Exited to learn that the inaugural Fizzy Sherbet evening of new writing by women, features my 12 minute play “Lakukuku”. The seven rehearsed readings will be presented at the Hackney Attic on January 24th – if you’re up that way, do come along!
And, and, and… A 30 minute play of mine, “The Dog in the Tree House” is a finalist for and will be presented at the Claremorris Festival, Co. Mayo this March (date TBA). By happy chance, I have a two week residency at the Heinrich Boll cottage in Co. Mayo at precisely that time (sweet serendipity) so will definitely be in Claremorris to see the performance.
If any of you are in London, or Mayo, I hope you can make it along!
Winter sojourn at Tyn-ny-Pant, Builth Wells, Wales thanks to veteran playwright Donald Howarth.
Socially, politically that was a stinker of a year. Selfishly, I have to say that professionally, for me, it was kind of groovy. I had an arts council funded without decor production of my stage play, “Brazen Strap” at the King’s Head Theatre, Islington. A play of mine was workshopped at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. I was a finalist for the Nick Darke Award, the Eamon Keane Award and the Old Vic 12 and was granted a Peggy Ramsay bursary to fund my writing. I had my bi-lingual radio play “Blue King” produced and broadcast in Ireland. I was awarded a two week stay at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre for artists in Co. Monaghan, Ireland. I upgraded on my PhD and I got to spend time in the Loire Valley and Paris. I was promoted to Deputy Literary Manager at the Finborough, and attended a Criterion Theatre course in comedy writing. All of the above brought me into closer and new contact with interesting, talented and inspirational people.
Of course, every year brings its challenges and meeting them with grace is sometimes a challenge in itself! However, I think I’m doing alright – I’ve nurtured my friendships and I think I was there for friends and family when they needed me. So, I leave 2016 feeling good personally, if rather worried about the shape of things to come internationally.
I wouldn’t have achieved anything last year if I had not applied to all sorts of schemes and programmes, competitions and awards, theatres and theatre companies, media houses and arts bodies. It’s important to keep on keeping on. Put your work out there. Be tenacious. Make a plan and if it fails, make another.
Here’s hoping that 2017 will bring many good things, and the strength to deal with what look like bad things, with grace and optimism.
The New Year is a blank page, but a blank page can scare the artist; it is important to get the work flowing as soon as possible before the writer’s block sets in. The challenge is to find inspiration. Leonardo di Vinci used to stare at the walls in his studio until the damp patches formed scenes and figures he wanted to paint. If you look closely at some of his works, you can even see how those dark stains suggested the rock formations he conjured. Of course, you don’t so much ‘get’ ideas as you eek them out from your own subconscious .
Hopefully, you don’t have damp patches around your writer’s garret. You may have yesterday’s newspaper, however. I worked as a journalist for many years and love newspapers and appreciate them as a source of ideas and stories for the creative writer. For starters, you could just take an existing story and change the setting/gender etc… to make it your own. Ideas will come to you as you work on it.
Alternatively, you could apply the ‘what if’ question. The ‘what if’ question prompts you to consider alternative endings to news stories. A good example of this question is Stephen Fry’s Making History, in which he explores a world where Hitler was killed in WWI but an even more dastardly figure comes to prominence, and wins.
The small ads section can spur the imagination. Hemmingway once said his best work was one he wrote in six words: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn”. It’s clever as there is clearly a heavy back story here but Hemmingway, being Papa, does not spell it out. My point is that you could operate in reverse, search the small ads and then write its back story. Think of the tale behind a novel that ends with that small ad.
Then there are photos. Ignore the captions/related stories. Look at the photos and guess what is going on. Develop an identity for someone in the background of a picture. Give them a problem. Imagine how they are being affected by the main event in the photo. The key is to go for the more obscure shots. Obviously, if it’s a picture of 9/11, the chances are you’re not going to come up with anything too original but if it’s a picture of a man biting a dog, you may be on to something.