Fiction Friday!

So, after what seems seconds, we suddenly shift into the cold/rainy season of Autumn/Fall. Another term of Uni starts and the reality starts to sink in like the elusive quagmire that is time/truth – that I have to submit a thesis.

However, I’d like to let you have a smidgeon of an inside scoop as to what I’ve been up to – it seems fair to let you know as I haven’t been as active as I was once on the blog!

As some of you know, I’m now a blogger at Amazing Stories http://www.amazingstories.mag (you can see my profile here http://amazingstoriesmag.com/authors/susan-grey/). My latest post investigates the nature of Science Theatre, and how its immense profile has left SF Theatre backstage. You can find it here – http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2013/10/science-stage-vs-science-fiction-theatre/.

I’m also going to be performing one of my monologues/one person show Object Meet Subject at the Creative Centre of Collaboration as part of a… collaboration with Lucy Harrison, a PhD student in Music Composition on the 1st November.

I’m also scratching one of my short plays, NewsHound, which deals with the pitfalls and upsides of social media at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre. I will give you more details on that when I can.

I recently had my first ever full length play read by KDC Theatre, Opening Pandora’s Box. It was great to revisit it and immerse myself in the context of when I wrote it, and how different I feel now. It’s only been 3 odd years since I started it but I feel like so much has happened since then! Thank you to the team; I look forward to revising it and experimenting with it! Plus, it’s nice to return to my comedy writing. A member of the group called it Pygmalion meets Blade Runner, which I must use for the strap line!

I also had my play Fishbowl read by the Otherworld Theatre Company in Chicago. Tiffany Keane, the artistic director, has given me some fantastic notes and I’ve been very eager to redraft this one (it’s been my favourite to write by far, actually!).

I’m also planning to have Terra Firma read by the end of the year, which I’m very excited about!

I will also be writing some reviews – I saw There has possibly been an Incident at the Soho, which was a stripped back, bare, brutal and thrilling performance – the monologues were so powerful and emotional. I also saw as part of the Ideal World Season Override, which was very interesting in the way the boundaries of identity, human augmentation and how consciousnesses are projected. Another one to review.

That’s it in a nutshell. I’m still waiting back for news from plays and am preparing for the Stage the Future conference with Christos Callow Jr. Will let you know more as soon as I can!

 

Saturday Salon du Livre

I got it right this time (I hope!)

To update on the play – I seriously can’t believe it’s been a week since the LAST performance of it – it went very well! I’m so proud of the actresses who worked so fast and so well to get the lines and movement on point – and they were wonderful to work with. I certainly enjoyed directing, and it’s helped me to inform my own writing as well, so the process has worked both ways symbiotically. I can now see why the writer/director is such a compelling choice. I’ll blog more about this when I have time.

So what’s next, I hear you ask? 

I’m doing a collaboration (that I’ve mentioned before, I think) and it’s going along the lines of the performed monologue I’ve written called Object, Meet Subject – which sound composition would definitely bring it to life. I will write up about it as it’s in my Writing Section of completed plays at the moment.

I am now also a blogger at Amazing Stories – which, as you know, has a thoroughly impressive heritage in the Science Fiction and Fantasy realm. It’s wonderful to be a part of it! My first post is up here.

I’m also doing some academic writing too – the talk I gave at Lincoln for the conference on Adam Roberts is being written up for a chapter of the collected papers. It’s being edited by the great team of Christos Callow Jr. and Anna McFarlane.

I’m also doing some other academic-y bits here and there, and will be getting back on those monologues when I have time (I do have a PhD to complete, you know!)

I also have plans to write an SF Libretto (I’m utterly excited about this one)!

I’m also taking part in a Horror/SF writing challenge, but I can’t say any more than that, I’m afraid!

So that’s it in a nutshell! I will be writing more reviews and so on (which is a shame that I haven’t so far – I’ve seen some great plays since but haven’t had the time to review them. I will get round to it, pronto!)

It’s Showtime!

