Sunday, 30 August 2009

Rehearsals on Tuesday.

It's meet and greet and a read through for an adaptation I've done. Wednesday I'll also have to go in, but after then probably not very much at all as my work is basically a template for the company to work from, and it will be interesting to see what they come up with. It feels odd and something of a relief to know that what I have written will be regarded as a starting point and changes will be made from day one that have nothing to do with me. Also this month I shall have the first meeting with the youths from the youth theatre and then we'll see how many of them have dropped out, how many more have joined etc etc, and I do expect to have to do considerable rewrites. I enjoy it. It forces you to be flexible and come up with solutions that meet their needs but are still integral to the play. Nothing wrong with a bit of pragmatism.
Question about a previous show.
'I loved the way the battle scene was so stylised. You used two actors standing on opposite sides of the stage and a sound scape. So simple. What gave you the idea?'
'The other actors dropped out at the last moment and it was the only thing we could think of.'
Necessity is the mother of something or another.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Feelings of virtue.

Today I have been mostly doing my tax and that makes me feel virtuous. I have done my travel, payments, and expenses and bundled them up for the taxman. I get ridiculously overexcited about doing tax returns, even though I have alarmingly little to return this year I couldn't help but notice, because I feel sure that I am going to be hauled over the coals for some infringement I don't even know about, although I am scrupulous to the point of paranoia about declaring everything and not making dubious claims. I think it's because every year I make a error that throws everything and takes me hours to discover. This year the totals across column across wouldn't match the total down column. It took me over an hour to discover that I'd transposed a couple of figures in the the total for expenditure on computers. But, it is over for another year, and I shall continue feeling virtuous for quite some time yet.
This hasn't solved the problem about what I'm going to write next. I know what I'm going to write for the various people who want me to write something for them, but I am determined that this year I will write something for myself and it will be good, which, of course is the difficult part.
I have a notebook, several notebooks, full of ideas. Last night as I was dropping off I had a cracking idea. It came to me fully formed and I thought it through there and then. Needless to say in the morning I couldn't recall a thing. So that is why this morning I started on my tax. Nothing creative, had to be done, and now I have a clear desk. Tomorrow I'll go back to making notes, tomorrow it will all be clear, and I shall start on the piece for myself. Unless I go round the scrap yards looking for a rear light for the Peugeot. Depends on whether it's raining.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

I'm not sure how but I think it's going to work

I finished the youth theatre piece today. This was made easier because last night I got an email from the teacher in charge saying that she liked it. All I needed. A bit of reassurance that it wasn't complete pants and I could get my head down, make decisions, cuts, additions and there it was, finished. I've been farting around with it for too long, but then that's what happens with every piece, until it gains some kind of momentum of it's own (spurred on by a bit of praise/reassurance) I feel as if I'm wasting my time - which of course I am, playing spider solitaire. I'll have another look at it and then send it off. I think we can leave it now until the kids read it through and start to do some work on it, but at least it feels like a proper play. Onward and upward.

Thursday, 6 August 2009


This morning I got an email from someone I taught once a million years ago in another lifetime. It didn't say that I'd blighted his life and made his every moment at school a living hell, in fact, he seemed to have quite enjoyed the work we did, so that lifted my morning before it began. I remembered all the things he referred to except an amazing piece of advice I'd given to another student. Sadly, he didn't say what this advice was which prevents me from passing it on.
Last night I went to see Bruno. Not as sharp as Borat was my opinion. There were some stunning moments, most of which I watched from behind my fingers like I used to watch Doctor Who but for different reasons. There were two in particular, one, when he consulted two American 'ministers' whose mission is to convert the gay to the straight, and the other when he set up a cage fight as Straight Dave and then proceeded to make man-love to his assistant - too complicated to explain - in the cage in front of a crowd of baying red neck heterosexuals. But, in general, the targets seemed to diffuse, too easy, lacking the attack that there was in Borat. Maybe the character was too outrageous to take in any but the very dim, or perhaps people are getting wise to him. Actually, as I think about it there were more than two moments. The martial arts lesson where he was shown how to repel a homosexual armed with two dildos was especially wonderful.
I keep wondering what this amazing advice was. I asked him to tell me, and I'm sue when he does it won't be amazing but something really silly, but I'd like to think I came out with something worth adhering to as I feel in particular need of guidance myself at the moment.
We did get a reply about the commission. Our director wants to like it and would like us to come up with a page of A4 to show how it can be made to look exciting. Now that is something I could do with some advice about.
I mustn't do myself down, I did give some excellent advice to my wife last week as she turned out of Salisbury's car park and onto the main road. I said - Now we're back in England, I think you should drive on the left.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Is it really the right moment to call?

Some months ago a friend suggested someone she knew might be interested in my work and it might be worth while getting in touch. Some months ago. I sent the e mail today. I can't begin to list all the excuses I had for not sending it but basically they all boil down to how do I know this is the right moment to make the approach? If I send it now they might have a head ache, they might be in the middle of something really important and they'll shove my little plea to one side and forget about it, they might be sick to death of unsolicited requests, they have just split up from their husband/wife/partner, their dog might have just died. I don't know these things, do I? And so I put off the email, delay making the phone call. In this case I got an out of office reply saying that they wouldn't be back in until tomorrow. I immediately I decided that they would have such a backlog of e mails that mine would certainly be discarded unread.
What's even worse is trying to work out the right moment to call to find out if the first draft's been read and is it alright? If I don't get an answer to that one within a day, two at the most, I get definitely twitchy. And what's worse still is making the call to ask if the commission we discussed is going to happen. You ring someone up about that one on a bad day and you're buggered before you start. All of this is obviously nonsense, but that doesn't stop it being real - for me.
This morning I talked to a colleague about the commission decision we're waiting on and we worked out what he should put in the email so we didn't look too demanding, so it isn't just me.
On the upside Sea is on it's way to the publishers and the yoyth theatre piece is in front of me, and as soon as I've had lunch, yes, it will be started.

PS. 10pm. Got an out of office reply in response to the query about the possible commission. Won't be back at the desk until September. So that means I've got a whole month to not worry about it.

Monday, 3 August 2009

I really have started.

Today I made a proper start. Not to the youth theatre piece because I thought I needed to get back in the swing, but I began revising the text for Aurorametro who are publishing We Didn't Mean to go to Sea in the spring. They want everything by September so I thought it would be a good way to get the wheels turning again.
I spent a good part of the morning working on the dedication. I've never dedicated a book before and they said I could so I thought ti was important to give the matter some thought. It didn't really need much thought because there's only one dedication I want to make - to all those who got me started and sailed with me and my family and helped us to have such a good time messing about in small boats. (I've phrased it better that that for the book, but that's the gist.)
It's true- the smaller the boat, the greater the fun - that is until you injure your back so every time you get on board and you're bent double like a hairgrip you can't wait to get off again. Which is why I am an ex-boat owner. But trailing our boat down to sail around Salcombe and Dartmouth and the years we had in the Walton Backwaters gave us some of the best holidays imaginable - if you like getting cold and wet, mud, anti fouling in the pouring rain, engines breaking down at exactly the wrong moment, weeks waiting for the weather to allow you out of your berth, and toilets getting jammed... no, it was brilliant, all of it.
I'm on my own this evening, if you don't count the dog, so I have started on the text itself. I did have a bit of a problem deciding which was the definitive text out of all the rehearsal drafts, alterations, the final drafts one and two, not to mention the three versions with track changes from Ivan Cutting the director, but I think I found it, and with luck, and not too many distractions, I should be finished by tomorrow. And then I'll start of the youth theatre piece properly. I will.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Waiting For Godot Mk2

Last Thursday I went to see Godot, which means that having not seen a production since I was student I've now seen two in a matter of weeks. It was fascinating how different the London Godot was from New York. It seemed cosier, an investigation of the minutiae of a relationship, domestic rather than universal. Great to see McKellen and Stewart playing off each other of course, but it lacked the focus and precision we found in New York. Lucky's speech was a good example. John Glover was both funny and erudite. They had obviously put in a huge amount of work on the text, following the logic behind the seemingly disjointed thoughts. Each segment was begun with confidence and at any moment you felt he would be able to marshal his arguments and break through to some universal truth. We waited in tense anticipation, as did the other characters, for the revelation that was so nearly discovered. It was like when you are lying in bed half asleep and your brain is within a hair of grasping the reality of the infinity and then it suddenly lurches off into some nonsense about fishing for crabs off the top of Big Ben and the moment's gone. In London Ronald Pickup had to play it as nonsense that made the other characters laugh at him. At one point the tramps leant against the pros exaggeratedly miming their boredom - wasn't much he could do after that except soldier through to the end.
Last night four old friends came ot saty and we went to see the Hot Club of Cowtown - hot jazz meets western swing - at The Maze and they were absolutely brilliant. And I heard that a mate - Graham Lester- George has won SOHO Rushes with his short film Washdays. Tonight we're going to see Wilko Johnson.
Monday I will get up early and start the rewrite. Target - to get a draft finished by Friday. It is attainable. It can and will be done.