The one where I try to get all excited about the play but it’s too flipping HOT!
Vlog 3 covers the attempt to produce scenery for the play. Well, who else is going to do it? No budget and no chippies on the payroll, so here goes nothing:
Part 2 of the Temper vlog involved a trip to the Comedy Store for the 24:7 Media Launch. And a woman in her pants (image to follow!):
I really couldn’t bring myself to start blogging about the process of putting on Temper. I’ve tried blogging before and I never really stick at it. But a vlog? That sounded like it might be fun! Here’s part 1:
Well, the new year has started, contrary to the Mayan Long Count calendar, so I’m forced to continue…
Christmas and New Year was a bit stressful for me in that I’m still awaiting news of the day-job – so the festive period consisted of obsessing over an ever dwindling bank balance. Hopefully things will get sorted this month.
In the meantime I continued to write and have reached a certain milestone in that I’ve completed a draft of a full length play. This was written between Christmas and the New Year and is the piece I workshopped with Davinia and In The Red. I’ve written pieces that run to over an hour and a half before but they have never been good enough for me to feel comfortable calling them plays. If I’m honest – they were practice. Some of them I really think are only worthwhile as an exercise in hitting a certain number of pages. But this latest piece has merit. I think…
The shift in 2012 I put down mainly to the university course – and working with Julie Wilkinson. Also meeting people like David Eldridge. Although I didn’t talk to David one to one – I read all his plays, listened to his seminar, and finally assimilated the idea that this is a famous playwright, creating contemporary work of great quality, but he’s just a bloke. The later is the most important point. You can read all the literary theory in the world and wrestle with the intricacies of it all – but if it seems abstract, academic, or just beyond your sphere of experience, I believe you’ll never get a handle on who you are and what you want to write. Meeting real people who have had some success with writing just makes it seem possible. And gives you a place to settle. “This is where I am, that is where I want to be.”
On the topic of the university course the grades came in from MMU and I did well. I don’t want to say what the mark was coz it pisses me off when other people bang on about that sort of thing – but the fact I did well at a level beyond which I’ve worked before (my previous experience was degree level, this was MA) gives me confidence. Not necessarily that the work is good, since you’ve got to believe that or you’d just pack it in, but confidence that if I write well people will get it. Julie and NWP really seemed to understand my approach. Not that I’m writing anything particularly avant garde – but having received so many script reports from readers who simply didn’t have the experience, nor the intelligence, to understand what they were reading – you really need people who are good at what they do to counteract that.
On the final note of script reading and feedback – I have to admit to finding things a little difficult right now. I’m writing more than I ever have, to a higher standard than before, and therefore sending more stuff out into the world. Which is good. The down side to this is that volume and quality does not necessarily translate to success. Success is mainly to do with chance – all you are doing by producing more work is increasing the chances that someone, somewhere, will like something – but the random factor still applies. With more work comes more rejection – since there is simply more out there for people to reject.
Isn’t that depressing?
New Year’s resolution: continue to throw shit at walls.
So, that was all a bit pointless. The play for Ignition has been pulled due to actor illness. Nothing much to be said, really. Except, I’m reminded of a time many moons ago when I spoke to an experienced writer about the joys of working with actors on a piece of work. He looked at me with a wry smile and said, “yeah, they can be brilliant or they can bring a piece to its knees.”
I didn’t understand what he meant at the time. Nowadays I do. Illness can’t be helped so it’s just bad luck. But for whatever reason a play you’ve written has been pulled and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can rationalize – but it’s frustrating and a bitter pill to swallow. Since you’ve done everything you needed to do, on schedule and to a high quality – and re-written once due to a previous actor-driven crisis – so the news that it was all for naught just makes you want to punch a wall. Or more specifically in my case – play computer games. I just want to forget about it and play Final Fantasy Tactics.
I’m also gutted for Carly – since she’s put a ton of hard work in and this would’ve been her debut directing gig.
Swings and roundabouts though. The day before this news I had the workshop with In The Red and this was fantastic. The actors threw themselves into the development of what will be my first full length play in a way that was inspiring and made me think – “I’ve got to do their hard work justice.” It was also a great opportunity to see The Houldsworth – a new venue in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. And I was delighted to see Sally Lawton there who is an inspiration. She’s so hard working and dedicated!
Onwards and upwards…and stop talking in cliches Rik.
Well, the workshop with In The Red is tomorrow. Davinia has done a really bang up job with the cast and also secured Anna Marsland (@anna_marsland) to run it. Anna has worked at the Royal Exchange as assistant director and now works at the New Vic Theatre. I’m looking forward to working with Anna and of course Davinia, whom I’ve known for years now. We first met at the Oldham Coliseum when I was assisting with the new writing course. We’ve since worked on audio pieces together and I’ve watched her set up her own theatre company (the aforementioned In The Red).
Once upon a time I knew no-one in theatre. Now I find I’ve known people for about six years (2006 is when I first got involved at The Coliseum) and in that time I’ve watched friends and colleagues change, grow and try different things in order to achieve their ambitions. Nothing in theatre is static. From the staff in theatre departments who change every few years, to the actors or producers who move on and shift their focus, change is going on all the time. This makes it difficult to align yourself with a specific place – it’s rather the people you make friends with that provide consistency. So, Davinia, whom I met as a new writer, ends up arranging a workshop for one of my plays through her theatre company six years later.
It feels a little self-indulgent to ask for actors and a director after writing only one act of a play – but I’m trying to do what I’ve read about other theatre writers doing – particularly my favourite David Eldridge (@deldridgewriter) – who spoke at a recent course I attended. Theatre is so much about actors that to write in isolation seems almost absurd to me – but then, new writers don’t usually have the luxury of doing anything else, so I’m immensely grateful to have the opportunity. It’s something I hope to continue – but again, it’s all about money and resources. And the goodwill of friends.
But I woke up today wondering how I can be the age I am and not be doing what I want to do for a living yet? So I’ve got to shake that feeling before tomorrow! Here’s my attempt - okay, the thing is – all you can do is write, and the rest of it is fate. Or luck. Or bribery. And the fact is – Yoda was wrong. It’s not “do or do not”. It’s “just keep trying”. Try try try.
As long as you tried you can rest easy. The horrible thing would be to look back and know you could’ve done more. So, in the end, it comes down to a cliche – if at first you don’t succeed:
And try again.