Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Okay it took a while, but at last I really like Kate Bush. No pretending.

I've always liked Kate Bush in theory. I wasn't ever going to like Wuthering Heights. Not when I hated the book so much.  Not with all the other stuff I was listening to. But later. Running up that Hill. The Red Shoes.  Hey, there Micheal - something about swinging on a chair in Abbey Road?  I almost got here.  Liked that she'd recorded them, liked that they existed, but not actually, as it were, to listen to.  Admired her. Respected her talent. Just didn't listen. I tried to because I thought very highly of what I thought she might be trying to do - Hounds of Love - went back to that several times, couldn't do it.  I wanted to like Kate Bush, I really did, I was the kind of person who should like Kate Bush. Only I didn't, so I obviously wasn't.
This Christmas I bought 50 Words for Snow for my wife, and because she hadn't got it, The Director's Cut. Played them on Christmas Day out of a sense of duty.  And listened.  And heard them.
Now I don't think it's all my fault.  Everything's a matter of taste.  But I loved Snow. Then I played Director's Cut.  And I loved that too.  It' isn't all my fault.  I heard them because they are so simple. So paired down. So undramatic. So unlike Wuthering Heights perhaps? No, that's not the point.  They are so bloody good.  The songs breathe.  Her voice so subtle.  The lyrics so clean.  And not so many notes, and, alright, I'll say the unsayable, not so much screeching.  Whatever it is, I promise I will go back to the other albums and try again. And if it doesn't work?  Who cares?  50 words for Snow and The Director's Cut will do for me.  Happy Christmas Ms Bush. You (and Private Eye the First 50 Years) have made mine.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Harry Perkins - the best fictional Prime Minister we never had.

I began this year reading Chris Mullin's diaries and twelve months later I've just finished A Very British Coup his thriller about what happens when a Labour government with socialist principles gets an overwhelming majority.  It's such a good read that it would be unfair to give anything away other than what we already gather from the title  - Harry and his colleagues are never going to be allowed to succeed.
I have always wondered why men and women of integrity, ideals, and conscience ever go into politics  when they can only look forward to sliding from one frustrating compromise to another, notching up more defeats than victories.  But reading Mullin makes you glad they do. 
His thriller is amazingly prescient.  It's exciting but it's so sad because the obstacles that prevent Harry Perkins getting closer to the world he's striving for are not a million miles from those that frustrated Mullin himself.
But the message of the diaries and the novel are the same.  It may not be possible to make much of a difference, in a world that seems bent on protecting the vested interests of a few (cf Cameron walks away from Europe to protect the City which is of course in all our best interests.  As  in - Is it fuck.), a society based on freedom, equality, and justice may be out of reach, but that shouldn't stop us trying to put our small shoulders to the wheel.
A reasonable thought for the New Year.

Monday, 5 December 2011

How does an ordinary mortal get tickets to see Bruce Springsteen?

Saturday morning.  Eight fifty five.  I'm sitting in front to the computer waiting for nine o'clock. The time that tickets for next year's Bruce Springsteen concerts go on sale.  At nine o'clock I click on.  All I'm offered is two at the very very back and at the very very highest point of the South Stand at Manchester.  I try other sites. Nothing. Eventually I get a ticket for Hyde Park. Only one ticket as my wife is just over five foot and gets understandably fed up at paying good money to stare at somebody's back.  So I'm going to see Springsteen.  Not with my wife.  Not at my venue of choice.  Maybe I was just unlucky.  Hundreds of thousands of people clicked on at exactly the same moment.
Yes, but hang on a moment.  I've just been on e bay and they're log jammed with Springsteen tickets.  6 for Sunderland. 8 for Dublin. All about to change hands at huge prices. And then I went on to look for tickets generally and the sites that said they'd sell tickets on Saturday and didn't have any now suddenly have stacks of them at prices up to £1398.
Oh, and on Friday I went on the same sites and they were offering pre sale tickets - that weren't officially on sale yet - for inflated prices.
So it wasn't just bad luck or bad timing that prevents me and God knows how many others from buying tickets.
It's a huge fucking organised scam. 
This is disgraceful, but it isn't news.
The ticket agencies either have inadequate security or they collude in the process.  Because they can make even more money by allowing the bulk pre purchase of tickets that they can re sell at huge prices and take a rake off from that sale too.
I have one question and I haven't the faintest idea of the answer.
How can it be stopped?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

