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.

FUTURESPARK with @how_it_ended June 16, 2013

I first encountered the theatre company How It Ended Productions on Twitter a few years ago. They were on the lips of many that I’d talked to, and I was intrigued by the work they put out. I even pledged some cash in their WeFund campaign to help them get to Edinburgh. I was all for helping out a theatre company, especially when they were so close to home (they’re based in Luton). I was excited to see their work and looking forward to meeting them. Then I got busy. Which meant that I didn’t get to see their work or meet them.

 

Skip forward a fews years and now they’ve mounting a short play of mine alongside others in their event called FUTURESPARK this July. So I will get to see their work, I will get to meet them and I’m obviously working with them. This pleases me so. My short play DROPPING SEQUINS will be directed by Madelaine Smith who I kind of know already from Twitter firstly, then through a mutual actor friend, and then because I invited her to a reading of one of my other plays to give feedback based on our previous interaction. There you go folks, as they sing in Bugsy Malone, “You give a little love and it all comes back to you (na, na, na, na-na-na-naaaaaaa)“.

 

So we’re casting this week and it’s quite a rhythmical piece, not intentional but it just came out that way. There’s dancing, some spoken word elements… It’s going to be fun. The springboard stimulus was the word ‘Carnival’. I ended up writing about two girls who are best friends getting ready to dance in the carnival – but they’re also planning something else untoward and the Carnival is the perfect cover. But aside from that, I should probably tell you the date, time, place .etc.

 
FUTURESPARK
 
 

11th July – 8:00pm

12th July – 11:00am

 

****CORRECTION****

The second performance is FREE and is for ANYONE! (But if you are a school and would like to arrange a group booking contact futurespark@howitended.co.uk) Both performances will be at the UK Centre For Carnival Arts (UKCCA) and you can buy tickets HERE!

It’s looking to be a treat with 8 short plays, live music and other happenings. I will obviously be in attendance, and if you can get your fine self there too it would be grand. As much as it’s nice getting work on at all, it’s especially nice getting it on so close to home. Come!

 

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LONDON PRIDE is imminent! April 25, 2013

Crikey mikey pudding and pie!

 

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LONDON PRIDE is impending, like a loveable rogue over that yonder hill. I’ve stopped by quickly to tell you a few things… 

  1.  You can buy tickets here – clicky clicky, buysy buysy
  2.  

  3.  On Sunday 5th May from 4-6pm there will be a New Writing Surgery where both of us, myself and MJ Starling (author of Audience With Ghostfinder), will be present to help or just chat about your work. More info can be found here – click for WAFF info
  4.  

  5.  There’s a post show Q&A with both of us too on the 9th May
  6.  

  7.  I’m quite excited about everything.
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See you there!

 

LONDON PRIDE is cast… AND ON SALE! March 16, 2013

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Yup, it’s all auditioned out and we have our stellar cast. It was great sitting in on the auditions and meeting some of the talent out there. And as always you want to use everyone and have an interchangeable cast because you don’t want to send anyone away… But we whittled it down to a cast that I’m very excited to be working with. The most thrilling aspect of auditions for me, is when it’s the character talking in front of you and not the actor. They make me forget what I’ve written and make it seem like I’m snatching snippets of other people’s conversation. Definitely.
 
So without further ado, here be the cast:
 

Fiona Skinner

Fiona Skinner as SHELLY

Tom Slatter

Tom Slatter as PAVEL

Martin Berhman

Martin Berhman as JOE


 

Details of where and when and how much (including the rest of the programme for the Wandsworth Arts Festival & Fringe) can be found here: clicky linky (we’re on page 15, just so you know)
 
Tickets can be grabbed here: clicky-clicky-booky-booky
 
See you there? Mine’s a pint of gin.

 

LONDON PRIDE – fancy a pint? February 17, 2013

I’ve got a play on soon… The lovely people who are Blackshaw Theatre Company are to produce LONDON PRIDE this coming May as part of the Wandsworth Arts Festival and Fringe. I’m thrilled that the play will get a proper production (it received a reading at RADA back in 2011) and also overjoyed that it’s to be paired as a double bill with writer M.J. Starling. LONDON PRIDE and Audience With Ghost Finder will be performed at The Selkirk Upstairs in Tooting. I’m also really really chuffed that it’s in a pub as that’s where my play is set.
 
 

London Pride

 
 

They’re also casting for both plays so if you’re of the Acting variety then have a ganders at the breakdowns and get applying. And there are also some Designer/Crew opportunities too. More details: here

 
And here’s a bit more info about the two plays…
 
 
LONDON PRIDE by Katie McCullough

In Shelly’s rundown pub dreams are revived, hope falters and someone’s looking for a fight.
 
A new arrival sends ripples through Shelly’s humdrum life and riles Joe, a regular determined to defend his territory.
 
 
 
Audience with the Ghost Finder by M. J. Starling

1912. To lift a cruel curse, ab-natural investigator Carnacki must tread the border between enlightenment and madness.
 
Sherlock Holmes meets Ghostbusters in this original tale of William Hope Hodgson’s classic character, Carnacki the ghost finder.
 
 
 
So times and dates are as follows:
 
May 8th, 9th, 10th, 15th and 17th all kicking off at 7:30pm
 
Tickets are £10 and that gets you in to see BOTH plays – what a bargain! Tickets will be available soon so keep an eye on the Blackshaw Twitter or Facebook or their website. Niceness.

 

 

Interview With A Playwright (Part Two) December 7, 2012

Regular readers (if there are such a thing) of this blog will remember that I was interviewed by a lovely French lady called Vanessa Jaunet back in August. The first part can be read here: Interview With A Playwright (Part One)
 
Maybe because it’s the translation of the French to English, but I find Vanessa’s questions really pure and quite probing. Their simplistic nature catches me off guard, like when you think you know how to get to somewhere but then as you start off your map unravels…
 
Vanessa has kindly said I could post the second part of the interview up here.
 
Do you believe that the main character of a story is always connected with the writer’s personality?

Good question. My response is that I rarely put all of my personality into my characters as that can be extremely painful (or at least odd) to hear aloud or see. What I will say is that I thread in elements of my being more than I realise, but I don’t do it purposefully. At a post show Q&A for my play, “I Still Get Excited When I See A Ladybird” I was asked if there were any bits of me in it. And there were – fragments of my life or my thoughts or those close to me. But I’d never flag them up as to what they are because that’s not what a play should be about. It should be about what it reflects onto the audience and what they take away from it. I think the main purpose of writing is to excavate ourselves as humans – we’re unfurling an idea of how we’re trying to understand the world. So to a point you do write with a connection, but it could possibly be the disconnection of yourself to those around you and we’re seeing the exploration.
 
 
And do you think we write to speak about something hidden inside us as a therapy?

I think I personally write to understand myself a bit more, to understand myself as a human and the effect we can have on each other. Other playwrights will disagree, but I don’t think you can rely on writing as a therapy. Even if you were to write nonsense you’re still confining yourself to sentences, punctuation, grammar and the urge for a structure. I do, however, feel that you unlock different caveats of innermost thoughts when you write… But it could be that you never use them but the journey was there to inform your writing.
 
 
What do you find more fulfilling writing plays or seeing your plays on stage?

Writing plays is a long stint of anything I do and seeing them on stage is the goal obviously. But that doesn’t always happen so you become mother to these piles of pages that you desperately want to morph into real movements on a stage… So I’d say, for me, it’s a strange concoction of the two. I realise the ultimate goal of any script is seeing it on its feet on a stage in front of an audience… But there’s also a perverse notion of whittling down your idea in your head on to the page and the motion you take as a writer to do so.
 
 
What do you feel when an actor acts your words?

My brain is always looking to work on the next project so as soon as I’ve finished one script, I’m on to another. What this means is that I more than often don’t remember what I’ve written. Actors could fluff whole paragraphs of text and I may get the notion that they’re saying it wrong, but I wouldn’t be able to tell them what is correct. It is an alien sensation to watch something that you have pinned to the page, as a two-dimensional act of printing words on paper, suddenly unfurl into real living human beings. I feel extremely grateful whenever I’m in that position because the theatre industry is a busy one, and when you get the opportunity to truly see your work come alive, you realise why you still do it. No matter how many times it happens, the first time I watch a piece of my work with an audience my heart sits at the back of my throat and beats loudly, my ears feel like they’re breathing. You’re an unidentified speck in among a crowd and no one knows you’re the one responsible. You try and not make any sudden movements, breathe too loudly to not draw attention to yourself. But at the same time you’re trying to read your audience – are they focused on the action? Are they laughing? Are they crying? You find yourself trying to decipher different types of silences. Your body becomes this sensor and overrides your ability to sit and receive it like the rest of an audience. That’s what it feels like to me and I crave all of that.
 

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Zimmy Ryan in ‘mph’ at Battersea Arts Centre


 
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Josh Darcy and Geraldine Alexander in ’18+’ at The Miniaturists


 
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Dan Abelson reading ‘The Thump You Feel When You Fall’ for Soup To Nuts Theatre Company


 

If you could choose any actor for your plays who would you choose?

