Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Exciting news: my plays, showing at the Alma Tavern Theatre next month, have been cast: Oliver Millingham, whose work I've seen at the Tobacco Factory, Jo Lancastle, and Meg Whelan. It all seems so much closer now. They're part of the 'Writing in the Margins' programme of short plays: my two are Thursday Coma (when it's your mother's funeral and your estranged brother is arriving so you can't see your therapist, a quick coma seems a good solution) and Your Time Starts Now (co-listening? just like conversation, isn't it? what could be simpler...)
Richard (Clockers) Price says every character you create is yourself: "How do I create a young black urban drug dealer? He’s me. Everybody’s the author, it’s all fiction." That was on Front Row this week. Anne Enright said something similar in The Guardian: "Writing fiction is a habit of flipping the world or tilting it... the way children make things up all the time. We are just picking up a fish finger and flying it across the dinner table: "Vrrrrrrrrrrrr vrrrrrrrrr vrrrrrrrrrroooooooom".

And on the subject of flying fish fingers, I'm loving Demons, a brilliant new vampire series with a wicked script. Gene Hunt turns Ghostbuster to aid novice warrior Luke in battling unbeings and entities. "We don’t care to name them" he growls in a softly unidentifiable transatlantic accent, " We just smite 'em."
Luke is shocked at the interruption to his revision and unfamiliar with the opposition.
"Is that an entity?"
"No Luke, that is a rat."
They meet Gareth from the Office wearing a beak, and set about smiting him. "Very well smit, if I may say so" concedes the unbeing before combusting. Absolutely excellent.

Still on a vampiric theme, Van Helsing, a few years old now but shown this week on ITV2, is overlong but highly entertaining. Anna Valerious, aka Kate Beckingsale in a costume blending grechen with catwoman, must kill Dracula to save her family from purgatory and Transylvanians from being swooped on by a plague of winged vampires. Igor and Frankenstein are involved too, and Van Helsing has a sidekick friar called Carl, like the Lone Ranger and Tonto. There’s an awful lot of whooshing about and things flung dizzily around before exploding but the best scenes are frankly spoofy: the undead giving a whole new meaning to hissy fits, and Carl like Bond’s Q showing Van Helsing his state-of-the-art equipment (a cross bow). David Wenham as the friar had most of the offbeat lines: "Why does it smell like wet dog in here?" he mused after a particularly gruesome werewolf battle. As Richard Price says, “If you put the way people really talk on the page, it would be interminable... you take all that stuff and compress it into a shapeliness, and it’s fake but it does have the appearance of, wow, this is how people really speak."

Frome library writers' group met this week for an excellent workshop led by Val Fellows on the timely topic of New Beginnings, reminding us that every next moment fits that category. New beginnings means starting from now. It doesn’t have to be box-fresh, this start. It only has to be illuminated by mindfulness of mortality, knowing that in this moment we are alive.

Footling footnote of the week: According to stats, the average Briton spends two-and-a-quarter hours every day feeling anxious. I wish I knew how they cope with the other 21 and three quarters. I grade my anxieties from 1 to 12, which happens also to be the scale used by Philip Glenister's smiting character for the nastiness of entities and unbeings.

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