Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Tuesday, 11 February 2014
I’m redrafting my latest play, Home Sweet Home, for Freedom Studios. I’m thinking about the layers and layers of decisions and thought that led to the first draft, and which have taken me to a point. This point. Even so, a first draft can only ever go so far. There is always a step further to be taken. So now I find myself into the real process of writing: the unpicking, erasing, rebuilding and adding. I'm into the unfixed liquid moment between drafts. Wading in, still turning ideas. I’m thinking. Should I? I’m not sure yet. Should I? I’m thinking about the moments that will stay, the lines that will go, the new images that are forming. I’m submerging myself in it. Reentering. Refocusing. The hunt for something seamless and whole is on again. A seamless whole, with no loose ends, that will add up to something more than its parts. Something entertaining, fun, moving, exciting but thoughtful and different. Different but familiar. Fine tuning the tone. Making the right choice. Chasing the thing. This thing. Chasing it to nail it. Making a moment in time, a story that can mean something important to me and something important to you, if you come to see it. And of course you can. You can come. I mean, they started selling the tickets for it already. So this feeling of being between worlds, it can’t last forever. The draft will be done. The deadline must be hit and the story will be told. It’s an unstoppable thing, once you get this far in. It will happen because it must.
Being this person who has been around and around this particular part of the world, I was aware of the Ukrainian Club in Bradford. There used to be gigs there, I think, when I was a kid. I knew that someone from The Wedding Present (an iconic Leeds band from my youth, who I never much liked) went on to form The Ukrainians. So somewhere in my mind, I knew there was a Ukrainian community ‘here’, but in a vague way. I knew but didn’t know. And so, I had to go all the way to London last summer to meet Nina and Maria who have been living in Bradford for the last 50 or so years. Just a few miles from where I live. Have lived. Will live. To come across them. To register them. I was in London to spend time with the Entelechy Older Artists who were hosting this exchange... And then Nina and Maria started to tell their story. And their story was at once alien and mine. They mentioned places I know and where I go. They talked in a broken English that was peppered with Bradfordian words and vowels. Sounds that only a Bradfordian makes. I can’t tell you what those sounds are, but I know them when I hear them. And so, to hear them speak these alien stories of the 2nd world war, in my home town's accent? To hear their experience of becoming 'Untermensch', being stolen into forced labour as teens and losing everything? To hear them telling their story of surviving when friends didn’t. And then of coming here to start again… But never forgetting... The then and the now going on together... Well. Sometimes you have to go all the way to London to find out something new about the city you were born and live in. Ever since that afternoon I find myself thinking of our lives, Nina, Maria's and mine, going on, circling, layering, building up a shared experience, which I didn’t know we had. But it was always there. Discovering this is what began to make sense of the heart of this play for me... A play that is set in 3 city's in the UK at the same time. A play that has 8 unique stories which are all interlinked... A play that slips back and forth between the real and the magical...
Friday, 6 December 2013
I woke up this morning thinking about the loss of Nelson Mandela's late last night. I heard the news just before bedtime and went to bed feeling just very, very sad. But this morning, that has changed. Now I am all strange happy sad... Because, yes I am very sad for us, that we have lost him. But I am happy too. Happy and glad that such a decent, thoughtful person was with us for a while. And so loved. And that he didn't just think and feel intelligent heartfelt ideas, but somehow found a way to make himself heard. And so, because of all of this, he was able to do much good in this world. I don't think we need to try & make him a saint. He was a good man. That's good (& hard) enough. I don't expect or need to believe he was perfect. I just know that we are better for having had him around, while we are around... So now, in honour of him and his life, I am going to go grab this beautiful day & try to live it with love and delight and hope and passion and belief, because that's what he did. When we lose such a bright light in the world, the temptation is to say, 'who will fill the darkness now?'. But really, the obligation, our obligation, is to try and burn brighter ourselves. Not easy. But here we are. Onward.