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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Plays for the Future (Part 2)

So, phase two of my stumble through the detritus of my writing career.  Having begun to make sense of the files already in digital format (although difficult and time consuming to drag into the modern world) I have now moved to  the pre computer age. In the later days  I had a good electronic typewriter and scripts are relatively easy for the OCR software to scan and produce a digital form that bears some resemblance to the original. (Sorry, OCR means Optical Character Recognition and it's a fiendishly clever piece of software that renders what it scans in words and letters that are in a  format that computers can use).  Anyway, as I said, relatively straightforward with a good, clear original but going back further, scripts were cyclostyled.  That is, typed by typists using big old machines onto stencils and then run though a machine the squeezed ink through the stencil onto paper. This was the only way of reproducing several copies so that cast members had a script each.  However, these stencils reproduced very erratically and the quality of the reproduction was in line with the ability of the typist and the newness of the typewriter.  As these got older the letters became worn away and many couldn't punch through the film leaving these scripts with  gaps, letters missing and general haziness because of the medium.
The mighty Gestetner Duplicating Machine

So this is the material that I'm working from now.  Faded, yellowing on thick, old fashioned paper, sometimes barely readable to the human eye let alone by OCR software. Oh, and one other handicap, most of these old scripts have been stored in a succession of wet old sheds and garages.  The paper has rotted and mice and slugs have made away with large chunks.  Trying to make sense of these crumbling documents is more archeology than reproduction.  Sometimes I have a few handwritten notes that can guide me but often I have to interpolate paragraphs and pages using my rather inadequate memory.  What I shall do to reclaim the plays that have  vanished altogether, I'm not sure.

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