“There’s no point entering,” said an optimistic friend through a mouthful of sandwich. “There’ll be hundreds of submissions. The odds are not good.” I’ve only just seen the Writersroom Hackgate Rapid Response competition with six days to the deadline. “Don’t waste your time – you’ve no chance,” is his ego-bolstering parting shot. I don’t tell him he’s got egg mayonnaise down his chin. Six days to write a ten minute play? He’s probably right…but what if, hang on, what if I set it in someone’s voicemail? And what if…?

One day of thinking. Two days of writing. Three days of rewriting and it’s in. A week later “This is Jack, Leave a Message, Alright?” is selected as one of the winners and is published online by the Writersroom. Brilliant. Take that Egg Mayonnaise Man. Job done. Thing is, I like this play that didn’t even exist two weeks ago. If the Writersroom like it then maybe someone else will. Two months later it’s performed as part of the Little Pieces of Gold showcase (advertised on the Writersroom). The audience really go for it. Three days later an agent gets in touch. They saw “This is Jack…” Would I like a chat? Have I got anything else to show them?

Over the last nine months this is what I’ve heard more than anything else – “What else have you got?” A single script (especially a short) can get people to take notice, but everyone wants to know what’s next. I’d been working on a full-length play, ‘Meat’, with up and coming theatre company FallOut Theatre. The play wasn’t in bad shape, but the Hackgate competition really got me fired up – not in bad shape isn’t good enough. So I rewrote the play the way I wrote the short – fast, not worrying about what anybody would think, just writing what mattered to me. The agent liked it. Job done.

I start the next play. While I’m doing that I send ‘Meat’ and ‘This is Jack…” to Theatre503 and between them they get me a meeting. The Hackgate win gives me something concrete to talk about and a little (much needed) credibility. Theatre503 give me some great critical feedback on my work and we resolve to stay in touch. Earlier this year they offered FallOut Theatre a slot in their 2012 season for ‘Meat’. Job done.

Except that it’s never ‘job done’, is it? You finish one story and another begins itching at the inside of your head, or you see a competition and it kick-starts an idea, or someone says that it can’t be done so you do it anyway. The main thing that the rapid response taught me was to only think about the story I wanted to tell and how to tell it my way. Get it on the page. Leave the worry, the ‘no chance’ and egg mayonnaise to someone else.


Jimmy Osborne was one of the three winners of the BBC writersroom Hackgate Rapid Response callout.  Download the script for his entry - “This is Jack, Leave a Message, Alright?”.

Jimmy’s play ‘Meat’ will be on at Theatre503 from 5-30 June 2012.


Comments

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  • Comment number 10. Posted by Monumental

    on 24 May 2012 10:17

    Brilliant post and the script is excellent.

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  • Comment number 9. Posted by onthenose11

    on 30 Apr 2012 13:49

    Just read it, utterly brilliant!

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  • Comment number 8. Posted by vijji

    on 27 Apr 2012 05:08

    There should be something like : alternative filing" ,,, this should be not limited to rules/laws/residency/format etc...submission must not be geo - centric, Good Script doesn't know domain of geography and i feel good script or radio connect to million ......
    Its suggestion....

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  • Comment number 7. Posted by Billy-P

    on 26 Apr 2012 11:33

    Read This is Jack twice now, still crying, still can't speak. Thank you.

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  • Comment number 6. Posted by DoneIn63Minutes

    on 21 Apr 2012 11:16

    A friend once told me there's always the "Yes but"s and the "Why not"s. I thought of that when hearing about the initial 'inspirational' comments you've got.

    I'm working on a play that's based on clique-like interaction of video game characters (it's the Diablo 3 classes, see http://www.diablo3guides.net/diablo-3-classes/ for the cast). Think of it as Jersey Shore meets Toy Story. Simply put - it looks at what our virtual avatars (and video game characters) do while we're not playing them.

    Not exactly deep, but I hope it'll provide entertainment for some (real life and internet) friends of mine once it's done.

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  • Comment number 5. Posted by JHurrell

    on 17 Apr 2012 18:05

    Your script made me cry, real tears, I hope I can create something similar one day, congratulations.

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  • Comment number 4. Posted by Candy M

    on 17 Apr 2012 13:19

    You're friend sounds like a right wrong un - be sure to make him pay full wack for any theatre showings of your plays

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by chaffinch

    on 17 Apr 2012 10:48

    Just read your script. What a choker. Brilliantly executed. Rapid Response struck gold.

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by MrHepburn

    on 16 Apr 2012 07:45

    Great work Jimmy! Nice to read an encouraging blog on a monday morning.

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by DanielE

    on 13 Apr 2012 22:50

    Congrats Jimmy :) - I hope to be in your position one day soon :)

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