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.

The White Room – Industry ICA Lab May 30, 2011

I know, I know. It’s been a crazily long time since I’ve done one of these. A massive wild delay. I can only apologise profusely. I’ve been busy (I know that’s my usual excuse) but there have been deadlines for this, that and the other and plays to see and other jobs to do and meetings to have.

 

I digress.

 

I held another ICA Lab for my two-hander script, “The White Room”. But this time I did things a little differently. I invited an audience and essentially held an ‘open house’ reading for this script. The idea was that anyone who attended could either approach me for the script, or for me as a writer, or for the actors involved. So it was a good event for all of us to prepare for. We had headshot/bio pages for all the actors involved (same as the last time – the brilliant Susan Stanley and Joseph Wilkins with a new addition of Joanne Ferguson reading stage directions). And then after we had the bar hired privately to have drinks in (of which I provided) and generally chat.

 

 

 

And to be honest, I was so busy preparing for the day making sure that people were in the right place and giving people directions, that I didn’t really take it all in until I had to leave my own reading early to go set the drinks up. But I got a great response. I met people that I’d only had email contact with, I invited old collaboration partners and I also invited people who I had never contacted before. But do you know what? It worked. People turned up, it got people talking. It looked professional and smooth and it got my name out there.

 

I’ve got some good leads to follow up from this reading and time will tell if they’ll work out. But it doesn’t really matter. The fact is I decided to organise this the week before the first bank holiday (so essentially ultimate office down time), but it spurred me on AND it got people talking about me and my work. If I can arrange this smack bang BEFORE a double straddling of bank holidays in a room where we still had debris left over from a wedding before, and still have an engaged audience of industry folks… Imagine what I could do if I properly planned it ahead of time. It was hugely beneficial to do it because it made me realise how relatively easy it is to be proactive about these things. I now have made contact with several literary departments who can now put a name to a face and who know my work a bit better, because they’ve seen it on its feet.

 

So the following people came along for the reading, all of which I’m very grateful for:

 

Melissa Dunne (director)
Sarah Brocklehurst (producer)
Abigail Graham (director)
Maja Milatovic-Ovadia (director)
Cass Sigsgaard (producer)
Tess Morris (screenwriter)
Janice Okah (playwright)
Shenagh Govan (actor)
Paul Vates (actor)
Kathleen Martinelli (from Soho Theatre)
Bettina Fleischer (actor)
Matt Denison (support – Casarotto)
Rachel Davies (support)
Mel Cook (director)

 

 

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The White Room – ICA Lab February 3, 2011

I recently had an ICA Lab to work on and develop my script, “The White Room“. I’ve always spoken fondly about the ICA Lab in the past and this time will be no different. It’s a fantastic opportunity to try work out, get it on its feet or at least off the page behind the safety of a closed door. It’s a chance to to explore a project and discuss it with all those involved, from the actors reading the scripts to the outside eye you’ve invited.

 

The piece is an intense and extremely intimate script so having few people in the room to watch heightened this. Susan Stanley and Joseph Wilkins had (incredibly) done a lot of work on the piece before the reading, which I admired. They had met several times to go through the script, read through a few times and act it out with props and build a background to the character’s history. What made this Lab even more worthwhile is that a lot was discovered about the story that I hadn’t addressed fully, but also how to twist the tension up higher to gain more effect from the entire piece. This is something I would not have stumbled upon if it hadn’t of been for the feedback I received from the people I had invited. Having two theatre directors, a playwright and actors in the room all felt extremely useful and what’s more, they had invested their time into watching, reading and talking about it.

 

 

 

 

I always bang on about collaboration, but it is key. Without it we’re running on the spot, and that’s something I’m keen to avoid.

So thank you to Mel Cook, Melissa Dunne, Joanne Ferguson, Janice Okah and of course Susan Stanley and Joseph Wilkins.

 

End Of 2010 For Katie December 22, 2010

Katie’s Breakdown (not mentally, not this year) For 2010 In Writing Terms

Yes, it’s going to be one of those blog entries… I warn you that this will be one long list of lists so I have a record of what I’ve done this year, I tend to forget you see.