More thoughts on Matilda and Giants in the Earth performers and the musical theatre.

Went into the Watermill today and members of the Giants cast want to know what I thought were the highlights of Matilda.  Obviously there are some bits that stand out, some excellent individual performances but for me it was the coherence from beginning to end that made the show.  Coherence of intention, quality of performance, production values. They batted all the way down the order - not a weak link.  They were a company, not a group of adult actors who worked with a different team of kids each night.  The respect they had for each other was obvious.
And that made me think about the performers we're working with this week. And to start with I have to say that I'm not used to working with actors whose background is mainly musical theatre, and also I gave up being an actor, I'd like to say because I recognised my limitations, but really it was because I hated being out of work and at that stage in my life I couldn't handle rejection.
Okay. So between them our actors, and those I worked with on the previous development weeks, have been involved in a large number of the most popular musical. 
I do get irritated by what I see as the high level of drama that some of them bring to everyday events. Because I'm an impatient sod and I take no pride in that.
And I think it's a large and mitigating but I do understand why some appear to live every moment of their lives at hyper intensity. Vulnerability. At every stage of the process they face rejection. They are too tall.  Too short. Too thin.  Not thin enough. They're the wrong size for costumes that already exist.
They have to be the best.  The voice. The dancing. Every move.  Every note.  Has to be right on the money. Every time.  All the time.  Every audition  or they don't make the cut.
How do you erect the defences  to cope with that?
God knows it's tough to be an actor but to be a performer in the musical theatre...
It's a job.  It's not coal mining. Or working on a deep sea trawler. Or being shipped out to Afghanistan with your regiment.
But, come on.  We should applaud all those who face the vulnerability of human existence in whatever way it presents itself. So chapeau! To all those who are working with us. To all those who make the cut.  And to those who don't make the cut but keep on hanging in there.  Because that's what we're all trying to do, isn't it?

A musical week - Giants and Matilda

Working in London and at the Watermill Newbury on the second development week for Giants in the Earth.  Yesterday Matt and Neil the MD worked with the actors securing the music, today we'll start be doing more on the new sections in Act Two.  When I'm working on a scene even if it might appear to be a mess I know what I'm aiming for and what the process is that will get us there.  Can't do that with the music, not when it's as complex as this so in the afternoon  left Matt and the others and went for a walk and by the time I got back the disconnected sounds had come together and I could see where we were headed.  It's the same for him when I'm messing about. We trust each other's work and that's what matters.  I loathe offering up hostages so I'll go so far as to say that it appears that what we have written may very well not be complete rubbish.
On my walk I passed the Cambridge and got myself a ticket to Matilda. Top tip - £25 next to the sound desk, and only a restricted view in the strictest sense.  Brilliant show.  Loved it.  Go and see it - you don't even need a tame child to take as an excuse.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Crossed Purposes

The concept of the past being a different country where they do things differently has never been so clear to me as during the last few weeks working on the Eastern Angles cross generational project Crossed Purposes.  Together with Kate Hall, Mark Grist and Year 10 students from four Peterborough schools we have been collecting memories from elders in residential accommodation of their teenage years for those students to turn into pieces of theatre. Mark and I are shaping the material and Kate will help the them get the work up and on its feet.
The stories have been flowing almost too fast for us to record.  They have been funny, heartbreaking, brave and absurd.  Children running through the London Blitz with only saucepans on their heads for protection, a father rescuing two small children from where they lay next to an unexploded bomb, small tales of heroism, all shared with rare generosity.  And it can't be easy to talk about your most formative experiences to a group of fifteen year olds you've never met before.  The students have been magnificent, any initial nervousness disappeared, and old and young talked together with mutual respect realising that they shared far more in common than, I believe, either group suspected.
A woman who was born to an unmarried mother spoke quietly of the first time she met her father at the age of thirteen and how she used to meet him in a park on Sunday afternoons until her stepfather stopped.  And how she didn't she him again until she had a child of her own.  'The last time had my first child with me and we bumped into each other in the street, he was living in one room he told me. He would have liked to have come to my wedding, I'd have liked him there too, but it wasn't possible then for that to happen.  He said that if we bumped into each other again we'd make a proper arrangement to meet, but we never did, and I never saw him again.'  Her only moment of anger coming when she said 'That's all I saw of him, but never once, although he tried to make me, did I ever call my stepfather, dad.'
As part of a generation that ,unlike my parents and grandparents, never had to be part of a war, I wonder how I would have coped. I sort through the memories we've collected, shaping them into a dramatic form and I pray to God I would have been able to muster a fraction of  dignity and humour and honesty and sheer bloody resiliance that shines through our elders' stories. I have been very moved, very heartened by the humanity and compassion I've found, but at the same moment when I feel only a step away from weeping at the courage and pity of it all, there's that part of my writer's brain that won't stop sifting for material  even through the most inappropriate events in my own life, muttering, 'This stuff is brilliant, there's got to be a play in here.'

Friday, 7 October 2011


Back to work and no excuses. I've just started a project with Eastern Angles in Peterbrough linking school students and older people.  Stories are gathered from the elders and are passed onto the kids to use in creating a piece of theatre. yesterday we were with a 92 year old lady who told us her experiences of being a WAAF - she had total recall, was very lucid and we felt moved and privileged that she's agreed to share that part of her life with us.
I've just finished writing up what she told us from my notes and next is act two of Summer. It's almost all there in my head so now I've got to write it to see how it works. Another couple of weeks and it'll be ready to send off.
A couple of days ago I went through the new act two of Giants in the Earth the musical I'm writing with Matt Marks.  Matt liked it which is always a good start.  Now it's over to him to have a think about how the music's going to work. That's got to be ready for the end of the month in preparation for the two development weeks with Oxfordshire Theatre Company what have commissioned the piece.
So the rest of October is going to be trips to Peterborough, Act Two of Summer, and, mustn't be forgotten, the adaptation of Haroun and the Sea of Stories to finish for Kazaliste Virovitica. Oh, and my birthday present, an afternoon roaring round a race track in a Caterham.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Responses to My Name is Stephen Luckwell - a big thank you.

It's now a couple of weeks since Stephen was the Afternoon Play on Radio 4 and I have been surprised and touched by the response. Completely surprised in fact. I never expected complete strangers to e mail, tweet, and phone me to let me know how the play affected them.  Parents of kids on the autistic spectrum. People on the spectrum. Even the National Autistic Society thought I'd got it right. So this is a big thank you to everyone.  You do the research, then you find some characters, and do your best to tell their story and most of the time you keep your fingers are tightly crossed in case this is the time you get found out.  This is the time it doesn't work.  So once again thank you for liking it, thank you for telling me it meant something to you.
Right, that's quite enough self satisfaction, I think.  Time to get back to the real world, staring at the blank screen and despairing of ever having another creative thought.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

It must lead to inevitable disappointment.

