Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Remember to Read.

I've been trying to read more this year. I'm even trying to document what I read, with the intention for it to be mindful, rather than mindless - this has lead to the slightly ridiculous #tillysreadinglog2015 hashtag. But bear with me on this, it's a nice way to look back on what you read and every now again a silly little thought of "oh, I haven't posted a book in a while" occurs and I read something else! It does also lead to a backlog of posting (I have three waiting to be posted at the moment but want to space them out a bit between the brunches and selfies and views of London that I post all the time).

The thing is, I love reading. As in when I was five and we had to write what we said mine was "Mathilda says: I LIKE TO READ." I used to carry books around with me, collect them, read them in the car, at home, in the bathroom, when eating, in class, in bed - basically wherever and now I don't.

And I don't exactly know why. It makes me a little sad to think how ferociously I devoured books and stories and how I would reread them over and over and still make time for finding new favourites. Working in a bookshop was an ideal job for me as it gave a bit of a structure (and early access) to reading new books. Also, bookclub was great - I miss that incentive too.

Now it so often feels like there isn't time.

But writers need to read and not having time is kind of bullshit - on my mini commute (plus a bit extra) at the moment I've recently finished two books within a week. I'm trying really hard to do it. And it isn't a chore, because it's one of my favourite things to do - once I am in a story, nothing else exists.

The truth is, everything is better when you are reading. Even the hot, sweaty summer tubes.

So here we are:

Make time.

Remember to read.

#mantrasofourmoderntimes

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fresh Legs - Adventures in Splicing Genre.



I've always believed that in life we need to keep learning and keep challenging ourselves, my family have always been ones to delight in the new and to be excited by opportunity and I try and do this in my writing. I think its pretty important to not limit yourself in content or form (unless that is a deliberate exercise).

Writing horror then was a new experience for me. I don't like being scared, I don't relish the thrill of a fright or cowering behind sofas - my dreams are too vivid to welcome the violence and gore of the horror world into my brain. However the horror genre, like any, I can appreciate from a distance and it seemed like a fun thing to take on. Adapting a fairy tale into a contemporary horror story, why not?

'The Tinderbox' was were I first started and I just couldn't move with it. I was stuck with the form, the original story (which is bonkers and involves three dogs) and the genre wasn't speaking through a returned soldier haunted by war ghosts. It was turning out that because I didn't like horror - I didn't want to write it. I didn't want to frighten anyone.

Cue my housemate to the rescue with the Halloween episode of Community. It was fantastic. I cannot begin to describe just how amazing it is - it uses all the horror tropes, the plots, the characters, the nightmares and has the best time with it. And best of all it wasn't scary, it was funny. The blood, the zombies and the ever-diminishing survivors were there but it was so deftly done I didn't feel afraid.

Tone. People. It makes all the difference.

Goodbye depressed returned soldier with all your dogs and your tinderbox and hello new story.

We then sat on the sofa and hashed out my other smidge of a fairytale idea; 'The Little Mermaid' set in a high school with the lead character in a wheelchair. We set it at Halloween and it worked. It flowed and I wrote the play that evening, in probably less than two hours.

When your pitching into a world with rules you don't necessarily want to understand, it's a good idea to do so in a self aware way that uses what you know (fairy tales) to shape what you don't know (horror) using something everyone understands on some level (comedy).

And it was fun. I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson and Part of Your World on repeat and out came a modern day comedy/horror fairy-tale that lives in my head and doesn't give me bad dreams.

Fresh Legs is the easiest thing to pitch to people. "It's a comedy/horror reinterpretation of 'The Little Mermaid' set in a high school on Halloween." There's no grey areas and deep understanding but it speaks to our experience, plays with our expectations and enjoys it.

And you know something? People laugh.

You can book tickets to see Fresh Legs here and read more about the show details and rehearsal photos etc. here - blood, zombies and excellent dancing, it'll be thrilling!


Sunday, May 10, 2015

10 (Slightly Angry) Thoughts on the UK General Election 2015

1. Caring is never a weakness.

Caring and empathising for someone not in your position is actually one of the bravest things to do and damn straight it makes you a better person.

2. The Arts are screwed (but have never been more important)

I had two production meetings today (yes it's a Saturday) both ended up in talking about funding.

