opportunities, Shows, theatre, Writing

We All Have A Magic Gun…the quantum play lives…!

I woke up last Thursday morning feeling like a child with a hundred wrapped presents at her feet. Because Wednesday’s rehearsed reading of the quantum physics play, BOX, was an utter joy.  The marvellous audience let me record the Q&A, so I can use their feedback as I work to complete the script. Here are some of the useful, and kind, things they said:

“It’s a playground full of swings!”

“I liked the playfulness, how you played with the two varieties of the characters and embodied the quantum physics in them”

“You really engaged us with the science”

” I like that it wrong-foots you!”

“It made me think of Caryl Churchill”

“It really reminds me of Carl Djerassi’s work”

“Much more playful than Stoppard; you empowered the audience”

“It was a challenge but it was entertaining!”

They even laughed – a lot – and made jokes about entangled, vanishing booze.  If any of you are reading this: thank you again.

This play’s been bubbling in the cauldron for five years. In 2014, it had very generous support from crowdfunding friends and colleagues and then professional development with a dramaturg (David Lane) and a team (director Julia MacShane, actors Clare Latham & Chris Hughes). It’s won Old Vic New Voices Lab development support and done nicely in a few competitions. And this year, generous feedback from (I’ll save their blushes) a visiting summer actor at Theatre Royal Bath, and now from Brighton.  Next paragraph, new chapter…

Yep, Brighton. Which came about in a way that was very much in the spirit of the play. The play’s about parallel universes, about the day-to-day, ever-widening consequences of our choices:

Text from "BOX" by Gill Kirk

A year or so ago, my very talented director friend Hannah Drake shared a Facebook post, as an actor friend of hers, Mary Chater, wanted to make new playwright connections.  Mary and I spoke and really clicked, but we didn’t work together this time.

A year later, Mary is waiting for an estate agent. She gets chatting with a lady. Eventually, about theatre. They meet again. The lady works at Brighton University; they talk about making rehearsed readings part of a new course. Mary emails me – would I be interested?  When Brighton’s Dr Kate Aughterson says yes to this script, I ask my Facebook chums again who they know in Brighton (as there’s no money in this!) and who do we get as director? That Hannah Drake again (superb at catching wannabe-vanishing trains, I have to say) who had no idea that Mary was involved. She was joined by Mary, playing Ali, and Matt Lloyd Davies as Mike. They were all absolutely superb.    I could not have been more proud of this team and grateful for their generosity.

So now, a mulling, and time to plan next steps. I have a feeling this script is dusting off her dress and is almost ready for the dance….

P.S. – if you want to know what the “magic gun” is in the title of this post, get in touch. You just have to see the play, you see…. 😉

31 Oct BOX Brighton RR poster.jpg

Shows, theatre, Writing

Box: development update

Very excited to say the quantum mechanics play, Box,  has a twinkle in its eye. After some generous and insightful industry feedback over the summer, it’s having a rehearsed reading on Hallowe’en, as part of the work done by Brighton University’s Performance and Community Research and Enterprise Group.

What’s that? It means I get to work with a cracking team (see below) and an audience to shake out the creases, ask about what works, what doesn’t – and get myself into a position where it can fairly – I hope – be deemed worthy of a full-scale production.

Other artists involved in Brighton’s programme this term include: Brighton’s Royal Society of Literature Fellow, playwright and novelist Hannah Vincent; performance poet  and Marie Curie IF Fellow Patricia Kolaiti; Marisa Carnesky, who about to tour with Dr Carnesky’s Incredible Bleeding Woman;  playwright Morgan Lloyd and author PA Skantze  whose book Itinerant Spectator/Itinerant Spectacle looks at audiences who travel with shows they love.

Like I said above, I’m especially fortunate to be joined in this by a wonderful team of theatrical ambrosia:

Mary Chater, actor: Mary’s acting work includes the National Theatre, RSC, West End, rep and fringe. She recently returned from 9 years living in central Italy and is a founder member of Shakespeare in Italy: www.shakespeareinitaly.eu

Matt Lloyd Davies, actor: Matt is a director and actor who trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. His screen and theatre work includes the West End and film, including appearing alongside Nigel Hawthorne in both the National Theatre production and Oscar- winning film of The Madness of King George. More at www.matthewlloyddavies.com

Hannah Drake, director: Hannah is a co-founder of award-winning Insane Root theatre company. She trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (Elsa Roberts Prize for Directing). In 2017 she was Resident Director to the UK Tour of Jane Eyre for the National Theatre/Bristol Old Vic, assisting Sally Cookson. More at: www.hannahdrakedirector.com

And if you would like a reminder of “the quantum mechanics play”, here’s the blurb….

