Mark Langham and Bloody Squirrels (the creation of Nothing)

one act play scripts

For someone so tall and attractive – I am approximately 17 metres and made entirely of puppies – I have always been unsure and fearful.  I worry.  I won’t bore you by listing the things I have worried about, been fearful or unsure of but, as you can imagine, growing up, it did make me like honey to the ladies…

By the time I was eight I was sure of only three things:  I knew how to string together words, I was funny and salt and vinegar crisps were man’s crowning achievement.  We’ll fast forward forty years or so to around 2010. I had had a few false starts, it’s fair to say.  I’d written some funny sketches that were performed at the Edinburgh Festival in the mid-1980’s, some short stories that were quite well regarded but, ultimately, just sat around the house, drinking all my wine and causing problems with the neighbours.  I had to throw them out.  Last I heard they were living on a canal boat in Amsterdam, knitting their own mung beans…  You see, this was part of the problem!  Concentration.  I was easily distracted and lead astray.  I’d write a killer first line and then I’d catch sight of a squirrel and four months would go by.  The other major problem was the people I was reading.  They were all great and I wanted to write just like them.  Regrettably, I wrote as bit too much like them and there wasn’t much of a market for a 4th or 5th rate Woody Allen/Flann O”Brien/Steinbeck, etc.  Almost everyone on my reading list looked at life from somewhere other than level ground and was, if not an out and out comic writer, at least aware of life’s stupidities.  Except Steinbeck who was a bit of a gloomy old Eeyore and needed to cheer the heck up!

I promised a fast forward and then skipped off into the undergrowth again.  In 2010 I was really bored one day.  So bored, in fact, that I decided to write a play.  I sat down and, without thinking at all, just wrote about fifteen minutes of dialogue.  I sent this to a playwright friend and he thought it was alright and suggested I turn it into a one-act play.  I did that the next day.  I called the play “Nothing” and it won the 2011 One Act Play competition at Noosa Arts Theatre and is published by the good people who own this blog.  I’d discovered the trick, at least the trick for me.  Write like me.  Have the confidence to write with your own voice and about the things that interest or are important to you.  “Nothing” is, essentially, based on my father’s death from cancer but that’s no reason to exclude jokes!  Once I’d found this voice of mine, I couldn’t shut the damn thing up.  At the time of writing I have written six one-act plays, six full length plays, a screenplay and much else besides.  My work has been performed all around Australia and bits of New Zealand and I’ve managed to pick up a couple more awards including one for “The Bench” also published by Maverick.  As you can imagine, there is no bloody living with me…

I’m aware that it is really easy to say “write like you” but who else are you going to write like?  Maybe some people discover that knack earlier than me – I really hope they do – but, for me, that’s the only way I can do it.  Figure out your story, listen to yourself and make sure your writing space is squirrel-proof.  How hard can it be??

Search Mark Langham’s plays here.

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