Showtime!Today is the opening show of the Writers Bloc Triple Special, putting on 10 minute plays and extracts from tonight (29th August) to the Saturday 31st. How exciting!

I have been directing my extract from Cuckoos and Chrysalids, which will be on two nights – Thursday and Friday. The cast has been superb and I’m really looking forward to getting the show on the road!

If you’re around Angel, why not come down to the Old Red Lion Theatre? It starts at 7:30pm. Excited! I might even get you a drink afterwards 🙂

I’ll be doing a write up of the process and everything after the weekend, along with rehearsal pictures. Also, as part of my blogging position at Amazing Stories, I will also be writing a series on my experiences of writing SF Theatre.

Saturday… Salon du livre?

Yes, I have been a little delayed on Fiction Friday this week – things have been getting busier than usual!

News the first – Cuckoos and Chrysalides is being staged on the 29th and the 30th of August at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Angel. It’s being produced amongst others in a great Triple Special! Come on, come all!

I am also a new blogger of Amazing Stories – you can find my profile here. I’m so excited and ready to promote SF theatre to the masses!

I’m waiting to hear back from my play proposal Object meets Subject, which should be soon!

I’m also hearing back from 3 other projects, and very excited about those!

I also have some news that I am with-holding at the moment,  but I will get back to you all soon! It’s something that I’m really looking forward to!

I’m going to be reviewing some more of my plays – next up, Terra Firma!

Susan

Thrills of the Year

As it comes to the end of 2012, it’s been amazing what’s happened in such a short period of time. As you may know, I started writing plays maybe in dibs and drabs at the end of my first year at uni (about 7 years ago), and really focused on writing short stories, novellas and poetry. Reading and seeing plays have always been my passion, but I tended to view them at a distance – they looked so intimidating too write, subtle but engaging in such a different way. Finally, I overcame my fear in a rather bold move – writing my MA thesis as a full length play (first one I did). Since then, playwriting has become my “go-to” medium. Writers are often famous for pursuing a particular medium, with their attempts at the others either banished from the light or simply vanishing into obscurity. I do like writing short stories, however, but it takes me a while to get used to articulating what I really mean, whereas playwriting comes to me a lot more naturally, as does poetry, I think. It’ll take me a good while to write a story that goes somewhere, whereas a play or a poem is something I could knock out once the muse gets through the spiral static.

Anyway! My point was to share what’s been going on. As a stage manager, script reader and assistant director, I’ve been used to seeing new writing, assisting rehearsals and operating etc. but to see it with my own work is such a thrill that makes it feel that I’m entering the process anew. The best part is rehearsal, seeing what the actors make of their character and little mind travels that I never realised I was plotting while writing. It’s a beautiful collaborative process which I guess is a lot different from the relay from editor to writer (wait, I should know this, haha!). I’ve learnt a lot from what exercises can be built through a script, especially in terms of building the sense of cognitive estrangement in the sci fi play that I wrote to the shaping and directing of attention in the simple scene of En Passant. I do want to be writing short stories (I’m in the process of writing one now, actually), but the whole process of playwriting is something I definitely want to pursue further. The words you write are just a blueprint – it’s great because even though after the excitement of getting the words down, it’s just the beginning. Plays are famous for being never finished – it’s like a doll that’s put in its box after every performance. Every time you take it out to play it’s an entirely different character.

I want to thank all the directors, producers, actors and of course the audiences who support new writing. It’s been an amazing journey and I cross my fingers to get more opportunities like this in 2013!

Next post will be on Constellations – an amazingly domesticated play linking quantum realities with the relationship of two people. The staging is almost bare but the illusions are easy to grasp, powerful yet subtle. It relies on the actors so much to be able to stop and start and repeat – reminiscent, I’d say of Churchill in A Number. Anyway, I’m rambling. I spent some time on the journey back from the play swearing to myself at some intervals – it taught me a lot, folks!

 

Also, I’m in Doollee! This is so exciting – to be listed with playwrights since 1956 I believe. Even my advisor for my PhD is listed there too. His name is Dan Rebellato and is a great playwright and academic!

