Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Sun Is Shining, There's Sport On Tv, And Where Am I?

The Sun Is Shining, There's Sport On Tv, And Where Am I?

It is probably safe to say that there was very little that was pleasant about watching the Henman v Federer match yesterday for a Henman fan. There was even less that was pleasant when I wasn't so much watching it as waiting for the BBC website to update its game by game almost-blog. Because - much to my chagrin but entirely due to my own ineptitude - I have found myself working during Wimbledon. For similar reasons (ie. down right ineptitude) I almost found myself working when I had a prior date with Undressing Mr Darcy last week, and did find myself working when England played Sweden. Which involved me seeing half of the match while my Duty Manager cheered for Sweden. Equally I'm working on Saturday afternoon and have managed to agree to go for drinks with D (who doesn't like football) afterwards (in honour of it being the last proper day of the WYP season). So bye bye En-ger-land v Portugal for me. Which might be just as well as I almost had to breathe into a paperbag in the last match.

But back to Henman. Not pleasant. But not terrible either. Because it wasn't knife-edge five set stuff. It was clear he was on his way out from the beginning of the second set. Not that I knew this as I left the office when Federer was 4-3 with a break up and arrived home (spending the journey trying to re-tune the car radio into Five Live. It refused and provided me with every local station from Century in Newcastle down to BBC Radio Sheffield instead) to discover that it was 5-0 in the second set. Game, set and not quite match.

But the point of this - other than to wallow - is to comment on the BBC almost-blog guy's commentary. Because - even when Tim was losing - it made me chuckle. My favourite quote? Possibly "Heman has a large posse in the VIP section - though perhaps the word "posse" has never been so inappropriate". Or possibly in reaction to a winning shot the knowledge that some "middle aged women celebrated by taking long distance photos with small pocket cameras". Look, it made me chuckle. And if you knew the Henman "posse" you'd chuckle too.

Those of a nervous disposition look away now

Those of a nervous disposition look away now

"She wants action dolls. And probably only because then people can buy David Tennant action dolls and do what everyone used to do with their Barbie and Ken's and make them kiss." - Flash Frequency, 28.06.06

I would attempt some form of moral outrage here given the suggestion that my reasons for wanting an Action Doll might not be entirely pure. But I can't. Because it would be a lie. I never had a Barbie or a Ken doll but I did (ok, do) have a Sindy and an Action Man Doll (Sindy's boyfriend was of course Paul but he was generally agreed to be a bit wet) so I might have an inkling of where Nik is coming from. But does this make me any less a good candidate (I would almost add the only candidate) to join the Doctor? No, no and thrice no. It makes me a wonderfully flawed, emotional (possibly slightly loopy) human. And where would Russell T Davies be without one of those in the TARDIS? Where would he be without the opportunity to give the Doctor those great 'look at the brilliance of these insane humans' speeches? Back writing for Coronation Street is the answer. So it just goes to show that once again I am perfect for the role of sidekick.

And whilst Nik might be starting an Anti-Campaign it is nice to note that www.corinne-for-new-who.com has garnered support in other areas. In case you don't read my comments box, I proudly present Bex's prototype:

I can hear Forbidden Planet scrambling to order them now.

NB: Don't forget to sign my comments box and show your support for the Campaign which has got the nation talking.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Where You Find Out That I Wasn't Joking

Where You Find Out That I Wasn't Joking

Lest you thought that I wasn't entirely serious with my blog letter to Russell T Davies, the fact that Nik is now advertising for a new sidekick (we're not going to go into the whole debate of why I'm the sidekick, though I will note that being the sidekick would mean I get the cooler lines in the film) has pushed me to get serious about the whole thing. Serious. And I too can see the irony of my getting serious about applying for sidekick positions when I have real-life job applications to fill in. In the great scheme of things, though, I'm sure you'll agree that my appointment to the TARDIS is of such urgency that it overrides all such other concerns. After all not only would it include the potential for getting to see those stripey pjs close up*, it would also mean that I'd get my own action doll. And just how cool would that be? Even if I don't end up using the Doctor's sonic screwdriver, I might just get my own action doll anyway. Think of all the clothes it would have. It is safe to say that whilst I cannot deny the perks of being Nik's sidekick (she's got a very funny story about Peter Crouch at the moment that will allow you to point and laugh) one of the things that it doesn't come with is an action doll.

