Welcome to Phil Mansell's Paperblog Writer Blog.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

But is it art?

Just been doing some house-keeping on all the files on my PC and came across a bunck of artwork I've done over the years. So I thought I'd share them with the world. Generous or what?
I've always been heavily influenced by one of my all-time favourite artists Quentin Blake - and it definitely shows in this quick sketch.

Another quick sketch - this one of how I remembered writing songs with Drew Millin when I lived down in Torquay (Drew's the good-looking one on the right). I'm sure this is how we came up with 'Things Have Changed A Lot' and 'Cruising to California', two of our best songs.
This is a cover illustration I did for a children's book I wrote and illustrated back in the '90s. It was about a family moving to a new home (as you may have guessed from the removal van). Looking at it now I can see I based the guy on the right on my late Uncle Bill - right down to his flat cap and scarf.. I'm thinking of revising this book, re-writing it and self-publishing it via the internet.

A sketch for a children's book I started ages ago. In later versions the Banjo Man is a much darker, sinister figure - and nowhere near as cheerful as this. I must dig out this story and do some more work on it!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

According to Claudia Reading/Workshop

Pleased to announce that my play 'According to Claudia' will be having a Reading/Workshop at the Dolman Theatre Studio on Tuesday April the First (honestly, no fooling).

There are parts for 4 women and 3 men in the 30 - 70 age range. Hope lots of people can make it!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Using Scrivener to write a successful stage play

On a previous post http://paperblog-writer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/play-writing-value-of-group-readings.htmlI wrote about how useful a group reading was for my stage play ‘According to Claudia'. Recently, I was very pleased and proud that the play has been selected by the Artistic Committee of Newport Playgoers to open their new season at the 400-seat Dolman Theatre in Newport this coming September.

This represents a great personal achievement for me – especially as other plays in the season are by such renowned writers as Noel Coward, Somerset Maugham, Ira Levin and Richard Curtis. Illustrious company to be in!

I owe my success in no small part to the marvellous writing program Scrivener – and let me say from the start that I am not connected in any way with the company that makes it. I’m just a big fan as you'll see from this previous blog of mine: http://paperblog-writer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/play-writing-value-of-group-readings.html

Since I purchased Scrivener some time ago I have found it extremely useful for all my writing, from novels to TV sitcoms.  It’s so much more than a word processor. It has various formats for all kinds of writing, a databank where you can easily store and access all sorts of reference material from photos to character sketches – and a very useful autofill function which saves you the laborious task of filling in characters’ name every time they speak.

When writing ‘According to Claudia’ I started by using the corkboard to plot the play and create a profile of each character. From there I was able to flesh out each scene in detail and then get down to the nitty gritty of writing. If I wanted to change a scene Scrivener has a useful ‘snapshot’ function which meant I could take a snap of my original scene and then revise it, knowing the first version was not lost.

When I was satisfied with the final draft I exported the play as a PDF, making it easy to circulate to potential publishers and other interested parties. Previously, I have blogged about the beauty of Scrivener – and how ‘According to Claudia’ benefitted from a group reading which enabled me to hone it to perfection. The result is that it is now being produced on stage.

I’ll be writing regular updates about the progress of ‘Claudia’ from page to stage. If you're a writer or anyone involved in theatre I hope you'll follow them and find them entertaining and useful.

You can download free trial of Scrivener here:  http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Play-writing: the Value of Group Readings

To all script-writers who are wondering what to do next or questioning the value of a group reading, my advice is to go for it.

When I completed my latest stage play ‘According To Claudia’ to the satisfaction of my wife, Caroline, who acts as my editor and harshest critic, the time came to test drive it with a group reading.

I approached seven of the best actors in Newport Playgoers and to my relief they agreed to do it. Then terror set in. Showing your work to people who have performed in some of the best plays ever written is a big gamble. What would they think of it?  Was it good enough?
A group reading of your script can be invaluable
So, I was very nervous when they turned up at our house for the reading. Luckily, Caroline had prepared a range of delicious canap├ęs and other tasty bites to ensure the evening was a success. After assigning parts, the reading began. It was a slow start as the actors found their way but it was soon moving at a cracking pace, with lots of laughter and “Oohs” and “Aahs” from the cast.

At the end, there was much debate about the play and plenty of positive feedback. Two of the most useful comments were:

 “What happened to my character? She just sort of faded away in the second act.”

“The main character is very strong and quite nasty – but you must give her one redeeming feature.”

There were also several suggestions about the characters’ relationships and how they could be developed. All in all, very useful – and it gave me lots of food for thought. So, copious notes were made and I’m now re-writing like mad. Next thing: another reading, and if that goes well a rehearsed reading in front of an audience in the Dolman Studio Theatre.

So, my advice is: have faith in your work. Don’t rely on the opinion of friends and family – they’re going to say it’s great as they probably won’t want to upset you. Put it to the test. Get some local actors round a table and give it a trial run. You’ll learn a lot about what you’re doing right – and where you’re going wrong!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Bill Pertwee on 'Round The Horne'

Bill Pertwee (top) with
 the 'Round The Horne'
Sad to hear of the death of another veteran 'Dad's Army' star, Bill Pertwee who played Air Warden Hodges.

However, for me, some of his most memorable performances were as Seamus Android on 'Round The Horne'. 
Not sure how many people remember Eamonn Andrews' Sunday night chat show - a futile attempt to rival Parkinson - but it was famous for the Irishman's inability to talk off the cuff and for his perspiring profusely when the subject matter got a little racy. 

Eammon Andrews

Marty Feldman and Barry Took's send-up was always very near the mark, never more so than in the lines (with heavy Irish accent) "My next guest has travelled literally two hundred yards to be with us tonight" and the interview-closing "And that's as true today as it was then".

'Round The Horne' is regularly repeated on BBC Radio 4 Extra - always worth a listen. 


Sunday, 10 March 2013


So last night four of us went to see the ballet 'Sleeping Beauty' choreographed by Matthew Bourne. 

Before the show I remarked that the last time I'd seen a production of 'Sleeping Beauty' had been at the Birmingham Theatre in January 1967. That had been slightly different as it was the panto version starring Morecambe and Wise.  

During the interval, after an action-packed and amazing first half (never thought I'd say that about a ballet), we were discussing the performance and I said, "It's brilliant but not quite as good as the Morecambe and Wise version." 

Sleeping Beauty panto programme
Everyone fell about. Not because of my witty remark but because a woman standing next to me had given me a look of pure scorn. 

No doubt, even now she's telling all her acquaintances, "There was this truly wondrous ballet, a work of pure genius, with Tchaikovsky's marvellous music - and this moron next to me was comparing it unfavourably to Morecambe and Wise."

On the very slim chance that she's reading this: it was a joke. J-O-K-E. Joke.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Special offers

"Mysterious" black watches
Just ordered a handy reading tray on the phone and qualified for a free set of 2 "mysterious" black watches, whatever they are. 

I turned down the special offer of a torch/radio despite the protests of very nice Asian salesman Derek who said, "But, sir, not only will you be able to see where you're going in the dark, you'll also be able to listen to your favourite radio station." 

Who among us, hasn't dreamed of doing that?