Sunday, 12 September 2010

Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett came to address Script Yorkshire members at Carriageworks, Leeds on Friday (long story but I was sort of instrumental in this happening, and very glad it did). He was fascinating. A 75 yr old with a schoolboy sparkle in his eyes and still rosy cheeks. He began by reading an extract from his writing about his childhood in Lower Wortley, prose with poetic elements in it, which is saying something based on Lower Wortley. (Don't mean it. I'm from Bramley so how can I talk, and besides my Auntie Connie was a lollipop lady on the junction where he used to live.) The passage evoked back-to-back life of 50s pre slum-clearance West Leeds, but not all the bad bits by any means. But the passage dwelt much on the significance of names, showing that writer's fascination with words and what things/people are called - or more importantly chosen to be called.

The main part of the evening was question and answer, ranging wide over topics of interest to writers. I learnt a lot. AB's observations included such as that in some ways censorship had helped 'intensify' drama and its demise meant that 'your armoury decreased'. This seems to touch on the debate that crops up so often now about the usefulness of constraints. (Maybe Aristotle's 4 unities should be revived and we should go back to pre-Lady Chatterley prissiness.) AB explained why art is not a craft, in that in working a craft, you know each time you can produce an item to standard or in a certain form, whereas with art you never know it if will work or get anywhere. (Story of my life, though I suppose that's what makes art exciting as well as such a bitch - you never really know how it will come out.) So many bon mots and tips, perhaps summed up with AB's warning to 'protect your own endeavour'.

Come to think of it, wasn't that Captain Cook's ship, 'The Endeavour'? Another worthy Yorkshireman, who had quite a journey (though not from Lower Wortley).

This week sees me tied up and doublecrossed, as in 'Doublecross', latest ActONE production, co-written with Michael Yates, dark comedy drama with the premise that life - like drama - is based on lying. There's always a subtext; the question is whether trust only serves to get in the way of seeing it. On at Carriageworks this Fri/Sat, then at Otley Courthouse the following Fri. Bit nervous about this one, as it's different, but at least we're trying 'different'.

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