New walkabout drama brings “doof doof” soap action to Great Yarmouth seafront
5th February 2021
A ground-breaking new drama set in a Norfolk seaside town aims to bring gritty TV soap opera action to a walkabout audience.
And the up-and-coming young writer penning the script is perfect for the task, as he is one of EastEnders’ apprentice storymakers.
James McDermott has created Ghosted as a Covid-busting production which will see the action unfold on the promenades at Sheringham and Great Yarmouth – while the audience wears headsets to get audio snippets that add to the twists and turns of the plot.
The story explores the efforts of five very different teenage friends, after their pal Ash disappears and his clothes are washed up on the beach. It delves into their characters, romances, and secrets which could explain Ash’s absence.
The cast will be chosen this month (February) and Ghosted will be staged in April by St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth and Sheringham Little Theatre in a joint venture partly funded by the government’s cultural recovery fund, which is helping the venues not only survive, but seek to expand its programming and diversity.
James, 27 who lives near Holt, said: “I love soap opera and Netflix box sets, which everyone has been binge watching in lockdown, and so wanted to write a play with all plot twists, grittiness and fast paced action of a binge-worthy TV drama”.
“Ghosted features teenage characters from diverse backgrounds and communities representing 21st century life and placing lives centre stage that we wouldn’t normally see in Norfolk theatres”
”The aim is for Ghosted to be the first in a series of plays telling an expansive story that will unfold across several productions, similar to a Netflix story that unfolds over several seasons” he added.
James has been writing professionally since 2016 after finishing a scriptwriting degree at the UEA. He pens poetry, drama, screenplays – and a future panto for Norwich Playhouse – and has won acclaim for his edgy works.
He is currently part of the EastEnders Writers Shadow Scheme, being taught via an online script consultant how to write for the show, and will hopefully get to write his own episode in the not-too-distant future.
“We hope Ghosted will be as addictive as your favourite TV series with the audience desperate to find out what happens next and excitedly waiting for the next instalment,” James added.
The cast will be “mic-ed up” so the open air, socially-distanced audience can hear all the action including the quiet mutterings. Audio clips into the audience’s headsets will include “voices off”, and phone messages.
It is a format new to James, but not to experience filmmaker and West End director Marcus Romer, who has done similar work. He said: “This is an exciting opportunity to be creative and adaptable – so we can take theatre to the people, if people cannot return to the theatre. And the grant has enabled us to create new work using young local talent.”
Debbie Thompson, theatre director at both St George’s and Sheringham venues, said: “Ghosted is an amazing, creative piece of work that brings together an experience director and young playwright who both think out of the box. It will give us an exciting,, and hopefully Covid-proof production to stage this year even if we cannot open the theatres just yet.”