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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Less Historic, More Ancient Crimes

The halfway mark (depending how you want to judge it, it's not quite a linear year) for Project 10/52 (starting v. soon) is Project Six - Historic Crimes.  It's a serious play - a funny in places, but also very dark.  It's based, in part, on the current scandals rocking British broadcasting, schools - anywhere where people in positions of trust have been found to have abused their positions - where people in whom we have invested public affection turn out to have dark secrets in their pasts.
I think the two possible reactions can be summed up neatly thus - when Jimmy Savile - DJ, television presenter and clearly a seriously dodgy bloke, turned out actually to be a sex offender, everyone sort of already knew or were not in the least bit surprised and so went - NO SHIT, SHERLOCK.  However, when another celebrity was accused of a similar crime, (accused, not convicted) the reaction among all my friends was - NO, NOT HIM!  This was because we liked him, liked his work and we don't want his work tainted by accusations or, if prosecuted, convictions.  (Note my careful wording to avoid libeling anyone.)
And these are the reactions to minor celebrities - what would happen if it was someone really important, someone who had real cultural capital?

Happy Birthday Shakespeare.

The play's about how a group of people would act if they found out that the secular god that is Shakespeare was guilty of some very historic crimes?  Would they tell anyone?  Would they let the truth out or would they keep silent?  If a crime is committed in the distant past, is it our duty to stand up for the victim (who cannot be helped) or leave well alone?
It is one of a long line of plays that I have written which I would call morality tales.  I tend to be a very moral writer - though only in the subject, not in the action of the plays sometimes.  To write a morality you often have to show very immoral things - show the things that the audience must judge (or not judge) as right.  Incidentally, this play will not show any of the crimes I'm forcing onto the greatest writer of all time - it will deal mostly in ideas, characters, emotion and Norman Wisdom (who will, I must assure fans, be a force for good - not that I can't libel him, he's dead - I just wouldn't, that would be mean).

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Good and Bad Deeds of Everyone

It's been a week of Everyman action - with a fundraiser show at the Quay Theatre and then a couple of performances at Essex University for their first years.  As followers of this blog will know, I get the audience to write out good and bad deeds before the show.  Here are most of the entries, some are specific things people have done, some are abstract, some are rather moving, some are a bit disgusting... and my favourite less than perfect good deeds/bad deeds are listed at the bottom of each list.

Good Deeds:
Saving someone from walking in front of a car...
Bought a homeless person a coffee and a cake...
Payed for my friends match fees...
Bought my flatmate her shopping when she forgot her purse...
Look after my friend who's having a bad time at the moment...
Help an old person across the road...
Helped a lady lift her pram up the stairs...
Helped an old woman find the car park where she parked her car...
Took in a stray cat...
Visit an old lady once a week so she has company...
I helped an old lady across the street...
I returned a man's hat to him...
Gave someone a penny in Tesco...
Gave someone change on the bus as they were short of fare...
Helped at a homeless shelter...
I saved my dog being attacked by another dog...
I once helped a lost child find its mum...
Saved a man from walking in front of a car...
I gave money to a person once...
Lending money to a friend in need...
Teaching my little sister how to speak and read...
Made exam notes for my friend...
Charity work...
I made [someone] Star Wars cupcakes...
Look after my family...
I looked after an old dude before he died...
Cut an elderly relatives toenails...
Being supportive and being generally lovely to all!
Save someone's life...
I once performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on someone...
Visiting very talkative elderly neighbour...
I write to my sisters...
Gave neighbour a load of logs...
Listened to a friend...
I do the ironing (but not well)...
Cleaning out the Quay bogs...
I took flowers to Mum-in-Law...
Gave a stranger a lift - when she was waiting in the snow for a bus...
Being nice and understanding towards a grumpy neighbour...
Rescue dogs...
I go to my granddad's often and sit and speak to him for most of the day and go to town with him, as he lives alone...
I saved a spider from my bath...

And the less good, good-deeds:
I give my good ideas away and I let others take the credit!  (Is this a good deed? Really?)
Not being horrid to irritating small children... (I hear you brother!)
Taken women out for dinner... (hmmnn, depends very much on the motive!)
Buying my sister 1D tickets... (A bad deed, surely?)
I make other people feel better about themselves by being terrible at absolutely everything!
Did stupid shit to make people laugh...

Bad Deeds:
Forgot to feed my sisters hamster when she was away for the weekend...
I did not clean up my dog's poo...
Day with then girlfriend - told work I was sick...
Broke a plate and blamed it on my little sister...
Caught in a compromising position by my nan...
Ate chocolate bar - put wrapper in brothers bed...
Stole an old woman's seat on the bus...
I stole a necklace...
Punched a friend in the face...
Being irritable...
I stole two glasses of wine...
Objectifying women...
Public masturbation...
Bestiality...
Smoked too much pot...
Sniffed Ketamine...
Scrapped an idiots van...
Killed a fly...
Trod on a snail...
Committed murder...
Farting and blaming someone else...
Getting so drunk I can't remember much in the morning...
Arrested for indecent exposure after Rocky Horror Picture Show...
Cheating at French...
Told a fib to the council...
Road killing a rat...
Slept with a married man...
Pushed an old lady down stairs...
Stole a 1p sweet...
I found £15 in a puddle and took it...
Stealing milk that's not mine...
I judge...

And if you've lost faith in human nature then there are a couple bad deeds that I rather like...

Was a banker...

And...

Voted Lib-Dem in the last election...

Friday, 1 November 2013

Beware of the Blob

I love B-Movies.  I've loved them for years.  The general cheapness, the lack of a decent script, the poor acting, the sense that they were filmed in less than a week.  They're often a bit boring, but luckily don't last too long and so don't outstay their welcome.  This was entertainment often created title first, everything else second.  "IT CONQUERED THE WORLD!"  Great title.  Terrible film.  Especially as IT doesn't really conquer anything very much, beyond a small cave.
I've been influenced by these films more than I'd perhaps like to think.  I've been guilty of creating a title first and show second a number of times.  This isn't one of those instances.  I came up with the plot over Christmas last year, sketching it out on long train journeys to and from London.
The Blob isn't quite a proper B-Movie, partly because it's in colour, has Steve McQueen in it and has reasonably good special effects.  It is a B-Movie in so much as it's a bit dull in many places and the script needs work.  But it is the film I will be homaging in Project 5, Beware of the Blob.  
It isn't a remake and it doesn't feature any material from the film - I can't afford it for a start.  The Blob of my story is something quite different and, though featuring a blob of sorts, it's a very different kind of blob.  It's a lonely blob.  A blob which sings.
In fact, much of the show will be sung - the protagonist and the blob itself will have a number of solo songs.  And the audience will very much be involved - for the most part blowing up balloons, which will be the body of the blob throughout the show.
If you haven't already got it by now, this is going to be a funny, silly, knockabout show - with singing, maybe dancing and a lot of balloons - something I feel most B-Movies have lacked.
Oh, and possibly some Elvis.  Not sure yet.
I'll also be performing a parallel piece as part of my Saturday Storyteller slot on Saturday lunchtimes.  It's a homage to another B-Movie, the wonderfully terrible The Brain Eaters.  Here is a blog that will tell you everything you need to know about the film, and some good detail about B-Movies themselves.  My story is a little different - a mix of B-Movie silliness and the story of someone whose brain is literally being eaten.  Whose words start fail to sense as eaten brain is what ah help.
So, that'll be on sometime in May ish 2014.  It won't be streamed online I'm afraid and tickets will be very limited in number so to be put on the waiting list for tickets email me now at contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk