I/Mmature student 7. Bowie and Brecht.

So far today has been a lovely day, which is a relief as it’s the one I was most nervous about as we’re looking at movement, voice and getting down to techniques that I know nothing about. But the groups have been lovely and I find my self now getting quite excited about Bertolt Brecht…now you know where this is going.

So yes my main connection to Brecht is via David Bowie who studied him and was a fan. It wasn’t’ until we sat down as a group and I started to find out more about him from the other students who have studied him that I began to realise how much Brecht has influenced what Bowie did. From isolation, alienation and the “othering” of people it’s all through his stuff.

I maybe chose a bit of a fluffy example of this in the song Space Oddity when mentioning this as I was challenged by a classmate who brought up Marx and other political notions to say that wasn’t quite it. But I argue back it’s definitely in there. If I was to name Bowies most Brechtian LP I’d go for Lodger or Scary Monsters. which in themselves both sound like titles he may have given to his plays.

Anyhoo I’m now paired up with said challenger and we’ve to investigate Vsevolod Meyerhold who neither of us know for a dwell period. Cool

Scene from a play. (I/Mmature student 4.)

I imagine I’ll regret posting early stabs at stuff up here as things go on. Bugger it. We’ve been asked to write our first wee scene. We were given this start… 

A man enters and finds a letter. He opens the letter, reads it and tears it into little pieces, then leaves.

And then to develop some physical action to follow this and then to produce a scene. I admit this is a bit hack and obvious but hey it’s also about having fun. Any resemblance to real life characters is purely coincidental. Oh and one other thing if you want to see me live I’m hosting Stand Up for Corbyn at The Tyne Theatre Newcastle tonight.

THE CLEANER.

Scene  1.

A man enters and finds a letter. He opens the letter, reads it and tears it into little pieces, then leaves.

A woman then enters. She is cleaning. On the wall are two paintings, one of Winston Churchill and one of Margaret Thatcher. She dusts the Churchill then blows a raspberry and makes a rude gesture towards the Thatcher leaving it uncleaned. She then finds the letter and starts to piece it back together.

Mrs Ribble.  Ee…Someone’s not popular. There must be about two thirds of that shower asking for his resignation. Shower o’ shite the lot of em.

The man re-enters. He finds the cleaner with the letter.

Mr Radisson.   Err…hello. Are you the new cleaner? You really shouldn’t be reading that you know.

Mrs Ribble.     Divin’t worry pet. Your secret’s safe with me. Ah haven’t got that git from the papers lodging in me spare room to cover that friggin’ tax o’ theirs.

Mr Radisson.   You mean Rupert Murdoch?

Mrs Ribble.     No the one that does the gossip column. Piers…something…Anyway he’s gone right doon in my estimation since he was hacking all them phones. How dare they, and Hugh Grant was such a gentleman aboot it all.

Mr Radisson.   Yes but I really must stress the severity of this. If one word gets out…err…Mrs, Ms?

Mrs Ribble.     Ribble. Like rabble but with an ibble as opposed to an abble.

Mr Radisson.   Well Mrs Ribble I really can’t emphasise enough how what you’ve read mustn’t be spoken of outside this room. I have to prepare a statement in response. You do realise this is what we call a political coup? There’s every bit of a chance I might not even be in this office this time next week.

Mrs Ribble.   It must be hard…

Mr Radisson. It was expected. You see I’m trying to take the party back to…

Mrs Ribble.     No I mean on your feelings. It must be hard on your feelings. There’s a lot of people on that list I’m sure you regarded as friends and yet here they are putting the knife in. That must be hard. I reckon a lot of folks don’t really see you as a real person. Just another face off telly. To tell you the truth Mr Radisson I’ve never really been interested in the world of politics but that was because the world of politics was never really interested in me. But then you arrived and I thought you had some nice ideas. I’d like cheaper trains. I have to get the train here every day and it costs a bloody fortune. It’s no wonder they’re called Virgin ‘cos no bugger wants to ride on them. (LAUGHS)

Mr Radisson. (LAUGHS) Oh that really is quite good…

Mrs Ribble.   Ee maybes you could use it at the next Prime Ministers question time.

Mr Radisson. Well… perhaps not. Look, Mrs Ribble that really was the kindest thing I’ve had said to me in months.  I am a person and yes this betrayal is causing all sorts of pains. These ideas of mine aren’t new, if anything they’re quite old fashioned. They’re what this party is supposed to stand for. However much a brave face I put on this I really am not sure this is a fight I can win. Too many of own party have a lot to lose.

Mrs Ribble.     Well I for one hope you take them on and fight this oot. And there’s a lot of folk feel like me aboot you. You’re a proper fresh breath ye are. If it helps there’s a saying we have in my family, I don’t know if it’s become popular, but we say it a lot. It goes, Divin’t let cunts put ye in a mincer.

Mr Radisson.   Err…I think that might be, don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Mrs Ribble.     Trust me pet. I know what I mean. My husband came up with it after he saw that film Frago.  Anyhoo I best get on. I’ve got a pile of overtime on since we did a Brexit. Most of the other cleaners have buggered off back to where they come from. And who can blame them! (LAUGHS)

Mrs Ribble exits leaving Mr Radisson in contemplation.

I/Mmature Student 3. More Macbeth. More fellow writers.

