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!)

Thoughts on the Alienation Effect

Hi everyone! I know it’s been an absolute age since I last posted, and this one is going to be a quickie, but I have some good news to say that I will hold on to now for later (and not too much later).

I had a little confidence wobble as well recently regarding the PhD, but I guess the fear is understandable – it is a massive title and not a thing to be sneezed at (although it might ruin the paper of the thesis only a little). I’m not new to wobbles, let’s say – my nerves are like a massively woven tightrope so I’m used to it! I had one of those late nighters where I thought to myself – right, just calm down and get to it, and have hopefully got back on track. I should think back to my driving lessons, as I used to panic on hill starts so much that I actually went off course just to avoid waiting at a traffic light on a slope. Yes, I was that much of a pussy (or skitty kitty, whichever you prefer). Ahem. I was perfectly capable of doing it, but the panic just knocks everything over like a Jenga tower on the most simple of tasks.

Anyway, I was reading up on the Alienation technique, most commonly used by our old playwright friend Brecht, and a passage in a book I’m reading reminded me of something I asked my Dad a while ago. I asked him now that his children have flown the nest, if it feels weird to see us out of context i.e. in a shop or on the bus (the latter of which is likely as I spend most of my life there nowadays). It reminds me of this particular passage:

“The alienation effect, to be sure, is the most eminent task of art, but art has no patent on it; it can be observed step by step in social reality as a “procedure of daily life”: “For a man to see his mother as the wife of a man,” so we read in a note to the “New Technique of Acting,” “an A-Effect is necessary; it occurs, for example, if he acquires a stepfather. If a person sees his teacher oppressed by a bailiff, an A-Effect arises; the teacher is torn out of a context in which he appears big, and transferred into a context in which he appears small.” (Holthusen 109)

It’s quite interesting because we generally think of Art being the main source of feeling this way – which I’m trying to link across to cognitive estrangement in Science Fiction. The teacher and the bailiff scenario is a pretty odd choice as well – reminds me of that Simpsons episode when Bart and Skinner are temporarily friends. I wonder how many readers of this blog I’ve actually encountered (obviously I know a few who do), and seen me swear at a tree or something or singing to myself, thinking “what a weirdo”, then return and read this blog. Haha! That’s quite scary.

 

It begins!

I wanted to make this post yesterday but , after having got in after 11pm and with a 9am start the next morning (I know that sounds lame but I’m getting older and I like my sleep :P) I decided to leave it till later to write something about it. The weather was surprisingly amazing – which I as usual didn’t anticipate and came complete with jumper dress, tweed jacket and huge umbrella! The grounds looked frigging fantastic when blessed by the sun, which I hope I will see a lot more of in the 3 years I spend there!

One thing’s for sure – I will lose a heck of a lot of weight! I often get lost and the woods of RHUL are no exception – but with the scenic walk and hills (yes, I love hills), it’s quite fun to get lost if you don’t need to get anywhere too urgently.

I finally got my card made, running low on fuel after trekking around for an absolute age, and I got a little too excited that I can put money on it to purchase things – it also means I better not lose it any time soon!

I also met some nice people around the campus and at the postgraduate welcome – everyone is so open and friendly – in the picture gallery, and my, is that place splendidly ornate! I have really been spoilt in terms of eye candy and I can’t wait to get stuck in with everything!

It’s finally here!

In my graduation post, I mentioned briefly that my ring was being busily worked away and around 8 weeks later, this beautiful baby made its way to me this week.

It’s got my name and course engraved in the inside of the band – and if I get a better way of taking more detailed pictures I will try and capture it!

I want to thank my parents for this lovely gift – they got it for me at the graduation itself after 5 years of insanity! Loved every bit 🙂

For all those starting University…

So, I know some people who are waiting for results day (or is it today? I forget) and ready to make that transition into the first year of university. From what I hear, the consensus and atmosphere has changed along with the recession (it hit during my grad year, fun!) and the astronomical rise of tuition fees. Apparently the attitude has changed, from the “best years of your life” to “a waste of money”.

So here’s my two cents on the matter.

As you can tell, I personally loved university – enough to spend hopefully 8 years of it collectively. At the end of my high school years, I vowed to get into university to keep learning and to do the things I would never have thought to do, or things that I didn’t feel good enough to do. Can you believe that I hated drama in my teen years, and that I was too scared to learn dancing at that age?

With this in mind, I went into the dance club at Brunel in Jan (term started in Sep) and went to ballet classes. Little did I know that there was a show in a month’s time. I still went ahead and learnt the routine – even though I didn’t remember a thing from when I was 5 – and did the show. I even got lifted half way through the dance, which was aweessssooome!

Ballet turned to Jazz, then Street (which I still do at my gym) and Tap. I learnt so much and met some great people there. I do really want to take up all these dances again and hopefully will find something like that at Royal Holloway. I also did drama things at the Arts Centre and was Annie in the Norman Conquests, which I really enjoyed and want to do some more acting when I can!

