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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Open Your Notebooks!

It's been a fragmented week, but I have made a start on the new stories for 2012.
This is how I started these stories and generally start most plays.

1. I create a crisp new document on my computer and type out the title and that it's by me, in case I forget.  In this case: The Shakespeare Delusion. (Which I've also got round to drafting a poster for - for the tryout anyway - see right - tickets on sale soon.)
2. I dig out my notebooks from the last year or so and look out the notes I made on this particular story.
3. As I type up each section I place it in the approximate area of the story so that the bits go in order, followed by general notes of thoughts, feelings and ideas for the story at the end of the document.
4. If I'm in a good mood I expand on these gobbits of text as I go along, adding detail, chasing any logical thoughts and ideas that come to me as I work.
5.  This process is done spasmodically over a day or two, by the end of which I have got all the ideas for the piece on one document, the key scenes/sections written up and a word count of somewhere between 500 and 1000 words.  This is always reassuring as it means I've got something to show for myself and before I've even started to do something anyone could call work.
6.  Now I go through my notes and discard files for any non-specific dialogue, joke, idea or just damn fine bit of prose that hasn't been homed in any other stories/plays.  These sit at the end of the file for me to look at during each writing session to give my brain to chance to weave them in naturally.  If I can't do this they get passed onto the next project.
7.  I'm usually juggling writing projects at this stage so I move onto story two, in this case Attack of the Christmas Squirrels and repeat this process, with the odd cut and paste for step 6.
8.  While I'm doing all this notebook transcribing I dig out the text of a play Complicated Pleasures that I've been toiling on and add a few notes I've made since last looking at it.  Amazed to find the word count already over 13,000 words and could be well onto the road of the first draft if I pull my finger out.
9.  I then write a blog about writing stuff.

That's us up to date I think.
Both The Shakespeare Delusion and Attack of the Christmas Squirrels will be shows that need to run at some 10 to 12,000 words each and have separate deadlines and outlines.  The Shakespeare Delusion is a single monologue told by one Professor L. Ashborn, whose account of an alternative history of Shakespeare is hijacked by the fact he is completely doolally.  He knows he is hallucinating, he knows the world he sees doesn't match our own, but he carries on regardless - which would account for a fair amount of Shakespearean scholarship in certain climbs.  This is the first character driven monologue of length that I've written since Fantasy Terrorist League (c. 2005) and Keynote Speaker (c. 2009) and it's rather nice to create a voice and person, as opposed to standing as an anonymous storyteller.  I have only written the character parts so far, the testimony of this man's researches and the strange journey he is taken on.  I will start on the 'factual' part of his lecture next - I did start writing a spoof Shakespeare lecture a few years ago but have yet to find the notes on it - frankly, the difficultly in spoofing theories about Shakespeare is that the spoof element is driven out by the number of crazy theories people believe anyway.  Hence the accent on character rather than on the lecture itself.
Observant people will have noticed that I have used the name Ashborn before.  Several times.  He was originally one Lord Ashborn, who I played as an occasional character whilst devising short plays at Sixth Form with my good friend David Aldous.  We did three twenty minute plays and finally launched Milk Bottle Productions together with our first full length play Lord Ashborn: Life, Death and the Pursuit of Cotton Buds I'm very fond of it, despite being a piece of juvenilia, and I'm tempted, one day, to have a crack at rewriting it.  I probably won't.  Professor L. Ashborn isn't going to be the same character, though he may have a few nods here and there, but it felt right to give the name at least another outing.
The Shakespeare Delusion will be written for a tryout in May, performing in Lavenham on Friday 18th May, so is the priority piece at present.  It will then be worked on over the year for performance at the Christmas Festival at Barons Court.  Those who orbit Suffolk can reserve tickets for the tryout now via email (below) prior to tickets being released in March, just send a name and the number of tickets (it sold out and then some last time, so be quick) and you'll be at the front of the queue.
Attack of the Christmas Squirrels is going to be quite different.  It may have a rough tryout in the autumn, but I might give it a different title to avoid the unseasonal date.  I don't intend to perform the show myself, but have a team of storytellers for the London run.  I might do the opening five minutes, just to keep me off the streets, but no more - I have other irons in the fire performance wise - largely with Nicholas NicklebySquirrels is going to be made of five or so interlocking / overlapping stories.  Each covers a different character (probably), each leads to the final act of the story (hopefully).  I'll be opening auditions for this and other parts and activities for the Christmas Festival later this year.  Again, if you're interested in being involved it won't do you any harm if you send your CV, pictures, show reel, link to website, huge bribe to contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk anytime in the next few months.  Full details will follow later.

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