Did you know that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth as his response to the Gunpowder plot? I did actually know this myself but it had gone to the recess of my mind until I started reading it  again the other day. The version I’m reading is the Arden publication that comes with helpful notes for those, like me, not well verses in The Bard.  Shakespeare was obviously loyal to the Royal Court and with good reason if James 1st had detected any obvious sedition in his work he would have chopped his head off. Which you have to admit is probably a bit worse than a one star review. For a more modern example of a similar situation see Mel and Sue’s loyalty to the Court of the BBC when choosing not to flee to  Channel 4 with The Bake Off. Trust me I’ve met some BBC producers and if they thought they could get away with the odd beheading the gates to their studios would now currently be decorated with the heads of the former hosts of Top Gear. On a personal note I could not give but one fuck as to what Channel people want to watch people bake on. I’m of the school of thought that reality TV is just another nail in the coffin of  quality TV Drama. Although I have often thought we could improve The Jeremy Kyle show by getting rid of the lie detector test and just make the opposing factions fight some crocodiles.

So last week I got to meet the rest of Northumbria’s second and third year writers. Some of them knew me already due to trips to the local comedy club. The seem a lovely bunch. I was asked in a group bonding session what I looked forward to most in the coming years and replied collaborating with others. Stand up is a lonely job and having worked in a sketch show and produced my own panel show I’m fully aware of the good results you can get in a gang. The more experienced students offered good advice about joining the writing and drama society as this way we can get time to know the actors better and form some bonds. Apparently at times the actors can worry the writers think ourselves a wee bit above them. How silly, we don’t think ourselves better than them at times. We know we’re better than them all the time. This reminded me of the opening credits of the meta superhero movie Dead Pool. When the credits got to the point “Written By.” It quite knowingly said, “The real heroes of this story.” (I’ll add a knowing wink here as I am partially joking. 😉 Actually I’m fully joking. I’ve admired “The Shit” actors can do for decades. They have abilities way beyond my own. Just look at how long Tom Cruise has managed to convince us he’s straight.

I’m off to see two plays next week. This is more plays than I’ve seen this year and I’m quite excited to be immersing myself in a strand of the arts I’m not familiar with. I’ll report more on that once having seen them.

So I think that’s me for the day. It’s sunny so I’m off out for a walk. On return I’ve a list of stuff needs doing, so we’ll get onto that. Have a nice Sunday all.

 

 

A very, very short play.

I’ve been delighted to be accepted to do a script writing degree at University. As part of my application I had to write a two minute piece of script around the title “Where were you last night?” This is what I came up with.

WHERE WERE YOU LAST NIGHT?

We see an elderly woman Jean sat alone. In the background we hear the noise of a front door opening.

 

JEAN: Is that you Robert?

BRIAN. No Jean it’s me Brian.

JEAN. Brian? Should you not be at your work son?

We hear Brian talking loudly from another room.

BRIAN. Not today. Today’s the day I take you to the pensioners dance.

JEAN. You’re talking me to the dance? But you should be at your work. It’s your father’s job to take me to the dance.

BRIAN. You’ll see him at the dance. He said yesterday he’d get you there. Do you not remember?

JEAN. No son. You know I forget things. I’m just at that age. I’ve not seen your father all day. He’s probably down the bookies. He can spend hours in there deciding on a two pound flutter. I’ll give him what for when I see him at the dance.

BRIAN. I’m sure you will. Would you like a quick cuppa before we head.

JEAN. I’ll come through and make it.

BRIAN. No you sit where you are. I’ll bring it through.

JEAN. Have you seen your father today?

BRIAN Aye I’ve seen him. Just give me a minute and I’ll explain.

JEAN (To herself) Imagine leaving your son to take his mother to a pensioners dance. What an affront. I never know where that bugger is from one day to the next. Bookies and the pub, that’s all that matters to him. I’m not even sure if he came home last night. And at his age…

Brian an elderly man enters carrying a tea tray.

BRIAN. Here you are pet.

JEAN. Who are you?

BRIAN. It’s me pet, your husband Brian.

JEAN. But…but…Brain’s my son. Robert’s my husband.

BRIAN. No pet. It’s the other way around. You get that mixed a bit at the moment. Don’t worry about it; it’s just part of the condition. Things start to come back to you when you see my face. But when I leave the room…I’m sorry I should have come in right away.

JEAN. (Touching Brian’s face and looking directly into his eyes. Beginning to realise. Becoming tearful) Oh…Oh no…Oh I remember now. This is terrible. What must you think of me? What must you think when I don’t even know my own husband. What’s to become of us Brian? This is going to get worse. I’ve got early onset dementia but I’m not stupid. I know where this ends.

BRIAN (Kneeling before her) I’ll be here my love. I’ll always be right here.

JEAN. And who’s going to look after you when I no longer know who you are. This is as bad for you as anybody. How will you cope with that?

BRIAN. I’ll cope just fine pet. That’s just what life has set out for us. Even when you’re confused I’ll know that you’re there.

JEAN. I know…I know. But where were you last night?

BRIAN. I was here pet. I’m always here. Right, do you fancy getting down to the dance. Condition or not we can still cut up the floor better than the rest.

JEAN. Yes. I would enjoy that. (Laughs gently)You’re right. We’ll always be great dancers. One day I’ll be thinking I’m the belle of the ball. So many great dancers will be getting me up on the floor…but all the time it will be you.