Writing wise, I learnt one hell of a lot. It’s scary that people say you can’t learn how to write, but I’d say it’s just different from maths or science. In a class environment, you can learn how to share your innermost feelings in a piece of writing, to learn how to write from different perspectives, to see how others write outside of the shelf at Waterstones, so many techniques in and out of the classroom. It broadens your skill rather than just hand it to you on a plate. You just have to be receptive and put in the effort. Being a joint English major for my BA also meant that I learnt a lot of literary theory which helped me in my critical essays up to now (still a lot to remember though!)

I learnt how to edit and helped me invaluably with Enigma, as well as getting publishing experience by making a magazine in a team on campus about English students and the jobs available to them (it’s still there now! Check out Engzine in the Careers section for those who study there!). It’s clichéd, but it’s about what you put in, rather than what you expect handed to you, that makes the experience golden. I also learnt to sail, do archery and fencing, as well as circus skills, which I still do now – yay! Of course, I did have few timetabled hours compared to others, but I did read, honest!

So those who are awaiting your results, I wish you good luck and make the most of it!

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!

My Graduation and turning 25 this month!

7 is my favourite number with a just cause – my birthday is coming up at a time where I am still celebrating the notion  of turning an older age (I just have this theme of being thankful for seeing another year – I’m odd!). What is even more exciting, as well as all the sporting events that are on around this time of year, is the addition of my MA graduation. I personally love graduation – that’s why I’m doing it twice – I know some people are allergic to ceremony but I secretly love all the pomp and speeches (sometimes I think I’m secretly American). I feel so proud for everyone and can’t wait to get up there and make my walk and grab my certificate!

However, getting more personal here, I think part of this feeling comes from the experience I had at high school. I don’t like getting too deep into it, but they believed I wouldn’t enjoy university, that I wouldn’t be good enough to study to degree level etc. and at a private school (eep!), if you’re not going to one of the top, you get looked over like a stale sandwich at a high tea buffet. However, I persevered. Some of my teachers had faith in me though, and I’m appreciative for it. I went for the UCAS and applied anyway (despite me being very late in application). I harbour no anger towards the people who didn’t believe in me, though. They have their own goals in mind and I had mine, and we acted on ours accordingly.

In fact, what scares me is the difference in attitude I have about my graduation now. I’m really excited about what I’m going to wear and everything! I literally rolled out of bed and put on anything (morning ceremony) and I sort of regret not preparing for it properly. In fact, I may (haha, I’m laughing as I type this) make an OOTD (Outfit of the Day) post about what I’m going to wear for my graduation! People who know me will know this is quite out of character (OOC?) but I’m still very excited and surely it does link to my blog, no? 😛

So yes, a quick post. I’ve still got to write up my review of the Arts Firestation event in Windsor which I attended, almost losing my phone in the process, as well as the Jerwood Space talk on the Future of Tomorrow!

Susan

The inclined mind – Why do a PhD?

People often say that despite the number of choices you have, you’ll gravitate towards the one your heart chooses. Of course it’s really the mind that does this, but I appreciate the sentiment. But what if your mind is having a really crap day and is grasping at straws to find solace? Are events that are chosen impulsively not worth the pathways that have been carefully trod over and over again?

For me, it’s a bit of both. I loved University, despite entering it with the mindset that is only now taught to students – uni life won’t be the utopia of free love you’ve been mindlessly force fed (unless you really work hard at it, I guess) and ever since, I end up gravitating towards study again – I can’t help it. I flirt with the professional world but it’s usually a fling at that. I worked in online marketing for a year and really enjoyed it, more than I thought I would, but studying always beckons to me. Of course, the PhD is a different kettle of fish, but it’s a choice that I’ve stuck by despite the monetary fear.

I guess it boils down to this: if you asked me whether I’d have a  husband, mortgage car and 2.4 children and knowing exactly where I’m going and what I’m doing or studying something that I really wanted without a clue of what the future holds, I’d go for the latter. I’m a bit of a weirdo, aren’t I?

Hello world!

It’s rather apt that the title “Hello World!” (yeah, I would’ve capitalised the W) is the one I was going to use before I saw the default setting on the blog. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve been brainwashed by computer programming and its need to signal arrival of anything new with this rather tedious greeting!

Some people may know me as the editor of Enigma Magazine, whose humble presence is also shared on wordpress. It’s nice to swing back and forth between the personal and professional like this. Some people may also know me as a writer and occasional performance poet – although I regrettably haven’t done that much as of late.

So, with the rather odd greeting, I welcome you to the life and times of a prospective student of a PhD – as you could’ve figured by the name. Skitty Kitty is appropriate as I’m rather prone to a nervous disposition and well, I like cats. I’ve seen many a blog that deals with the tribulations and trepidations that come with such an extreme academic undertaking, but what about the countdown to the beginning? All those UCAS fearers will know what I’m talking about. The excitement and extreme nervousness never dies away for me, at least.

Do I feel 17 again? Well, hmm… not entirely (although my hair is short again!), which is for me, a pretty major achievement. The precipice and the plunge look so much better from a more mature set of eyes.

At the moment, I’ve become hamster like – hoarding all information I can, giving me solace before the term begins. Unfortunately, I should also be hoarding money, but information is more easily accessible.

With the rather strange hibernation before the winter, I will be poking my head out and about, looking for funding ventures, events and tidbits of information that will hopefully sate your curiosity that little bit more. Look out for me!

Susan