Check out my profile here. Not all of them have been produced of course, but it’s great if you want to see hints of what might be made flesh in the future!

http://www.doollee.com/PlaywrightsG/gray-susan.html

Writing Updates take 2

Another helping of literary updates for you all!

If you have added me on Facebook, you may have seen a little flurry of activity surrounding new writing events. I have some plays coming up (I’ve always been excited to say that), all one act two handers actually, but all very different in terms of content! If you’re around in London and want to see a whole host of new writings, come and see some of the series that I will be taking part in:

 

Insignificant Theatre Rough Readings
November 29th 7:30 at Sylvia Young Theatre School
These will include scratches of pieces including my attempt on the theme of house by creating a modern twist on the classic myth of Narcissus and Echo!
Writers Bloc Christmas Special (part of a series running from 11th-16th Dec)
December 14th 7:30 at Old Red Lion Theatre, Angel
This is my short Science Fiction spin on Christmas, which I’m really looking forward to – the rehearsals and workshops are starting soon!
Brockley Scratch Night
December 16th (Not too sure of time yet), Brockley Jack Studios
This is a short scratch night including one of the parts of my romantic drama En Passant.
I’m ever so excited! It would mean the world if you could come down/up/left/right and see! I’m also writing a short science fiction story on ageing and the impact it has on art. Maybe *fingers crossed* it’s going to be a part of something bigger. Watch this space!

Any Updates?

There are some, yes! Not many though –

One of my short plays, En Passant (which I hope you don’t mind what sounds like a double whammy of pretension – a french term and a reference to a chess move, but it sounds good and is relevant to the plot, promise) will be in production soon, alongside 2 other new writing pieces. I’m thrilled to bits and can’t wait to see how it gets on! I will update you!

I also have some other writing plans – one of which is to revamp one of my old novellas (what, I do write prose too!)  and maybe another one, time permitting. Some of you may even be familiar with one of them (if you know them both, you know me too well! Just saying).

I’m going to a Donna Haraway (whom I mentioned in an earlier post about cyborgs burning bras, I recall) lecture tomorrow at the Cosmopolitan Animals conference – can’t wait for this! I will give you all the details as and when.

Another thing – CFPs (Call for Papers). I’m so excited about these, thinking about what I could present and researching odd ends here and there. If (fingers crossed) I get accepted, I will let you know when and where if erm… you want to see this skitty kitty out of her virtual basket.

Toodle pip for now!

My Writing Projects at the moment!

Well, since my PhD starts in just over 2 months (yup, haven’t started yet!), it may seem that the blog is more filler and more based on speculation and other stuff. Whilst that is essentially true until the time I start, it doesn’t mean I’m not writing – oh siree no! My main PhD project (in rough, I must emphasise) is of staging science fiction – and through this is a handle on the genre and the different themes of dramaturgy in shaping the suspension of disbelief with a rather limited but heavily potent arsenal. I’m definitely looking forward to it!

In the mean time, I am editing and writing some projects, as well as planning the structure to my thesis, which I imagine will warp and expand several times. I’ve finished writing 2 plays, both of which have been read and I’ve been given fabulous notes on (thank you guys, appreciate it so much!). I’m editing Pandora’s Box, which I wrote as a futuristic response to Pygmalion, as well as Fishbowl, through my love of Youtube, seeing a future where everything is compartmentalised and through this new system breeds a new spotless generation. I don’t want to spoil too much but you might see a bit more birthing than you expected!

I am also writing another play, which is a sort of cross between District 9 and The Earth Abides, featuring the themes of segregation, belonging and renewal. Let’s see how they go! I’m also writing some short stories and assorted poems, so will hopefully go back to the realm of spoken word at some point!

Oh yes, and I’m also collecting submissions for Enigma Magazine as well as editing a community anthology. Go to http://www.enigmacw.co.uk if you’d like to submit anything. The theme is Going for Gold and the finish line is in view!

Speed Dating – The Theatrical Way!

