Saturday, January 29, 2005

Green pigs and apple men.

Saw Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman at the Oxford Playhouse last night. Absolutely terrified the life out of me. Not in the way that theatre usually does, but in a way that had me jumping out of my seat at one point. The couple in front of me left during the interval and didn't come back - and that was before the play got on to child crucifixion. F**king powerful stuff though and for all the large moments of utter horror, it also had a couple of smaller, quieter moments of utter heartbreak or joy breaking through. I think those were the moments that made it for me; somehow in the midst of the carnage and violence it never lost its humanity. There was still something pushing up, refusing to be anhilated, refusing to let go.


Friday, January 28, 2005

In the beginning...

I have to confess, before I go any further, that I have first act syndrome. This basically means that I can't write first acts for toffee. Or indeed for any other kind of sugar-filled sweet that might be on offer. It's probably a mark of this that when I write I tend to leave the beginning until last, until I've sensed what should go there. But I can't do that here [or I could but that would mean leaving a few ... where this entry should be but that would be cheating somewhat]. So in lieu of a proper beginning here are a few things which I might have arranged more coherently into a beginning if I had the skill.

1. Me.
Hello, nice to meet you. I'm Coza, 22 and a finalist at St Anne's College, Oxford University, where I've just realised that I'm actually supposed to be reading for a degree in English. After three and a half years it came as something of a shock.

2. Distant Aggravation.
Even I concede that it's an odd title. It's actually a phrase from what is fast becoming one of my all time favourite songs, 'More than Me'. The chances are that unless you're into your folk music and have somehow stumbled across the group Megson or are a fan of a guy named Alistair Griffin, you won't know the song. I'm sure I'll link to it at some point, but for now I will say that it's strikingly beautiful, and I've loved the distant aggravation phrase in particular for some time now:
Why should I lie?
A simple questioning goodbye

Means that no one hears your distant aggravation.

3. The Other Stuff
Until quite recently I'd intended to be a good girl and do my PGCE when I finished my degree. Then I got cold feet, which coincided, coincidentally or not, with a play I've written, Some Sort of Beautiful, being a finalist for the Cameron Mackintosh Award for New Writing, and it hit me that what I really wanted to do was write. So the teaching career's on the back burner, at least for the next few years after which I can become an embittered failed-writer style English teacher, whilst I attempt to, hopefully, actually make enough money to live on from writing. I'll have a MacDonald's application on standby just in case though. Some Sort of Beautiful gets its premiere in just under a month's time and I suppose part of my reason for starting this blog is that I want to be able to remember the experience.

If I lay aside writing and theatre then I suppose my other overwhelming hobby is, put in polite acceptable language, seeing a lot of gigs. It just happens that a lot of the gigs - though not all I would add as I do seem to have developed a bit of a fondness for live music in the past year - are by the same person. You know the guy who I dropped casually into the earlier paragraph? Alistair Griffin? Well, I'm a bit of a fan. There's a whole story on this one, not even to get on to his flatmate James Fox [he'll be last year's Eurovision entrant] or a band named Riccardi. Let's just say I'll keep you in suspense.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

About DA

About DA

"In just over a fortnight I have become a little bit rock and roll. And I like that because, c'mon, I stalk musicians. In my head I'm a bit rock and roll already".

Distant Aggravation was born on a computer named Ben (short for Benedick of Much Ado fame) in a blue-plaqued house at St Anne's College, Oxford at the end of January 2005. As it stands it is currently being written on a laptop named George (short for, erm, George, of Lord Byron fame) in a house in Leeds which - as yet - doesn't have a blue plaque.

The title of the blog comes from a line of a song entitled 'More Than Me': "a simple questioning goodbye means that no one hears your distant aggravation" and was chosen for no other reason than that I loved the phrase. And, anyway, it's really DA now given that I seem to have spawned Team DA. If you're reading this then consider yourself a fully paid up member. Wear the badge with pride, my friends.

"It's times like this that I suspect I was away reading Byron when common sense was being handed out".

Not long after I started writing DA I gained the picture of Marilyn Monroe that sits above you now. And you might be wondering why there's a picture of Marilyn up there when, even given my penchant for Icons, I'm more likely to blind you with a bit of Ginny Woolf or Byron. Well, firstly - and possibly most importantly - I chose Marilyn because I love the dress she's wearing in the picture. And I'm a girl who's swayed by a good dress. Secondly, I like her as a poster girl for the name 'distant aggravation'. Somehow it fits. And thirdly, somewhere in America there's a cardboard cutout with Marilyn's body and Ginny Woolf's head. Which is mindboggling. And not a little intriguing. Which is probably a long and twisted way of saying that Marilyn is one of those 20th century female icons who can be fashioned to say whatever you want. And who you all probably have opinions about. Which is something I like playing with. Regardless, I couldn't imagine DA without her.

"I end up with someone I don't know. And, holy crap, he kind of looks like Alan Rickman. Alan Rickman circa a few years ago but Alan Rickman nontheless. There is no hope for me as I have the palm of (almost) Alan Rickman in my face".

It should be noted here that as I am famously inept as a camera-woman I rarely include photos on DA that I have taken myself. So here's the roll call [and thank you] for those whose photos I have stolen with frightening regularity: Val [almost DA's official photographer], Nik, Gayle and Shona.

"Today I stood in the midst of a theatre, with my name on all the posters outside, with people saying my lines, and even our Production Manager breaking at one point to say to the actors "you're not putting your glasses on the mats. In Sophie's house you'd put the glasses on the mats". And he's right. Sophie would make you put your glass on a coaster".

So, with no further ado, here are the ten DA Commandments:

1. DA will blog as often as humanly possible.

2. DA does not worry about spelling mistakes, because perfect spelling is for people with tidy homes.

3. DA promises to be honest within the barriers of libel and decency, and the whims of a writer who likes an easy joke.

4. DA proclaims that Sienna Boho-Princess is a goddess.

5. DA believes that it is more important to be interesting than to be right.

6. Except when it comes to quizes, when it is clearly more important to be right.

7. DA does not acknowledge the existance of 'best jeans'. This is an oxymoron.

8. DA believes that any blog with the words "fountain", "Evil Eye" and "tequila" in it is on to a good thing.

9. DA considers footnotes to be massively underrated.

10. DA tries to make sense but recognises that this isn't always possible.

"Four years, fifteen thousand pounds and an Oxford degree. To operate a photocopier. Classic".

Sunday, January 02, 2005

About Me

About Me

Distant Aggravation is the blog of me, Corinne Furness, a twenty-something living in Streatham, London. I started writing on DA (as Distant Aggravation is more generally known by, erm, me and maybe four or five other people) when the 'something' was considerably smaller.

Though I now live in London I'm originally from Leeds. No one ever believes this because I don't sound like an extra in Emmerdale. All I have to say, however, is 'breadcake' and people tend to guess that something might not be quite right.

When asked what I do I say I'm a writer and theatre-maker (yes, this is what London has done to me. However, it also means I don't have to spend ten minutes failing to explain exactly what a 'Dramaturg' is). Along with Charlie Whitworth (who appears on here under a not-very-disguised pseudonym) I founded the theatre company Write By Numbers in Summer 2009. I'm Literary Associate for StoneCrabs Theatre and Blog Correspondent for Whastonstage.com. I've been also been known to masquerade as a reviewer too. For giggles and stuff (the stuff being: making sure my rent gets paid each month) I work on a part time basis for Shakespeare's Globe.

Since beginning DA I've gained a BA in English Language and Literature from Oxford University (St Anne's College should you be oddly curious) and a MA in Writing For Performance from Goldsmiths College. The former left me with a penchant for the Boat Race, the latter with a penchant for Thai food from a New Cross restaurant where I once sat opposite David Walliams. I'm not sure which is the more useful in life in general.

In the past I've worked as (and blogged about being) an Admin Monkey, a Venue Manager for the Shakespeare Schools Festival, an Usher for New Theatre (okay, I no longer work there - I can name them as being the Royal Opera House if the BAFTA thing hadn't given it away already), a Duty Manager at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and a Front of House Manager for an Outdoor Shakespeare Company (yes, I no longer work for them either but given how indiscreet I was about blogging those two summers we'll agree to not naming them, right?). I've learnt lots from these jobs too - mainly that everything people say about actors is true, only multiplied by five.

Because I still get a reasonable amount of hits from what I deem my non-stalking I should probably say - I have a bit of a liking for Boys With Guitars. Over the years I've avidly supported one or two (see Fox, Riccardi, PYFB and, most of all, Griffin). I do still get asked about Griffin and though the heady days of running around the country in 2003/2004 are but a memory I still go to the odd (though no longer the very-odd) gig or two. I hardly need to mention, I rather like my actor boys as well. And whilst I'm here I should probably say: yes, I do like David Tennant (something of an understatement there I fear) and no, I do not know where he lives (we're not going to talk about the bewildering number of hits I get about that, let me just say - if I did do you think I'd be here writing to you now?).