So I need the action doll. You need the action doll. The existance of future civilisation might depend on the existance of the Corinne Action Doll. And I'm sure you've already agreed that I fulfil every requirement of the Doctor's Assistant. Heck, even if you don't watch Dr Who I'm sure you'll agree I'd be perfect. Just think of those blogs I could write. I bet the TARDIS has WiFi access after all.

In the light of this, I'm stepping up the offensive. Because a blog letter might not be enough. What I need is a campaign. Badges, banners, premium rate phonelines - you know the score. And signatures in my comments box. Real signatures. Fake signatures. I don't care. Just think about it - you've got just over a week of this to deal with, you might as well make it less painful for all involved. And contribute to tv history in the process.

*Stripey pjs circa 'The Christmas Invasion' if you're wondering.**

**If you're still wondering, this means David Tennant in stripey pyjamas. ***

***Ah, c'mon. Just wait until I get John Barrowman and David Tennant on the screen together. Carnage.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

First Stop: Regency England

First Stop: Regency England

Dear Russell T Davies,

Before I get to my real reason for writing to you, I have to tell you that I rather love you. Not - I would hasten to add - in the manner I love, say, Alan Rickman when he speaks or Pretty Jude Law when he looks at the camera in Alfie or Hugh Grant when he dances around Number Ten Downing Street. But I love you because you write the kind of tv that makes me excited. And if you're a fan of DA at all you'll know that I don't get excited that much by tv (obviously this excludes Neighbours, about which I get excited on a regular basis, usually when it has something to do with the House of Trouser). Theatre, oh yes. Tv, not so much. But you write sparky, interesting, intelligent television. You clearly love the medium. And I feel that love and it makes me excited. Plus if you didn't happen to know - Bob and Rose is one of my all time favourite tv series. All time. And not just because of the lovely Alan Davies.

So I hope you're feeling my love in the Russell T Davies room. I want you to bear (grrr) that in mind when you read the rest of my letter because I think it's relevant. It's a pointer that we'd get on. You're Welsh after all. I like Welsh boys.

To get to the point, I can't help but notice there's going to be an opening in your current tv show pretty soon. Well, not so much opening as gaping hole. Because the Doctor without a companion is like Ant without Dec, fish without chips, Sienna without Boho-Princess. It just doesn't work. And with Rose seemingly headed for the great Dr Who playground in the sky (I probably have another letter about that to write you, but we'll put it to one side for now) you'll be needing someone new. Which is where I like to think that I might come in.

Obviously this is not a decision I've taken lightly. Travelling through space and time is a difficult job fraught with many dangers. I just need to look at the makeup you subjected the lovely Billie Piper to to realise that. There's the possibility I might be attacked by monsters, get sucked into a black hole or end up wearing some hideous denim shorts, black tights combo. And then there's having to share TARDIS space with the Doctor. He's a bit of a know-it-all isn't he? And those Converses of his, do they smell? Plus he looks a lot like David Tennant, and that's bound to be a distraction. Selflessly, however, I'm willing to put up with these things. I'll even bring something to spray the besmirched Converses with.

You might be wondering why I feel I would be suited to the role. Firstly, I know enough about the Dr Who Universe that you won't have to spend endless hours filling me in about Gallifrey and Cybermen and Torchwood. But I don't know enough to challenge either your or David Tennant's role as resident fanboys. And I can do that wide-eyed interested look as the Doctor fills me in with aplomb. Secondly, I know you like your assistants feisty. Feisty I have no problem with. I can also do: giggly, indignant, adamant, righteous and slightly loopy. And, boy, can I wield an axe. Some might say grind rather than wield, but I think we can agree there's very little difference between the two. Thirdly, I'm 23 so you'll be keeping the 900 year age gap going strong. And should you require it - with a bit of hair dye to disguise the grey hairs - I can do younger. Just ask the Bouncers in the Slug and Lettuce who id'd me last year. They could probably attest to the fiesty bit too. Fourthly, I'm an Aquarian. Aquarians love time travel. So you needn't worry I'd get bored and bugger off after series two. Oh no. I have patience, I can do long term. Plus I like Cardiff, so you needn't worry about that either. Fifthly, whilst my appointment would mean you can't come up with such corking lines as "I'm a Chav" (because, quite clearly, I'm not) there's a lot of scope there for you to go in a different direction. And I've heard that the Doctor's going to meet Shakespeare next year. You really want me there for that one. I've read Troilus and Cressida after all. Finally, and possibly most importantly, I promise to hold the Doctor's hand whenever necessary. I'm nice like that.

