Friday, June 17, 2011

Too busy for Father's Day

I'm feeling very guilty about that so we'll be having Father's Day MK II next Sunday so that Daniel can be spoilt in the manner he deserves. This weekend I'll be down at Live Theatre spending my time in the company of some rather fine dramaturgs and a group of six primary school pupils for the First Draft residency weekend.

This is my third stint as a dramaturg on First Draft, a project that involves helping a young writer to craft a short play that will receive a full on production in the main house... I know there are loads of writers three times their age (or more) who'd kill for the opportunity to have a play performed at Live. Every single word on the page and every word uttered by the actors will be the work of the young playwrights. We're not allowed to change a thing, we just have to help them to type up their plays and make sure we ask the right questions so that they can get from the 'fifth word' right to 'The End' . Because of this First Draft genuinely has the potential to be life changing for the writers involved and I'm thrilled to be part of it it again. It's going to be fun but really hard work but this time on Sunday night it will be complete and I can't wait to hear the read-through of all the plays. The productions will be part of the autumn season so there's a while to wait till I get to see the finished product but I can be patient...

You can watch excerpts from previous First Drafts here and read a review of last year's productions here.

Once I've finished at Live I shall be hightailing it up from the Quayside to meet up with a cellist to talk about collaborating on Songs from Whenever...I'm very excited/nervous about not wittering on too much. More details on that later though... my netbook is about to peg out.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Songs from Whenever...

and being on The Verb. That's right, I've just been on The Verb actually speaking to Ian McMillan. OK so I guess I should have mentioned before now that I'm one of the Verb New Voices spoken word artists. It's a spoken word development programme run by the BBC and ACE. Me and Michael Edwards are the poets working with Annabel Turpin at ARC, Stockton. It was great to hear Mike talking about the multi-voice piece he's working on - it sounds brilliant... Now I just have to remember that letting doubt creep in about my own project is counter productive... besides the very amazing Zena Edwards is going to be my mentor so it's gonna be belters! 

I should really find a succinct way of summing up what my show is about but my brain's not quite functioning at the moment so it'll have to wait. In the meantime, this is what I said on my application (so it must be true)...

Songs from Whenever will draw inspiration from song titles that link in with specific moments in my life. The piece won’t be pure autobiography, more a fabricated account of growing up based on my childhood and early adulthood;  exploring themes of memory, identity, education, disengagement, discovery and escapism.

Built around an event (most probably the point of leaving home or arriving in a new city), a point where the possibilities are still there, the choices are yet to be made… Each poem in the sequence will reveal more and more about the character, their world, the choices they face, the mistakes they’ve made and the things they’ve got right… or might get right, given time. 

Anyway, there you have it. And to give you a flavour here's an extract from my work-in-progress and yeah, I know it looks like a passage of prose but that's because it's a prose poem. (Incidentally, an earlier version of this was published in Sepia Souls anthology by ID on Tyne Press.)

There is something different in this hot school summer. I push the magnetic catch of the glass-fronted cabinet and reach for his records.  Selecting emotions and matching them to my own. I balance an album cover between skinny brown fingers. Against the white background two figures. A man. A woman. Each half naked, his torso/her belly, rump and thighs. The heat and sweat of my body distorts in the intense August light that still fills the living room. I place the record on the player, hold the arm delicately, careful to drop the needle in the groove not slip and skip and scratch. Relax. Outside, friends play in the dust of the estate, their shoulders, legs, arms bare.

thinking about structure
How on earth am I going to make sense of this?