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Karen Herbison (writer)
Karen has over 30 years experience of performing, directing and choreographing in a variety of genres including musical, comedy and drama. As the founder and co-producer of The Buddie Magic Theatre Company, Karen wrote, produced and toured original and established pieces of work. She is highly experienced in demanding principal roles in varying settings, including large Glasgow theatres, such as the Kings and Theatre Royal; The Cottier; Harbour, Paisley and East Kilbride Art Centres and Greenock Arts Guild. Karen has performed in several productions with intensive, short rehearsal periods, in more unconventional settings and recently worked as a director of the musical 'Singin' in the Rain'.

What Karen has to say:

My experience of writing "Say You Love Me"

Conceived in Paisley, Born in Bulgaria reared with care, tlc........


Ok! So, we needed a dinner-theatre play...pronto! Cheri, Jon and I brought some story ideas to the table, started with a list of favourites and talked them out a bit. One of our developed ideas appealed to me in particular: I was already hooked on and intrigued by the characters I could imagine from our two-line plot idea. My adrenalin was pumping and I took it away and started writing backgound stories. These turned out to be a novel in itself as I just loved getting to know these guys/creating their lives! I sent Jane's story to Cheri, Lee's to Jon and asked them to read them carefully. I arranged to take them to the cold hills around Paisley (very cold even though it was June), took a recorder, asked them to consider themselves as the characters and posed various conversations for them to have. I had already developed a full plot for the play but wanted to use their discussions to introduce the characters/develop a natural conversation-style.

Thus the play was conceived.

The Birth

I took this recording, a big pad, nice pen and my family on holiday to Bulgaria. I started listening to the recording on the plane and my pen did not stop! From those inital recorded conversations, my full plot and commitment to ensuring real-life humour should mix with the sadness in the story the play poured out. I tingled with excitement writing and developing these two people, their relationship and unfolding the story! While hubbie read his books and the kids played and swam...I wrote. When the kids wanted to go to kids clubs and hubbie wanted a snooze...I wrote.

I remember walking on the beach with my teenage son, early one morning..."...along the tide line..." I looked down and realised that, much as I love the feeling of my feet in the water, I do that all the time...walk along... "...just on the edge..." I started explaining that to myself. Out in a whisper. A speech. I said it once. Liked it. Decided to give the words to "Jane" and wrote it down when we got back. Before the two week holiday was over and with much fun, food, family outings and relaxation - the play was written and I went on to read three books.

Thus the play was born.

The Rearing

I tentively asked my brother to read the play and be as brutal as he felt he needed to be. He is a man who loves the written word, an experienced actor and writer of poetry. This was my much-loved baby. I was scared. He loved it! Was blown away. I had been prepared for major flaws, inconsistencies and re-writes. Wow!

I didn't want Cheri and Jon to read the end product but to experience it. Get an idea of the impact an audience may feel.

My brother and I read the piece to Cheri and Jon. Again...I was scared. They loved it! We talked about minor tweakings and my first edit began as I typed the entire text into computer.

We set up a closed-reading session and invited a cross-section of people (theatre-goers and absolute non theatre-goers alike, friends, contacts, people involved in theatre production).

Guests were given paper & pen and encouraged to make notes of thoughts as they occurred to them throughout - just words. An open question session followed the reading.

I had been SO scared. They loved it! They also made some great constructive points and I received some more extensive feedback. Scared as I had been, the experience was so adrenalin fueled and fantastic and I was genuinely happy to consder the feedback (written and verbal) and used them to consider which elements needed amendments and those which I had to make a judgement as being down to taste.

I was happy with the changes in the second edit and could see how the end product was much improved.

Small edits did continue in rehearsal and this was the joy of being both writer and (subsequently decided by the company) playing in the role of "Jane".

Thus the play was reared.

I continue to tingle when I think of the time I spent writing the play and still tickled when I see a poster with my name on it. My stomach tumbles at the effect my words have had on the audiences. I am delighted at the thought of more people seeing it than I ever originally thought.

Thus the play makes "mummy" very proud.