 

Plays I’ve Seen

The Priory, Royal Court Theatre

Lieutenant Of Inishmore, Barn Theatre, Welwyn

Early Bird, Finborough Theatre

Space Vixens, Barnet

The Factory Round 2, Electric Showroom

Bluebird, Landor Theatre

Ghosts, Duchess Theatre

The Yellow Wallpaper, Ye Olde Rose and Crown Pub Theatre

Off The Endz, Royal Court

Peter and Vandy, Theatre503

Playing Faustus, OVO

Little Shop Of Horrors, Abbey Theatre, St. Albans

A Day At The Racists, Finborough Theatre

Leopoldville Theatre, Tristan Bates Theatre

Posh, Royal Court Theatre

Whipping It Up, Bridewell Theatre

Mrs Reynolds And The Ruffian, Watford Palace Theatre

Little Gem, Bush Theatre

A Thousand Stars Explode In The Sky, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre

Children Of Darkness, Leicester Square Theatre

Marine Parade, The Old Market, Brighton

OperaShots, Royal Opera House

66a Church Road, New Players Theatre

Sucker Punch, Royal Court Theatre (twice – took the ‘rents the second time)

Volpone, Old Town Hall, St. Albans

Money:Shunt, Bermondsey Street, London

Little Shop Of Horrors, St. Albans Amphitheatre

Spur Of The Moment, Royal Court Theatre

Show Of The Night, Lion & Unicorn Theatre

Traverse Live! Clapham Picturehouse

Ghost Stories, Duke Of York’s

Bunny, Watford Palace Theatre

Wanderlust, Royal Court Theatre

Cut Off, Theatre503

Clynbourne Park, Royal Court Theatre

The Big Fellah, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre

Tribes, Royal Court Theatre

Wicked, Apollo Victoria Theatre

The Fool, Cock Tavern

Red Bud, Royal Court Theatre

Blasted, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre

Kin, Royal Court Theatre

Hungry Ghosts, Orange Tree Theatre

Cut Off, Tristan Bates Theatre

 

Plays I’ve Had Performed

The White Room, Abbey Theatre, St. Albans

Regina V. Cooper, Old Town Hall, St. Albans

Shakesperience, Abbey Theatre, St. Albans

Love-Aged-Trilogy, The Book Club – Interrobang, London

Food For Thought – Cut Off, Tristan Bates Theatre, London

 

Schemes/Programmes/Opportunities

Writing for Radio, Fraser Grace, Menagerie Theatre Company, Cambridge

ICA Lab, for children’s TV series CIRCUS, London

The Fielding Programme, Kilcreggan, Glasgow

Royal Court Invitation Group, Royal Court Theatre, London

 

I also got published! I had my short story, “Providence”, published by Tonto Press in, “Even More Tonto Short Stories” and went along to the book launch up in Newcastle. Thank you to Caroline Smailes and Stuart Wheatman who selected my story as a winning one and went and published it. You made me a very happy giddy girl.

 

I also received my first proper London commission from Box Of Tricks theatre company. They liked my work and then asked me to write something for them which I will forever be eternally grateful for, because somewhere in my heart that makes me feel like a playwright. The first draft is currently sitting on their desk waiting to be read and when I’m further along the line with that particular project I will pester you all in coming to see it.

 

And talking of London I had a small debut with the one off performance of, “Love-Aged-Trilogy” and then I had my proper London debut with the five night run of, “Food For Thought” as part of “Cut Off” (both with fellow thespian conspirator Melissa Dunne). Equally exciting and terrifying they were, but I went and done them and now I can say that I’ve done it. It’s made me better.

 

And I met a whole lot of new Lovely people. I like them all (mostly) and maybe even secretly fancy some of them (Tom ‘Cake’ Hardy – okay, not so secret) but they’ve been a delight and a pleasure to know. There are too many of you to list here, but you’re Lovely so stay Lovely and spread the Lovely.

 

Y’see, I thought last year was extremely busy and pivotal for my career, but it seems this year has trumped that. I’ve gained a lot more understanding of what I want to do which is always handy, especially when I spend a lot of my time waiting to hear back on things. It’s not always been great I can’t deny that. There have been schemes that I’ve been shortlisted for but not obtained, there have been reserve lists for other schemes that I’ve not progressed from, there have been flat out rejections and there have also been angry tirades to particular companies… But all in all I have done a lot this year because I’ve put the hours/days/weeks/months in. And I have to say I’m extremely proud of what I’ve achieved. I can honestly look back at all the work I have produced this year (some scripts haven’t and probably won’t be performed at all) and conclude that I am a little bit closer to doing this properly.

 

So I hope this has been a productive blog for you to read… Who am I kidding, it’s just one big post-it note for me.

