A hugely enjoyable evening's entertainment was had last night in a function room above the Mill on the Soar. Writers from all over the East Midlands gathered to hear readings and performance from the Runaway Writers and Leicester Writers' Club in the final of the Write-off competition. I counted representatives from 5 different writers' groups present in the audience audience.
First came the toss of a coin. Runaway Writers won this and elected to bat first. We were then treated to a hugely enjoyable half-hour showcase of writing, which stretched across several different forms, including poetry, monologue, play and short story. A particular favourite of mine was a short play set in a lost property office. (Which would in my opinion make an excellent short film). Another highlight was a beautifully controlled monologue, the story of a woman who had lost her sex drive.
The remarkable thing is that all this material was produced, gathered and rehearsed in two short weeks. For it was two weeks ago that the teams were sent notice of the topic - Lost and/or Found.
After the performance there was a half hour break to allow the judges time to consult, added up the scores and grab a well deserved bite to eat. This also gave the performers from Leicester Writers' Club the chance to consult about a problem that we had been noticing through the first half. There was clearly a function room directly above the one we were in, and to judge by the noise coming through the ceiling, it seemed to be occupied by a large party of elephants.
Performing second, we did have the advantage of preparing ourselves for this, limbering up our voices etc. In that perhaps we had an advantage over the Runaway Writers. On the other hand, the pachyderm party upstairs grew considerably louder as our set began, and during the reading of deeply moving poem by Liz Ringrose, the elephants broke into a rousing and cheery chorus of 'Happy Birthday to you'. Amazingly, Liz didn't miss a beat.
So - who won the final? Well, it could have gone either way because there was superb material from both teams. In the end, it was Leicester Writers who were awarded first prize.
The Leicester Writers' Club performers, complete with 'Writers on the road' T-Shirts. (Photo courtesy of Nigel Ringrose.)