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Ockley Dramatic Society - Mike Newbold

I (webmaster) first contacted Mike in May 2003 because the Society had just started rehearsals for "Say it with flowers" by "Paul Union". This is how he replied:-

Paul Union does not exist. It is just a name I used to hide behind in play competitions (they do not like you to use your own name on the initial entry). I decided to keep it in the playlist as it looks more interesting to have a few different names. Which brings us back to me, Mick Newbold, addicted playwright.

The actual playwriting began in 1980 when the family moved to the far north of the Shetland Islands. BP luring me away from civilisation as we knew it. We were all new to the area, living in small townships near the oilbase at Sullom Voe. A small native population was trying desperately to cope with this sudden, crazy expansion of life. For the children there was scouts, guides and Boys Brigade and that was virtually it. No Youth Club, nearest town 30 miles away - three buses a week on pretty diabolical roads. (It has changed a lot).

A local Drama Group was formed for adults, which survived for two years and fell apart - as sometimes seems to be the case. My wife was persuaded to start a Youth Drama Group - which was christened Splinters (her only experience being two Brownie Pantomimes in Coventry - shortened versions at that). So it began.

First there was a search for scripts in the Islands. Most of those found were based in the thirties. There was no internet then - so it was, Mick, write us a play, to fit all our cast into (seven in those days) for the local Drama Festival, whatever that was. So I did - and the bug bit, I've been writing ever since for the Youth Theatre, three plays and a pantomime per year, some were good, some were bad but we all the learned the ropes together. The last few years the youth group have been an excellent set, allowing me to really stretch their talents, they start at 7 years and stay until 18 years (when most disappear for Uni or College), this means they are mostly involved for about 11 years each. At present we have 40 members covering a large rural area.

In between the youth writing, I've managed to write a lot for adults, channelling some of it through playwriting competitions. I have submitted to the Biannual Scottish Community Drama Association's National Playwriting Comp. and have had been successful three times, being invited to the showing of the three winning plays and the presentation. Also had success stretching from Bognor Regis, London, Inverness and here in Shetland over the years. I have had one play on the radio which was performed twice, this was in Shetland dialect. Although living here in Islands limits me to only a few of these. Its amazing how parochial some competitions are, and that includes the BBC. About six years ago a visiting adjudicator asked me what I did with all the scripts - I said put them in the attic or recycled the pieces for different size casts. She said youth groups were desperate for youth plays - there was a void for innovative writing - so the idea of the mini catalogue was conceived and carried out.

Now retired, from real work (born 1941) I'm still writing for our Youth Theatre. These comprise of youth and juniors. I'm not sure if I'm an over the hill teenager, or if just mixing with them gives me enough ideas to carry on, and of course it keeps you young.

Last updated 10th May 2003.

Plays we've performed

These are listed under his various pen names, which, for the time being, is just Paul Union.