Wednesday, 30 September 2009

A reasonably frabjous day.

Last Friday we had the meeting about the commission that wasn't going to happen and it happened. Me and m'colleague have to produce a draft suitable to be taken to a development week that will end in a workshop performance by the beginning of April 2010. Full production in Autumn 2010. It's going to be a play with songs, and I think that sounds a lot less scary than saying it is going to be a musical. I have an exceptional amount of justified faith in m'colleague's abilities on the musical front but it is I, Leclerc, who has to come up with the play bit, asap.
So, so far situation normal, elation on Friday, terror by Tuesday.
I have started by making lists. Things to read, places to visit, people to speak to. Already I have a pile of books and I'm halfway through the second one. I'm caught between writing notes or not writing notes. The play has a historical background and sometimes if I make notes to begin with then I get submerged under the facts. It seems better to read as quickly as possible and then go back to those bits that stick and look at them in more detail. I have four characters to work with and I have to make them mine without doing them a disservice or, to put it more bluntly, bending the truth out of all proportion to serve my own needs as a dramatist.
In my head I want to write it all at once, but I can't. I'll take it slowly. Read. Ruminate. Scribble down images. And try not to think that the company would like a title and a pretty good idea of what it's going to be like - for the advance publicity to the bookers - by November.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Pessimism has its good side.

Last week I went to first read through of the youth theatre piece, now tentatively titled The Journey, and listened while the group read it through for the first time. it seemed to make sense, helped by some very impressive sight reading, and I am hopeful that it will work for them. Then yesterday I went to the first performance of the abridged Tempest I did for a Nottingham Playhouse co production. I had provided the text for the company - who work with deaf and hearing audiences - so it was interesting to see how they'd used my contribution. The most impressive aspect, probably because it was so unfamiliar, was the signing. They went for signing meaning, not individual words, and I became fascinated by the way their hands danced around the text. So that meant in under a week two projects had more or less come to an end which always leaves me feeling a bit empty and let's in my natural pessimism which is only exacerbated by my being a freelance playwright, two words designed to mock any idea of financial stability.
Obviously my immediate feelings as I left yesterday's performance were of undiluted pessimism. The proposed tour for next year won't go ahead, the various companies that are considering my ideas will all reject them, Stephen Luckwell won't get a German production(it has been nominated for a Writers' Guild award which it won't get but it's nice to get the nomination), and basically I am probably looking at having to get a job delivering free newspapers. But the good thing about pessimism is that there is always the chance that things will not turn out as bad as you predict, and they haven't. Last night I got a phone call inviting me to meet and discuss a project I thought had died in the water weeks ago and this morning there's an e mail from Germany from a prof at Bayreuth University who wants to put A Dream of White Horses in an anthology and asks if I can supply a few well chosen words about how I came to write it.
I am cheerful again, I haven't been forgotten after all. Onward and upward.
Pathetic, isn't it?

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Blithe Spirit

Last night we went to see Blithe Spirit at Nottingham Playhouse. It's not a play I know well, in fact all my knowledge of it came from half watching Rex Harrison and Margaret Rutherford from the sofa one afternoon dosed up to the eyeballs and nursing a heavy cold. We joked about how nice it was to see a proper play with proper French windows, real scenes with real curtains that feel between each of them, and a real fire in a real fireplace, but it was very very good. Okay there's a bit of a problem when Charles says that his dead first wife is upstairs with his dead second wife and then the scene finishes with Ruth's - the dead second wife's - entrance as a ghost when we already know that she's up stairs with the dead first wife. And Ruth doesn't seem particularly miffed with Elvira for causing her death in her attempt to kill Charles and have her to herself forever but perhaps in the afterlife such petty resentments. And then it is sort of convenient that the maid is one wot dun it all along. But, it was, is, very very good. Good production too.
But what has really got me is that I read in the programme that he wrote it in the Blitz in five days flat ans six weeks later it was on the stage. And here am I trying to get beyond page eleven after God knows how long. What a bastard! I imagine living and working in a war zone does concentrate the mind a tad, but five days, that's just silly.