Original drama written for audio by Emily Reader
Recorded on location in Folkestone
Financed by 21st Century Fox
Produced by Podium.me
A heartwarming story of unlikely friendship in lockdown
“very intriguing protagonists” “A smorgasbord of themes and social dynamics”
“Absolutely wonderful” “Spectacular writing” Leo Ulph BBC Radio Kent
“So microcosmic of so many conversations we’re having at the moment” “I love it”
Lockdown brought a sense of isolation, disconnect and loneliness especially in cities. This remains a very pertinent theme and can either divide or unite us across different generations. The drama exposes isolation and explores solutions.
‘I thought that even though you may consider young people to be less isolated than older people, when you actually think about it things like phones and social media don’t actually bring people together in the way you expect, and although it can be a tool to bring people together it can also make people feel less connected. I wanted to look at how different generations could help each other using technology but also using a personal interaction where technology isn’t in the way though masks still were!’ Emily Reader
Director, Cordelia Galloway
The brief set by Cordelia Galloway was to locate the audio drama during lockdown, so immediately the options for how people can interact were extremely limited. One of the few things you could do at that time was get some takeaway food or drink but even that had extremely strict rules, so the challenge for Emily was how to get two people to interact for any length of time without being interrupted by the rules but also how could they have an interesting conflict within that interaction?
‘I liked the idea of someone who is actually in a very vulnerable position such as an elderly woman – the rules were there to protect her but she doesn’t want to be protected – she wants to have a normal day. I enjoyed playing with the conflict and people that want to interact that aren’t allowed to, and how they get some kind of meaning or social interaction out of a very limited window of time in which they’re allowed to talk to each other face-to-face, so a cafe felt like a fun way to do that.’
Emily worked closely with Cordelia who she met during free online workshops organised by Podium.me for young writers across the UK.
‘The thing that I felt really changed across the edits was having increased conflict between the characters and having a believable resolution. So really thinking about personality traits that would clash but could also help each other in some way. May, a trainee barista at the cafe started as quite a timid character but that wasn’t enough conflict. Having her fight her own corner a bit more is a lot more fun.’
How did Emily avoid clichés when writing an older person’s part?
Di Langford – Vanessa
‘I created a character who hates the rules and is very isolated by them. I didn’t do anything that would hold her back, I decided she has no filter because she’s done with ‘people pleasing,’ she just wants to say what’s on her mind. That’s much more entertaining.’
The brief encouraged a small cast. What was it like writing a piece with a very contained number of people?
‘I love limited casts, I love writing things where two people are having a conversation in one location.
I used to get criticised for not having enough stuff happening, I needed more ‘action’ in my scripts. I love really honing in on two characters so that was really fun for me.
I actually feel more stressed if I have loads of cast members and I have to work out how they are going to interact. It was nice to have a third character – the manager, Oliver Gower to break up the conversation and add more energy’
Oliver Gower – cafe manager
What were your challenges in terms of casting, and then recording in a real location?
‘Most of my contacts were my age, I don’t know many actors who are not in their 20s and 30s, and that’s where Cordelia was great because she knew the perfect person. As soon as I heard Diane, I thought – you are exactly what I need.
Choosing between the actors for the other roles was really hard as there were several people who I thought were brilliant, but there is a whole other quality when looking for a voice actor. It’s not only can they act the role well but can they act the voice by itself? Is there too much breathing,
are they rushing, are they slurring, are they going too fast? Is it clear what is going on?
Madeleine who plays May was great because she is in the Archers, so she has reams of experience in voice acting.
Madeleine Leslay – May – cafe barista
‘The location was more than I could have dreamed of. Our editor/sound recordist, David Sharp knew the owner of Buttys a local Folkestone café.
It must be so much easier for actors to record in a real space compared with sitting in a booth by themselves pretending that they are somewhere, pretending that they are moving and interacting with objects. It makes it so much more authentic and exciting to listen to as well.
During the initial interior scenes I was so amazed at how smoothly it was going. David had set up everything indoors, he got so many different foley sounds but the moment we went outside for the outdoor scenes I learnt a lot for my future writing.’
‘Outdoor scenes are really hard for audio when recording on location as you cannot control traffic, birds, children or wind. The weather was quite bad so we were constantly moving location to try and find somewhere that was quiet and still enough to get a few good takes that were not messed up by background noise.