I love the smell of old books, cities at night and tiramisu. I buy too many dresses, spend too much time on twitter and file too many blog entries under the label 'Drunk'. There's very little I won't do for a baked good. I'm currently learning how to knit. I ask people their favourite songs so I can go away and listen to them. I write down conversations I overhear on public transport. I'm proud to say that I'm a Feminist. I'd quite like to go to Latitude Festival every year for the rest of my life. I'm a fully paid up member of the National Trust, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Mecca Bingo.

You can find me on twitter, facebook and flickr.

Dramatis Personae

Dramatis Personae

This is not a fully comprehensive cast list but I have attempted to include - in alphabetical order should there be any kind of identification emergency - anyone who has appeared in more than one blog on DA.

Arsenal Fan - AF is single handedly doing quite a lot for my perception of Arsenal Fans even though he started a rumour that I was directly responsible for Harold Pinter's death. [see also Writers, The]

Bar Boy - A former employee at the WYP and the person who was most likely to play with the swivel chair in my office. And to do something a little bit crazy.

Becky - There is just a little bit more rock 'n' roll in my life because of Becky, rather famously her dare to me in the Evil Eye one night that concluded with me 'borrowing' a didgeridoo almost resulted in my being arrested. [See also Northern Division]

Billy the Kid - The eponymous lead from the play that will never die and regular BattleActs team member who once (quite rightly) shouted at me whilst onstage for not having more rhyme friendly preoccupations.

Billygean - Blogger extraordinaire who on more than one occasion has, metaphorically, held my hand. DA would be much the worse off without her encouragement and wise words.

Bourbon - Named after the biscuit rather than the drink (best not to ask), Bourbon taught me how to fly a kite, was involved in the great Mmmbop debacle on the Oslo-Bergen train and is the rebellious daughter in our Norway Family saga.

Breakfast Club Boy - So called because of a resemblance to a character in the film. One of the two Camericans on my MA course and the writer of the play which will never die. [see also Writers, The]

Byron, Lord - The Romantic Poet who I probably pay far too much notice of. That a boy once used the line "Byron's shoes were in my library" on me probably speaks volumes.

C - A floppy haired, roll up smoking actor with a book deal and a mouth full of Shakespearean verse who I first met in Summer 2006 whilst working for the Outdoor Shakespeare Company. The results were somewhat predictable.

Cat - Triumphantly the co-creator of 'The List of Shame', fellow member of the Fashion Police and the drummer in our girl band. And possibly the only person I have met for whom the desire to catalogue is as strong as mine. [See also Northern Division]

Charming Canadian - Utterly Charming and a Camerican, with a nice sideline in shorts and comedy rants. [see also Writers, The]

Corinne/ Coza/ Connie - That would be me.

David Tennant [also referred to as DT] - The current Doctor in Doctor Who and, more importantly, my future husband. He just doesn't know it yet.

Dean - Formerly 'D' but now a full blown person; the Will to my Grace, the Florence to my Fred, and the Dean to my Pearl. And he's worked at the National Theatre, y'know.

Director Boy - Curiously enough, a Director. And a proper West End Director at that I would have you know. He is both wise and knows how to use a steam cleaner, thus I like him lots even though he publicly mocks my love of Titanic.

FAS [also referred to as Famous Actor's Son] - The Son of an A List Celeb who I have great stories to write about in my memoirs. I would obviously write them on DA but I would never work in theatre again.

Former Soap Star - For almost a decade starred in one of Britain's biggest soaps before he embarked on being a 'proper actor' and thus appearing in my life.

Fox - A fully paid up member of the Northern Division. Has managed to tackle the three great fame no-nos: reality television, Eurovision and musical theatre and still managed to come out the other end.

Gayle - Should you wish to know anything about trainer-type footwear then Gayle is your woman. Also very good on the subject of 'how young is too young?'. And, legendarily, the person who I ran around with in a bar at a quite nice hotel in Middesbrough doing a victory celebration. [See also Northern Division]

Ginny [Woolf] - Also known as Virginia Woolf. My favourite ever novelist. I could go on.