When you have a blog like this you are able to look up and see who is contacting you, mostly you see a list of search engines,.  Lately some odd things have been creeping in.  I clicked and it took me to a review of the Suzuki Swift.  What have I written that could possibly have any resonance for someone looking for a review of the Suzuki Swift?  Another one was a job seeking site.  The most bizarre was a site about windmills. Actually that's not true, I made it up, because the most bizarre one was too bizarre to mention.  What do they hope to find? 
Normally I get about two people a month popping up to sample my self pitying rambles but the traffic has increased.  There are some easy ways to increase it.  You can slip in a mention to the Premier League, steam trains of the 1950's, or Britney Spears does the housework.  But that would be very silly.
No, the reason it's increased is yesterday's Radio 4 Afternoon Play My Name is Stephen Luckwell. I've had more traffic than ever before, I've even had e mails from strangers who found something in it.  So if you've just logged on because of Stephen Luckwell, or because your a follower of Ms Spears, I thank you, or apologise, or both.  Either way,it's nice to know there's someone out there.

Friday, 5 August 2011

A trifle pathetic but I don't care.

I bought last week's Radio Times on Tuesday. Turned to the schedule for Monday's radio and saw My Name is Stephen Luckwell, there, as I was told it would be, 2.15, right after The Archers.  Yes, I am excited when I see it in print, but also I have to see it in print before I can really believe it's happening.  A part of me wouldn't be surprised if on Monday afternoon an announcer - in my head it's always Celia Imrie -  told the listening millions 'This afternoon's play will not be as printed in the Radio Times as fortunately we've listened to it again and frankly it's not up to standard.  Believe me, you've had a lucky escape.'
Can't avoid it. The fear.  Is this time I'm going to be found out?
On the stairs up to the office we've built in the loft are posters from different shows of mine. On the wall behind the computer monitor alongside photographs of my wife, my daughter, Brecht, Max Wall, and the bare grass of the running strip at Olympia ( the Olympia in Greece, not the one near Earl's Court) are the tickets, programmes, and brochures from my first play at Derby Playhouse.  It's not ego, not entirely, more the exact opposite.  I need these props to my confidence to remind what I did once in all probability I can do again, hopefully, with luck and a following wind.
Absurd. Yes. But I haven't met a single writer, no matter how much confidence they have in their work, each time they start a new piece, isn't half paralysed by the conviction that this is the time it goes completley tits up.
So I'll have my radio on at 2.15 on Monday.  When it's over I'll feel pleased and grateful to the producer, the actors and the techies who made it possible, and next week's Radio Times will be placed carefully into the wall I keep building to shore up my tottering confidence as I move into the next project. 

Friday, 24 June 2011

Sibenik International Childrens' Festival.

I've just come back from a week at the Festival in Sibenik.  On the Dalmatian coast.  It was all work, no pleasure, I promise.  I'm shattered.  This has nothing to do with any work I had to do out there but is the result of Croatian hospitality which is a wonderful and dangerous thing, experienced once and never forgotten.  As I have been over there before I knew to make sure I showed as much restraint as possible but when you faced with over whelming good nature and equally over whelming generosity it isn't easy.
The Festival is in its 51st year and is a treat. Loads of stuff to see and do for all ages. It seems to have total support of everyone in the town. I'd been invited there by Kasaliste Virovitica - who have already done Warrior Square - to see their production of my adaptation of Ulf Stark's book 'Can You Whistle, Johanna?'  It was excellent.  Funny and moving and beautifully performed as I knew it would be. They are a lovely company.
Two other highlights - apart from the company, the weather, and the wonderful food - were an Alex Byrne directed production from the NIE Theatre, Oslo, of their own devised piece Tales From a Sea Journey.  Wonderful. Simple. Clever. Funny. Moving. A great piece of theatre.  And Virovitica's production of The 39 Steps.  It was hysterical. So funny.  So tight.  And of course the piece is so much part of our culture that it didn't matter that we didn't understand word.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Back on the Chain Gang