Box – by Gill Kirk

“This is my story. Of when I was famous and when I was invisible. I was loved, and irrelevant. I ruled the universe and it ruled me. But here I am, now: telling you TED-junkies about something we all dream of, and never understand: parallel worlds theory. What if, what if, what if…”

Who do you think you are?

In BOX, Allie and Mike’s parallel lives collide and ricochet to give us a 360-degree sense of not just who they are, but who they could be, given the right (and wrong) circumstances. Tales of love, ambition, disappointment and elephants hang like socks on the washing line of Allie’s brilliant, upsetting, weird and wistful TED talk, as she stumbles around the questions of quantum physics, who we are and who we could be.

The universe plays Mike and Allie like rats in a maze. In world after world, we follow and understand their desires, conflicts and triumphs as their personalities vary wildly, depending on which stepping stones brought them to “today”.

There is, however, one constant: the “quantum suicide rifle” – a real-world manifestation of a thought experiment, theoretically posited to be able to fire its victim into all possible worlds. It’s always with them. It’s always an option.

_________

theatre, Writing

Theatre Review: Switzerland

Yep, I’ve been reviewing again. Brilliant way to sharpen the writerly craft (I hope). Sorry to say this isn’t all it could be – running til 1 Sep in Bath, with Downton Abbey’s Phyllis Logan playing Patricia Highsmith, author of The Talented Mr Ripley (and much more):

“….Think of a bar-bore in their own cave and that’s the role Phyllis Logan has taken on. It’s a very tough gig and she too is constantly watchable. But Murray-Smith has not gifted her the same character nuances as her counterpart […] With this uneven script, the audience is left with a sense of dangling threads, of creative promise unfulfilled, and a great writer being under-served for the benefit of a lesser one.”

Read more

©NOBBY CLARK+44(0)7941-515770
+44(0)20-7274-2105
nobby@nobbyclark.co.uk
Phyllis Logan as Patricia Highsmith in “Switzerland”, Ustinov, Theatre Royal Bath. Pic: Nobby Clark

 

Shows, theatre, Writing

Glittery Glee

I’ve just showed this vid to an industry pro, and realised that it might never have made it  here – apologies! It’s the 90-sec promo for Glitter Knickers, designed to help it out of its R&D box and onto the next stages. Weirdly, both the actor Lucinda Holloway and I have been asked about the play’s next steps a few times in the last few weeks. So, here’s to some Friday smiling – I hope you enjoy it:

 

Learning, Shows, TV, Writing

A Song & Dance for your details…

A much-loved but unproduced theatre script,  A Bit of a Song & Dance, made the BBC Drama Script Room long-list! They had a record number of entries, and a phenomenal amount to read, so I’m especially pleased – and grateful! As all writers out there know, there’s subjectivity in all of this, too, so I’m well aware that there’s a decent degree of good fortune in getting this far.

Writersroom is a phenomenal doorway for writers; a great deal of the talent that reaches your screen passes through this system, and I know many who have been coached and nurtured by it (and by others, of course): it’s a wonderful opportunity. It’s this kind of thing that gives hope, ambition, support and professional education to me and THOUSANDS of would-be broadcast writers.  The recent comedy script room has had 2,629 entries and as you can see below, Drama had almost 4,000.

Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 09.50.39.pngThis is the best any of my scripts have done with the BBC and it is a script I love (with characters I care about – but then, I always do). As one of the longlist, the BBC will give me a script report, which is invaluable – because without audience feedback, a script is nothing. Its life is in the imaginations of others….

And on that slightly strange final note, I’ve been looking for a wordpress GDPR thing and can’t find one. Some of you have signed up to get blog posts by email. If you are one of them and no longer want to, obviously do unsubscribe! Otherwise, let’s carry on! (As I try to capture your imaginations!)

