Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Horror! The Undead, Ghosts etc

Back again. Since I was here I had a baby - hurt like hell BTW, and then since then I've been just pottering around with her and doing baby things. Turns out that mostly involves blowing a lot of raspberries. Adorable raspberries.
Her feet.
Weirdly, I haven't been doing a lot of writing. I have, however, been thinking about a few ideas. I listened to a terrific podcast by This American Life recently - Anatomy of Doubt - give it a listen, its really interesting and also devastating.  In short it is about a woman who is raped and no one will believe her, including those who know her best and love her.

In light of the intense focus on feminism at the moment and "good and bad" male behaviour - I wondered if it wasn't possible to take this story and adapt if for Australia and somehow reflect on the ways in which some men are finding it very hard to understand sexism and bias. Or perhaps the ways in which women's power base is so different to a man's in our society. I am a bit torn - I find this story really compelling, but perhaps I'm trying to do too much in one play.

At any rate I am in the thinking stage and not much else.

I also put on a play, those of you that know me know that it was goddamned hard work. And I am SO sick of the undead. Not in film format of course, I love zombie films, but I am sick of zombies on stage. I just need a break from those undead motherfuckers.


It was a great show, thanks for asking, and we are still reconciling the whole thing (like, an actual financial reconciliation) and reflecting on it. I have had a lot of people offer to edit it for me, which makes me wonder if it was no good. or good enough that its worth a cut. Ha. I am very happy for people to cut the play and give it back to me, if you want to do it too, whomever you are, you are welcome.

I won't be cutting Anno Zombie again for the minute, instead I'm going to write a screenplay with the gorgeous Alice Bishop because, among so many other things, she loves pie too. This is a ghost film and will be so scary that Alice won't actually ever be able to watch the whole thing. I love that she is VERY scared of ghost films but agreed to write and make one with me. We have a great story, a great Australian one, I'm excited about it and can't wait to finish it and make it and then write a blog about it. See you in 4 years.

No, I'll be back before then. Promise.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Gestating really distracts you

I am gestating a big old baby girl. And man, is it distracting. I really find it hard to concentrate on things, like blogs and work, and blogs.

7 Months and still with all my faculties.
It has gotten very bad in the last month, now that I am 11 months pregnant. Or 34 weeks. Whatever! Don't badger me because I will yell and then cry and then yell again. It's a party round here.

However I have been writing - I turned out another version of Reunion Blues for the inimitable Clare Pickering and she says many lofty things like - "I'll do it at Adelaide Fringe" or "I'll do it at The Comedy Festival". I am happy to see it done anywhere again - especially as I managed to miss the first 15 minutes of it in the first season. And it's only 45 minutes long. Brilliant work by me, in getting the start time wrong and then telling all my friends that wrong time. So, yes if Clare felt like putting it on again, I'd be there, extra early.

This was Clare's Promo image - Cute right?
I also wrote two monologues for the Madwomen Monologues, one of them was based on a very interesting story that I listened to on This American Life (and I wished then, once more, that there was a "This Australian Life", because I would surely listen). The story was about a group of young girls who were imprisoned in the Weixian Concentration camp in WW2. The Japanese rounded them up and took them there. Although it could have been a recounting of the horrors of war it was in fact something much more moving than that. The, now old woman, at the heart of the story spoke with great affection about the teachers that went with them - who were also Girl Scout Leaders. And how this philosophy of good, clean living gave them all something very tangible to live by. I was really touched by it - so I wrote this monologue: Angels in Weixian.

I just looked up an image to go with my girl scout chitchat above and discovered that there is quite the difference between the girl scout uniform and the girl scout costume.....

I would like to feed you cookies (off my stomach)
I would like to sell you cookies.





















Right before the deadline for the Monologues I had a very sudden urge to write about someone that my husband knew years ago - a friend of his was unable to stop his younger brother from dying in a terrible accident when they were playing. Thus Splinter in my Eye.

I also finished the latest draft of Anno Zombie, got knocked back again for two more rounds of funding and then sat in the corner with my back to everyone for about 2 days whilst I sulked. I wish that I could have done that. At any rate - we are climbing back on that zombie horse again and finding other ways to be funded. Because if the serious people that fund serious theatre can't get on board with dead people on stage making everyone laugh then the general fucking public will have to. I think that we'll crowd fund again - because it is great fun and works so well... It actually can work very well.  It did for us once before, but since then every man and his dog and his mask company has put up a crowd funding request.
Don't be sad, zombie, we'll work it out.
Given that I will be turning into my own kind of zombie soon, a parent of a newborn, I am hoping to get some things ironed out before she comes. Because after that I'll be as useful as a cactus.


Next year - Zombies. And babies. And no doubt more writing.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Stringing it together believably

So I'm back from my fantastic trip through Europe. I feel so revitalised as a writer and as an artist. The tiny cobblestone streets, the Armagnac's in out of the way, difficult to find, deeply authentic local bars. The nights of back slapping and laughing and then crying and then laughing again. The drunken meanders through the corridors of streets that famous writers once trod in the same drunken manner. Ah yes, it was wonderful.

That's where I've been all this time, whilst not blogging. Yes, definitely been doing something useful with my time. And creative.

Charles.
Whilst the above may not be strictly true, in the "actually being there" way - I have been hanging out with James Joyce a lot. And Charlie Chaplin, also Theda Bara, Coco Chanel and Mae West. What a raucous bunch. This time, I am almost entirely telling the truth. I am playing various and very similar French assistants in a play about Chaplin and Joyce making a film of Ulysses. It has been quite a lot of fun so far and is peopled with lots of lovely actors, the likes of whom I haven't performed with in a while.

Jim.















The show "The Reel James Joyce" is booking now on http://www.bloomsdayinmelbourne.org.au/bloomsday-2015-joyce-and-cinema/ if you enjoy a bit of slapstick and some chit chat re novel interpretations, then come along. 

Doing the play has taken up some of my free time, and then writing a one woman show for lovely comedienne Clare Pickering, finishing Fury, dramaturging Meeka and redrafting Anno Zombie has cleaned up the rest of my time. Most of these things are now down or on the back burner until our company has submitted for the Poppyseed Festival - everything except the redraft of Anno Zombie. That's the fun bit. The less fun bit is the application form. Why are application forms so horrible for the Arts? I don't think its just me who hates having to try and explain creative rationale's. They are very hard to pin down.

I don't develop a creative rationale when I write a play, I just write what interest me, what keeps me engaged and involved. But, if you want others to fund your work, or produce your work, this is not enough. It's the part I am not really good at, so I genuinely admire other writers that can push their work, and talk about it in the framework that arts bodies want. And there aren't many. Agents can push your work for you, to a certain extent - but you have to get one.

Anyway. Zombies. That bit I'm enjoying. After Mme Bishop spoke words of sense to me in a gentle manner I understood that there were things to be done to the play that I wasn't going to like, but I'm doin' 'em. There's a good freedom in that - once you see the light. Her insights have helped me to redesign the ending - which I think will all be good. A real enema to the rear of the piece.

This weekend I go to the countryside to look at roses and write the application with Christina. We shall slave in a garret with the a candle. Or something quite like that. And then emerge victorious. Or something quite like that.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Wroiting

Full disclosure - I'm a bit drunk. I just had to write that sentence about three times.

Lord why won't autocorrect just always correct my mispelling of "sentance", I am NEVER going to learn that the second vowel is an "e", never!

I am away - down the coast with a mate Jackie and her kids. We decided it would be good to do that - not realising that her children would go back to school today. So, it wasn't so much an 'end of holidays' holiday, but a 'start of the new school year' holiday. Which feels less deserved somehow.  Anyway we're in Sorrento and the children are still awake at 10pm and it's all going to Helena Handbasket. So that's that.

Helena Handbasket
I have had some quite nice wine and cheese though and despite a fair amount of yelling and negotiating and being corrected by a seven year old I am still able to talk about me writing.

Alice and I still labor on with Fury. I thought we might nearly be done, but Alice sent me a wonderfully tactful email that said something like "Spunk, I think that the last two episodes that we have written might not be quite top notch and we should perhaps lay in some actual tension and points of interest. Love always Alice". I fair took her point and we coalesced at my place to talk it over. This involved wine, chitchat, banter, arm wrestling, chocolate, pizza and finally, writing. We re-wrote the seventh episode and the outline for the eighth. We have been talking a lot about keeping the audience with us, making them watch. Turns out that some of my more ponderous realism may not make the teenagers shout 'YOLO' - or whatever it is they are shouting now.

YOLO, ug like... no. I cannot even.
So we included a car chase and an explosion. That should do it. Alice did mention in passing that we would now have to trim then episodes down. I resisted the urge not to throw myself at her feet screaming "My baby! My baby! Give me back my baby". Instead I fingered my chin thoughtfully, in a way that I hope looked relaxed and mature.

Like Obama.
I have also started working with Carl W and Clare P on expanding a character called 'Farsi' that I wrote for the Madwomen Monologues. Clare was magnificent in the role, brilliant, witty and a show stopper. Luckily she was the last act of the night and the show stopping was completely acceptable. Anyway, turns out that Clare can't let Farsi go, so we have met and chewed over the expansion for the character into a one woman show that encompasses a few major moments in Farsi's life - leading to her 20th school reunion.

I am writing the outline as we speak. Not actually, clearly, but in and around. In and around.

The zombies are coming along. I belted them into a second draft and then send that to the Griffin Prize. It may not be up their alley, but you don't know unless you try. Alice sent me another email to ponder about the zombies. I love her so much that when she sends me critiques I am duty bound to turn them over and over. I don't know that I can really complete her vision of a dystopian zombie land that is funny and wholly original. She does push me though, that she does.

It was Alice that also suggested that I write my shark idea into a short story. This was a film idea that has been kicking around for ages. I actually wrote a few scenes using some cheap ass free software from the web and now can't read the format anymore because its ".fyl" (fuckyoulady) or something. Anyway it sits in a lumpen heap on my old computer taunting me whenever I start that ancient dinosaur up.

So many captions, so little time.
My mate, and a DP and Director, Simo, like the idea a lot. I pitched it like this  "Girl falls in love with shark". Ta-da! He thought it was genius. There is also incest in there too. So instead of feeling sad that my scenes are locked up like a software chastity belt - I have decided to make lemonade out of sharks and write a short story. Stay tuned. Long form prose not really my thing - but I'm willing to wade in.

Also my new years resolution is to write some erotica. I feel like that might have been my resolution last year. I certainly thought about it a lot.  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Our year in painstaking review


Doesn’t that sound like fun at Christmas time? Just when you are busy as hell and gadding about to snow themed parties and cautiously debating whether to have a 5th or 6th drink or get that reindeer tattoo – you get this in your inbox and let out a gusty sigh. Who wants to read my entire year in review? Not even me.

So. 



Fabian’s year in the style of a Michael Bay Action sequence:

Fabian pounds into the Woolworths warehouse and runs for the layer picker he grabs an oversized wrench and hurls it at the vast robotic creature that has created itself from pallets and banana’s. “Grrrrrarrrggg” it howls, somehow. Fabian throws his Manager, Matt, to the ground saving his life and simultaneously using him as a jettison point. Something explodes. Something else explodes. Fab seizes some sort emblematic piece of machinery that you might find in a food warehouse and is immediately promoted to a Systems Specialist able to defeat large transformer-derivative creatures via the use of logic and a combination of DOS based technology. Women throw themselves at his feet and all their clothes fall off, he ignores them and sacrifices himself to save fresh produce as we know it.

(Fabian is still alive)


Gabriel – in the style of Adventure Time.

Gabriel the Human climbed a vast mountain made of staples and eyeballs, he is feeling a bit weary as he was up late playing “Battle Fight” with his friend and housemate Louie the Cat. Grade one had also really tired him out – it had been one long year of fighting lolly based creatures, excelling at maths and extolling an astounding numbers of non-sequitors. Gabe’s reading had come on leaps and bounds though and between reading ancient demonic texts and The Treehouse books he was becoming an avid reader. “Hapkido Way”, he screamed as he was attacked by penguins – that yellow 2 belt was coming handy, he could take down arctic animal life as easily as he could take down animated evil trees! Then Louie farted.

(For those of you that have seen Adventure Time, you will marvel at my semi ability to capture the nonsensical nature, to those that haven’t seen it, you’ll be mystified, as I generally am). 



Bridgette – in the style of Serial.

All in all everything Bridgette had done through the year was pointing to one thing. Or was it? When you weighed the facts and re-read the signs were things as clear we had previously thought? There were so many rumours to begin with, rumours to be believed – successful theatre shows and writing projects and rumours to be discounted – affairs with Prince Harry and double jointedness. But which rumours do you pay attention to? Did Bridgette dye her hair red as asserted by her hair dresser, Jasmine? Can we even believe Jasmine, after all – she also said that she made the phone call dated 2/8/14, but her phone was nowhere near that mobile tower at the time. One thing is for certain, nothing is as clear as when the year started and nothing will be resolved by the end of it. Next time on Serial: 2015.

(If you haven’t listened to Serial, then you should. Get with the program). 



Merry Christmas. Don’t take things too seriously.

Bridgette, Fabian and Gabriel.  

Ps, people dress an astounding variety of animals in Xmas costumes. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Writing for the small, small screen

It would be great to say that the reason why I haven't posted here about writing is because of all the writing I'm doing. It would be great. Really great.

So. That's me. How are you?

I have been writing - just not as much as I should, or on the things I should. There's a pattern. I see it very easily. I should be writing 1AZ - or at least refining it. Where are my zombie peeps at? We are planning a development on that - it's really in it's infant stages - the development, not even walking, just lying on the floor waving its arms. Still very cute. I will work with Wayne Pearn on the development and we will inveigle actors and it will all come together in the oddly magical way that theatre does. As I have been heard to say before "It all worked out ok because lots of people suffered". Heartwarming.

Adorable Zombie Baby.
I guess I should have figured this out, but, the results you get back when you Google "baby zombie" are disturbing. To say the least.

What else have I been writing? Monologues. I submitted three to the MadWomen Monologues and two have been chosen. "Big whoop" I hear you say - "You run that festival". True dat, but I don't decide if my own monologues get in folks. That be out of my hands. So I'm pleased that they are in and if you would like to read them and the one that didn't make it then here they be: Reunion Blues, Letters from My Mum and Picking Dad Up. Picking Dad Up didn't make the final cut. If you're in Melbs and you like the theatre you should come to the monologues. I am performing this year :)

Chris and I toasting all those great monologues
And finally *trumpetty noise from mouth* I have been writing Fury again. Poor Fury, left to languish in creative purgatory with a bunch of other weirdos. Alice Bishop and I have decided to make it into a web series. It solves a few issues for us, in that we had adult actors playing teens, and we didn't want to have to organise teens for a three week run of a play. So now we don't have to. We can hire them for a week and film them. We decided to get away from it all for a writing weekend to Forrest. It's in a forest, yes.

I love Alice. Let me just be clear about this. The idea of going away with her anywhere already gets me vibrating at a slightly higher frequency. The notion of having her all to myself for more than 24 hours was almost too much to bear! I am going to blame that excitement and also a bowl of soup on the unfortunate bout of food poisoning that I got on the Thursday night before we were meant to go. On the Friday when we were supposed to be gaily sallying forth to Forrest - I was weak and delicate and feeling extremely sorry for myself.

I feels ya kid, I feels ya.
So, we made plans to leave the following day for a writing day. Not as salubrious as a writing weekend, but I didn't care - I had stopped vomiting and the weekend was looking great.

We drove to Forrest, taking a couple of detours through other forests that weren't the right one and then found the lovely little house that we had been given for the weekend/night. Right nearby was a coffee shop (hooray!) and then up the road some sort of nice looking eatery (Hooray!) and lots of places to walk and talk. So we did that. We walked and talked. Not about Fury - don't be SILLY! About all the other stuff that is interesting on the planet. After our lovely walk we then went back and knuckled under.

Us, but in front of an open fire.
We decided to write 7 episodes for the series - each one about 5 to 7 minutes in length. We began with a synopsis. This involved a lot of us thinking about the original script and what we liked from that and deciding what to keep. Interestingly the character that we had originally pegged as the leader of the group has disappeared and been replaced with another member. As we talked about it we realised that this character - Lish - had a lot of components that we needed and she also effectively allowed us to bring our main cast to 5 - four girls and a guy. All teenagers.

Lookit all those teens sexting and whatnot.
Webisodes make you work quite hard. We needed to be economical in the story telling and make the most of our visuals. We need to keep the pace up and end each one on an effective "cliff hanger" - a reason for watchers to come back. It was easy. And really fun. Said no one. Ever. (Except that it was and it was).

We celebrated how amazingly clever we were by realising that the decent eatery up the road was closed and that we only had the local pub to eat at. How to describe this pub... hmm... so lets say that you had money to decorate a country pub and you put a quite a bit of it into some nice corrugated iron walls and other bits and bobs and then at the end you were trying to figure out how to finish it off... Then you realised that neon lights and TV's everywhere would complete the vision. And awful food. AWFUL. So that wasn't quite so droll. It didn't matter though because Alice and I had cheese and chocolate and wine with us because we are not STUPID.

We wrote the first episode on our return and then I had to sleep as I was still not myself and the food at the pub had not helped in the slightest. The next day Alice and I packed up the wee house and went off to find ourselves some coffee and brekky. This turned out to be in Why River (?) Wy (?) Ah well. I guess I'll never know.

We wrote the second episode there and thusly proceeded home feeling mighty pleased. It was my job to format everything properly and then send it back to Alice. And there we are. Bing bang boom. Just like that. So now we have to write the rest and then we get a producer and then we get money. It all seems pretty straight forward.

And then... ZOMBIES!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Moving away to get close.

It is hard to write when you can distract yourself. I've said this before. There are things that want your attention everywhere!

Curse you rock!
I sit down to write and then I can see that the top of the plant stand is a bit dusty and I know I can't write when there is dust! I sit down to write and I need a cup of tea, or the washing should be hung out, or Gabriel sets out on a duologue for one, or I have to work, or I just... don't feel like it.

And there are things to write. Believe me. Plays and blogs and monologues and short plays and press releases and grant applications, oh yes, there are things to write.

So I went away. I went north this time. Some of you, who read this blog, and that is about 16 people, may recall that I went to the beach about 2 years ago and wrote there. This time I went to spa country, Kyneton. This is what small town life is like for the gentrified and well off. There are food stores that sell 15 types of artisanal honey, everyone is a barrista, and if they aren't a barrista then they are just up here at their weekend place. Or, like my charming hosts, they own a beautiful property and easily distracted writers stay in it. 

Don't get me wrong, I am perfectly able to be distracted in Kyneton too, there are things there as well. Just not as many things as there are at my house.

I had set myself the task of finishing the first draft of 1 AZ - the zombie comedy.Yes, I'm still working on that. It is pretty funny, if I do say so myself. I sent it off to Playwriting Australia and although they
declined to develop it, they did ring me up and talk to me about the play which I thought was very decent of them. Their main concern was they weren't sure where it was going. I can understand their qualms. Where does a zombie comedy go? In my case, it goes blacker and blacker until - you know - it's pretty damn dark.

I have had the shorter play performed about 4 times now, it's been quite successful with Short and Sweet. In a coincidence of fairly high proportions one of the dramaturgs for Playwriting Australia (Brenden Hooke) ended up directing it for the Sydney version of S&S.  He was very complimentary regarding the longer version.

So I was in Kyneton to write that first draft. Which I did. Pretty anticlimactic right? I spent a bit of time thinking about which people die and which people live and then how they live and die respectively. And then I wrote it all down.

The thing about finishing something - like a first draft, is that you just have to make a whole bunch of decisions and then stick to them. If it is any consolation to other writers trying to finish a first draft - there are many mistakes made and I also have a few gaping holes where characters are alive and then dead. But the first draft is done.

So many funny memes about zombies....
I have sent the whole thing off to the RE Ross Trust and I am hoping that they might consent to give me about 8k so that I can develop the play to a second draft. That would be a fine thing. If not, then I'll no doubt develop the thing myself - for no money - as I usually do.

The other play that I am meant to be writing is Fury. My other child. Here is what happened to Fury. I wrote the play with a group pf extraordinary actors and a brilliant director. I had an amazing time, a time of great learning and fun. And then we put the reading on for the first draft and it was received really well. And then I completely changed my mind about the ending. Not only that, I completely changed my frame of reference regarding the nature of bullying.

I still want to use the 3D projection for the show, I still want to have it be about young women and the way that technology has changed the nature of bullying. But I need my character to live, at the moment she dies. It's a big change. So I have stalled on the play. I wish that I hadn't, for lots of reasons. I know that I will go back to it.

Probably I need to go away again. This time I think that I'll head to the high country. So that I can horseride. NO, I mean, so that I can write.

That is a good looking horse.
That's what I've been doing. Writing. And I went to San Diego too. Didn't write a word whilst I was there.