I wish I didn't have to go through fallow periods in my writing, but it happens.  Days when you start brightly enough and after a couple of hours the good idea has whithered away.  days when it seems impossible that you'll ever have an idea at all.  When the characters don't come off the page.  When the dialogue is either over written or hopelessly stilted.  Days when frankly the best thing would have been to have anything than try to write a play. But of course I don't take the hint, leave the writing to go for a bike ride, go shopping, go for a walk, go anywhere as long as it's miles away from the computer, I sit there getting more and more depressed and filling more and more pages with unplayable crap. Hell, it's fun.
But then there are days when it starts to come clear again. When out of nowhere you see the way to go, the charcaters start to speak to you, to dictate the things they want to do.  And then it's the best job in the world.
It's not been fun for a while now but I know the only thing to do is to push through and at last it's starting to happen again.
Giants in the Earth - the musical - is back on track.  We're getting a shift on against a deadline of more development work in July.  The production's been put back from this year as a result of the Arts Council cuts which at least has the benefit of giving us more time and Matt has produced some more music that's transformed Act One.  next stop finishing the new draft of Act Two.
The piece for the Drum has finally resolved itself into a proper play and the first three scenes of the new draft seem okay.  I've heard the recording of My Name is Stephen Luckwell - Radio 4 2.15pm 8th August - and it works. And I've been invited to Croatia next month by the theatre in Virovitica that previously did Warrior Square(Trg Ratnika in Croatian) for their production of Can You Whistle, Johanna?  not this time to the company base in Virovitica but to a festival at Sibenik.  Which just happens to be on the coast. Sea and sunshine.  All worth a few months of depression, I reckon.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Don't know much about Mozart but I know what I like.

Last week I went to see Peter Brook's A Magic Flute and loved it.  Then I read the reviews and discovered that I shouldn't have loved it. The voices were weak, one of the singers was out of tune, the piano playing inadequate, the libretto hacked about hopelessly, the Queen of the Night a shadow, the whole thing was indulgent and hopelessly underplayed.   Everyone's entitled to their opinion.  I've never seen The Magic Flute, I found the recording hard work.  That I think Mozart's Requiem is one of the greatest things I've ever heard doesn't entitle me to question the opinions of the classical reviewers who know what they're talking about so I'll just say this - Bollocks.  Absolute bollocks.
It was great.  A meditation on love, betrayal, death, hope, trust.  And astute bugger that he is at the moment he thinks we might be getting a bit referential Brook puts the feast on a paint stained flight case - this is theatre, this is work, not a religious ceremony.  He empties the stage and let's us fill it with our thoughts.  We embellish his simplicity. And I thought the piano and the singers were excellent. 
When my daughter was only a few weeks old I held her up between the speakers in the front room and said 'Listen. This is Mozart, this is Bruce Springsteen. Open your ears and enjoy.'

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Completion Anxiety

I read an interview with Green Gartside in which he talked about having heaps of songs and being unable to finish them and he described this condition as Completion Anxiety. I've got it.  I'm within spitting distance of finishing the first draft for The Drum and I'm putting it off and putting it off. This is partly because I know that the less time I have the more I'll focus and mainly the customary fear that this time it's all going to go tits up.  Happens every time.  Happily I have a number of distractions lined up.  This weekend we go into the studios in Birmingham to record My Name is Stephen Luckwell as an afternoon play for Radio 4. That'll be fun.  And then on Monday I'm at Theatre 503 at the Latchmere for their Rapid Response Night where I'll have a short piece on.  I went down to see The Biting Point (very good) last Wednesday and had to write a ten minute response by the Sunday. It was just what I needed, a real change from grafting out a full length script. But after next Tuesday the excuses will have been all used up and I will have to finish the Drum first draft.  I will.  I really will.  No two ways about it.  Got to be finished.  Absolutely.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Johanna in Croatia.

