The Pitlochry Play #1: the sound of water

I’m here in Pitlochry, land of Pitlochry Festival Theatre and much, much more. Today’s day 3 of my playwrighting residency at the theatre and I’m rolling around like a pig in poo at the luxury of all this writing space and thinking time.

I’m not here to share anything about my “process” with you, but I can’t keep all this to myself, so I thought you would like a local waterfall.

It’s great to watch in real life (not so amazing in my rushed wee film from my August holiday here), but it’s stunning to listen to. Sound and water are featuring heavily in the project so far; trees and mountains are too, but let’s save that for another day.

Let me introduce you to the fantastic, the inimitable, the one and only: Black Spout:

Black Spout waterfall, Pitlochry, Aug. ’19

Do Not Disturb: an arts satire

“A satire about arts and funding in a post-BBC, post-sterling world. Two civil servants hunt a dangerous script to stop it infecting a world that’s free of disturbing theatre. They disguise themselves as theatre types and get enmeshed in the glamour. Everyone’s lying for accolades, acceptance and – er – maybe art.”

architecture room indoors auditorium

This is the blurb for Do Not Disturb, the latest to leave my redrafting fingers, ready for a wild world of producers and partnerships. Huge thanks to the talented and generous professionals who gave me a table-read in the summer and those others who’ve given thoughtful feedback on this pacy, satirical beast.

I’m heading into my next work – a very different thing – with Pitlochry Festival Theatre soon, but when I come back, Do Not Disturb will be looking for collaborators. If you think you’d be interested in hearing more, please drop me a line. Be great to hear from you.

Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

Wanted a Genie, found a Muse

Lovely news – I’ve just been awarded a writers’ residency at the fantastic Pitlochry Festival Theatre to start work on a new play. And it all started because I couldn’t get to Mull and in the (relatively) short time my child was away with relatives.

In July, I’d been facing the standard single parent dilemma: while you child’s off on adventures, should you do the DIY or have a hol? Validated by friends’ and parents; encouragement, “Have-a-hol” scraped through – largely ‘cos it whispered “Inspiration!” in a way that a “Paste-The-Wall” mini-staycation just can’t.

I’d had a great break in Orkney 10y ago, and while I’m desperate to return, I need to explore. My quest for rural adventure started with a day of crying into my computer because National Rail Enquiries refused to offer magic carpet options so I could see family & friends in Glasgow and nip casually to Mull. Four days’ travel in a 7-day break? I needed a Genie…

…But I found a smashing travel agent. Who suggested Pitlochry. And its theatre. EVERYBODY mentioned its theatre. EVERYBODY.

I didn’t need a Genie. I found the muses; or they found me. What a place. And what a theatre. By which I mean history, building, location, leadership, ambition, heritage, talent, teams, reputation… If you don’t know of it, check it out – only a few (gorgeous) hours’ train from Glasgow, there’s quality theatre in the stunning hills: go on, click!

And so on a long walk, a story bit my bum and wouldn’t let go. I came back and worked it up and worried – and then leapt: I sent it in to PFT’s artistic team and they have very kindly given me a residency this autumn.

Apart from my parents’ bemused pride, they’re also looking forward to my return – with a lot more Edradour Malt marmalade.

Review: The Whale

I was lucky enough to see and review this incredible piece of theatre back in May. Apologies for missing the boat on re-posting my review for Bristol 24/7, but here it is:

The-Whale-Charlie-Shuler-Hensley-©Simon-Annand-2-e1525437529693.jpg

Shuler Hensley as Charlie. Pic: Simon Annand

As an adult, it is genuinely rare to sit in a theatre and utterly believe. But Shuler Hensley’s performance in The Whale is perhaps the most visceral, convincing, immersive depiction I have ever seen, on any stage. This is one powerful piece of theatre, with award-winning performances from a cast giving their all, in a completely engaging world.

Charlie (Hensley) is not just obese, but morbidly so. The kind of  “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape“ “big” that involves hoists, or windows being taken out. But Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale is not a play about a man being fat. It’s a play about despair, grief and regret; about self-loathing and a suicidal lack of self-worth. It is one of the saddest and most eloquent plays I have ever come across. It’s a play about love….

Read more…

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:

 

Review: Posting Letters to the Moon

Very happy to have reviewed the opening night of posting Letters to the Moon last night as it starts a tour that takes in Wimbourne, Guildford, Chipping Norton, Malvern and Devizes.

Oh, what a lovely, love-filled, heartwarming evening you will have with Posting Letters To The Moon. Opening night at Bath’s Ustinov Studio (Theatre Royal) looked like a full house for this charming legacy of a show.

But where to start? You could come into this piece through so many different doors. A Brief Encounter fan? An Archers addict? Maybe you’re a soul who loves the “letters from” format, or even “an audience with-“? Perhaps you’re an incurable ’39-’45 nostalgiac?

Whichever door works for you, this space is as welcoming and nourishing as you could possibly want. Huge congrats to Lucy Fleming and Simon Williams – and their family – for sharing these letters in such a generous way.  More …

 

Review: Christmas Eve

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:

Baladi Cusack Xmas eve oct 17

Patrick Baladi & Naimh Cusack in Christmas Eve at the Ustinov, Bath – pic, Simon Annand