Little Pieces of Gold: Southwark Playhouse’s new writing showcase

When it comes to new writing, London has plenty of it.  Many theatres including Soho, The Royal Court and The Lyric Hammersmith offer writers’ programmes. Now, what’s the best thing to do with your writing skills? The answer: try to find a showcase like this one: Little Pieces of Gold.

I attended the event on September 7th at Southwark Playhouse (another six plays will be performed on the 28th). Each night six ten-minute plays are performed, all centred on the theme of work. On Sunday evening common denominators included pay gaps, gender and power. Interestingly, several plays seemed to suggest that the financial divide is strongly connected to one’s work ethic.

This was particularly evident in for instance City Boys, written by Frankie Meredith, where a hard-working female PA is harassed by two ‘city lads’ who don’t seem to take their job seriously. Eventually she tells one of them off, pinpointing that she can’t just call her dad and ask for a job in his CEO friend’s company. However, this point is completely disregarded by the man, who invites her out for dinner two seconds later.

Another example of this financial divide is in Ross Dunmore’s Cold Call, which is about a couple working in a call centre. Rob wants both of them to quit their job and go travelling as they had originally planned. Sue, however, is consumed with the job and feels she needs it in order to pay her bills. During their argument, Sue makes a comment that she can’t just call her family for financial assistance. Yet, this doesn’t seem to affect Rob, who is bored with Sue’s efforts to methodically follow the script provided by the workplace. Personally, I must admit I found it slightly irritating that the characters very much adhered to classical norms and stereotypes, both in relation to class (rich people are spoiled and lazy) and gender (men are silly and adventurous; women are responsible and hard-working). However, it is understandable that within the recognition lies the comedic element, as well as the chance for social critique.

In general, the plays were able to explore and highlight different issues of work, such as social taboos and gender inequalities. In A Hard Day’s Work, by Adam Hughes, a couple is on a date. The waiter recognises the man to be a porn star and does his best to make inappropriate insinuations. Eventually the woman understands and decides she can’t be with a man of ‘loose morals’. However, a final conversation between the man and the waiter suggests she was not as clueless regarding his job as she seemed. A Hard Day’s Work comments on both how one’s job is linked to social status and the double standard between men and women’s sexuality.

If you’re interested in new writing, this is a really good event.  Every play is only ten or fifteen minutes long, meaning it is almost impossible to be bored – and, music to every student’s ears, a ticket is only ten pounds.

Photo credits to secretlondon123.

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