 

Learning, Life balance, opportunities, Writing

Writing Without Whips

Writers need focus. And kindness. Lots of kindness. I wrote yonks ago here about the myth of artistic poverty – how a lack of money (and, related, time) absolutely stymied my work.

It leads to me chasing my tail, rather than having confidence enough to focus on a single project.  It leads to me running up and down my projects, my contacts, the competition deadlines, watering them all, hoping one – just one – will bear me a fruit.

Of course, this is mad.

If studying the lives – and work – of great writers I admire tells me anything, it is that they sat with their work. One work. They listened. They thought.  They paid attention to the task in hand.

Of course, they had to go to the post office. Of course, they had to shop, meet, talk, hustle, eat, drink, recover etc. But they treated their work with more respect than I have been showing mine. And that’s something I resolve to change.

Seeing as you’re here, you might be like me. You read posts about writing. I stumbled over one the other day that was so fresh, so generous in its tone, that it reminded me of Stephen King’s On Writing, or Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. What was so fresh was that it did not tell me I was doing everything wrong. It did not tell me that I could learn what 10 terrible mistakes I was making with every script. It did not tell me that if I would only be a better something [insert noun that’s simultaneously a carrot and a cat-o-nine-tails: “human”, perhaps], then I would be gobbled up eagerly by agents/producers – and not in a necessarily harrassmenty kind of way.

pancakes-dessert-fruit-sweets-47861.jpeg
This was not the kind of “whip” I was looking for in the image library.

It was this. A post that says, “you can find a champion for your work”. That says, “yes there are hurdles, but you can get over them.” That nudges you gently out of the nest so you can fly, instead of screaming, “Jump, you tosser!” from the ground.  So thank you, Hayley Mackenzie of Script Angel. It’s that kind of thoughtfulness – along with the likes of Philip Shelley‘s thorough confidence – that gives the industry a good name.

I don’t believe that making people feel bad, or in competition with their peers, works. Scriptwriting professionals like Hayley and Philip (they’re not the only ones, of course) remind me that I choose who I listen to. This is utterly personal of course, but the gentle encouragement of guys like this, and so many other writers, is one of the things that keeps me in the game.

It’s a privileged place to be, with words in your mind, in your hand, on a screen or page. The last thing you need is a beating. Just find some focus, do some listening and get those words out.

[skips off, distributing sunflowers, into a nuclear horizon…]

😉

 

Learning, opportunities, theatre, TV, Writing

The Stuff I Do (yippee)

Wonderful week last week, with lots of goodies coming at once.

On Tuesday, I reviewed Michael Boyd (former RSC Artistic Director)’s new show, The Open House, for Bristol 24/7. You can read the review here.

Greg-Hicks-Father-Lindsey-Campbell-Daughter-Crispin-Letts-Uncle-Ralph-Davis-Son-1600x900
The Open House, Theatre Royal Bath – photo by Simon Annand

Then I popped on a train, feeling all intercontinentally high-flyin’, wrote my review on the tracks & when I woke up (some sleep happened somewhere), I was in King’s Cross on  my way to the C21/Script Angel WritersRoom, which ran as part of the International Drama Summit at Content London 2017.

Very merrily, my latest TV pilot spec script – written in a 10-day deadline frenzy in September – was highly placed in the C21/Script Angel Drama Series Script Competition. And this is how I won a place on this full and excellent day.  In three groups, we developed a new show from concept to pitch. Each worked closely with an experienced show-runner: Versailles’ David Wolstencraft; Follow The Money’s Jeppe Gjervig Gram; False Flag’s Maria Feldman and Shades of Blue’s Adi Hasak.

The 9-6 day seemed like it was eaten whole in one big bite: Have we finished? Where did it all go?! 

That’s in no small measure due to a cracking task-led structure, but also a bally marvellous working group. So often,  writers work in holy isolation but here we had to listen, respond, respect and hit a deadline with a goodie. (What do you mean, “did we?” Of course we did!).

Anyway, it was yet another of those weeks where I stand, grin and kalloo-kallay my lucky stars to be able to do the stuff I do. I saw and reviewed great & thought-provoking theatre (heading to London in the new year, I believe) and worked with a great international group of merry writers and producers. And we all learnt from our group’s ace showrunners, Jeppe Gjervig Gram & Adi Hasak, with the sharp and steady Hayley MacKenzie of Script Angel’s hand on the tiller.

What a cracking week.