Friday, 13 March 2015

Why The World Would Be Better If TWICE The Movie Gets Made!

She's talking about a love Revolution!.. 4 days to go and #Twice Sarah Arlen's first feature film is getting close to its target on Kickstarter... Can you help with a few $ / £ or € to get it over the line? I so want to help Sarah​ get her movie 'Twice' made. One because she is a very dear friend who is a fantastic person and I wish great things for her. Two because she's a unique filmmaker with a genuinely original way of seeing and thinking about things. Three because it's time that poly people got to see their kind of love story up on screen. And four because I think it feels like an opportunity. I'm not poly but I want to stand in solidarity with my poly brothers and sisters. Backing this film is a chance to say 'yes to love' for all people. You can go and visit Sarah's Kickstarter page ... AND / OR take a look at the flyer above. Sarah is doing a live web broadcast interview this Sunday the 15th... So you could tune in and find out more... But here's the general juice: If you believe we are all stronger when diverse voices are heard or if you just love the idea of getting behind a great, unique film with a kick ass story - get a fiver out and give it to this woman... #twicetribe

Monday, 9 March 2015

News About My New Play Animals

There is nothing like getting a bundle of paper flyers. That's when you know a show is really happening... 

So Animals is go! The show is coming toTheatre 503, London in April and is in rehearsal right now! 

I am excited and nervous. This play is very close to my heart. 

Animals is a wicked satire set in a world where everyone over 60 is tossed on the scrapheap, children are hothoused, and being a 'burden on society' is the ultimate crime... 

It's a satire. It's political. It's funny. It's got old ladies doing dark, dark things. So it's got something for everyone!

Here's some info about how to come see the show:

Theatre 503 can be found above the Latchmere Pub, 503 Batterseea Park Road, London SW11 3BW

Animals Previews 8th/9th/10th April. After the show on Sat 11th I am doing a Q&A with Lisa Cagnacci who directs. Press night is on the 13th and then the production runs until the 2nd of May... 

Booking info: Book online  OR call the box office 020 7978 7040

More news soon...


Monday, 2 March 2015

Home Sweet Home

Freedom Studios put together a lovely video capturing moments and reviews about our Home Sweet Home adventure...What a journey we all had making this show!  Check out the
Home Sweet Home Video.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Home Sweet Home Tour: We've Got A National Telly Interview...

Right. Tomorrow (Wednesday 10th September), along with Freedom Studio's  Home Sweet Home cast members Jean and Florence, I'm going to be on BBC Breakfast* talking about the up coming tour of our age defying, immersive, multi sensory, magic realist adventure which is all about the journey we take as we get older... No, you read that right. The UK's national BBC morning telly programme... Yep. I know! I'm quite nervous. I'm not really that into being on the telly. Not because I don't have secret pretensions toward grandeur. Of course I do. I write plays. But my secret pretensions are all theatrey and filmy pretensions, poppet! The idea of national telly and my big nose being on it, in the morning, when I'm still half asleep and it's live, so there won't be a chance to edit out any of the bits where i get muddled?  That feels like quite an ordeal. EVEN SO (or if you're cruel because of this?!) please watch if you can. 1 because Florence (one of our elders in the community cast) is SO INCREDIBLE that it will brighten your day. 2 because between Jean, Florence and me, are going to be talking about Home Sweet Home, a play that I would love you to see. It's going on tour. It's coming to Bradford, London and Stockton. Very soon! I mean super soon! Seats are super limited because of how it's staged. We only have 60 seats on offer per show.  And this play? It means a ton to me. So far, it may be the best thing I've had a hand in creating. Though that's not really for me to judge. But lets not start getting all philosophical now, for gods sake. Now is the time for tits and teeth, darling. TITS AND TEETH (but not the side where the funny gap/fang thing is going on, please TV gods. If you can sort that for me that would be ace). Onward.

* I don't know what time we'll be on.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

360º Of Hope: 2nd Draft Writing Lockdown begins...

Yesterday started with procrastination...

But by 10 O'clock last night I had reviewed the notes / feedback I've received for draft 1, done a scene by scene breakdown and worked out (in a lot of ego-denting detail) what is not working with this draft and what I want to do to make the script work better...

So now I know what needs to be fixed and why in draft 2.

Now all I need to do is find all those elusive solutions...

Onward : )

Monday, 4 August 2014

100 years ago today...

The Great War. 
The war to end all wars. 

It is also the day when I woke to read that the UN (not for the first time) is demanding an urgent investigation into why one of its schools in Gaza (despite 33 reminders about it’s position) was hit killing 10 civilians and injuring dozens more by the Israeli Defence Force.  

It is also the day when I discovered and signed a petition entitled: ‘David Cameron - Hold an inquiry into benefit sanctions that killed my brother’…  

We live in frightening, brutal times at home and abroad… 

It’s easy in the face of this to feel small, insignificant and hopeless.

But it’s also the day I woke up thinking about something hopeful. Something that happened this weekend, which got me thinking about the possibility and power of small interactions…

Because this thing that happened? It wasn’t a huge thing. It was a very small, personal thing. It was just a conversation between my Mum and myself …

The Context:

My Mum is 85 and has developed some mobility problems. Because of this she now spends a lot of her time stuck in doors. I was over at her house this weekend to do a bit of shopping for her but mostly to hang out and chat.

During our chat we traveled from the mundane to the wonderful, the sad to the funny, and from the personal to the political. She is good company, being Endlessly inquisitive and funny. But it also must be said that there was nothing during the day that made me think I was doing anything other than shoot the breeze with my Mum.

But then just before bedtime...

The Illumination:

Mum said out of the blue ‘Have I shown you my Father’s medal?’

I was taken aback really. We very rarely discuss her father.  I said ‘no’. She said ‘it’s on the top of the fire. Have a look if you like’.

I found a small brass medal with 1914 -15 embossed on it’s front. I’ve looked online and discovered it is in fact a 1914 – 15 Star Campaign Medal. 2 million plus were awarded in 1918 to soldiers who served. It’s not a gallantry medal. It’s just an object that says ‘you served, you were there’.

I held it in my hand.  I flipped it over. 

If you can't make the words out, here's what it says:

S – 13037

That’s it. But to have this in my hand felt suddenly really emotional. It is only the 2nd thing I’ve ever touched that has anything directly to do with my Granddad.

And as I sat there turning this medal in my hand, Mum went on to tell me everything she knows about her father. Some of it I had heard before. A few things were new:

Things My Mum Knows About Her Father:

1 His name was Donald Thompson
2 He was a Dr.
3 He was from Glasgow.
4. He fought in the Great War in the Cameronian Highlanders.
5. His arm was shattered in combat and this injury never entirely healed.
6. He died in 1932 when Mum was 3 years old, from septicemia. This blood poisoning slowly spread from the wound in his arm to his heart. Today antibiotics would have cured him. 
7. He dreamt of being a composer and was an accomplished pianist. When his arm was destroyed his dream was shattered with it too. 
8. My Mum has one memory of him. She remembers lying on a sofa with a perforated eardrum while he stood at the fireplace. In the memory he turns and he comes towards her.
9. My mum has one photo of her dad and the medal.

That’s the lot. That’s everything she knows. And most of these facts about him were things she gleaned from reading his obituary, clipped from a newspaper after he died. My Gaga (family name for Grandma) remarried after he died and found it difficult to talk about him to my Mum.

I suspect Mum got the medal out because she had been thinking about the W.W.1 centenary. But she didn’t say as much.  Getting it out and sharing it with me? That was a small act but a powerful one. Because this moment with my Mum has made a lot more sense of the idea of the centenary to me. Before, it felt separate from me. Something that the establishment is promoting / using to deflect difficult conversations about the here and now. Holding this little medal and having this conversation with my mum reminded me that it was and is more than that. (Though it may be a bit of the former too. Sadly.) And going on from this, this conversation going on into the night with my Mum made me remember the power of the personal. The moment when a bigger picture comes into focus and starts to mean something profound because of an illuminating connection. That's how we make sense of the world, so why is it that we often feel that the personal is no place to start when we wish to make change? In many ways you could argue it's the only place to start.

I almost didn't write the bit about my Gaga not talking about my Grandad. I thought it might make you not like her. Because I am assuming that you may be judging my Gaga for struggling to talk about my Grandad to my Mum? To be honest as Mum was telling me this story, I know I felt a bit like that... But I really loved my Gaga. I don't want you to think badly of her. She was in her buttoned up way a sweet heart. And it’s easy to judge. It’s especially easy to judge people by the standards of our own day. The death from an old war wound and then his strange erasing from conversation and memory by my Gaga is something I doubt modern mothers would do. But she did not live in a vacuum. She was born while Queen Victoria was still alive. She lived in the world of her day. A world, which had barely begun the journey toward understanding the subconscious let alone emotional literacy. Her world was a world that sanctioned the execution of young men with shell shock (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD to you and me) for ‘cowardice and desertion’ for goodnesake. A world in which emotions were thought to be better  off repressed / hidden. A world in which she may have questioned what good raking over memories of a dead man would do, when her young daughter had a new father to focus on.

I will never know, neither will my Mum. What we do know is that a war shattered this man’s dreams and then slowly took his life. And the impacts for my Gaga and my Mum were profound.

So now times that by 37 million. That’s the number of casualties (deaths and injuries) recorded during the 1st world war.

That's what I found myself thinking about when I read that figure... Times the impact on your Mum by 37 million... It's impossible to imagine.

So this unexpected conversation has led me today to stop and take time to think of those men and women killed during the 1st world war. But most of all, today, I’ve thought about the ones, like my granddad, who survived. The ones who stumbled back, with broken bones and hearts. We tend to think about those who are injured as being the lucky ones who will recover somewhere in a neat hospital bed before returning to their lives. Perhaps this conversation with my Mum over the weekend has laid that lie to rest forever. There is no returning to how things were after going to war. The injured return bringing their broken bodies and hearts home with them. And the trajectory of their lives and their family’s lives are changed forever. In the act of remembering this, I also think forward and remind myself to care about today and tomorrow. I wonder to myself how many musicians will never play again after the bombing in Gaza because of shattered bodies? I wonder how many children will not know who their father’s were after another bloody day in Libya. I wonder how many of our living ex British service men, struggling with PTSD after tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, will get help to rebuild their lives when mental health care is being cut all over this country. 

Most of all? I will remember that the world comes to us wherever we are. That we are shaped and also shape the world as we sit for hours in an armchair looking out at the street, or kill children by launching a shell at a UN school in Gaza or indeed struggle to write while tucked away in a cubby hole in Bradford.

The public and the private, the local and the international. The world and how to change it? It’s all right here, under our fingertips, in our conversations, in our friendships, in the moments when we're down the pub having a pint, or when we have a chat and ask 'how are you?'. It's in a protest march, in a letter to a newspaper, in a blog. It's in refusing to do something. Or joining in with something else. Its in the following of a dream when others have had theirs stolen from them. It's all there for us. Everyday. We have more power than we remember. We would do the casualties of the first world war and all those still living in war zones like Gaza tonight, a great honour if we remembered that.

Monday, 14 July 2014

360 Degrees Of Hope: The Post It Outline's job is done

The 1st draft of 360 Degrees Of Hope (a new play I am developing with DepArts and Alan Lane of Slung Low) is done. And I am tired and wired... One day off to sleep and go see 'Beryl' at West Yorkshire Playhouse and then I am back in the #writing chair. Tired but (largely) happy.