Are you the type of person who believes in first impressions being the most important? Well, speed dating is most likely for you! So, this was definitely my first foray into this frantic array – a rather daunting experience! But this time, it’s not for a romantic date that’s on the cards (well, not primarily!), but rather an interesting relationship between a writer and a director of theatre. That’s right- the Upstart Theatre company was hosting their 5th networking event at the Young Vic, where you meet writers and directors all in one room, with the only knowledge of you usually starts with a name tag and a business card.

It was great to have a slot open for me at short notice and I’m so thankful for it, but the cards were rather hastily fashioned due to me remembering at the last minute! However, they did the job and showed all the details quite well, I think!

 

Don’t worry, this is the name tag, not the business card! Haha!

 

So I stumbled into the room, meeting mainly an assembly of writers along the way – and I remember us being quite concerned that there were no directors in sight, although they came out of the woodwork  soon enough! With just 3 minutes for each, we were playing in effect a professional version of musical chairs – chatting about what are you and what your artistic views are before turning right and moving one chair around the circle. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and now seeing a ring of directors is not as scary as I first imagined! Everyone was so receptive and friendly, as well as having so many different stories to tell and backgrounds to share. I did think at first that 3 minutes was quite long – for anyone who’s done spoken word will tell you – you can fit a hell of a lot in one minute! However, it just swam past and it’s great that we’ve exchanged cards! I want to thank everyone at the Young Vic and Upstart theatre for putting on these series of events, and definitely will follow you both for updates in Theatre land (I also must watch the Dolls House production there too!)

There are some more events that I will review – there’s some that are long overdue that I need to write and show you all, especially my encounter with Aung San Suu Kyi at the Southbank Centre on Friday – an amazing experience and a cultural haven that makes me want to get more in touch with my Burmese roots.

So until then, see you!

Review of How Plays Work

How odd – when I said that I was feeling my age, I wasn’t wrong! I tend to be reading a lot of non-fiction, more so than fiction (although both concepts are rather vague as they are!), and recently I’ve come across a lot of Playwriting books. Now, those of you who believe that writing is a craft – it most definitely is – the difference is that we’ve usually had relatively more exposure to it than say photography or web design. A lot of forethought, structuring and depth is required for any piece of writing (even this one!), and I’m sure I’m not alone in being lost for words on occasion or placed the punchline before the buildup to a joke!

So, on to the book itself! How Plays Work, by David Edgar – pretty self explanatory, I have to say!

It’s a great comprehensive guide into each of the building blocks required to construct a coherent and meaningful performance piece. The sections are: Actions, Character, Genre, Structure, Scenes, Devices and my greatest nemesis – Endings!

Now, I purposefully left out the first chapter, which really sparked my interest in this book in the first place. It’s called Audiences, which really put my writing head on back into perspective. If I had a penny for every time someone called me out for “writing for myself” and “don’t assume the reader will understand what the author is saying” to the plain “what the hell is this text I see before me!?”, then I wouldn’t need funding at all! I tend to be as cryptic as well… me, I guess. The fact that David Edgar put the Audience first and foremost struck a chord with me, because, well, the audience is always right.

I have never seen so many references being used to so many different plays in one publication before. David Edgar, who founded the Playwriting Studies course at Birmingham 2 years after I was born, clearly knows his stuff. He skips across concepts like Emplotment, Axis and Currency, Contractual and Performative plot forms whilst casually dropping in some masterpieces of Ibsen, Shakespeare (of course), Brecht, Noel Coward, Beckett, Ayckbourn, Miller, Sarah Kane and Caryl Churchill just to name a few.

I got this book from Ebay, and it really gives you bang for your buck – especially revising it to go through some steps and ideas when structuring what essentially is “people talking”, and seeing what methods you can go through to get to your characters and extract all their needs and little quirks to make it believable and well, most importantly, to mean something. It’s like a very comprehensive manual, although with so many references, you can go off the beaten track a little and just stare bewilderingly at the wildlife.

I’d say it’s definitely a good read if you’re looking into Play writing or even another form of fiction. Give it a shot!