Ex-Advertiser reporter has the write stuff

The playwrights behind TalkFest in the Borders. Including former Midlothian Advertiser reporter Campbell Hutchison (front second from right) and Anita John from Penicuik (back second from left). Photo by Alwyn Johnston.
The playwrights behind TalkFest in the Borders. Including former Midlothian Advertiser reporter Campbell Hutchison (front second from right) and Anita John from Penicuik (back second from left). Photo by Alwyn Johnston.
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Former Advertiser reporter Campbell Hutcheson and an aspiring writer from Penicuik are set to see their short plays come to life on stage.

Campbell and Anita John are two of the eight amateur playwrights whose works will tonight (Thursday) kick-off the TalkFest in the Borders festival in Galashiels with extracts from their plays, created as part of the Scottish Borders Playwriting Programme.

The performances of each 45 minute one-act play will be directed by Stasi Schaeffer and Alasdair Hunter and performed script-in-hand by a cast of professional actors.

Campbell from Galashiels, who turns 58 today, is excited about the prospect of his play ‘Better at the Strath’ coming to life on his birthday.

He said: “I didn’t have anything planned for that night so it’s a great night out, and it’s free! Quite a birthday treat.

“It’s a chance to work with a professional cast and professional director. I’m thrilled about it. We met each month from July, adding scenes as we went along.

“We were told we could write what we wanted, it’s carte blanche. Because we met in Hawick I decided to do my play about a guy from Hawick who has just turned 60 and thought ‘where can I go with my bus pass’. So he goes off to Dingwall. It’s based on an incident that happened in Dingwall in the 1960s which refers to the title, but I won’t give too much away.”

Campbell has enjoyed the project. He said: “It’s been a really interesting process. I have written a play before but this will be the first time my work has been performed on stage.

“I’m not kidding myself on, I’m not going to be the next Tom Stoppard or anything like that. It’s kind of like a wee boy that’s always wanted to play football getting a chance. It will be an interesting exercise.

“I can’t thank playwrights Studio Scotland enough. They have been very helpful.

“The only things missing really are scenery and costumes, but it would just be too difficult to put eight different plays on.“

Campbell, an Advertiser reporter from 2011-2013 before moving to our sister paper The East Lothian News, added: “I loved working there, the folk were great.”

Anita John (57)has had poetry published before, including a book of short stories and poems, but she was still taken aback by the challenge of writing her play ‘Amy’s Dilemma’.

She said: “I have written one or two scripts before but not a full play.

“It has been difficult. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to write about, but it was actually pinning it down and making it flow from beginning to end that was tough. But it has been fun as well, a real learning curve.

“It was great to have the support from Playwright Scotland. Without their help I don’t think I would have written a line.

“It feels quite nerve-racking that professional actors and director will be reading your work and commenting on it. It will though be great to see the words come to life.”