Monday, 14 July 2008

Leonardo Stole My Crayon

I went to a rehearsed reading of King's Cross Award winning play Leonardo Stole My Crayon by Jane Elson at the Courtyard Theatre on Thursday. It's about a group of Young Offenders entering an art competition, and it makes the point that a lot of people in prisons and Young Offenders Institutions are poorly educated, with many of them dyslexic. Jane is dyslexic herself and teaches drama workshops to dyslexic children. If it all sounds rather worthy, it isn't. It's a moving play with lots of very funny lines in it. People in dire situations use humour to bond with each other, to assert their intelligence despite a lack of education and to make the days bearable as time passes, and Jane has captured all this in her play.

The actors were brilliant. Writers often rely on the goodwill of actors to read and workshop scripts and I am always astonished at the quality of the performances at readings like this, when the actors have had very little time to prepare and rehearse together, and when they are doing it pretty much out of the kindness of their hearts, because they like the script and want to help the writer. Extraordinary, really.

6 comments:

westendwhingers said...

And what a fantastic title for a play. I wish I had thought of it.

Still, titles do not have copyright so....

Helen Smith said...

I'm sure Jane wouldn't mind if you borrowed the title for a musical version, with a part for Margaret Tyzack saying something along the lines of 'I'm not at my best in a Young Offenders Institute' etc.

You could have the entire cast of Cranford in it plus Sarah Woodward reprising her role in Present Laughter. It would be a bit like Prisoner Cellblock H but with songs. I was very sorry to read that Elizabeth Spriggs had died last week but you could ask Simon Russell Beale to play the Governor, dragged up to provide a kind of Alastair Simm in St Trinian's vibe.

But listen to me, jumping all over your project. I'm working on one of my own - a dark and disturbing verse play about refugees set in a dystopian future. I'm going to call it High School Musical and hope for the best.

Tom Green said...

Did you notice Stephen Poliakoff in the audience? Very distracting.

Helen Smith said...

I certainly did.

Elinor said...

Is he like, well fit?

Helen Smith said...

I can report that he seemed to be in good health, if that's what you mean.