I've pasted below the Google translation from Croatian of the blurb for Can You Whistle, Johanna? from the Kasaliste Virovitica website.  The theatre is very small and in a little town miles from Zagreb or any other big city.  I spent sometime there when Warrior Square opened and if you have ever experienced Croatian hospitality then you'll know that any attempt to describe their generosity to strangers can't come close to the reality.  The play opens soon March and if I have the chance to go back, I'll take it without a second thought. 
They have few resources, little money, great talent, the highest standards, an adventurous repertoire, and an enthusiastic audience.

Do you whistle, Johanna?
Nick Wood

New dramatic contrivance Nick Wood who Virovitička audience knows well the drama of Warrior Square is an adaptation of the novel Ulf Stark. The story of a boy who goes into a nursing home to find his grandfather, a true or false, it's exciting to witness the generational gap that is artful dramatic intervention turns into a drama about trust and friendship. Told in the form of story-telling Do you whistle, Johanna dramatic experiment which establishes a provocative interaction between audience and actors. This will be an emotional drama in its Croatian premiere surely be another success Virovitica Theatre intended for both adults and children and the continuation of fruitful cooperation with exceptional English playwright.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Giants in the Earth at the Natural History Museum in Oxford.

Composer Matt Marks, director Karen Simpson and writer Nick Wood at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Oxfordshire Theatre Company: A new work

By Nick Utechin

How long should a work in progress take to gestate and produce a result? The answer, so far as the Oxfordshire Theatre Company is concerned, is at least a year.
Some weeks before Christmas, they held an intriguing rehearsed reading and sung performance of what may or may not eventually be called Giants in the Earth.
Let me explain...

The preparatory reading was held in the University Museum of Natural History for an excellent reason: they are developing a piece of musical theatre that centres upon a race in Victorian times to learn from dinosaur fossil discoveries on a beach near Lyme Regis in Dorset and thus ask questions about Creationism.
The Oxford connection comes with William Buckland, who established the university’s first geology department, whose collection is held in the museum and who ended his days in Stonesfield.
The tale is told in word and song of how he met a workhouse girl, Mary Anning, who sold ‘snake stones’ from the beach (and later became the first woman to be honoured by the Royal Society), and how the pair vied with two contemporaries to uncover what would become geological history.
This true story might seem an unlikely subject for a musical production, but the bones of the idea came from OTC’s artistic director, Karen Simpson: “I wanted to do something connecting the arts and science, and something that’s not only about Oxford, but something that would help the company absolutely connect with all the scientific achievements that happened around this area.
“From that, we spread the word and Nick and Matt turned up on my doorstep with a proposal, which took me in a direction I hadn’t necessarily contemplated — fossil hunting!”
Nick and Matt are writer Nick Wood and composer Matt Marks, who have collaborated on projects previously.
The detailed concept of the race and its implications (“Six days to create the world? Impossible. But why can’t a day stand for a million years?”) was theirs: the cumulative pressures on Buckland leading to his insanity contribute to a mix of Darwinism and Dawkins-ism that is irresistible.
And there was another factor, as Marks told me: “We started with a man who not only was responsible for this building, but a man for whom one of his life’s aims was to eat his way through the zoological kingdom! So you have to be interested, don’t you?”
“Buckland ended up as the Dean of Westminster,” adds Wood.
“And had always had a complete belief in the religion that he was brought up; but then his science led him to find out all these things which were slowly disproving it and leading to chaos — not least for the government which became worried about people turning away from the church when it was suggested that the Bible was not literally true.”
The musical content as it presently stands is an interesting mix of chant — to imply prehistoric times – and fun songs like Chip Away — to cover fossil hunting.
Marks, whose influences for this piece are primarily world music and jazz, bridled when I suggested that, as the extracts of the work provided for us stood, there’s much acting and then along comes a song — “If that’s how you perceive it, then we haven’t succeeded”.
Karen Simpson jumped in: “When we were putting together another version of the script this week, and Nick and I were hot over the photocopier, I found we were developing something else: a lot of music, and then two pages of dialogue. So it’s slowly becoming more and more complete.
“Oh, and we’re not even sure yet that the title, Giants in the Earth, is right. What d’you think?”
For what it’s worth, I think it’s a very good one. The process is intriguing and the potential undoubted.
A public rehearsal put on many months before the final production in front of interested parties is unusual.
I look forward to the real curtain-up.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Getting Stuck and the Benefits of Timewasting.

