The story of how Glasgow writer Mark MacNicol mounted a production of his first play, with no budget and no support, is an inspiration for anyone who has tried to break into the arts and been frustrated. MacNicol originally tried pitching his play, Coconut Badger (an adaptation of his own novel about a young man from a housing schemes with aspirations who ends up being mentored by an ageing psychopath), to several theatres, and, while the response was generally positive, he was repeatedly turned down for a commission.
‘That was the point where I thought, “Well, I could just keep going or I could let it die on my hard drive”,’ he says. ‘But I had a lot of enthusiasm for the project so I decided to have a go at producing and directing it on my own.’
Armed with nothing more than self-belief and chutzpah MacNicol set about finding a venue for the play (Glasgow’s Admiral Bar) and recruited his cast through Facebook and his own online blog. Through networking he secured free audition and rehearsal space, though when those options weren’t available the cast rehearsed in his auntie’s front room.
In these cash-strapped times MacNicol exemplifies the spirit of stripped-down DIY guerrilla theatre that inspires many emerging companies and informed the Tron’s recent Mayfesto season. Despite his setbacks, MacNicol is determined to continue along his chosen career path. ‘I had a career in IT and I’ve been involved in some hefty projects, but this has undoubtedly been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done,’ he says. ‘But my hope is that this DIY approach may inspire other writers to do something similar.’
Admiral Bar, Glasgow, Thu 3 & Fri 4 Jun