I’ve always wanted to work with Eddie Marsan. I think he’s got such an intricate way of expressing his character, his face especially. He’s a really physical actor I think. I’ve seen him play fragile and also gut-wrenchingly disgusting and his range is superb. I’d be very happy if I got to work with him, I’d be ecstatic!
 
Peter Capaldi is another actor who I have huge respect for because of his range, his eyes are so expressive. Alfred Molina is someone who I would openly beg to be in one of my plays, his voice is brilliant. Philip Seymour Hoffman is another actor that I would do anything to get to work with. I’m being cheeky here and listing more than one!
 
Female wise I’d really like to collaborate with Laura Linney, I adored her in The Savages (a film I wish I had written, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays her brother) and she is phenomenal in You Can Count On Me (also a phenomenal film). I’d jump at the chance to write specifically for Julia Davis, she inspires me with her approach to writing when she merges the dark with the tragicomedy of life. Tilda Swinton, now there’s a lady I would sell what little I have to put on a stage with my words, she’s powerful. And who wouldn’t want to work with Olivia Colman? She is superb.
 
 
Would you been interested to write a movie? Or even to direct one of your plays on big screen or TV?

I initially trained in writing for film and television at Bournemouth University and would love the opportunity to write for the screen. I’ve dabbled with short films as they’re cheaper to do and more flexible, but I haven’t put my heart and soul into anything larger as my heart is truly in theatre. If someone where to give me the opportunity though I would definitely jump on it. As for directing, I have done some in my time but I would never take on that role right now. Not whilst I’m still trying to make a name for myself with my writing. There are plenty of other people who do that job well and sometimes having a fresh set of eyes on a piece can raise it higher than you realised.
 
 
Have you ever considered writing a book using photographs you have taken because I understand you are a keen photographer?

When I write I’m always thinking of the visual impact on an audience, what they will see and always aim for striking images. So I suppose I’m very visually led and I often get distracted by colours or naturally framed objects when I’m travelling around. I’m a very spontaneous photographer. If I tried to go back to using proper cameras and plan things I wouldn’t get what I’m after. I use my iPhone and nothing more. It’s handy because I always have it and I can take pictures of people without them realising too. And if I’m honest I take photographs for my own pleasure, things that catch my eye, and then share them online (Facebook/Twitter) if they’re interesting or representative of where I am. People seem to enjoy them, but they’re just moments that I’ve seen and tried to capture. A bit like holiday photographs really, for some people it’s interesting and for others it’s boring.
 
I like taking photographs when I’m out and about. I live in a rural village so there’s lots of natural beauty, but I would never call myself a photographer as such. When I was at school I studied it as an A Level topic and the frivolous nature of it all appealed to me. I could wander with a camera and just see what stories unfurled before me. Occasionally I’ll look at a situation that’s going on around me and I’ll reference photographers in my head, “oh that’s very Martin Parr” or “that reminds me of Bresson”. Aside from that I’ve forgotten all knowledge of the darkroom, the chemicals, the lenses. It’s sad really, I’ve forgotten a lot of the things that I used to do when I was younger. I miss painting but my attempts now would seem idiotic, painfully naive. I also miss dance, that too would be a horror to see me do.
 
 
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If you could be collaborated with another playwright who would you choose?

Good question! I have a feeling that it fluctuates every time I see or read something. But I’ve always wanted to melt my brain with Martin Crimp’s and see what came out. I’m pretty sure I could write a raucous collaboration with Simon Stephens too. 

 

London Threeway For New Work (@uglysisterprod & #SP4TT2012) November 1, 2012

 

 
I’ve got a short piece on as part of Ugly Sister‘s The Story Project 4 which means I’ll have my work performed as part of their curated line-up at three different venues on three different nights. It’s my first time working with this theatre company and they seem like Lovely lassies which is always a bonus.
 

Dates and places are as follows:
 
Sunday 18th November – The Arcola 

Monday 19th November – Theatre503 

Sunday 25th November – Southwark Playhouse

 
I’m extremely thrilled that I’m going to have some work performed at the Southwark Playhouse because out of the three, I’ve yet to be performed there. The brief was nice and open taking the title, ‘Tears, Terror and TwentyTwelve’ and a ten minute mark with basic props/set. As I’ve mentioned before I like having restrictions and this was a great task.
 
I’m chuffed with how my idea, ‘Lifetime Subscription‘ came together. I’ve written for two female voices which, for me, is a rarity but is fast becoming a good habit. The conceit is bold and quite expressive of how I feel as a person reacting to our current climate regarding tragic events reported in the media and the collective response. I’d like to think it holds a mirror up to a lot of folks and makes them think about their human response and the emotive responsibility we have to each other. It’s dark. And I enjoyed writing it. I don’t want to give too much away because it hinges on you being there in the moment. As far as I’m aware it’s the last thing I’ll have on this year that’s been asked of me so do come along to support all us writers and the company and if you want to buy me a gin you’re more than welcome. But do come up and say hallo because it’s nice when humans do that to each other. 

