And the nominees are …

I was delighted to find out this morning that I have been nominated for the Culture Awards Writer of the Year.

I am shortlisted alongside Michael Chaplin and David Almond, which is a teeny tiny bit intimidating but very flattering to be in such fine company.

So thank you to everyone involved in bringing my 2011 productions to the stage.

And thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination.

Keep your fingers crossed come April 16th … x

Advertisements

Past Glories; Day 263 aka The End

I suppose officially Day 261 was ‘The End’, as that was the final performance of Never Rains But It Pours as part of the Past Glories series. But then, who’s counting … 

That’s that, then. Nine months ago I started writing it (and seven months before that the idea first surfaced) and now it’s done and dusted. The paddling pool has been deflated, Duck returned to his shelf in the wardrobe and the mystery of which-box-is-the-candle-holder-going-to-be-in-tonight? need never be solved again. 

For now. 

Because I have been asked a few times over the past fortnight whether I intend to do anything more with Rains/Pours? I like to think there is further life in it, that Meredith, Lyn and Cari’s story might have more to tell. For now, though, I need a break from it. 

For production details, previews, reviews, photos, etc – click [here]

I’ll sign off my Past Glories blog by thanking Kath, Louisa, Jo, Emma and the team for all of their energy, humour and hard work. And thanks for the post-show goodies I was presented with – all relevant to the play, all received in the spirit in which they were intended and all quite tricky to get home with any degree of decorum!! … xx

 

  • In other news … it’s straight on to the next one as the line-up for Live Theatre’s new Season has recently been announced, and it includes The Girls From Poppyfield Close. Adapted from my short play Blood, I have been developing the piece into a full-length play since the end of last year and it gets its first public airing in June. Details [here] 
  • And finally … Dolly Would draft #1 is done and in on deadline. Whoop!

Past Glories; Day 255

Right then. In my last (very) brief missive I promised an update by the end of the week. And here it is.

Never Rains But It Pours opened on Tuesday to a packed house. The cast and production team did me proud. There were a few hiccups as to be expected on an opening night when the nerves are jangling and the stakes are raised, but all was recovered and the audience laughed/didn’t laugh in all the right places. The feedback has been positive thus far and the first reviews in were encouraging, including … 

 “Carr’s one act play has an epic quality, well nourished by savage humour and deft writing” – euVue.co.uk 

All credit to director Kath Frazer and the cast who are having praise heaped upon their heads (quite rightly, she said, not-at-all-being-biased-towards-them) … Louisa Shirley has been described as “incredible”, Jo Kelly “superb” and Emma Watson “fantastic” – we’ll be lucky if they can still get their heads through the door for the rest of the run! 

Normally I’d probably end my post there. Aren’t I brilliant, blah blah blah, goodbye. 

However. 

I have been inspired by a recent blog post by novelist Hazel Osmond. She writes “I’ve never found the author websites where everything in the writing garden is lovely, very helpful. Those where people were prepared to talk about the days when writing comes out like curdled concrete, or how getting a rejection feels, were in some strange way, the ones that inspired me more.” [Read the full post here

So. In the spirit of honesty and openness, of telling-it-like-it-is … I feel completely out-of-sorts. That is as descriptive as I can be, I’m afraid, as I have absolutely no idea why. I should be skipping down the street humming ditties as I go – especially with the sun having emerged of late. But I’m not. I’m holed up indoors wondering what the bloomin’ heck my problem is and how I can shake it off.     

I suspect one element that is causing me such discombobulation (impressed?!) is how close to home this production is. By which I don’t mean it’s my life story, I mean the fact it is being produced by the People’s Theatre. As I said in my earliest post on Past Glories, I am a member of the People’s and have been for nigh on seven years. I was writing plays before I joined and was still pretty new when My Mam Was An Ice Cream Blonde won The People’s Play Award – but in the years since the place has become a bit of a home away from home. It’s where I go to get away from my desk, to caper about the place in big dresses and bigger hats, to enjoy a drink (or two) with friends. And while I am delighted and honoured to have been asked to contribute a play to the Centenary Season, I don’t think I’d realised the pressure on my shoulders until this week arrived. Pressure put there by myself, I hasten to add, as I live up to that old adage of ‘being my own worst enemy’. I can’t be the anonymous writer there, sat at the back, unknown. So I put my pretty dress on for opening night, smile, style it out, try not to look like I am about to throw up with the terror. I am proud to stand behind this play and will shout from the roof tops that it is my work, but the expectation weighs heavy, along with the worry of letting the Theatre/the cast/the director/ the audience down.

It’ll pass, this whatever-it-is. I just hope it goes sooner rather than later so I can relax and enjoy this time with Rains/Pours – it’s not every day you get your play produced for a fortnight. These opportunities need to be treasured and relished, who knows when or where or what the next project will be. You’re only as good as your last play and every play could be your last – that’s my theory anyway (no pressure!) 

There we are, then. Is it much of an advert for the play? I hope so, they are doing a tremendous job and deserve an audience … in the spirit of which, plug plug, it is on until Sat 16th!

As for me – there are two schools of thought, I either get-over-myself with a walk in the sun and an ice-cream or find a cupboard to hide in. I’ll let you know in my next which one I plumped for …

Past Glories; Day 240

Just a quickie, am up to my eyes … rehearsals for Never Rains But It Pours continue apace. The cast are working hard, the director hasn’t blown her top (not even nearly) and I haven’t been ejected from the room. Yet.

The play opens two weeks today. Which is as thrilling as it is terrifying.

Click [here] for a recent preview in the British Theatre Guide.

Below are some grainy, frankly amateurish photos taken by yours truly at last night’s rehearsal. Click on the images to enlarge.

A snorkel, a duck, flippers … what on earth does it all mean?!

 

 

Numberwang! (Past Glories; Day 219)

A Kit-Kat Chunky to whoever can tell me what the following numbers mean… 

  • 3
  • 35
  • 23
  • 6,000

Anyone? Anyone? No. Ok …

  • 3 actors (cast and rehearsals underway)
  • 35 days until Past Glories opens
  • 23 hours of rehearsal time (approx.)
  • 6,000 props – or thereabouts. More on that in a moment.

So then. Here we are. Firmly on the homeward stretch for Never Rains But It Pours. Blimey, how time flies. Rehearsals kicked off a couple of weeks ago – sadly I wasn’t able to make the first one due to a clash with the Tobacco double-bill at Northern Stage. However. Last week I rolled up at the People’s Theatre to sit in.

I’m pleased-as-punch with the cast director Kath Frazer has assembled – and here they are, pictured below (L-R) Emma Watson (Cari), Jo Kelly (Lyn) and Louisa Shirley (Meredith) – cheery looking bunch, aren’t they …!!

I’ve worked with Kath before on My Mam Was An Ice-Cream Blonde and with Louisa on Patricia Quinn Saved My Life (along with Kath, again, as it goes), and Jo took part in the first ever workshop for Rains back in Jan 2010 when it was still called Trickle and only 20 pages in length … small world! Emma is new to the People’s, but from what I’ve seen so far she’s a cracking young actress and I’m really excited she’s on board.

With a new play the early rehearsals are the most crucial for the writer, I think. It’s the first time you’re seeing the shape of it and hearing the words up on their feet with the actors who are going to be performing it. Read-throughs are great but will only get you so far, actual rehearsals are a priceless opportunity to make those final changes, cuts and additions. That said, me and my editing pencil have not had too frantic a time of it – a few line changes here and there, a couple of added lines of dialogue for clarity. The biggest jiggery-pokery to date has been re-writing a whole page, but only because when hearing it I realised what I already had threw up an interesting question that could be explored a little further.

The rehearsal time for this project is very limited. As the People’s is non-professional, rehearsals are in the evenings, 3x a week from 7.30pm til 10pm at the latest, for 6 weeks. But there are 4 plays to rehearse for Past Glories, and it’s been allotted the same 6 week rehearsal period. So. Two plays rehearse per night, meaning each get half the normal rehearsal time – approximately 23 hours, plus a few more when taking into account Sunday rehearsals the fortnight before opening. Not long, is it. It will all come together – it always does – but it does make me feel a bit sick if I think about it for too long. So I don’t think about it. I busy myself trying to be useful – making notes, answering questions, being available for edits or to talk about scenes or characters.

Oh, and bringing in rehearsal props …

The Studio Upstairs is a small venue, seating about 80. The brief for the plays was something without a set. And I can confidently say I have no set. Instead I have props. Lots of props. The action in Rains takes place in an attic room, described by one character as a ‘junk yard’ … basically, everything this family don’t want is dumped up there – from camping equipment to Christmas decorations. And a lot of it is utilised during the play. Props are a pain. Fact. Or more to the point, props are a pain in the early rehearsals when an actor is trying to hold the script in one hand, read it, act, remember where to be and deal with aforementioned prop at the right time and in the right way. Assistant Director Bev has been a star on the rehearsal props front already – there is an ever-growing pile in the rehearsal room, atop it a note reading ‘Do Not Touch’ in formidable black marker pen. I have provided the duck. He is doing pretty well with his lines and is good at finding his light. He may turn out to be a diva, but time will tell.

Me and duck won’t be back along to rehearsals until next week now, cos this Thursday and Friday I’ll be hangin’ (get me, down with the kids) with them there Boys on the Edge. Do you see that seamless link … do you? Clint makes its debut, along with Laura Lindow’s Mine and Bridget Deane’s I Am Legend, at Live this week – both performances now sold-out which is fantastic. I’ve been along to a few rehearsals the last couple of weeks, Rosie Kellagher is directing and David Tute stars. It’s been interesting seeing Clyde come to life – he’s not a straightforward boy in not a straightforward play.

I’ll let you know how it goes … xx

  • In other news …
  • The Tobacco double-bill went down a treat at Northern Stage – massive thanks to everyone who came along and made it such a memorable couple of days. It was great to have the team on my home turf. For the reviews, and details on when the show is being performed next, click [here] 
  • I have been commissioned to write a BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play. How mega-tops-fandabby-dozy is that! It is called Dolly Would, due for broadcast in December. Today I start writing it … D(olly)-Day!

I’ve always said I’ve got a face for radio

Remember me?

I have been very remiss in my website-ness of late, for which I can only apologise. My reasons are few and honest

  1. I have been very busy
  2. Due to the improved TV signal in my new house my magic Freeview box is back able to record all my favourite telly programmes 

Anywoo, on with the news … 

No sooner had I written in my New Year round-up that one of my 2011 aims is to “make further headway into radio drama” then a producer from BBC Radio 3 was on the phone I was invited to appear on The Verb.  Maybe next year I should write “win the Lottery” and see if lightning strikes twice?! So, I’ll be reading my play Yackety Yak on the airwaves. Yes, I WILL be reading it … me, myself … yowzah! I am heading down to Broadcasting House next week to record the programme with presenter Mr Ian McMillan and it’s being broadcast on Friday 28 January @ 9.15pm.

My brand new shiny monologue Clint will be unveiled at Live Theatre on Thursday 3 March. It’s part of a night called Boys on the Edge – one-man plays about boys of the cusp of adulthood. It follows on from the success of ‘Girls on the Verge’ last year and also features new works by Bridget Deane and Laura Lindow.  

“Clint used to like Coleen Nolan-Sisters but I said I think she’s gone a bit doughy-face since she finished on the Ice-Dancing and I like Denise Welch best. Then he said he liked Denise Welch best too. But he didn’t, cos I liked her first. Like I liked Jinny first.” – Clyde 

I was a bit nervous about writing for this one, I’ve not written a lot of male characters and certainly not teenage boys. But, set me a challenge and I’ll do my damndest and I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I found it difficult to get started, but once I found Clyde’s ‘voice’ he became a joy to write. We’re at the rehearsal draft stage with it so I don’t want to say too much, but suffice to say it’s a bit of a crazy-ass concept and quite possibly goes down some of the darkest roads I’ve ever traversed. And there’s Haribo in it. Such fun. 

Thrillingly, Boys on the Edge is already sold-out. It sold out so fast I didn’t even have a ticket. But, if any seats are released or extra performances added I will let you know. (**UPDATE 25/1/11 – extra date added, Fri 4 Mar @ 8pm … click [here] to book**)

 Past Glories; Day 181: It might seem to have gone quiet on this front but it hasn’t … but the things that are happening are things out of my hands. Namely, auditions have been held and casting is imminent. So, soon there will be actors attached to the characters – I can’t wait. Draft #2 was met with approval so will be the draft going in to rehearsals, but I’ll be there for further re-writes. You get to a point when you need to start hearing it and seeing it to know where and what needs cutting and changing.  Rehearsals start in mid-Feb and I’m looking forward to this next stage with it – I enjoy collaborating with actors and the director, seeing the play bed in with the team and grow and develop. 

That’s about the size of it. The Tobacco double-bill is selling well at Northern Stage next month, but there are still tickets available so do come along if you can. 

Toodle-pip for now … xx

snow is falling, all around me, children playing, having fun (cos the schools are closed) …

Now this might surprise you – cos it’s not like there has been blanket (no pun intended) rolling news coverage – but it’s a bit snowy up North right now.

It was fun. For a day or so. But the novelty has well and truly worn off.

The guttering has been pulled off the side of the house from the weight of falling sheets of snow, walking anywhere takes frickin’ ages and my boots are really starting to chaff, the post is not being delivered and there is a package I need by Thursday, 3 of the 3 things I had scheduled to do last night were cancelled and I am sick of being bloody freezing.

On the plus, I got to wear my ear muffs today but even it has a downside cos the subsequent slightly-clammy-ears were no fun.

AND there is the possibility that my train journey to London at the end of the week to see But Otherwise Went Well is going to be disrupted. Whaaaaaa?! Fingers crossed, though. Fingers. Crossed.  All the reports from HQ seem positive, the director and actors seem to be enjoying working on the play. Which is good. I just hope I get to see it …

Stupid warm front hitting stupid cold front … **shakes fist at sky (from which, surprise surprise, more of the stuff is currently falling)**

What else? Well, there is loads else but it’s mostly work-in-development and you know I don’t like to go in to that in great detail (jinx).

So. Erm. Rascally Scoundrels won an Award recently. Best New Writing at the Ovation Awards, don’t  you know. Not for a play of mine, but ‘Trust’ by fellow Rascal Roz Wyllie … but I’ll hang off the coat tails until they notice and boot me off.  I couldn’t go to the event in Whitby cos I was in the midst of moving house but they brought home the bacon (aka a small trophy).

Past Glories; Day 129: I delivered Draft #2 yesterday. Based on the read-through my aim was to tighten it all up, esp the last section. I managed to get rid of 7 pages worth, which was pretty good going. Just waiting on getting a meeting together with the director Kath Frazer to discuss it further and see if a final re-draft is required before auditions etc grind in to action. Exciting …

Past Glories; Day 114

… in which tickets go on sale

The running order and dates have been confirmed and announced, and tickets are on sale … NOW!

The 4 one-act plays will be presented as double-bills over a fortnight from 5-16 April 2011. The dates for Never Rains But It Pours are Tues 5, Thurs 7, Sat 9, Wed 13 and Fri 15.

For the full running order, plus details about all four plays, the writers and info on how to book, click [here].

It has been a busy time lately, but this is still very much on the radar. Have not had much to update as have not started on Draft #2 yet but it is imminent …

Blimey O’Reilly, where do I start?

Ok, so, the last blog entry was the “BIG NEWS” re ‘Tobacco’ double-bill at that there National Theatre

Well, since then the big news has got bigger in as much as people are actually coming to see the show. A capacity amount of people, in fact, because it’s now sold out. Huge excitement in Carr Towers, especially when our tickets arrived and I got a NT brochure and it had my name in it in black and white (well, in red)! Of course, all the while that knot of terror in my stomach is getting bigger and bigger …

And what a massive achievement for the team headed by Charlotte Bennett and Forward Theatre Project, having a show on at the National within two years of forming is no mean feat. And a sell-out show at that! Just over three weeks to go … gulp.

Alongside all this excitement, of course, I am juggling my other ongoing projects. Lest we forget Past Glories (Day 85, for those keeping track … no? Just me then). Monday was the day of reckoning, or at least the day the first draft of the play was read by The People’s Theatre. The Friday before had been the turn of Sue and Philip, whose plays Wordworth’s Sister and Keeping Up With The Joans were read for the benefit of the writers, the directors (John MacDonald and Kath Frazer), the production manager (Maggie Watson) and mentor-although-he-does-not-want-to-be-called-mentor, Michael Chaplin. I was all cool-as-a-cucumber that evening, cos it was not my play under the spotlight. I was just there to have a listen (read: be nosey). Monday though, a whole different kettle of bananas. First Tony’s work-in-progress A Spoonful Of Honey and then … me.

Hearing your script read is invaluable for a writer, especially at this early stage when there is still plenty of time for that all-important re-write. It exposes the draft in a way that nothing else can – you can stare at your script on the screen/page for hours, days, weeks and not see what a reading flags up. But it’s scary – you’re putting your work ‘out there’ … what was safely hidden away on your computer is now being read out loud and pondered and judged. You are being pondered and judged. There was a time when the mere thought would have made me ill. Silly, really. It’s a draft. It’s not set in stone. But The Fear is ever present, this time manifesting itself as a six hour headache … which was delightful.

As it goes, it went well. The play was nicely read by Maggie Childs, Anna Dobson and Emma Watson (not off of Harry Potter) and I have plenty to work on for the next stage. Mainly paring it back, especially in the later scenes. Less is more and all that. The same applies to the next draft of another play I am working on … as previously touched upon, draft #2 was a bugger but happily draft #3 not so much. Draft #4, pending, is all about stripping it back. So I’ll be making good use of the Delete button over the next few weeks …! 

Talking about less is more (smooth link, eh) I will be greatly inspired by David Harrower’s Good With People that I saw as part of the Play, Pie & Pint series last week at Live. Short, snappy dialogue; as much in a look as a speech; not every question answered and the audience allowed to do some of the work and fill in some of the gaps. Terrific performances from Blythe Duff and Andrew Scott-Ramsey didn’t hurt either. It’s off to the Traverse next week … highly recommend it. You get a pint and a pie, too … so really there is no excuse.

  • In other news … I am about to embark on a brand new project. It’s with The Old Vic. Suffice to say, my old mucker Kevin Spacey has obviously missed me since we last met and wants me back on board. Understandable. Am off down that London soon for the first workshop … more details as and when …
  • And finally … I met Blythe Duff on Thursday and did not say “there’s been a murder” in a terrible Scottish accent (nor any other accent) … this was a huge accomplishment. I did not gabble or curtsey (big fan) or make a tit of myself (much). She, in return, was gracious and friendly. Which was nice.