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.


Life, Love, Death, Debauchery – Debbie Nagioff #Drama #playlets #supernatural

Preview Life Love Death - Debbie Nagioff
AI Life Love Death Debauchry - Debbie Nagioff

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Can Themba – The Suit

The mind is a funny thing. Seeing this poster took me back in time – one of the best short stories I read at school was The Suit by Can Themba. What was doubly remarkable about this story is that we white kids read a black man’s short story at a white state school in Apartheid South Africa. Whether it was on the curriculum or we had a liberal English teacher or two, I cannot tell you – In hindsight, I think it was the latter though because another book which featured was Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country (which we pupils refused to read as it was too real for the time).

Themba’s story was vivid, you could visualise the events as they unfolded and even writing now, I can recall some of the images I conjured up then. Perhaps this is a flashback to having seen the stage production too in the early 1990s at The Market Theatre in Johannesburg. I see now the story has been made into a film.

It is only fitting that the story of Can Temba be shown at The Market Theatre. The Market and Windybrow both played instrumental roles in my political and cultural development during the 1990s. They had shows which were different to the mainstream, thought-provoking and challenging the status quo. Hopefully the production of Can Themba’s lifestory does the same for audiences today as the short story and production did for us in the 1980s and 1990s respectively. It’s writing which crosses boundaries.

updated; first published 24 January 2017.

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