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Saturday, 7 December 2013

Retreating

I've been a little quiet of late.  It's winter, it's cold, I'm comfortable, go away - can't you see there's snooker on?
I'm currently in retreat in Aberdeen, visiting family, and in theory writing.  I'm currently working on Project One - The Trolls Trilogy - or Trology if you will - and not exactly rushing.  As I say, it's cold outside and there's snooker on.
But, the deadline is looming, so I have to get something done now, or I won't be ready to record.  I'm working on the second part of the trilogy, Lost Tribe of the Trolls, which will start premiering on Wednesday 1st January 2014.  It's quite a task ordering the material into shape - for this is a piece controlled by it's structure.  It's being broadcast once a week for half the year, so that's twenty-six episodes - not only that, each episode needs to be only three minutes long, maximum - so that the final story orbits 75-80 minutes in length.
It's a matter of trying to create a straightforward narrative but also one that breaks into recognisable self contained chunks.  This is rather fun and very important - because the text will need to be turned into a live show at the end of 2014 and so must remain active.  What do I mean by this?  It has to move, have action, change of direction, because though a story it has to be a story told, something that has potential theatrically, as well as narratively.  So, condensed, engaging three minute chunks work well - and looking back at the basis of some of my more successful monologues.  Teaching Gods is similarly episodic (though closer to five minutes than three) and moves the action along by jumping between characters - as was, to an even greater degree, Cuckold's Fair.
I'm using the same story structure to the first part of the trology The Natural History of Trolls, in that there is a prologue, part one of the main story, an interlude, a part two of the main story and an epilogue.  So, the three minute episodes are similarly connected together in wider chunks of story.
So, what is Lost Tribe of the Trolls about?  Well, it all started when I was on the tube on Remembrance Sunday and I saw a woman, chest bristling with medals, sitting almost opposite me.  She was mute and relaxed until suddenly she realised she had lost something... and that set off a chain of thought in my mind.  What if she had lost a medal?  What if the medal she had lost wasn't a normal medal but something greater?  That each medal represented a war and captured the experiences of that war - that she was not ex-service, but a Recording Angel, collecting the memories of those who had survived the wars of the world.
It wasn't a hung leap to think this might connect well with the world of the Trolls I had created in The Natural History.  And she has lost the Crimean war.
To find it she calls on her adoptive family, who are the lost tribe of the title.  We assumed that the Trolls we encountered in the first story were the only ones - but another tribe have lived a different, parallel life.  These Trolls are not the quiet, semi-religious, victims of before; these Trolls have abandoned their past and become part of the modern world, they are wheeler dealing neoliberals and love the marketplace.  They are the Noble Guild of Trolls (Luton Branch) and they'll sell their grandmothers if it'll make a profit.

All this, as usual, is subject to much change - the plot has already shifted twice this week - so don't expect it to remain exactly the same.  Off to work.  Ta ta.

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