Griffin - My original BwG [Boy with Guitar] and consequently there is quite a lot of love in the Griffin room. Was the runner-up in the tortuous reality television show of summer 2003 and had a top ten single, an album and a whole group of fans following [non-stalking] him around the country. Now to be seen playing various low key gigs in York and still being rather good.

Graduate, The - Someone who was making his way out of my life just as DA was making its way into it.

Harry McFly – The drummer in the band McFly. He is a bit posh and a bit funny. Sadly he currently has very little hair and doesn't know where Amsterdam is. I still totally would though.

History Boy - An erstwhile Opera and (more often) drinking and debating companion; people have (just about) stopped asking about the status of our relationship.

Irish Actor - An (absolutely wonderful) actor who I met during Summer 2007. Though, as Facebook attests, he still owes me a drink.

Irish Boy - Not to be confused with the above, a some time drinking companion and the person most likely to have me shout at him over Beowulf. [see also Writers, The]

J - A former work colleague, both at the WYP and the Outdoor Shakespeare Company, who is possibly the funniest drunk I have ever known.

John Barrowman - Musical theatre star, TV judge, sometimes ice skater, and, triumphantly, Captain Jack. Also, in the flesh, almost abnormally beautiful.

(Lovely) Tour Guide - Another WYP and Outdoor Shakespeare-er, who not only directed us around Norway, and is one of the 'off-roaders' in my life but who also held the house party that involved 'The Great Cheese Sandwich Incident'.

M - A WYP-er with a sideline in utterly terrifying drinking games.

My Richard - The actor Matt Conor who I happened to see when he was understudying the role of Richard III in Northern Broadside's Edward IV in Spring 2006. I developed something of a long standing crush and have been not so subtlety non-stalking him ever since.

N - My line manager at the Outdoor Shakespeare Company.

Nik - Not only did Nik queue (twice) for Alan Bennett for me but she also put up a tent in a field, won a comedy photo award with me and held my hair back when I was sick. We even survived going to Dundee. Plus she sends me pictures of Harry McFly. [See also Northern Division]

Northern Division, The – "It's not geographical – it's a state of mind!". The name was dreamt up on a journey to Liverpool (long story) and, somehow, it stuck. Though, really, we're the ND.

Oberon – Actor with the Outdoor Shakespeare Company in both of the years I've worked with them.

Obi 2 – My sister.

Obi 3 – My first brother.

Obi 4 – My youngest brother. See what I did there?

Old Friend – On a technicality, Old Friend is actually Dean’s old friend and I've only known her since summer 2006. But the name stuck. The good daughter in our Norway Family and, along with Breakfast Club Boy, one of the two great pun-ers in my life.

Other Corinne, The – Otherwise known as the singer Corinne Bailey Rae. Her rise to fame has meant a number of things to me: mainly that I will answer if someone says "Bailey Rae" in my direction.

Oxonian – Another actor, this one with, as his name suggests, a degree from Oxford.

Paddy – Known in other circles as Patrick Marber of Closer fame. Possibly proving I should get out more I recognized him from the back of his head when he came to see my play.

Posh Young Farmer Boy [PYFB] - Paolo Nutini whom DA marked for stardom long before 'Last Request' , the number three album and the Brit nomination. Smug, me?

Rosalind – The first time I met Rosalind, in the midst of a tech rehearsal, she told me she loved my (pink flowered) wellies. I was always going to like her.

Shona – It was because of Shona that I joined the National Trust. Less culturally sound she also may have had something to do with the encouragement of my John Barrowman fetish in its early stages. [See also Northern Division]

Surfer Girl - The ying to my writing yang who, as her name suggests, can actually surf. [see also Writers, The]

Stunning Rower [Rower] – A fellow Outdoor Shakespeare survivor who not only had a wickedly dry sense of humour but could actually, properly, row.

Techie Chris – Unsurprisingly, a techie. Also notable for being driver of Belinda the van and making me laugh far too much over his enthusiasm for his toolkit.

Val – A fellow theatre snob with a penchant for David Tennant, John Barrowman and sparkles. It has been said that we can be scarily similar about things. The main difference? She likes cats. [See also, Northern Division, The]

Vintage Queen – Former work colleague who I got very drunk with on more than one occasion during the summer of 2007.

Writers, The - The Collective term for the 2008 intake on the MA Writing For Performance Course at Goldsmiths.