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.