 

 

“Only unhappy people are bad dancers…” June 29, 2010

I had a craving to re-watch “9 Songs” and I followed through with it. It’s a love/hate film with me obviously being a part of the former. For me it sums up the decaying relationship, the heartache, the pain and the tedium with all the good bits inbetween of how love manifests itself. Or lust. A heady combination of the two. And let’s be honest here, sex is part of love.

 

 

(Personally I think this trailer is a bit of a hash job, the audio is horribly clipped and heavily cut in places, but you get the idea.)

My other passion is music and, after spending an eternity on my dissertation which was about the use of music as a form of narrative in the moving image, I only wish this had come out earlier. For me it encapsulates the passion and rhythm of sex and music and merges the two. Visceral, raw and honest and painfully frank the fact that they’re having real sex in front of you on a screen is not the point. The point is that you’re parry to their intimacy and it’s not porn it’s a love story. If you get off whilst watching this film you’re wanking to someone’s misery. But hey, whatever floats your boat.

 

There is something that film cannot capture or recreate when it comes to simulating sex on screen. And it’s this (and I too shall be brutally frank). It’s the first groan a woman makes as a man enters her. This noise that erupts slowly from the back of her throat, the signal of things to come. It completely takes over the body and ripples through her limbs, her body parting the way and embracing her lover. Physically and emotionally we’re reduced to sounds, touch – it’s a sensory overload when it comes to making love/fucking/whatever you wish to call it. No amount of fakery can match that. A sound that is heightened by the silence that follows it. A sound that I can imagine makes a man’s cock twitch with delight and drench him with a euphoria so much so that his ears swallow themselves. It’s a sign of pleasure and in that single aural sensation we as the singer of such a note or the inducer can derive the craziest, wildest awareness of our position in a clinch.

 

Which is why “9 Songs” for me is a rare honest portrayal of a relationship and its impact emotionally and physically. Told through the eyes of the male it contrasts the ice landscape of the Antarctic of his profession with that of the scolding furious passion of his home-life. The undulating growth of this relationship over a year is punctuated with the live music they go and see and really hones in to the hedonistic lifestyle the couple indulge in. Told in a vignette style we see the fragmented memories of what’s left to remember of this year long relationship. Intense and unsettling at times we see the pair set out on a path of discovery and push boundaries sexually and the mundane small moments that once we’re in a relationship we can crave and cling to, but to the outsider are meaningless.

 

“Exploring the Antarctic is like exploring space. You enter a void, thousands of miles, with no people, no animals, no plants. You’re isolated in a vast, empty continent. Claustrophobia and agoraphobia in the same place, like two people in a bed”.

 

For me the repetition of small private jokes really are a measure of where the relationship is or is not going (“You look ugly” “I’m trying to look ugly”). They delved into this in “500 Days Of Summer” (the tap sequence in IKEA). And I think it’s an all too familiar wound that I recall from my own experiences – where you know in that isolated incident if a joke lovingly formulated between two lovers, who are the only two people to understand, falls flat or fails to lift you feel shunned and instantly out of place.

 

I think the reason why I appreciate and hold a special place for “9 Songs” is because it strikes too familiar with me in all of its painful glory. That’s not to say my last relationship panned out the same or we had the same problems, but it’s the solemn promise that we offer to another human being that more than often goes tits up. Which is why I always defend this film when it crops up in conversation. The sex is much apart of the narrative as the flitters of dialogue between the couple and the live music. The gradual decline of their relationship is mirrored in their sex life and the intensity of the music reflects their differences.

 

Personally I think the biggest lie you could tell is that of a relationship. Sombre as that sounds it takes a lot to offer yourself up to someone as you are and for someone to accept it as a given. I think this is why I end up writing a lot about relationships and the effects of them. I had a big ol’ conversation today about how insulting it can be for people to assume that all writers projects are direct formulations of their experiences. Don’t get me wrong I do put a lot of myself into my writing but they’re moments, sayings, trivial meanings, observations – they are not my life stories out for all to see and digest. And even if they were I would never highlight that fact unless I wanted to. The point is writers have an imagination and they have the creative ability to flex it. After writing “The White Room” I had people coming up to me saying I had nailed the complexities of a strained marriage and motherhood as well as post-natal depression. This pleased me so because:

 

a) I am not married and have never been.
b) I am not a mother so subsequently…
c) I have not experienced post-natal depression.