Props to the whole team for standing in the cold and recording again and again to get a take where there isn’t a seagull or a motorbike interrupting!’
Emily’s favourite shows are comedies that also deal with more serious topics like Ted Lasso and Lovesick. ‘You are laughing, and then suddenly find you are thinking about deep dark topics that really matter to you ‘
‘I enjoy looking at how audio can be used so differently from visual It is very freeing.’
Emily Reader is a script writer for audio and television. She has recently been awarded a distinction for her Script Writing MA at Goldsmiths University, and won the Blue Elephant Award for the Best UK Short Screenplay at the Kingston International Film Festival, Swan Song, is being produced for next year’s festival.
Her stage play, Rumours, was performed in Exeter and at the Inter-University Drama Festival in Glasgow in 2018. Winner of the Zara Malone Memorial Prize for the highest creative writing mark in her year at Exeter University. Her work has been produced and distributed by Thematic Theatre, Indie-Clips, Eva’s Echo Theatre Company, and the Haringey Fringe.
Emily has also written for BBC Radio: Newsjack. Scripts shortlisted by ‘Owdyado Theatre, Ghostcow Productions, and her work has been read at scratch nights lead by Scriptwriters & Co, Dapper Sandwich, Newsroom Theatre Company, and Lonely Penguin Productions.
Di Langford began her acting career in provincial rep and later on tour around the UK. She spent seasons at Chichester and the National Theatre. As a reader for the RNIB Talking Book Service she was part of the team which developed the provision of audio description for film. Di described all the Harry Potter Films. She is an audio book reader and as a freelance audio describer works with VocalEyes, a charity which provides access to the arts for blind and partially sighted people. This includes describing theatre and opera performances in the West End and across the UK.
Madeleine Leslay trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and The Royal Academy of Music. She is currently appearing as Mollie Ralston in The Mousetrap in the West End and is also the voice of feisty teen Chelsea Horrobin in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers. As well as Stage and Radio, Madeleine also regularly narrates audiobooks and has voiced books by authors such as Jacqueline Wilson and Philippa Gregory.
Oliver Gower attends the Guildford school of acting and worked alongside Rufus Norris and Carol Ann Duffy on My Country and a BBC adaptation of the show directed by Norris. He has a BA in Drama and Dramatics / Theatre Arts from the University of Sussex. He has experience on stage, screen and television and has performed in Her Majesty’s, The National Theatre, and venues in St Albans and Brighton. He also has a podcast The Uncensored Critic on Apple podcasts
Cordelia Galloway is a writer and a teacher. Her 2010 play Eat received a commendation in the Verity Bargate Award. Her plays, SE1 and One of the Boys received workshop performances at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. This was part of a commission for writers to work with young actors on a piece of new writing.
Cordelia is Head of Drama for Podium.me. She is pioneering and developing ways of empowering young people to write and produce radio drama. She taught workshops in person around the UK in Belfast, Edinburgh, Oxford, Derby and online.
Cordelia has a degree in Drama from Manchester University, and an MA in writing for the stage from Goldsmiths. She trained as an actor at Drama Centre London.
‘The structure was great, allowing us to slowly build up skills and an appreciation for the various elements of a radio drama. I think we got really lucky with the other participants too; everyone was friendly and supportive, and very generous in terms of bravely sharing their work to be critiqued so that the whole group could benefit and learn; but this was due to Camilla and Cordelia ensuring that the classes were a safe space. I liked the length of the course, it was a reliable, regular useful investment of my time during the apocalypse, which enabled me to learn loads and keep my brain creatively engaged. I know it was a HUGE time commitment for Camilla and Cordelia, but I feel like it was more helpful having this spread over 3 weeks rather than one afternoon workshop; we had time to ‘marinate’ what we’d learnt and I personally came up with 3 different radio drama ideas over the course, so thanks very much, ladies! : )’
Podium.me is always on the lookout for writers who are new to audio drama. We throw the net wide to nurture talent and hear diverse voices and stories. We specialise in unlocking talent especially when someone may not have considered audio drama as a medium.
We look to introduce a diverse audience to the experience of audio drama. We run occasional free workshops around the UK to introduce would-be writers into audio drama. We love to hear from voice actors for recording audio dramas.
Listen to some of our monologues and read the writers’ blogs to discover how they were made. Meet the writers