Thursday, 18 March 2010

Small miracles do happen.

Yesterday Matt and I went to Oxford to meet Jim Kennedy the Director of the Natural History Museum that William Buckland founded 150 years ago. He showed us bones that Buckland had collected, further remains of the Red Lady of Paviland and most importantly talked about the man and let us outline our approach. Gradually, gradually, it all seems to become clearer how we make a play out of this material. Today I have been working on the second act. I want it finished by the start of next week so Matt and I can work on it together. Got a bit stuck this morning so I went for a swim. After about 10 minutes halfway down the bath my problems started to resolve themselves and I could see the way passed them. Back to the pc after lunch and rattled off the transition that gets us into the scene we've been building towards since the start of act one. Now I've stopped and I'll write it tomorrow when I've let it float around a bit, but, to quote Matt, I think it's landed.
And now the small miracle that did happen.
Monday afternoon I get a phone call from a director I know - long given up any thoughts of him asking me to write anything - will I write a play? Yes. In two acts? Yes. The money has to be spent before the end of the financial year so we have to move fast. That's fine by me. A few more details about the nature of the commission and the contract, and then it's good we'll meet at the end of April and talk about what you're going to write for us. End of phone call. Literally, almost immediately an e mail arrives from the theatre will I please send in an invoice for the first payment together with all bank details. And then this morning a letter with the contract for me to sign and send back. I'll be paid as soon as it arrives at the theatre.
What happened to all the endless hustling to get work? And the endless nagging to get paid? (Not I hasten to add with every company that has employed me.)
Yes! I am so excited. Someone wants me to write a play. Never ceases to amaze me.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Wrestling with Buckland.

After three great days in Newquay working on the plays for this year's Playhouse Project, and lapping up the sunshine and the sea air and now it's back to wrestling with Buckland. I heard some more of the music from part one this morning and some of the songs used my words which was a big thrill. But there's still part two to finish, and a deadline getting closer and closer.
There's a moment that comes after all the drafts, all the research, all the fretting when you say to yourself all I've got to do is write it. That's when you know you've got to the final draft. And I'm not there yet by a country mile.
On Wednesday we're off to Oxford to talk to Jim Kennedy the director the Natural History Museum that Buckland founded. On the phone this morning I was able to reassure him that we will certainly have Buckland's tame bear in the script, not to mention his horse. It was quite obvious in a brief phone call that he rates the man, has a sense of humour, and is going to be a fund of information. I want to try out our take on him and see how he reacts. See what he thinks about how we've treated Richard Owen. Basically I want to be patted on the head and told that I haven't got it all arse about face by someone who really knows. Very worrying writing about real people, even if they're a long time dead.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Hard Graft.

After a week playing with actors and a trip to London to see the excellent Jerusalem - go see - hard graft set in as Matt and I took apart the first act of Buckland and looked for where the music would push the action on. Now we have a rough second draft and Matt is about to beaver away at the music while I set out on the relatively uncharted waters of the second act. He played me some of the stuff he's been working on this week and it was a real buzz hearing words that I'd had something to do with put to music and sung!
The end of next week has a particularly excellent jolly - sorry I meant three days of hard work - as I'm off to Newquay to a splendid hotel to work with other writers and teachers and theatre people on the plays that are going to be put on in schools as part of this year's Playhouse project. I was on it a couple of years ago and so I know what I'm looking forward to - it'll be fun.
And there was fun last night too when the wonderful Cosmic American Music brought Carlene Carter to the Maze in Nottingham. Very strange to hear her tales of being on the road with the Carter Family as a small child and realise that you're listening to someone who connects directly with a world that has vanished. A good night.