A couple of  days ago a friend asked how the Drum play was going and what it was about, and I was stupid enough to try and tell her.  By the time I'd staggered through the plot as it stands now, it felt like the biggest load of crap I'd ever tried to write.  For two days I've sat in front of a blank page headed - PART TWO.  I've covered the paper, deleted it, covered it again, deleted it again, complete waste of time.  Then, out of nowhere, I realised I was trying to write the second half in a different style from the first. And, I wasn't giving any thought to what  it was about, only to what might happen. Simultaneously I got the idea of a scene I hadn't thought of before, which I might not use, but it sparked things off, and I saw two things happening on the stage at the same time.  I went up, very late, and wrote,
                                      Wales. Jools is sitting at the table.  Steve is standing upstage.  Alex is downstage holding his bag.  Jools is taking part in two conversations, one in Steve’s kitchen, the other, in a service station on the way to Wales.  She only replies to Jools.
The next morning it started to work. The second part started to flow. I wrote the first scene. I made notes on where it was going and what needed to change in the first part and felt like a writer again.  I wish I could say it all came in a flash of inspiration after hours of deep thought, but it didn't. After a whole afternoon playing Spider Solitaire, my wrist was aching, my brain was addled and I was awash with self disgust for having wasted so much time and teetering towards wondering if this time I'd have to send the advance back, when I suddenly thought, I wonder if it would work if I did it like this?  Now I don't say it's going to be a masterpiece, but it just might work, and I know what to do with it tomorrow, which is what really counts. Onward and upward.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Thank you, Mr Franzen.

Just finished Freedom by Jonathan Franzen of oh, dear I've lost my glasses and can we pull the first edition because they are four too many commas fame.  Well, that was the hype.  And the greater the hype the less inclined I am to want to read the book, go to the show, see the film, look at the view.  But. In this case.  Bugger the hype. It is brilliant. I finished it yesterday and I  I want to read it again. Now. 
Okay there are big hints he sees himself scrapping with the big boys this time, in particular Tolstoy, to whom there are more than a couple of references, which could be seen as hubris, except that he pulls it off.  Real passion. Real skill.  Thank you, Mr Franzen.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Giants, the Beeb, the Drum, and the great Pete Postlethwaite.

The show in Peterborough - A Workhouse Christmas - went very well. I couldn't get to see as much of it as I would have liked as  circumstances prevented me from going more than once and at least two visits were necessary to see it all. It took place in Peterborough Museum and the Radio Cambridge reviewer said it was the best theatrical performance she'd ever seen ... in Peterborough.
Since I've been home I've got back to work.  The second draft of Stephen Luckwell is nearly ready for the BBC and I think the ending works, or at least it's getting close to working. I've now got a first act for the piece for Plymouth and that is good because I was wondering if I'd ever fill all that blank paper with something worthwhile.  It feels as though it might work and I'm now rewriting it before I start on the second act. At the moment all I know about the second act is that they're in Wales, not Scotland as they were before, and it will end reasonably happily.
Giants are lurking on the horizon. I was able to print out Matt's notes for the rewrite and I've started to go through those and I expect we'll meet up later this week and start work on the next draft.  I didn't mean to have a break from writing but it does seem to have energised me, or possibly I feel that way because all the deadlines are so much closer than they were in November.
I've just seen that Pete Postlethwaite has died. I thought of him this morning as a copy of Bill Morrison's Flying Blind caught my eye. I saw him in it at the Court years ago and it remains one of the most exciting nights I've ever had in the theatre. A wonderful actor and a sad loss.