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.