 

It goes to show the ultimate ability of a writer is to create lives that people can relate to. I have a perfectly wonderful supportive family, but there’s nothing I like better than writing a family that is the complete opposite. Because it’s a challenge and they exist. I take pride in the fact that I can still hark back to what a relationship is like even though it’s been a while since I’ve had one. I realise I’ve been quite open about a lot of stuff in this post but hey, it all happens and trust me I’m honest which is how I am. Which means I should maybe tie this back to why I like, no love, “9 Songs”… It’s because it forces me to look back to memories I have myself which have formed who I am today. Not 100% depressing I can assure you.

 

Maybe I should have watched Mamma Mia*.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(*I will never watch Mamma Mia.)

 

White Curtain Falls April 20, 2010

So The White Room’s run is over. We’re not sure what’s next, let alone me. I’m tired and emotional for allsorts of reasons to do with production. I felt physically sick for the most of it and nervous when familiar faces turned up. The more I saw it the more I wanted to tweak and edit. The things I were worried about I needn’t have and the things I thought were fine needed work. But this is the game – trial by fire and do it again. I’m so tired so don’t want to dwell on this chapter too much as there’s still life in the project but it’s a waiting game at present. I can’t reveal too much because there’s not anything solid to reveal yet. I’ve already started the inklings of the next idea which wasn’t intended to be the next idea but hey the emails have been sent now. Again, I wait. And Glasgow is next week for The Fielding Programme where I start the initial workload for the next play (the planned one, the reason I’m going.)

 

I’ll leave you with a few odds and sods from The White Room and I probably won’t be around these parts for a while as I prepare mentally and pack a bag for Glasgow. I’m thinking of starting my video blog side of things once I’m there, seeing as I started it up there the first time round….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The White Room April 4, 2010

It’s coming up very soon. So here are the details if you so wish to come and see it. It would be nice to see your face there, I may even stroke it. In all seriousness there’s a Q&A with myself, the director and the two actors involved after the final evening performance on the Sunday.

 

The White Room Poster

 

There’s a Facebook event page as well like most modern things have so if you want you can have a looksy there: (this here is a link to the Facebook event page I just mentioned)

 

But if that doesn’t take you fancy here are the details in a wordy format. Fantastic!

 

Commissioned by Theatrix Theatre Company, Katie McCullough has adapted the short story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’. Radically modernised for a 21st century audience McCullough aims to carry through the horror first depicted by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in the original.

 

SYNOPSIS
With Liam spending more time at work and the pressures of motherhood bearing down on Helen the couple bicker with each other to devastating and revealing results. She thinks he’s having an affair and he can’t seem to inject their life with the warmth he’s so ready to give while battling with money issues. After wading through their fears and differences the couple reconcile only for the past to be dug back up. With newborn Isabel palmed off to the mother-in-law for the night Helen talks about that fateful incident that cruelly took their previous child.

 

CAST
Helen – Suzy Duxbury
Liam – Alex Bell

 

DIRECTOR
Rosemarie Partridge

 

PLAYWRIGHT
Katie McCullough

 

The performances will take place:

* 5pm and 8pm Saturday 17th April
* 5pm and 8pm Sunday 18th April

 

After the last performance on Sunday there will be the opportunity to talk to the cast and crew in an informal Q&A session.

 

40mins (approx), 2 actors, 1 room and in real time.

 

(Limited seating per performance.)

 

 

 

*****TICKET INFORMATION*****

Tickets are £7 (£5 concessions)
Please phone 01727 860217 to book. Or you can email Dennis O’Connell Baker on admin@theatrix.co.uk to reserve your tickets for collection/payment on the door. Please be aware that we are unable to process credit card payments. Cash or cheque only.

 

 

So there we are. It’s all happening and very soon. As I say it would be absolutely Lovely to see you there. Come up and say hallo if you do, I’ll be the one clutching the Gin and Tonic hugging the wall and probably doing this:

ARGH!

 

 

Update from my face and mouth February 15, 2010

And here are some photographs of The White Room for some more proof that it’s progressing. Not that you’re going to hurt me if I don’t… right?

 

 

 

 

I didn’t realise that because I’m attempting to whip “I Still Get Excited When I See A Ladybird” into shape I’ve temporarily dropped the 8th monologue BUT I didn’t give you a visual update of JUDITH who was the last one to be written. Bad me, slapped wrist and botticle.

And for good measure I shall include a very fuzzy photograph of my rejection letter from the Arvon/Jerwood Mentoring Scheme which I didn’t get. But I was shortlisted to the final ten which is something to brag about I suppose. Ho hum, on to the next thing…