As I think we can agree I'm the only sensible solution to the soon-to-be-vacancy. So feel free to send the TARDIS along to pick me up at any point. Or at least any point that is after Wimbledon because, hey, a girl has to have priorities.

love

Corinne.x

Sunday, June 25, 2006

And then they made us do 'improv'

And then they made us do 'improv'

It's 11:30 on Saturday morning, rehearsal room two at the WYP is proving the generally agreed notion that no where in this (relatively modern) theatre is of the correct temperature and we're deep into warm up games. Yes, warm up GAMES. Those little words that send writers running for the hill, because - hey - we're not actors. Writers work in solitary places, sheds, garretts, places that require being alone, not places that involve connecting random body parts to those of people who - at best - you've known over the course of Mark Cately's workshops.

I'm standing with my right foot slightly raised. S's head is on said foot. I'm feeling the need to laugh. S looks up at me.

"Normally I have to pay for this type of thing"

That's it, the giggles start.

My head's now in N's stomach. We both clock what this looks like at the same moment.

"Maybe we should have done this the other way round"

More walking, 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. I start wondering if this is actually a dream.

Eventually - when we've all had the opportunity to touch various bits of members of the group - we're allowed back to our seats. And the more writerly games start. And I find these much more interesting and telling. Now we've got to each come up with five facts about ourselves that give our partner a glimpse at us. Hmmm. How do you condense yourself in such a manner?

And what I find ineresting, as each person reveals their partner's facts to the audience, is that what the people choose to reveal is as telling as the facts themselves. Some people deal in achievements, some in their families, some are more abstract. Some share their life stories, others reveal very little. And you get splashes of character that I find much more interesting than having (almost)Alan Rickman's hand in my face.

For my part, I settle on the following facts:

1. I have an obsession with Byron (and the Romantic poets in general), not only for their poetry but for the scope of their ideas and the way they chose to live.
2. I went to Oxford University but have never rowed.
3. I love live music and have seen one particular singer over 60 times.
4. I cry at tv, film and theatre very easily - particular lowpoints being Neighbours and The Muppet Christmas Carol.
5. I'm a blogger.

And in chosing them I was explicitly aware I was presenting myself to a group of people and shaded them accordingly. Didn't want anything too serious. Couldn't help but mention the Oxford thing, just because if I had to put in all that work to get there I might as well get some enjoyment out of people's reactions to this fact.And whilst these facts are not the sum total of me (and, erm, some of them got laughs which is what I might have wanted. And a little gasp at the stalker thing. Which I might secretly have liked) they are facets of me. Certainly they're stuff that regular readers here will know.

After lunch it was properly writing time. And some how I came out of the afternoon with a half finished ten minute piece that spanned a century and oriented around a Rhino Skull. Which is something I certainly didn't have at 11.00 that morning.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

To Blog Or Not To Blog - That Is The Question

To Blog Or Not To Blog - That Is The Question

I guess I've been a bit quiet on here recently, not just because of the rushing off round the country (or out of the country) though that has played its part, and not just because of work (though again, the building fear of 7 weeks without work has meant I've been working my flip flops off at every opportunity) but even when I do have time I haven't blogged. And it's not like I haven't made the attempt. No, there are three half started blogs on my computer and a number of others I began and then deleted. So why has DA had tumbleweed blowing through it? The honest answer? I'm not sure.

There have been points during the last 18 months of blogging when I've been knocked off course by an event, by a perception, by that always slightly freaky realisation that 'heck people are reading this'. And you know what? I can't make any such connection this time. There isn't one. There hasn't been some big event, or half realised comment. Everything is as it was. And you - yes I mean you - my loyal readers, I know you're still here, you're still checking and I know I should write for you. But I haven't.

