothing and other commodities.

Seimu has also co-authored with Marco Zoppi: “The Influence of Settlers’ Community in Shaping the Colonial Agricultural Marketing Policies in Tanzania”. African Economic History.

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#Review: Henry Dawe’s “The Autumn of My Years” #radio #play

The Autumn of My Years broadcast on Harborough FM, Leicestershire in November 2023 is a three-part, 120 minute long, radio play written by Henry Dawe, a TSL author.

I don’t believe in recounting story lines and don’t intend to start now but will say this is a moving story about two people who meet at the theatre and their developing relationship. While I don’t recount the story, you can read what LincsOnline says about it, including some input from Henry.

In an age where many are becoming self-centred, not caring about others, this well-crafted script with Henry’s trademark play on words shows what can happen when people look out for each other. Henry doesn’t shy away from tackling issues of age, loneliness and in the post-discussion production mention was made about where people can access support if any of the issues raised in the play affect them. This is in keeping with Henry’s acute awareness of people and the challenges many face. His insight into people, grasp and manipulation of the English language, and his gift of conveying a serious message through humour stand out for me in this production.

If you do get a chance to listen to the play, do. And hopefully this is the first of Henry’s radio successes. If you can’t get to listen to The Autumn of My Years, there are always his two collections published by TSL – A Play on Words and Thirty Pieces of Pottiness.

See more about Henry at https://henrydawe.co.uk and watch him on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/@HenryDaweWriterActor

Henry is a member of London Playwrights.