Thursday, 31 December 2009

End of an era?

End of a year and a decade. Doesn't seem all that long since we were knee-deep in Millenium hype and very sick of the Robbie Williams song. If we'd have known then ... 9/11, the fantasy WMD, war, global warming, the credit crunch, who killed Archie Mitchell (oh, sorry, we don't know that one yet).

For me, a lot of things I'd hoped for haven't happened, but some I never even dreamt of have. I suppose Shakespeare should have the last word, as he summed it up in 'Hamlet' - 'There are more things in heaven and earth...'

Happy New Year!

Monday, 28 December 2009

New Year

Here's to a happy one...

Christmas was fine, but a bit too much a writing-free zone. Having cleared through my clothes and tidied the bedroom over the weekend, I am now about to tackle the paper Versuvius commmonly referred to as 'my study', in hope of getting it into order and identifying what I should be getting on with first.

Think Edinburgh venue sorted for week 2 (16-21st Aug 2010, 4-5pm). Just need an audience to turn up, so 'please come' may be my theme for next year.

So, in the immortal words of the annoying man in 'The Poseidon Adventure' who I think was thankfully drowned, 'Hap-py New Year!'

Monday, 21 December 2009

Winter Solstice

It's today - unless you're in the southern hemisphere, when it's summer solstice and lucky you.
Not blogged recently due to sore throat-type bug, frantic busy with work etc, plus doing less writing-wise. Re Fringe, near to sorting out venue and now looking for a good director to work with Irene and develop the play further.
My play-writing course at York Uni from Mon 25th has enough students signed up now to run for definite, though still about 3 places left, if anyone knows of anyone interested (see earlier blog or my website for details).
Snow here of course - quite a lot. Here's dreaming of a white Christmas...
and a happy one to anyone reading this!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Edinburgh Fringe 2010

Am hoping to take a show up, so looking into venues etc. Having done this twice before, I know what hard work I'm letting myself in for - but lots of fun also. Ah well, here goes!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Dashing through the snow?

Well, no snow yet but plenty of dashing. Pre-Christmas hussle-bussle, and not much time for writing.
Apparently several students have enrolled for my play-writing course so it will run. Hope a few more join them as well. Am looking forward to it, especially now it will be working towards rehearsed readings of work to come out of it.
Went to a journalist-friend's party yesterday, where Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper put in brief appearances.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Script Yorkshire BUDS showcase, WYP

Went to this event yesterday afternoon. Script Yorkshire is a dramatists' group I've been involved with for years (including in its earlier incarnation as Yorkshire Playwrights) and which is undergoing some change, having lost arts funding (sound familiar just now?).

Each branch (Bradford, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and York) showcased short pieces by their members. Most were script-in-hand only but still very well acted and professionally presented. The two actors in mine ('Adjournment'), Cecily Boys and Matt Harris, did me proud, as did director, Mark Smith (whom I know via York Theatre Royal and whom am hoping to work with again on taking 'Malteser Falcon' to Edinburgh next year, the talented Irene Lofthouse to reprise the role again). However, thankfully 'Adjournment' is still work-in-progress writing-wise and I could see it needed more work. It's to form a scene in 'Doublecross', which I'm writing with Mick Yates for another ActONE production in Leeds next autumn.

The two pieces from Hull branch were particularly good and the actors were books down, so it was a really enjoyable performance, with the comedy making us laugh whilst taking in serious points, especially Dave Windnass's 'Thanks for Coming', a skilfull skit on management-speak - very bottom line and blue sky, thank you.

Afterwards we 'adjourned' to the Wardrobe and alcholic Narnia. Three of us from York branch actually managed to fit a curry in over the road at 'Ahkbar's' (Kashmir restaurant), so could walk in a fairly straight line by the end of it!

