In July 2001 I spent four days in Dundee on a BBC workshop, learning what was involved in writing radio drama. I remember the moment when actors from Dundee Rep. took my first attempt at a scene and brought it to life with the force of their voices, their imaginations, and their ability to inhabit the characters I had suggested. I have never looked back - loving the medium of radio and the exciting collaborative experience of creating drama in words that are breathed into life by actors and director.
I have spent this last week tutoring a 'writing for radio' Arvon course at the Moniack Mhor writers' centre near Inverness with Lu Kemp, ex-BBC Producer and theatre director. Take the Arvon formula of fourteen people with an itch to write, an isolated hilltop retreat, daily workshops and one-to-one tutorials, and the outcome is always positive for most. Add sunshine, conviviality over food and drink, and the magic ingredient of professional actors for a day, as was the case this week, and the sense of achievement and learning is tangible, possibly truly transformational.
We recorded fourteen short scenes - they ranged from the lyrical to the absurd. From a father's suicide observed but not understood by his young daughter to a male FBI agent giving birth on a train as part of an American space experiment gone slightly awry. That's the great thing about radio - it can take you anywhere, bend time, and take in extremes of tone and genre.