So let's get some general honesty out there. I'm feeling a little unsettled at the moment. Nothing huge, just something borne about by the realisation that I left Oxford a year ago next week. And there has to be some kind of glossing over of what I've achieved in the inbetween time and where I want to go next. I can't help it, that over-achieving voice in my head won't let me stand still. And as fun as the last year has been (and I've done some brilliant stuff) I know I don't want to be in the same position this time next year. I sense that this summer contains within it some big decisions. And big decisions always creep in on you when you least want them to.

And in some ways I've almost made some of them. I've started making proper movements about getting work in theatre. I've questioned whether I'd want to spend the next few years in London, or St Albans, or - deep breath please - Hull. And I've not answered those questions properly but I have sent (or am going to send) off applications. In some ways I want to see how things work out in Leeds - there's the bubbling stuff at the WYP which includes a workshop there next week, a new theatre group that's in its infancy that might prove lots of fun, the fact that when it comes down to it I've developed something of a new affection for the city. But is this enough to keep me here in the face of everything else? I'm not sure.

There is another rather large reason for the creeping sense of disquiet. Those things I couldn't blog about last year, well a year on they continue to have their ripples. And the huge moments that threaten to submerge you in the sheer unreality of it. Sometimes I understand Obi 3. More often than not I don't. And the relentless push of living with someone who isn't well, whose mood can change from minute to minute, who can make you switch from being deeply, overwhelmingly sorry for him to wanting to stand and punch him within the blink of an eye. It takes its toll. The constant crunching on eggshells - it's not good for your soul. Then there are those fleeting moments when I see his life and wonder for his future, a future that I can't even begin to reconcile with my own and it upsets me deeply. Much more than anything I've ever faced. When I had my last college interview with the Principal at St Anne's he was full of praise for my resilience - but he noted, I thought rather honestly at the time, that there were differences between physical and mental illness and the latter could be much harder than the former to overcome. I certainly know which scares me more.

So I guess what this is all about is, well, bear (grrr) with me. I've not fallen out of love with DA any more than I have with anything else. Beginnings. Endings. And muddling along in the middle. I suspect it'll all be here. Just if I'm a bit superficial [oh yep, more on the adventures of my David Tennant doll] or a bit quieter than usual on here in the coming weeks you know why. Alternatively this might have cleared the air and I'll be back next week as normal. You'll just have to wait and see...

It's All In The Quotes

It's All In The Quotes

So what might I have blogged about if I hadn't been working/ watching tennis/ football/ not getting a tan in the warm weather? Well, it might have gone something like this:

"You made me run. In flip flops. For an imaginary bus.
[beat]
And whilst we're here - if we're going to be friends you need to know one thing: I never jump over railings".

***

"Where are all the skater dudes?"

"They're quite young; they're probably off revising"

"You mean the skater dudes revise?!"

"Actually - you might have a point."

***

"Do you think he's gay?"

"I don't know, he's a techie it's hard to tell - all the time they spend in the dark. And if it's not a gobo they're not interested"

"I love gobos"

"You know, so do I"

"I had Gobo catalogues-"

"Hang on there - you had gobo catalogues?"

"Yes - I had seven, I had some gel samples too"

"It's a good job no one's listening to this conversation"
***

"He was all 'hello babe' this morning and I was all [girly, giggly voice] 'he-llo Alan'"
***

"You're bothered about the football?"

"Of course I am! I have a Fantasy Football Team!"

"Fantasy Football? Who's in your team? Alan Rickman? David Tennant?"

"I think you'll find that's a very different type of fantasy team".

On Faith

On Faith

About a month ago I was asked about Tim Henman and my reason for having supported him for the last 12 years. And the one answer I could give?

Faith.

I'm not sure why or how it happened and I'm sure my life would have been made considerably easier if I'd latched on to practically any other player but the fact is - it happened. Tim Henman. He's one of my boys. And when you have that faith there's no point in rational thought telling you that, hey, he'll put up some fight and do a few good volleys but ultimately end up putting the ball into the net at the crucial moment, leaving me to cry into my tissues. Because I believed. And if it wasn't going to be Wimbledon, then it would be the US Open. One day it would happen.

