Monday, 27 September 2010

Don Partridge

Read this morning that Don Partridge has died.  His big hit was Rosie. I used to see him busking as kid in London and I remember his Pie Shop in Camden Passage.  His voice a breath of fresh of air.

Christmas in Peterborough

I went to Peterborough Museum last week to look round as we're hoping to remount an extended version of A Workhouse Christmas there, we being myself and Kate Hall the director. It used to be an infirmary and still has the old operating theatre in there, now someones office. It's on the first floor and reached by a very impressive staircase, unless of course you were about to be operated on in which case you were winched up the centre of the stair well on your bed.  Bit of a design fault there I can't help thinking.  Apparently only a handful of people died from falling off their beds.
Last year's version of the show went on at the Old Still, an empty pub off the shopping centre with rambling rooms, oak panelling and a centre courtyard that made it an ideal location.  Our promenade performance at the museum will be spread over three floors and the audience will have to go round in three groups of twenty.  Today's task is to come up with a structure that will allow this to happen in a way that makes sense both in terms of the narrative and the logistics of moving actors and public.  Then we wait to see if the project survives next moth's anticipated cuts, and if it does, I get down to writing the dialogue.
Matt has finished the script/score and sent it off to Oxford, so all I can do now about that is fret.  No problems there, I'm very good at it.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Cut and Paste with real scissors

Next Sunday Matt and I go to Oxford for the week to work with the director, MD and the actors on the current draft of Buckland.  In order for this to happen we had to assemble the script, words and music.  Matt has a programme that should enable him to move staves and words about at will but it is so complicated that he hasn't mastered it yet so we sat round the table with a guillotine, scissors, and a pritt stick.  Just like being back at school getting your project ready to hand in, Cat said.
We now have a script with the music integrated into the text and already I think I can start to hear bits of it.  Matt kept playing and replaying the recordings of the songs so that we could get the dialogue pasted in above the correct bars every now and then I got a sense of what it might sound like with real singers.  Lets hope the reality stands up to the expectation.  All we have to do is remember we have a year left and we're not working on the finished piece we're exploring ideas.
Got two contracts from the BBC this week for the adaptation of My Name is Stephen Luckwell. One for me to give my permission for the adaptation, the other to accept the commission to adapt it.  Earlier this week when I was in Peterborough to see her production of Our Nobby I asked Kate Hall, who directed Stephen what she thought of my new radio ending.  She is so much a part of it that I needed her approval and I got it.  So if it doesn't have the requisite amount of 'jeopardy' for a Radio 4 afternoon play I shall feel able to fight for it.
One week to think about Plymouth and work out a structure for transferring Workhouse Christmas to the Peterborough museum and then it's heads down for a week on Buckland... with all fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Sam Baker

I went to see Sam Baker on Sunday at the Maze.  I'd heard of him through friends.  Heard about him being blown up in a train in Peru, heard about his terrible injuries, losing his fingers, his hearing, the years of rehab, learning to talk, to write, to play the guitar left handed. 
He talked more than he sang.  Said he had to ramp himself up.  The songs were spare, austere, words pared down, the guitar pared down.  Not a word or a note wasted.  Not good because he'd had to overcome hurdles, not good like what an achievement, just good.  Very good.
Today I spent the afternoon in the garden dozing in the sun and writing nonsense in my notebook for the Plymouth play. I keep circling round what it's about, who the characters are, and for once, I'm not forcing it and something's on the way.
In just under two weeks Matt and I are off to Oxford for a week on Buckland - aka Giants in the Earth on the OTT website. It's going to have a read/sing through, two read/sing throughs on October 7th at the Natural History Museum in Oxford.  Already I think we know where to go next, how to make it bigger, more all encompassing without losing the particular.  I haven't done anything on it for a couple of weeks as Matt is busy composing and creating a score for the actors and the MD.  It's going to be hard to concentrate on making what we've got so far work when we know that a lot of it will be left behind in the next draft. 
Thank God we've got a year to go.

Friday, 17 September 2010

The first draft is done

I've just sent the first draft of the adaptation of My Name is Stephen Luckwell to Radio Four. Now I have a week to try out some ideas for Plymouth and then it's off to Oxford for a week's development on the Buckland musical.  The first draft is always a relief. In this case the problem was how to make a very visual production work for a listener.  In particular the ending was difficult to solve as in the original it all depends on seeing what Stephen is doing on his laptop, a bit tricky that, on radio.  I don't know if it works the way I've got it now, but at least there's something on paper, something we can talk about, and for now the main thing is - it is finished.