First meeting quote about finding funding later in the year: 
"If there's any left."
Haha, yes awkward laughter. So amusing! We should write comedy.

Second meeting quote about company not present.
Producer (cooing): "They've got ACTUAL government funding"
Me (darkly): "For now."

Sorry to bring the mood down, but really. Even now, project funding is the way to go and even that is damn hard to secure, especially as a small, new company. Established venues have a better chance, but even then it is no guarantee of investment.

Anyway, continue making it and sharing it.

3. I Cannot Even... 

No really. I can't. Except Brighton.

4. Nicola Sturgeon is awesome. 

She wasn't even standing for election and she completely owned everyone. She didn't take David Cameron's shit, she didn't take Ed Miliband's shit - she actually managed to stir it and throw it back at them.

At least there is a voice that will continue to call the crap.

5. Were people actually scared of being in coalition with Scotland?

Like, what the hell? YOU WERE ALL BEGGING THEM TO STAY LAST YEAR AND NOW YOU ARE FREAKING OUT THEY MIGHT INFLUENCE THE UNION. Grow up.

6. That 34% of the electorate didn't vote makes me feel sick. 

Nausea.

7. The media in this country is a disgrace. 

It was fed a narrative and shat it out again without dissecting any of it. Your job is to do that, isn't it? Oh, wait, no it isn't. It's to make money! That is the role of the press, make more money for rich people. Silly me. Silly, little me with my backwards ideas about integrity and critical engagement with the Establishment. They are the Establishment and are absolutely pathetic.

The BBC tried occasionally but mostly it was the same old.

8. Can Nigel Farage go back under a rock now? Please? 

Slither away and shrivel up in a corner along with your revolting world view.

9. The electoral system in this country is insanely flawed.

The only people who gain from it are the people currently in power, if you can't see that then you are completely deluded.

For a start:

a) Preferential voting might have meant more UKIP seats, but it would also have meant more Greens and more Labour and a mix of many parties is not necessarily a bad thing. Some better form of proportional representation is essential.

b) An appointed upper house? Don't get me started on how ridiculous that is. Lord!

I can go on...

10.  FIVE YEARS? WHO THE HELL THOUGH FIVE YEARS WAS A GOOD IDEA?

Four would be much more civilised. World Cups? Olympics? Anyone? Who agreed to that? I mean really. Stupid. Really stupid.

Can you imagine if Tony Abbott had been gifted five years?

Note: I am a progressive person. I voted Green. I make art. I write. I believe in a fair go for everyone. I work hard to understand my position in the world and how it relates to other people. I believe in equal rights, fair pay, good social housing. I'm also Australian, so I suppose I've come over here to steal all your jobs, not pay any tax and force you all to eat Tim Tams whilst lecturing you on your out of date political system. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Working in the Theatre - unpaid/low paid.




There's an article doing the rounds via The Stage and now the BBC about the actor/director Samuel West where he talks about how the theatre industry is a little but unsustainable because of all the unpaid/low paid work creatives (in his case, actors) are required to work on. On top of recent arguments about how "Fringe" is a defunct term and how the 1% pay rise for playwrights at the RSC/National/Royal Court isn't enough there are some interesting discussions going on at the moment in the industry about not just why we make theatre but how it is made.

Last year I received my first proper fully paid, writer/dramaturg commission Beauty and the Beast - two years after graduating. It came as a result of an internship with the Norwich Puppet Theatre and sort of demonstrates the process about how working for nothing should work. The internship was intense and incredible and I learned so much, found what I wanted to do with my life and then it didn't just end - it went somewhere.

Theatre gives back a lot to the people that make it. It offers a platform, it offers exposure (two excuses often used to justify no money) but it also lets us connect with each other, make great work and share. I consider myself a professional writer regardless of if I am paid and whatever the level of 'platform' or 'exposure.' I also increasingly am looking for way more than just that as a reason to write and not be paid for the time and energy it takes to make work. The creative challenge of a genre piece for example, or collaborating with an artist, or working with a director to make work in a different way. All of these things need to keep you growing and grafting as an artist, even if you are not being financially rewarded.

