Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Thing is...

The thing is I've decided to try and think about the problems I've got before I start work. The youth piece. I don't know exact cast numbers - between 20 and 30 - or the number of boys to girls, I know there will be more girls than boys because there always are, but not how many more. I can't have a couple of protagonists who run all the way through the play because they won't be able to make every rehearsal as they'll have extra science or a job at Morrison's. I can't have more than a handful of named characters because I don't know about the cast, so it has to be possible for the dialogue to be distributed easily, but I can indicate where a precise number of characters are talking to each other and that is useful. And I've made the decision that the story is going to be told by the group. I've got three characters that we see at the start and who crop up throughout and that helps hold it together and give the audience a way in from the beginning to the end. Always nice to see a friendly face. I've got an opening and a big finish. It's the bits in the middle I've got to sort out.
The first draft has given me the structure and a lot of the incidents. Some of them just need tightening. Others need chucking out because they don't earn their place, they don't move the action on, or they don't tel us anything we don't already know about the characters, or because they are pretty boring. That's okay. Sometimes the first time round you think to yourself, I know more or less what should go here but it's not quite there, and so you write anything knowing that it will be changed. There are moments when it is enough just to cover the blank paper with words. You can always rewrite rubbish, can't do much with a blank sheet.
So, the next step is to rewrite what I've done so far, this will involve cutting the naff bits and leaving holes in the text, that will be followed by rethinking the whole piece, and starting again. Deadline the end of August.
In fact the rewrite is the best part, and I am looking forward to getting to grips with it. No, really. But I did bump into a mate last night outside the Broadway - we went to see Harry Potter which is very long - and when I told him that I was allergic to Facebook as I don't need any more displacement activities, he reminded me of a night at the Nottingham Writers' Studio when five of us stood round comparing the different things we do to avoid writing. This blog is not one of them - it is an important part of my creative process and as soon as I've finished it, had breakfast, read the paper, and done my turn clearing up the house for the friends who are coming to stay, I shall start work.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Back to the grindstone. Well, sort of...

I started work again this morning. Two and a half solid, more or less solid, hours on the youth theatre piece. I did have a coffee. And I read the post. I had to check my on line account and transfer some money. And I had to send Mik Godley an e mail about his piece in Staples magazine about his Virtual Silesia project which is brilliant. But I'd say that work was done and progress was made. And now I'm stopping. For lunch. And to go to town and pay my tax bill and pick up some tickets for Wilko Johnson at the Rescue Rooms. Then I've got to go to the gym and try and work off three weeks in the States, and then to the Broadway this evening for Harry Potter which I suspect will be long.
I know I haven't done much, but I've made a start, and that's the main thing. Also I need some thinking time about what I'm going to do next in the rewrite and about an idea that's just started to work it's way into my head. So, onward and upward, and lunch.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Only in America

Only in America is a wonderful phrase. It can be said with pride, with baffled amusement, in disbelief, in anger, in any way that suits the moment. In Staunton, Virginia there is a replica of Shakespeare's Blackfriars Theatre - only in America. The only one in the world.
Staunton is a small town. Probably about the size of Mansfield, possibly smaller. Jim Warren and Ralph Cohen the co founders wanted to build their theatre in Harrisonburg. Harrisonburg wasn't keen and so they took the idea the Staunton who said , yes, please, and now every spring, summer, and autumn there is a programme of plays from Shakespeare and his contemporaries. And it supports a touring programme. We saw Merry Wives, and, carried on its cast's enthusiasm, it made for a very enjoyable evening. As far as I could discover the actors are mainly amateur at the moment, but they hope that will change soon. The whole place is full of enthusiasm. Enthuisasm is a good thing. If someone suggested a similar project here in the UK - cf The Globe and how long that took - we would only see potential difficulties, over there, a small town took about a week to say - Okay,why not?
Next year in Staunton they intend to start building a replica of the Globe (sic).

Monday, 20 July 2009

Stephen Luckwell

I heard this morning that at the season review at Nottingham Playhouse the staff voted My Name is Stephen Luckwell the best show for direction, writing, acting and design. What a perceptive bunch. And very gratifying too. I'm still hoping that it might get another production somewhere, I know it won't be in Germany next season but Boris thinks it is only a matter of time before someone takes it up. I'm tempted to think about Edinburgh next year, but it could be a lot of hassle for nothing, and it would depend on everyone being available.
On Tuesday I'll be home and, having switched off to such an extent that I was wondering if I'd ever feel like writing again, now that the plane is only a day away the itch has returned and I want to get back and get going once more. The second draft of the youth piece waits, and there are other ideas to follow up. The Sea script needs to be to prepared for publication, tightened up a bit, and a few messy sections need to be rewritten to make them easier to read. I hope it'll do quite well with the Ransome following, even if they hate I think they might want to read it. Fingers still tightly crossed about the tour - 'several theatres interested, none confirmed as yet' was the last I heard from Eastern Angles.

Monday, 13 July 2009

I could get used to Southern Hospitality

I'm in Charleston South Carolina. Pelicans have flown by, the fan on the back porch is moving the air around, and I am sitting in a rocker with a cold beer, dependant on the kindness of strangers. Not actually strangers, but my stepson and daughter in law who have invited us to share their holiday with them. There's a pool and a golf buggy in case we can't be arsed to walk the hundred yards to the beach.

I haven't written a word since 26th June. My notebook is unopened. I haven't had a creative thought in weeks. Oh, the guilt, the guilt.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

It Doesn't Do To trust the T'Internet.

I finished the youth theatre piece the Friday before I left for the States and sent it off by e mail. Just over a week later I got twitchy as I'd heard nothing so I e mailed the school and they hadn't go it. Without quite realising how I'd signed up for and got back up from the Virgin service V Stuff so I was able to download the text from my pc back home and send it on. Should have sent it by post.
My sighting of Steve Earle has been overshadowed this week by the black bear cub we saw on the other side of the road when we returned to our car for a walk. Now I don't know much about bears but I do know that cubs have large mothers and so after a quick photo we got in the car and locked the doors. From there we watched a family of four disappear into the woods following the bear to get a better photo. Mum and dad were large, didn't look quick on their feet, and the kids looked - if you were a bear - tasty. We didn't hang around.
Still plotting how I can get get a sabbatical in New York.

Friday, 3 July 2009

New York.

At this moment I am feeling as near to cool as I am likely to get I think. I'm writing this in a cafe on Bleeker Street. Last night we went and saw Waiting For Godot and the night before we sat listening to the blues in Arthur's Tavern. Oh, and a few minutes ago I bumped into Steve Earle. That is, in fact, strictly true, because I did bump into him.
Godot was excellent. Tight, disciplined, and very very funny. I'd read that some of the dark side was missing at the expense of the comedy but that is not so. Please let there be tickets for the London production.
We are staying in a basement bedsit in the Village having bagels for breakfast and I'm getting quite taken with the idea of staying right where I am and not coming home at all.