 

Assurance From Something Completely Different October 20, 2012

I’ve become addicted to watching Andre Rieu concerts. I’d never heard of him until a rare moment of absent-minded television watching a few months back. I rarely watch television and when I do I try to watch something that will broaden my education. By that I mean I don’t watch reality television or soaps. I like to think that everything I imbibe is part of a bigger picture, not a moment for my brain to press pause and reduce in size.
 
I used to play violin in an orchestra when I was younger and I miss it. I wouldn’t call myself a classical buff with knowledge of composers and periods, but I have memories of playing particular pieces and I listen to the composers I know and like. I stumbled across a classical concert on television and from the first few moments I was hooked and I’ve worked out why.
 
Andre Rieu’s main aim for each performance is “for people to have an unforgettable night”. He talks to his audience, he tells stories and more importantly he entertains. He plays as well as conducts and stands up for the entire two hour (plus) concerts. He and his orchestra completely embody the theatricality of performance and I think that’s why I feel so anchored in when I watch them. He’s renowned for opening up classical music and making it accessible to a wide audience and not just classical fans. There are small moments of rehearsed frivolity threaded through the performance and although you know they are planted they remain fun and fresh and just underline how much these musicians enjoy their job. From the outset it may look like another stuffy classical concert and I understand the garish ballroom-esque dresses do promote that. But the entire production is a grand celebration of the spirit of music and the impact it can have. It strips classical music of it’s uptight nature and welcomes the audience to revel in it’s new laid-back costume.
 
I’ve watched a few of his televised concerts and each one brings with it the wonder and spectacle of the audience. I wax lyrical about how envious I am of the gathered crowds that attend these concerts. They are from all walks of life and all ages too. They dance in their couples when a waltz strikes up, they clap along en masse when enjoying themselves and they sing along in their droves when the mood takes them. And they’re captivated. They cry when the music proves too much, they hug each other when a traditional song from their country is played. The sight of seeing 8,000 people link arms and sway for Auld Lang Syne is pure magic especially after he invites the European Pipe Band to stand among the audience:

 


 

They are there to be entertained and they do not go away empty handed or less of heart. And even better is he commends each and every one of his performers, he insists they take several bows so the people can applaud their hardwork. He even drags out the stagehands to do the same at one point. He is a performer who knows the hardwork that goes into a performance and celebrates it by exposing what goes on behind the scenes.
 
[Admittedly some of the flourishes in the production are very traditional (the elaborate wide shots, the choice of some modern songs .etc.) but even a layman can see the awe-inspiring quality to it all. The very fact it’s filmed with several cameras is rare for a classical concert to begin with.]
 
The concert he did in his home town in Maastricht Square is a joy to watch as it documents the passing of time with the night sky unfurling as the concerts goes on (his Berlin concert is in an amphitheatre but the intimacy of the Square seems more potent). He always provides a plethora of special guests and you can see the pride he has of performing in his own homeland. He’s a relaxed performer and a charmer to listen to, a true showman leading his motley crew to entertain everyone within listening distance. He quips in this concert that he asked the surrounding bars and cafes to shut whilst the concert was on, to which they said no. Instead they stopped serving altogether but lined up tables with buckets of wine and champagne for those who didn’t get tickets to sit and listen to the concert.
 

 
The reason why I admire what Andre Rieu sets out to do, is he unites a collected audience of all social classes, ages, creed and treats them as one person to move, to entertain, to reach out and touch. And he succeeds. I write theatre to do exactly the same, to promote that it’s not just for a particular select few or other theatre-makers. I do it because I have stories to tell that are from different perspectives and I want to represent them in all that I do. Whether or not you think you don’t like classical music (or theatre for that matter) you cannot deny that these people are fantastic at what they do and the charm they exude on their audience is moving. It’s a selfless act that has rippling repercussions and it’s a reminder, at a time when I’m constantly in doubt, of why I do what I do.
 
(I can’t find a full version of one of his concerts subtitled – the Dutch man talks fluent English, French, German, Italian and Spanish – but enjoy nonetheless, especially the threat of an impending storm as lightning fills the sky ominously beginning at 11:57 on the video below…)
 

 
Also – if anyone would like to buy me a ticket to see him in December in London I would be eternally grateful and probably weep with joy. I’d like to say this is one of my usual quips, but I really do mean it.