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I’ve just reviewed the new Daniel Kehlmann show at the Ustinov, Theatre Royal Bath, for Bristol 24/7. In short, this was a tough review – I wish with all my heart I could have written a happier one. Click the pic to have a read:
Ha, make em laugh, eh? More like, make yourself laugh. I just spotted an old post from a year ago: The Awful Art of Unwriting. It’s a confessional, where I admit to not having done a new spec screenplay (as opposed to a play) for about 5 years.
In the last year, I’ve written three: one comedy pilot (30 mins) and 2 dramas, an hour each. They’re each still being polished in their own way, and one of them is under the radical surgeon’s knife, but blimey, it’s really worth a backwards glance from time to time.
Various other projects are still in the cauldron – not least the quantum 2-hander & the glorious, audience’s darling, Glitter Knickers – so if you have a time machine/ magic wand/ producer/ magic money tree, you’re very welcome to drop me a line…;) And meanwhile, new things start to sizzle for theatre and screen (oh, boy, and how….)
Watch this space!
Way, way back, many moons ago, I spent a disproportionate amount of my degree studying fairy tale, folk lore, myth and language. A very lucky soul, I was.
I ended up examining the evolution of one character in particular – Morgan le Fay, King Arthur’s half-sister. A powerful woman in every version of the tale, she morphed from pre-Christian tri-partite fertility goddess (Celtic Morrigan), to an evil, conniving force of darkness. Over the centuries, society’s attitudes to women changed, as Christianity spread, and as things like the Marian Cult of the Virgin Mary took hold in scriptoriums (remember, back in the day, the monks were the publishing houses!).
And so, as Christian men took over, the earth-mother became a demoness. The other significant woman in Arthurian legend, Guinevere, herself changes during the story from sweet virgin to unfaithful wife.
As my own tale morphs and grows, and I constantly learn about the importance of story-making and -telling, I’m reminded again and again how, fundamentally, stories are universal. No matter the surface differences between Peppa Pig, Greta Expectations and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, a closer look will find the parallels: regardless of age or culture, we all want and need our story medicine – we just take it from different bottles.
So if there’s nothing new under the sun, that should remind us: our tribe is always out there.
And as the changing depiction of Morgan showed how “society” (the story writers and publishers, reflecting an increasingly male-led world) viewed women who had power, so our stories reflect the way we want our world to be, and how it is. Which means, ultimately, that if we don’t say it, publish it, produce it, watch or read it, it canot be heard.
For those who like delving deeper in such things, both TV Tropes and the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Fable Index can lose you several hours down the rabbit holes of linking themes, motifs, lessons and characters….Just remember to come back!
I’m doing The Artist’s Way all over again, straight after completing the 1st go-round.
And now, just reading The Artist’s Way for Parents, I’ve had an inspiration.
JK Rowling said she only got Harry Potter writ because she did no housework. One of the many reasons she has my huge respect.
My inner police-people are too uptight for that, though. I can’t focus in a midden. So I’m going to adapt that and do something lots of others who work at home / write / create might have thoughts on- ZERO small chores are allowed to interrupt my day.
At some dedicated point – with my 6-year old helping – it will be “maid time”, when the “maids” come in (us) & we do the jobs that olden-day “staff” would have done. Until they come, it doesn’t happen. We play, make, create, talk, mess things up.
That way, the niggling guilt can stop AND a wee man gets to contribute to making his home a place that we make nice together. Wish me luck…!
If you were born after maybe 1975, you might not get it. But if you’re roughly my age (a grand forty-four and a half) you might now be hearing a dodgy John Taylor* theme tune and getting memory-whiffs of a tousled, sweaty Kim Basinger staring in a confused fashion at all the identical rows of white shirts & black suits in Mickey Rourke’s wardrobe and well, watching things on a projector. 9 1/2 Weeks was basically the forerunner to both 50 Shades… and Sleeping with the Enemy. But I digress.
What I meant to say was that between Mother’s Day & Father’s Day, I’ve done 12 weeks of The Artist’s Way. And jotting it down because the last post was helpful to some people I like. And doing it all has been so helpful to me that I’m starting all over again.
If you are interested in this for yourself (it’s basically a refresher / CPD / spring clean for any one, no matter who creative they want they are / want to be), you don’t need or want a list of my “achievements”, or some wondrous “before & after”s. They’re my things, and while you might kindly say, “oooo, ahhhh”, that’s no good for you!
What might encourage you, though, are these things:
I hope – if you’ve heard about The Artist’s Way, and wound up here, this is helpful. Or if you’ve never heard of it, your curiosity is piqued. For some, it’s about removing “blocks”, for others, it’s about getting out of a rut, that old rut. Some feel like it’s a spring clean to bring back their lost playfulness. Others, that it’s peaceful self-care, meditation and self-strengthening. Here, it’s all of that (and yes, stuff has happened. Big stuff has happened, and more is happening. But that, dear friends, is another story).
*YES! Exactly! That John Taylor, from Duran Duran, going solo for what was basically a soft-porno. And ye gods, sorry, Mr T, it was not a great song. I still have the 7″.
Really? Oh, ok. Don’t say I didn’t warn you – it’s a bit 1980s rude: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5OBXJ2AxSA
I heard about it.
I saw it in a friend’s vast personal library.
He said “Here, take it.”
It sat on my shelf for a year.
I started it.
I’m reading / doing / taking / following The Artist’s Way. It’s a course in a book. I’m fed up of feeling my work is stale, fed up of the negative pixies who get to party when I get statistically likely “thanks, but not today” emails, and I’m fed up of the whispering mists of pessimism and poverty. And that’s enough indulgence in evocative eurghhhiness.
Because this 12-week thing (I’m reaching the end of week 5) is great! Jolly! Freeing! Happy-making! OH, MY GOD. I’m the Me I that adult me thinks I was when I was 7! (Creating for creativity’s sake, full of curiosity, mischief, devil-may-care fingery-pokery).
Talking of “God”, it/s/he crops up a fair amount in this book, but don’t be put off. While author Julia Cameron has a strong faith, she encourages readers to think about their own “god” – whether that’s the “creative force”, a muse, or a deity.
So much good shit is going down – as they say here in the streets of Bath all the time – and it’s not all about improving The Writing at all. But WHAT a relief to….
It’s a bonkers example, but I applauded – actually clapped at – the telly at the end of this week’s Line of Duty. See what I mean? I’m so proud to be loosely in the same profession as Jed Mercurio, how could I not? Ditto the finale of Chris Chibnall’s Broadchurch. Hats off to them and the creative teams around them.
Anyway, I’m also …
So – is this intriguing you? Be warned. There’s a crocodile. Week 4 is “reading deprivation” – no TV, films, books, papers, voice radio, mags, emails, social media…
It is hard.
It is great.
Which is nice.