Friday, 28 June 2013

Theatre Week

I'm probably not going on a holiday this year, so I've decided to have a week off in London and go to see a whole lot of theatre instead. A theatre week.

I'm going to see Shakespeare, Gorky, Victorian Music Hall Farces, Pinter, Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets, various new writing and the Ustinov revival. And probably other stuff too. A definite variety. Will I overdose on theatre? It's possible, but as an entertainment I've loved since childhood, I think I'll survive. I'm trying to pack in as much as possible, and also visit theatres I've not been to before. Matinees, evenings, promenade performances. Did I mention sock puppets? It's going to be a busy week. I may even attempt to review some of the shows. But if I don't review them all, it's not necessarily because I hated them - perhaps I'm just grabbing sleep rather than writing. Or I'm at the theatre. Or I'm in Japan, which is splitting my theatre week into two parts. Or maybe I did hate them.

So if you see a stray redhead sat on her own in a theatre, possibly scribbling in a notebook during the interval, feel free to come over and say hello and recommend a play. I still have a few gaps in the schedule to fill...

First Date - or The Amazing Goat Gun

My play "First Date (It Ends Badly)" was staged as part of an evening called "Voices" at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness. There were seven ten-minute plays on the bill, all written by the playwriting group connected to the theatre and performed by the DramaLab actors. Mine was a short-sharp-shock horror adapted from a short story that was first published ten years ago (hard to believe, it doesn't seem that long...) The other plays were quite a mixture, from tales of disillusionment and abuse to medieval monks and broken paving slabs. So there was something for most people in the friendly audience that filled the studio... and the lights went down.

First Date involved four actors, and the one who had been very quiet during rehearsals spoke up loud and clear - what a star! My main psychopath took a moment to get into the role, but then transformed into the uneven, unstable character, disappointed by the results of his search for love... until maybe the right woman does turn up - but will she like him? Well, I don't think she hit him in the head quite as hard as she did in rehearsals (me: "don't worry, actual blood will just look all the more authentic") so perhaps he grew on her...

Confusion and unintended comedy arose when the director manning the sound effects boards hit the wrong button. Instead of a gunshot, we heard a goat bleat (used in the play about medieval monks). Odd, thought the audience and we continued. But when we came to the next gunshot, the goat came over loud and clear again... I guess the audience assumed it was some kind of symbolism or statement rather than a mistake. And then we came to the final gunshot - it actually was the right sound effect this time - but too early. However, the quick thinking actress went with it, and it blended in near-seamlessly. So... it wasn't perfect, and I think we had better overall performances in rehearsals, but I guess we can say it was all right on the night. Perhaps death by goat provided an added dimension of mystery.

It has been a really interesting and useful process: attending rehearsals and seeing how my script has evolved due to issues about physical space available, props, and the actors themselves. I now have a much better idea what I need to be aware of when writing, what to consider and what practically can be achieved. Immense thanks are due to John Batty and the DramaLab actors for a brilliant experience. Now it's over, I'll miss them all ...

Monday, 17 June 2013

Actually writing

I've not done so well in terms of actually getting some writing done recently. I have plenty of excuses, of course. I've been travelling back and forth between London and Scotland. I've been reading books about writing. I've been busy, I've been thinking about stories, I've been tired. Huh.

But yesterday I sat down and plotted out a short play I've been thinking about for a while (working title of Goldilocks because it's about a girl visiting her grandma and finding an unexpected visitor). I wrote an outline, then wrote the first draft. It's ragged round the edges and needs a lot of work, but it's words on paper (well, on screen). Good. Now do more of that.

However, I also need to do some rewriting. My novel Identity is waiting, as is my play Possession, and as for the other shorter plays, well, they're waiting their turn too. But new stuff is more attractive of course. I have to convince myself to redraft, that it is worthwhile. I mean, what's the point in having a whole load of not-quite-right drafts lying around? Right. This weekend, then. It's a date.

It's also my last weekend before travel takes over my life again for a few weeks. I'm off to Japan. That's scary (I don't speak or read the language!) and very cool (I mean: Japan!) at the same time.

Needing to pack will not be accepted as an excuse for not writing though...