Others’ work: Alice Childless’s Trouble In Mind – Ustinov, 10 Nov -17 Dec

Others’ work: Alice Childless’s Trouble In Mind – Ustinov, 10 Nov -17 Dec

Absolutely delighted to post this review in Bristol 247 from last week’s superb theatre trip.

This is a very special piece of theatre. It’s warm, entertaining, heart-swelling, cringe-making, shame-facing and packs a hell of a punch, staring 2016 in the face all the way from 1955. In short, you need to see it, because if you miss it, you’ll hear repeatedly how you missed out.

Dignity, race, power, privilege, wealth, sex, class, education. These “unspoken” currencies that fuel every human interaction permeate this excellent play.

What do you see when a famous white writer’s script about a Deep South lynching puts stereotyped dialogue and a “white saviour” plot in the mouths of a black cast? What happens when the cast – who need work and money, have ambition and dreams – know it’s unreal yet say nothing, or even defend it? What happens when you dare speak out? When a lynching isn’t just a story in a play – but when it happened, right there, in front of you?

read more….

jonathan-cullen-al-manners-tanya-moodie-wiletta-mayer-1479384246

Other people’s work: review of John Mighton’s Half Life, Bath

Other people’s work: review of John Mighton’s Half Life, Bath

I used to do a lot of theatre reviewing – when wed to a person I didn’t need to pay to look after our child! – and always wondered whether I should share them here. So, in a new departure, I thought I’d start. Last night I reviewed Nancy Meckler’s production (at Bath’s Ustinov Studio) of Half Life for Bristol 247. Here’s the article – happy reading (runs til 5 Nov- go!)

half-life-poster-7-oct

Craft Work and Magic Pennies

Craft Work and Magic Pennies

Phew. This summer had roller skates. Creatively, it was wonderful, and then whoosh! There I stood, messy making everywhere I looked, enough mucky creative output to dance in for months!

And so. Back to school, while devouring new drama on t’telly, in the wicked playhouses and yet more in those moving picture theatre halls.  And here, in the imaginarium?

  1. Draft Two (caps intentional) of the spec TV pilot I’m obsessed with (an elite public school in the Scottish wilderness is the battle ground for parental titans, demolishing the society around them as they war over their dead son’s legacy.)
  2. Tour planning for Glitter Knickers in 2017 – a wee show I might have mentioned once or twice.
  3. Sleeve-rolling collaborations with writers, makers, and creative entrepreneurs.

There’s two tunes playing in my mind that I want to inject into yours: the beautiful clockwork of dramatic structure, and the joyous Play-Doh Barber’s Shop game that happens from generous collaboration.

First of all, I’m just loving learning how my craft makes my writing so infinitely better.  PEGGY’s first draft grew from a well-critiqued treatment, and then ten pages (thanks to script editors Philip Shelley & Yvonne Grace respectively). I left it well alone (very tough) for 6 weeks and have gone back to edit like a mad editing monster.  I could now see the problems, the (very) weak spots, the frankly cringe-making things that needed sorting.  And then I set myself the kind of challenge I could never have done without (a) a lot of learning from cleverer people than I, and (b) that 6-week break.  Eh? What? Or, yes, sorry – to solve the problems!

  • THAT’s no good as an excuse for his behaviour – WHY?
  • Oh, come on – his character is weak! What’s he up to? Make him work!
  • Ah. Great antagonist motivation. But now your heroine is nothing by comparison! Even out the score – fight that fight!

The first draft’s OK…BUT, nowhere near good enough. But I’m confident enough to know it’s still like a wobbly clockwork thing. It needs several wheels taking out, binning, replacing, moving…. Heck, I might have to lay the whole thing out on the kitchen table and put it all back together again. But that’s OK! Because if this story is worth telling – and it is! – then getting it right is going to make it absolutely marvellous!

Now, the other thing. The magic pennies of the title. I;m going to save that for my next posy (a) because you’ve read enough and (b) there’s more stuff to do before school pick-up and this is the luxury!

Some sharin’ – great TV writing resources

Some sharin’ – great TV writing resources

All quiet on this south-western front of late, I know. I’ve been putting my 6-hour working days (school hours for small ones) to good writing use, then throwing in some extra after beddy-byes. All guns have been pointing at a new TV pilot, strengthening my screenwriting muscles and learning everywhere I can.

So, without giving anything away about boring old plot stuff (YAWN)* I thought it mght be handy to point any writers out there towards the handy  – invaluable – resources I’ve been using.

And my imagination, but you couldn’t afford it 😉

Anyway, this stuff is – combined with the other glorious sites on my blogroll (to your right, I believe) – seriously invaluable. It requires some spend of dosh as well as effort, but this is my career. I seriously recommend you check these out if you’re serious about screenwriting. We’re learning a craft and that takes more than just talent. It takes learning!

