Monday, 28 June 2010

George Farquhar is In The Building...

"... Up, all of you. I want to see the whites of your eyes and sense the swell and heave of your bosums as the play dances around you. Smell the underarm sweat. Inhale the odour of horse dung walked in through the muddy cobbles, mixed with the lethargy of bare arms and the whore-making scent of excitement and desire..."

And so George Farquhar returned to Smock Alley Theatre in the flesh (of actor Stephen Bradley) for the first time in 305 years.

A wonderful audience, exceptionally positive - yup, I was floating, just a little; how often do writers hear their work commended by their peers?! - and insightful feedback and, in the end, that wonderful electricity only theatre can create.

Next stop? A full production! From what happened yesterday, just at a reading, I know it will happen. It has to!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Countdown to Resurrection...

... of George Farquhar, playwright, lover and actor. Words by me, performance by Stephen Bradley, the Derry-born actor.

The reading of A Fresh Gale and Cold Chicken happens this Sunday at 5pm sharp in Smock Alley - The Boy's School for those of you who want to come.

I'm getting nervous now, but the excited sort, which is good. It's a return to my first love as a writer and it seems the stage and I have been apart far too long, by virtue of me getting lured into the sinewy world of TV/ film scriptwriting.

In 1997, Trade Me A Dream ran for two weeks in the Focus Theatre, which has just reopened. In addition, a reading of Fur Doesn't Hurt took place with Andrew Bennett in the lead role in The Abbey before winning at the Cork Arts Theatre festival later that year - as had Trade Me... in '96. 13 years is a long time. We will make it an evening to remember!

For those of you coming along, we'll see you there. If you're early, there's a lovely coffee shop just opposite the entrance called Piccolo's. Great coffee.


Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Best Laid Plans

Last Summer, in a flurry of anticipation, I built a shed in the back yard; my dream of a self-contained office. There is a wall of shelves exactly the right height for box files and two desks and some drawers and everything I need to write... but in the winter, it's too cold and in the summer, on a day like today, it's like an oven.

Worse, the fact that the computer is here, lording it over the space, makes procrastination far too easy. Emails, Facebook, Linked In, this blog... there are just too many excuses to write and read material unrelated to work. (And to convince yourself it is research/ networking/ keeping up-to-date!)

Fortunately, Pettigrew took the problem to heart. (He's the snail my daughter forced me to adopt. He has attitude and a purple/ pink shell, but squishily believes he should have a red bouffant and a cigar on a holder, if not a PA who makes him coffee with frothy milk.)

My problems are his, he says; if I'm not writing, I'm far more likely to squish him. (He's right.)

So he came up with a solution: "don't turn on the computer until you have written your quota of words or scenes for the morning/ day".

It's good advice. Excellent advice and it worked for a week. Until my new phone arrived - touch screen, so many apps to discover and play with, and it tells me when I have emails.

"Turn it to silent," says Pettigrew, quick as you like - well, it took him about five days 'cos it's hard work leaving a legible slime trail on a computer desk. Which was just enough time for me and my new phone to become inseparable; I've named it George.

But when a snail called Pettigrew 'speaks', you have to take heed and I am dutifully putting my phone on silent each morning until I have my labours complete.

I'll let you know if it works.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

For the wet day that's in it

"If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass" - Fran Lebowitz. Maybe that's what I've been doing wrong - eating too much chocolate! Keep scribbling everyone!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A Fresh Gale and Cold Chicken: The reading

We have a date, tied down, for the rehearsed reading of my new stage play about George Farquhar: Sunday 27th June, 5pm in Smock Alley/The Boy's Theatre.

There’s a fantastic atmosphere in the space but what adds to the magic of the event is that we are bring Farquhar to life again a few steps away from the main theatre in Smock Alley, where he himself performed in 1696/7 and 1705.

The Boys' School is a really interesting space, for those of you who haven't seen it yet. For the reading, there will be just 45 seats, plus standing room at the surrounding balcony – you’ll understand when you get there - so if you want to come, and it's free, can you let me know? It should be an evening of pure theatre, dramatic, powerful, emotional and entertaining!

The reading will run about 75 minutes – which means I managed to cut out about 8,000 words - with a chance for feedback and a glass of wine afterwards.

We hung out in the space yesterday, to see how the script would work. We blocked out some of the scenes – not too much, it is a rehearsed reading – but it’s a shame to waste the very unique space.

Best of all, when everyone had gone, I sounded out some of the scenes myself standing on a church pew, on a table, on the stage and it was pretty powerful stuff. Possibly one of the very few times I’ve ever wished I was a man, so that I could perform it.