Thoughts on Theatrical Jenga

Jenga 3Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you are all well and taking the opportunity for the next calendar year to accomplish a new and established set of goals and achievements. Of course, time is a human construct and you can make goals at any time, but it’s always a nice marker to play by.

It’s been strange, but I haven’t had the clarity that I had of last year in terms of my creative work. I had a plan of some sort and I draw out scenes, acts, characters and tropes by simple sentence synopses. I still write longhand in notebooks and manage to get through so many in the process (I have abnormally large handwriting, as some of you will know). I usually have a notebook for one or two plays specifically (originally called “play books”), where I will dedicate its entirety to ideas, scenes and timelines.

However, I’m becoming increasingly scatterbrained, which I hoped last year wouldn’t happen. It’s nice when ideas come, but they shatter the illusion of confidence (that I know what I’m doing, where this is going, that it feels consistent-ish to the characters and their intent) and the play becomes unrecognisable. It happened to Cuckoos and Chrysalids, it happened to Newshound and I’m a little scared that I don’t take the transitions as well as I had hoped. I often chop and change my writing projects and it isn’t as fun as I thought.

The theatrical Jenga of the title though, is from what I’m “researching” for my critical work. Theatre has been seen as notoriously hard to create a world only for it then to be disrupted later in a way that the audience can identify and run with as soon as the piece has been taken away and the structure compromised. Would we be able to see the piece from all angles? Do we have to wait for someone to gasp and cry “Oh no! The puzzle has collapsed!” or the equivalent in SF pulp literature? I’ve been looking at it, however, through the anthropological theories of Tim Ingold’s taskscape and how patterns of behaviour can build up this picture, punctuated by the dialogue.

I’m working on a few creative projects at the moment – but these descriptions are going to be incredibly vague. One play is about a character who is unable to focus on the present moment, instead dwelling around past and future, unable to see how people have changed around her (it’s to do with memory development and enzyme reactions). Another is dealing with virtual representation, mass hive-mind juries and A/B testing. Another is to do with the transition between mind transfer and living in another skin, monologue style (which I’m hoping to structure in a similar way to the amazing production of There has been an Incident).

It’s taking me longer than expected to hone these theatrical sculptures, but it could be a good sign. I feel that I’m taking more risks with the writing I’m producing, which can only be a good thing at this stage.

It’s that time again…

So it’s nearing the end of 2013 – a fast year in many respects! It feels like it’s been an eventful year for me (of course, that’s subjective) but I feel that I’ve learnt a lot – and through doing that opens up another network of chambers to explore. Highs and lows, definitely.

The overriding theme of the year is that I feel that I’ve gained confidence in a lot of things – not nearly as confident as I’d like (huh) – but it’s gotten there. I’ve taken on things that I wouldn’t have thought myself capable of doing this year and have benefited from doing so. I can’t believe I gave a talk at my first conference that happened to be about my supervisor, for one! I also managed to give creative writing workshops on Science Fiction to 14+ pupils, which I never thought I’d be able to do previously. I also tried my hand at directing too for the very first time and have gained some more experience since then. And a play! I’m so glad I had a chance to act in something I’d written that wasn’t a monologue or poem! That will be up on Youtube soon enough.

I have realised, though, that I’ve found it increasingly harder to stay on one particular piece to the end. I’m not quite sure what that is – I feel now that I try to wrap too many concepts up in one package, which makes the project harder to steer. Back to the drawing board, make clearer plans – and well, bloody get on with it, I presume!

Wish you all the best of health, happiness and success – hope you have a great time in 2014! x

New term is here!

Just a little update into how things are going! First of all, I can’t believe how fast the terms are going – and that Spring is almost upon us! I think first and foremost is to get the rewrites done from the plays I’ve had performed last year – as I’ve picked up some valuable truffles (nuggets are so last year, and this one suggests that I’m like a pig or a dog, which is a little different) of information during rehearsals thanks to great directors/actors.

I’ve finished a short story (that means a lot, considering what I write recently) and well, I’d like to see it get somewhere. Also, I’d like to write some poetry – my bus journeys are loooong and I always get ideas on them and just before I go to sleep, most of which I don’t remember, so maybe I should get some writing done then. Since I am giving a paper soon, it’ll be nice to do some spoken word again. I wonder if my style will have changed.

More details on everything soon! Mind you, I heard from a little bird (who looks like me, weirdly) that Enigma Magazine is open for business again. Oh, who are they, you ask? http://www.enigmacw.co.uk is where they live. If you want to submit writing of your own, I’d love to read it, yes siree!

Oh and reviews. I want to do some more reviews. From the First Men in the Moon to The Islanders, I will give you something meatier to read than little snippets here and there. I hope!

New Years Highlights!

This New Year has been more packed than I remember – as it’s coming up to that fateful hour, I just wanted to mention some things that have made this year great – only want to focus on the highlights, hurrah! Also, I started the blog this year, to mark any developments and how my ideas for the PhD have changed – I think I’ve learnt a hell of a lot this year – and of course, the more you learn, the more you realise that you know nothing. If that’s a good benchmark, than my quota has been sufficiently reached for this year!

– I learnt how to drive this year and passed first time (thank goodness, that experience was utterly harrowing and I had no idea it was going to be so stressful! Thanks to friends, family and my driving instructor – he’s hella awesome!)

-I graduated from my MA and at Brunel this year – it’s been a great 5 years there, and there’s a lot I learnt (maybe slightly more out of lectures, but that’s the way uni life is for the undergraduate I think). Postgraduate was also awesome and will always have fond memories of people and places there. I can’t go to Uxbridge without reminiscing over some corner or road. Not much has changed there really!

– I started my PhD this year (only in September but it feels much earlier than that – I think I was overexcited and it clearly showed), and at a new university. Getting to grips with the area and met some great people – can’t wait to see how the rest of the years pan out!

– I’ve gotten my plays staged – 3 to be precise – and so happy! I’ve learnt a lot form the rehearsal process and will start some more rewrites in earnest.

– We did do a gig this year – hooray – and a track on an EP, which all of PFN are very proud with. Finally got to recording, hopefully to do some more in 2013 *fingers crossed*

Enigma will be back – sorry I’ve been away from it for a while – it’ll be ready to showcase more of the world’s upcoming and established talents in 2013!

I wish you all a Happy New Year and the best of happiness and health! Oh, and if you’ve been hearing me say “for sure”, then I’m 90% sure you met me this year. A theory of mine.

xxx