Katie Mccullough Talks and Writes

Words will get written here and some videoblogs will appear. You don't have to look but it would be nice if you did.

Hugh Hughes and Hoipolloi April 9, 2009

Filed under: London,theatre,Theatre and writing — katiemccullough @ 12:51 pm

Before I start rambling about other things I’ve only just discovered how to import my blog into Facebook so the chances of this actually being read is far greater. Not sure if that’s scary but hey, it’s only an opinion… right?

Anywho like I said I had another reading of the second draft of my new play at Theatre Royal, Stratford East. It was definitely an experience. The group consisted of around twenty people and most were actors and a few writers. Then there were some actors/writers who dabbled in both. I was slightly anxious about this reading not only because no one else had read it (usually friends or other writers) but because it had a lot of sex scenes in. I’m no prude but I wasn’t sure how people were going to accept them during the reading. My anxiety didn’t stop there when I walked into the room and saw that everyone had at most twenty years on my age. Not meaning to highlight the differences but there were some people of a certain age who I knew would not swallow my sex scenes fully. I just re-read that and it’s a strange phrase but I’m going to keep it.

The reading had lots of humour in it which I was thankful for. I didn’t want to write a mopey and emotionally wrought piece from beginning to end. I wanted light and dark, funny and serious. Seems like I’ve struck the right balance somewhere. After the read through each member had to give a short soundbite of their opinion of the script… the first person found it offensive and extremely graphic. The first of many I thought but the next person completely disagreed. Then the third and on the fourth and on and on. I think there was a divide when it came to the sex; the scenes are there to create humour and to further the story. I personally don’t think it’s the appearance of sex that has created this divide, it’s the detail I’ve gone into and the approach that I’d like to see on the stage. Like one of the actors said, “I was worried and very embarrassed reading this script, but upon hearing read aloud I can see the reason for the scenes. They’re completely justified and I couldn’t imagine the same script without them”. This is reassuring to me, but it also throws into the balance of what translates from the page to the reader. I know this script is going to be read by people but not necessarily out loud with actors, so does this hinder my script or beg for it to be rehearsed read?

I digress, back to what I got out of the reading whilst I’m preparing to re-draft one last time. I had a character from my last script who was important but was utterly underwritten and one dimensional. Since the first 48 hour draft I’ve spent a lot of time planting seeds about him and weaving his story in and out of the other characters who appear more than him. Upon doing this I’ve brought this character to live even more and made him such a fixture that it was argued that he is the central character but a more subdued one. I’ve really enjoyed the re-writing process of this script and it’s possibly because it’s the first time that I’ve really needed to get something done and a little more than hope rests on it.

I’m currently in the process of re-drafting but at the same time juggling it with painting my new room which I’ve adopted from my brother. Someone once told me the phrase, “if you want something done, give it to a busy person”. I can only nod and agree. I’m anxious about my script and I’m eager to get into my new room. At the moment I’ve grouped them into one hand; when I need to get away and think about the script I go and paint. When I need to get away from painting I return to my computer and re-read scenes that I’m not sure about. It’s the age old trick of procrastination which I enjoy because you normally end up doing tasks which are monotonous and required but hold no glamour. At present I’ve got only a few days till my proposed deadline (for the script, not the painting) and I’ve taken solace in knowing that things are always in a state of flux. I used to worry about having an opinion because people would hold me to it and I’d be flustered if my opinion changed. I used to do this with my writing and worry that whatever I commit to paper or screen would have to stay the same and not change. Since graduating I’ve realised that things are forever changing from draft one to halfway through a run. This pleases me and also allows me to breathe a little easier when I’m writing.

As I’ve called this entry Hugh Hughes and Hoipolloi I should talk about them also. I managed to score some free tickets for the scratch performances of their new collaboration piece entitled “Invisible Town”. The show was being performed for two nights only to gather feedback and trial new material at the Barbican, London. The idea was that Hugh would present the idea of being able to transport you to his past and immerse the audience in his childhood; something we all have in common.

From when you entered the auditorium you were greeted by enthusiastic actors playing children. Hugh flitted between being the headteacher of a classroom (of which we had to pick a child that we favoured and automatically become their parent) and himself. What followed was a mixture of stories based around Hugh’s life in his hometown and an innocent narrative provided by the ‘children’ of adult themes. The actors were fantastic and utterly believable whatever age they played. Considering talking about ones past could be borderline self-indulgent there were some extremely touching moments which made me think about my own past, (obviously that was the point) but also made me think about it as a story rather than a reminiscent memory of someone else. We see how Hugh’s parents were married and we were serenaded back to their wedding dance with friendly cheers surrounding us and ‘My Funny Valentine’ sung with such sincerity it was show-stopping.

I can see what Hugh wants to do and explore and at the moment it’s very fragmented and muddled. With something like this you run the risk of treading the line of being too self-indulgent and exploring things that are considered too personal. Some of the exercises that Hoipolloi entertained such as passing around photographs of relatives and family fallouts really hone into the universal attraction to reminiscing and the human nature to talk about ourselves (because we all have a story and we’re all storytellers in our own arena) and if they can crack the balance to include that and tie it in with the more dramatic themes they will have a blinding piece.

(They did have some catchy songs in there too performed by ‘Class 2B’ of which me and my fellow viewers were singing all the way home. It was Hawaiian and simple, perfect in fact…)

I unfortunately missed their previous collaboration, “Story Of A Rabbit” but it’s currently going to be touring… in Singapore. For more about their work and to see if they’re going to be near you check out their website here.

Righto, I think I’ve rambled enough. I’m off to go and paint, or write, or both. Probably neither.


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