Perhaps the point not picked out and highlighted in the Samuel West argument is the sustainability argument - how many people is theatre going to lose to 'real jobs' that pay the rent. Bread-lining is absolutely exhausting and I've lost count of how many people I know have been forced into that position. It takes massive guts and love to stick it out.

The picture in this post is of my files of the plays and projects I have written over the last year and a bit. The financial income? Not very much. The professional, artistic and personal development? Priceless.

Be sure to check out my website for details on the love and guts. x

Monday, April 20, 2015

Debate.

David:             Dear Ed,

Nearly that time again. Still at least you’re more fun than Gordon.

RSVP.

Love, David.

He sighs.

Dear Nick,

I suppose you have to come again because otherwise it would be awkward.

RSVP.

Love, David.

Nick:               David! I thought we weren’t speaking! Does this mean we have a future?

David:             Nick. Just don’t bring Nigel.

Ed:                  Nick? You know only invited because you were last time.

                        I mean. David. Nick’s made this like totally awkward because he like invited Nigel last year to his ridic sub-par Eurotrash bash.

David:             Please can you both just RSVP! I need to sort out the catering.

Nigel enters.

Ed:                  Oh Nigel? Did you get invited to the party?

Nigel:              David! Party? I’ll bring the beer.

Nick:               Wait, so Nigel is invited? You could have given me a heads up here. I thought we were supposed to be partners in government.

David:             Nigel is not coming.

Natalie enters.

Natalie:           Hello! Why aren’t there any girls at this party?

Ed and Nick exchange looks.
Nigel:              You weren’t invited.

Ed:                  Who’s she?

Nick:               Natalie?

Ed:                  Who’s Natalie?

Nick:               It doesn’t matter.

Nigel:              Er, David? You need to invite me. I am a party!

Ed pulls Nick aside.

Ed:                  If we make David invite Nigel you do realise they’ll just fight each other?

Nick:               You need to invite Nigel.

Ed:                  It won’t be the same without him

David:             “Dear Ofcom,

FFS. NO ONE INVITED YOU EITHER.

Love, David.”

Now listen, Ed and Nick and Nigel,

This is my party and I invite who I want. And I’m not inviting anyone unless Natalie comes

So there.

Natalie:           Oh David! I think I’m in love.

Nigel:              Nice try, sweetheart.

Ed:                  But I don’t want her to come! She’s steals all my friends!

Nick:               And well, we don’t like your parties anyway.

Nigel:              I might just host my own party.

David:             So, Nick and Ed and Nigel aren’t speaking to me now. And that’s your fault.

Natalie:           You invited them!

Nigel:              I brought beer.

They aren’t listening.

David:             You know you could have just RSVPed like normal people and kept this between us. But know you had to bring Nigel into it!

Nick:               We don’t need you anyway!

David:             You jumped at coming last time!

Ed:                  You did!

Nick:               Whose side are you on?

Ed:                  Not yours.

Nick:               Well I’m going to write to express my deep dissatisfaction at the situation.

Ed:                  Me too.

Nigel:              Me three.

Ed:                  Oh piss off! No one wants you here.

Ed, Nick, David and Nigel exit in an annoyed rabble.

Natalie

Natalie:           Hey ITV, Don’t forget me! I’m still here. I’m still relevant people know my name now!

                        I’m still invited! Aren’t I? Hey wait! I have my RSVP. I’m still here!

She rushes off.

Nicola enters.

Nicola:            Dear England,

So are we!

Love, the SNP


End.

New.

It's spring here.

Thing are new.

The birds are singing and the blossom is out.

I've had a website for a while now tillylunken.com with up-coming projects and work-in-progress stuff. I love the way it looks and will be keeping that up - but I also miss the rawness of blogging and how it is a mini soap box. Twitter isn't long enough, instagram is too pretty and I can't bear the thought of tumbling so here we are back on good-old-blogger, trying it out again.

This page basically wins at having old hits on it, which is why it is still love. So thanks for dropping by and checking out all my old student theatre posts, I took reviewing so seriously then, and now, I do sort of miss it - although I sure prefer making work than reviewing others! And thanks for coming to check out the words to Each Peach Pear Plum, it's my go too last story when putting my nephew to bed, because I can 'read it' in the dark.

Anyway, here's to posting reasonably regularly and keeping updated with the world.

As I say, it's new.