* So “not” yawn; I love this world I’m playing in. It’s been months now and I dream it. One of us just won’t let go of the other.

The Awful Art of Unwriting

The Awful Art of Unwriting

[stories] squareI’m not entirely sure why but er, um, I haven’t written a speculative  screenplay (plays, I have done) for err, um, five years. There you go. I have no more secrets.

What the merry heave-ho have I been doing? ‘Cos I’m pretty sure I call myself a writer a lot of the time.

There’s been some very masterly prevarication going on*; so good, I didn’t really see it. I mean, I’ve been busy doing writerly things, including theatre script-writing. The wise counsel of script consultant Philip Shelley last week made me blush: “Before all else, get yourself a new calling card script.” That’s what I’m working on at the mo (this is my break after a 5h stint, I promise!)

But I’m here ‘cos I wanted to show you how EASY it is not to write your new spec script, day after day…for a very long time indeed, without even noticing.

Here’s Gill’s Blush-Making Guide to Not Being an Unwriter:

  1. A great theatre show might get your work some attention from screen professionals, BUT it isn’t a screenplay
  2. Doing courses and reading experts’ blogs are not writing your screenplay
  3. Treatments are not your screenplay
  4. Teaching writing isn’t
  5. Housework CERTAINLY isn’t (tho’ parenting, love, loss and life all do help)

These are all things you rightly want (scripts onstage, networking, learning craft, working with writers, a clean home & a balanced life). They are ALL GOOD. But I did them AND I AIN’T GOT NO SCREENPLAY. And I do very much want to write – er – screenplays.

So, don’t let those other things eat up your screenplay-writing time. Just throw them some nuggets if you must…

JKR housework

* Here’s the answer to how my five years got eaten. I’ve writ a very big play about “quantum mechanics ‘n’ life ‘n’ shit”, crowdfunded £2,000 R&D for it (thank you, again!); worked in Whitehall for a year (and various other clients the rest of the time); writ & run GLITTER KNICKERS (see earlier posts if you managed somehow to miss that one); escaped a Helen Archer-style scenario (you either get that or you don’t) & raised a 2,3,4 and 5 year old (the same human, in ever-changing form). I’ve done well in competitions, written 3 film treatments, run a writers’ group, had a few smaller shows on of existing work, written & pitched several treatments and done lots of reading about writing. And bought a house. So that’s the to-do list done. Now it’s time for the er…what did I come in here for?

The Curious Outcome of Giving Up on My Dream

The Curious Outcome of Giving Up on My Dream

I absolutely love this- and hardly ever reblog, but this has to be shared! What a generous post!

All Creativelike

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 2.13.13 PMLast year I gave up a dream I’d been pursuing for 14 years, the dream of working in the film industry as a writer and filmmaker.

My love started many suns and moons ago with a lightning bolt realization. I had daydreamed a vivid conversation between a grandmother and her grandson, and it was such an odd, cinematic vision that I wrote it down. Then it hit me, “THIS must be what it’s like to write movies!” I went on to devour any book about the craft that I could find, and write my first feature-length script in a week.

As years passed I wrote more scripts, produced and directed my own short films, moved to Hollywood and worked for a big screenwriter. Later, I worked in casting and production. I won some small awards for my scripts and films, and worked for little or no money in pursuit of…

View original post 906 more words

Never quiet; always learning

Never quiet; always learning

Gosh – the sediment from Glitter Knickers has just about settled on the bottom of the jar.  The feedback just flowed in – thank you very much indeed, everyone – and in the next couple of weeks, it’s my job to package that up, with a whole load of metrics for The Next Stage. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, paid communications jobs have come in (yippee!) and I’ve just writ my first short film script. It’s an excellent discipline – I’m very much still wearing armbands. If you’ve met me, you’ll appreciate that verbal economy is not always my forte. I’m now a big fan of image boards, drawing out comic strips (as I did for Glitter Knickers) and running away from spoken words.

Y Grace bookI’ve also polished off a couple of TV treatments and had some very handy feedback on them. To make them/ others they best they can be, I’ve also  bought myself a new book (yes, that’s it in the pic). It’s stuff from the brain of Yvonne Grace, a TV guru of great experience who can be found here and if you’re also on facebook, here.

Last, my Jan – April season leading the Rondo Writers’ Group has just ended, with scripts from four of the writers heading into a professionally performed & produced show at Bath’s Rondo Theatre. If you’re local and have the wit to enjoy new writing (and believe me, the scripts, cast & director are great) you can catch this on 4-7 May, here! If you make it, let me know!