Magic of canal gets writers’ inspiration flowing in plays

Author Philip Pullman

Author Philip Pullman

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering North Oxford, Jericho and Summertown. Call me on 01865 425498

SPELLBINDING stories of the Oxford Canal were performed in Jericho’s church in a competition for a heritage project.

The four 10-minute radio plays were read for the first time to an audience at St Barnabas Church on Thursday.

The finalists had been whittled down from 36 entries, all inspired by the historic city waterway.

It was part of the Oxford Canal Heritage Project, which aims to promote interest in the canal among residents.

Author and Cumnor resident Philip Pullman chose the overall winner, Breaking the Ice, by St Anne’s College English undergraduate David McShane. It followed two men as they reminisced about their memories of the canal and former lovers.

Mr McShane said: “My inspiration stemmed from thinking about the canals I’ve grown up around, in Shireoaks and now Oxford. There’s something about how the Alice In Wonderland potential of these places is so at odds with the days when it’s all mud and rain.

“That feeling of hoping for the wonderland but sometimes finding it hidden by reality resonated with some of the things I like writing about.”

Mr Pullman, who could not attend, said in a written message: “I read all the plays at least twice and they were all interesting in different ways. But there was one that stood out for me as a piece of drama.

“A play should be about coming to a crisis and then having it resolved and so I felt [David’s] play should win.”

The final four shortlisted entries will all be produced by Oxford-based Tom Dick and Debbie studios, uploaded to the Oxford Canal Heritage Project’s website and be available for download.

Other entrants included a story about the mule who pulled the country’s last horse-drawn narrow boat along the Oxford Canal, and another about Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame, who is buried in Holywell Cemetery.

A third about the long history of travellers stopping at Oxford’s mooring sites was written by Lara Fairy.

The 40-year-old, who lives in a houseboat at Walton Bridge Moorings, wrote her radio play to raise awareness of Port Meadow. She said: “My play drew on the stories my nan used to tell me about the area as well as all the traditions and things families had made there. The meadows are an amazing public space and I want more people to come and visit us.”

Katie Baxendale, artistic director of the project, said: “Writing a good play that lasts 10 minutes is no mean feat and we only gave people three weeks.

“I couldn’t believe it when my inbox filled up with 36 of them. As someone who writes for a living, it was wonderful to see people follow that urge.”

  • For more information, visit oxford canalheritage.org

• Our top stories:

Skye Hall's family: Our first Christmas without our brave son

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 20th December 2014

LOOM bands are taking over the house of Skye Hall’s family as they prepare to spend their first Christmas without the brave youngster who died in August.

Hudspeth backs councillors in demand to be told man's pay in allowances row

Oxford Mail: Ian Hudspeth

8:30am Saturday 20th December 2014

OXFORDSHIRE County Council leader Ian Hudspeth has backed councillors Rodney Rose and Kevin Bulmer who asked a voter to reveal his wages when he challenged them over a 19 per cent hike in their allowance.

Two arrested for GBH after man injured in fight

Oxford Mail:

5:24pm Saturday 20th December 2014

Two teenagers from Witney were arrested last night after a man suffered a broken arm.

Oxfam "accepts" tweet ruling

Oxford Mail:

2:23pm Saturday 20th December 2014

OXFAM has said it accepts criticism from charity regulators over an alleged “party political” tweet about a “perfect storm” of poverty.

Ambulance managers shown as Nazis in Downfall video parody

Oxford Mail:

7:10am Saturday 20th December 2014

A VIDEO portraying South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) bosses as Nazi military officials has emerged on YouTube.

What brilliant picture is in our Oxford Mail Advent Calendar today?

Oxford Mail:

6:00am Tuesday 9th December 2014

December is Advent Calendar time and we have a special new interactive graphic for you each and every day until Christmas Eve. I've chosen the best 24 pictures of 2014 and I'll be unveiling one a day - so what is behind's today's door?

 

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree