Back by popular request (well, actually just Lucy and my Dad, but that’s one more request since last year, so woo!) I am blogging nice and promptly following my 6th week of 11 working on a piece with the Royal Court Young Writers Program. Though be warned, it’s too late to expect accurate punctuation, my two wonderful spelling/grammar/punctuation/style books that I got for my birthday are, as yet, woefully neglected.
Today at the Court was a tutorial week, felt a bit weird going to London for only half an hour, to talk about an idea that’s quite solid anyway, and have a smattering of advice that I’m already mostly aware of, but it was rewarding in the fact that Leo and the new literary assistant Natalie (can’t remember second name, she’s a director too) were really excited about the potential of the piece. I don’t really want to give too much away about it yet. I know next to no one read the blog so it’s not the nicking of the idea I’m worried about- It’s just so… current that it, it feels a little unlucky to talk about it – jinxing and all that. Despite being a hyper-rationalist, and empiricist in terms of outlook and beliefs, and (sorry all) thinking religions are a lot about what’s wrong with the world, and the good they bring not really about goodness, but about fear- I still have little habits or superstitions- as I’m sure all do. Magpies is one, I can’t help but say ‘one for sorrow’ (I’m even feeling funny to type it) in my head whenever I see one (so many in the West Midlands!) and after then I need to see another in order to say ‘two for joy’, which ultimately ends up in my ‘saving’ ones to match with others in a weird record-keeping system in my head. Yep. Want another? Well I wish on stars (though don’t you dare even consider that I might tell you a wish, lest it might not come true) not that unusual? I preface each wish with star light star bright the first star I see tonight, I wish I may I wish I might have this wish I wish tonight AND THEN address the wish with my full name and address, just in case they don’t know where to find me. My mum once kindly described this as a mind that liked to be continually active. Otherwise known as more than a little bit of crazy… any way. To go into too much detail about the new play feels a little too soon for many reasons, both rational and irrational.
However, now I’ve built this up so much I feel that I should furnish you with at least a little info:
1) it’s set in the future – 30-40 years
2) it is set amid a global food crisis, years of washed out crops, and dwindling resources, along with disease almost outstripping modern medicine, and healthcare costs spiralling all of which have resulted in the EU bringing in a one child policy- you purchase a permit (this meaning you are rich enough to afford a decent and healthy lifestyle for your child)- and only one permit is allowed, per woman, per life time.
3) the piece looks at the fate of one woman trafficked to the UK, not just for the sex industry, but for the newly sprung black market trade in babies, and a second, whose terminally ill newborn is threatening her marriage – her husband wants a male heir, and has left two previous wives in order to procure one. The play brings these two together.
In discussing this with Leo and Natalie- both seemed really excited and interested in the potential of the piece. And they both hinted in their advice at what I feel is key to writing this kind of Sci-Fi theatre, maintaining that all important suspension of disbelief . In order to do this I must be totally and 100% certain of the rules of my universe- I need to know every political and sociological and environmental event that has occurred between now and then that has created this world, and everything in it. And also, I need to go abot gently engaging the audience, so that an automatic recoil ‘this isn’t about or relevant to me’ doesn’t occur. This may be through using naturalistic language and setting, a recognisable Format (such as the dinner party – Top Girls an excellent example) but above all, it always, always has to be through the characters- because above all we have our humanity, our shared destiny in common. And in fact an idea of a shared present and a shared future is vital to my idea of using Sci-Fi in theatre. Although much Sci-Fi “presents aspects of a reader’s empirical reality made strange through a new perspective […] This recasting of the familiar has a ‘cognitive’ purpose, that is, the recognition of reality it evokes from the reader is a gain in rational understanding of the social conditions of existence” (Csicsery-Ronay Jr 2003, 118) The setting of current troubling aspects about our unsustainable lives in an extrapolated future would allow a deeper and more detailed examination of the possible damage we could do ourselves, as well as distancing the issue far enough that it might be looked upon with an eye on the wider socio-political implications. I also think this perhaps too clinical outside eye is tempered by emotion- because more your suspension of disbelief is pushed- the more you have invested in a piece emotionally, and the more you, as one in many (an audience) has contributed to a whole – rounding off the edges of the socio-political commentry nicely.
The first rough draft is due on the 1st of December, I have set aside the weekend of the 22nd/23rd for the big write, and the weekend previous (this one coming in fact) to do some hardcore character/world exploration.
So yes, I think that’s mostly all that’s on my mind RE writing atm, except for my worrying lack of money, which is on my mind all the time anyway. I really, really need to make some money out of writing within the next 10 months or so, otherwise student debts demand that I get myself a full time job. I can’t pretend the pay wouldn’t be very welcome- but I’m not very good at proper jobs, I mean I work hard, but to be quite honest, I’m just not a 9-5 kind of person, no matter how awesome the job, and the fact that I do work hard, I still feel empty. I’m a 12-8pm worker, who is very selfishly on really interested in doing things that really drive and interest… and writing is really the only thing I’ve found so far I think that fits that. (oh me, oh my, why don’t I go off and have a little cry) But I’m sure there are plenty of writer-to-be blogs out there bemoaning how difficult it is, fact is, I shut up, work hard, and with a bit of luck, get there. So yes. That’s all the emo you’ll be getting out of me tonight.
Right. Up the apples and pears to Bedfordshire… (snuggling up with Lord of the Rings courtesy of Morph this week). Much love to all and sundry.
Csicsery-Ronay Jr, Istvan. “Marxist Theory and Science Fiction.” In The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, by Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Image- chose this because of the idea of time travel and silly childish superstitions – it’s a really old photo of my and my little brother, in Lincoln I guess.