Friday, 4 December 2009

'Writing and Creating Drama' course York Uni Jan '10

I said I'd put up details of this course I'm tutoring in the new year. See below and please mention to anyone who might be interested:

"Writing and Creating Drama", University of York, Heslington, 6 Monday evenings from 25 Jan 2010 7-9pm (£36/concessions). To enrol, call the Centre for Lifelong Learning 01904 328473 or email Hannah Lyus on

The course will be held at Alcuin College on York University's main Heslington Campus and will teach how to put a play together, whilst having fun doing so. It will cover structure and drama-writing techniques, exploring forms like monologue and duologue, with guidance given on completing a full-length play. Focus will be on stage (looking at work by such as Alan Bennett and outlets like Edinburgh Fringe) but it will also reference radio and TV. It is suitable for beginners or those wishing to consolidate existing experience. To round off the course, it is hoped to arrange staged script-in-hand performances of work by those students who wish it, by actors from York Settlement Players before a live audience.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Poetry, Matt Harvey at 'Seven' last night

I've been a regular at 'Wicked Words' at Seven Arts Centre in Chapel Allerton, Leeds since it opened (and before even, when it was at 'The Police Station' - no, not literally - and before that at Host Media Centre, Chapeltown, and way back at 'Casbah')

'Seven' has a welcoming and lively atmosphere,and 'Wicked Words' open mic has that rare quality of being more about encouragement than showing-off. Last night I read two new poems, one inspired by Mumbai, the other 'A Bit of a Goose' seasonal fun.

The guest poet was Radio 4's 'Saturday Live' Matt Harvey, also ex-Guardian Desktop Poetry columnist - billed as 'poet, columnist, enemy of all that’s difficult and upsetting'.

It was good also to meet Julian Jordan of 'WriteOutLoud' website fame (which is an excellent site much appreciated by poets who use it) and hear some of his poetry. He also offered to publicise the play-writing course I'll be tutoring at University of York in the new year - so good on yer, Julian. (I'll blog on details of that later.)

It was all very cheering on a misty, rainy November night.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Correction to link

My report on 8th International Women Playwrights Conference held in Mumbai recently is on my website. Go to , Drama section 3rd para, reference to the conference, 'click', the report should load.
(Sorry, the link I gave earlier had problems)

Mumbai Playwrights' Conference

My report on attending 8th International Women Playwrights Conference in Mumbai in Nov is now on my website and can be read there if interested -

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Antipodean Dreams

An opportunity has come up through work to apply for funding to go on a brief trip to New Zealand, so I'm having a go and asking everyone to keep fingers crossed for me.
It's several years since I went there and made my pilgrimage to Katherine Mansfield's house in Wellington. It's even longer since I fell in love with her short stories and wrote my dissertation on her.
Sometimes I wonder if that's why I'm not so keen on writing short stories - I could never reach that level. She seemed to know not to try cram in too much (though in her own short life, she crammed in a great deal and lived most of it to the full).

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Manchester Direction

Yesterday I crossed the Yorkshire border. There was snow on the Pennines. Except when it comes to cricket, I always consider myself a bit of an honary Mancunian, having been a student there. There's a pride about Manchester, and why not?

I was attending a directing workshop at Contact Theatre by Mark Rosenblatt and Orla O'Loughlin, both young JMK award talents, who've worked at good theatres. I went along more to inform my writing, which it did. It also made me realise how hard and unglamourous it can be to work as an actor or director. We spent several hours in a black box studio theatre with no daylight. I think I'd get SAD having to do that too often. As Irene, whom I'm working with at the moment said, 'Welcome to the real world of acting'.

Met some interesting people, such as Szilvi Naray-Davey (who's in 'Fencing for Losers' at the Lowry 29th-31st Jan, if anyone's over that way).

Came back and my lovely daughter was home (well, she was really out on the town most of the night, but popped by to eat). Lots of rain today. To be honest, I love rain, but it comes back to too much of a good thing, especially if you're in York a lot (always flooding) - or poor Cumbria just now.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Thurs 26th Nov

Yesterday was a fairly good day - though busy. Had productive meeting with Students' Union (they didn't boo or pelt me with anything), plus went to the ALCS (Authors Licensing and Collecting Society) AGM, which for the first time in its 30 year life, met outside London. Did it get a culture shock? Well, it was in the Merchant Adventurers Hall, a medieval guildhall in York, very old, distinguished and atmospheric (if not all that adventurous). We were treated to an inspiring address by Joanne Harris - she of the 'Chocolat' fame.
Then I went to a college event, where a very interesting talk was given on Sidney Smith, the Georgian wit most famed for fantasising that heaven was eating pate de foix gras whilst trumpets played, or something along those lines. I think the trumpets could be hell though, and you can always have too much of a good thing.(Apologies for any typos/spelling errors - can't find any spell checker on this thing)

Onlined out

In the past 48hours, have joined Facebook, become a tweeter and now a blog. Yes, all ages after the rest of the world and his/her dog.