Until last year. When the passage of time and dawning realisation started to prove too much. The faith, oh I still had it, but it was different. If during the last year Tim got into a second round of a tournament then I was pleased. The faith might be there but the expectation had gone.

Until today. All week Tim's been playing his ultra-white-washed-in-ariel socks off at Queens. But I didn't expect anything. Each match I had the lingering worry that we were only a couple of miss hit forehands and a double fault away from going out. And if it wasn't in the first round then it would be in the second. Or in the third. And surely he wouldn't get past the quarters? But he did. So semi-final. It had to be it, didn't it?

For the first set I was calm, collected and totally prepared for Tim to go out. This was how it was decreed to be. History had taught me so. What I'd not prepared for was the second set and him starting to play out of his skin. Because the faith can't fight that. It can't fight the sight of Tim on a grass court making winners I can usually only dream of. I shouted, I pumped the air, I yelled 'c'mon Tim'. But most of all I believed. And that easy routine that myself and Tim had developed as we walk towards the twilight of our relationship - it was gone. It was the urgency, that tumbling belief - he just might do this. He might beat Hewitt.

And then, in a flash, it was over. He'd lost.

I'd probably have dealt with it a lot better if I could have put it down to Tim's performance. If I could say that the third set was lost because of the natural inconsistences that have become part of the parcel of watching Tim. But - the disputed (and incorrect) line call on 30/40 when Tim was 2-1 ahead in the third? No, I can't do anything with that other than get mad and yell at the tv. Because it's something I can't rationalise around. Just like I still haven't quite gotten my head round Tim losing the semi-final at Wimbledon that he most likely would have won if the BBC hadn't played around with its schedule. Obviously I'll never know either way. But each time - it's a line call, some rain, an earlier start - it's the little things that allow me to believe that one day it will be different. One day it will happen.

And, through a few days of tennis and a little bit of blistering form, Tim has given me something that I may come to rue in the following weeks. He has given me hope. Painful, raw but undeniable hope. And if the faith is different than it was, then it's still there and most likely will be until the last time that Tim walks out on court.

In short? I'm buggered.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Pit of Imagination

The Pit of Imagination

One thing I've managed not to mention in recent times is the one programme on tv that I've simply had to watch, even given the fact that so far in its series I've only managed to see two episodes at the time of their first airing. So you should note the dedication (and ability to operate a video recorder) which this show has required. If you can join the dots, a recent comment on DA might have made you notice. No, not the thing about Alan Rickman being in my play. The thing about the David Tennant Doll. Because - even by my standards - it's not an every day want. You should probably be glad I didn't go into my whole plan of getting one of my Sindys out to keep said doll company. But I must not get sidetracked by Mr Tennant, let alone by his doll. At least not today.

*Dr Who theme tune plays*

So if I've held in my new something-bordering-on-obssession then I no longer can. Because last night's episode , "The Satan Pit", contained some of the best acting, writing and ideas that I've seen on mainstream television for a long, long time. Because this wasn't comfortable or easy viewing. It wasn't an omnipotent Dr, any more than it was an omnipotent episode. And it probed some pretty huge questions - for the characters themselves and because this was done so well, for everyone watching.

If you're not up to speed with Who - the basics go something like this: The Doctor = a timelord who's around 900 years old, has a fab screwdriver that can get you out of lots of difficult situations and travels through space and time with the aid of a blue police box. Is played - in his tenth incarnation - by David Tennant. Who I heart. Rose = ballsy human sidekick with good hair and bad makeup who travels with the Dr. Is played by Billie Piper who, whilst I don't heart her, I do think she's rather fab. In this incarnation Rose and The Doctor are involved in some incredibly beautiful love affair that will never - or at least had better not - be realised. Because that would break the magic. Tennant describes it as "A love story without the shagging" which, whilst a little to the point, is probably a fair enough analysis.

In "The Impossible Planet" - the first part of the episode I'm going to talk about - our heroes were in a bit of a pickle. They'd managed to land on a spaceship on a planet hovering - impossibly [clever] - over a black hole. The TARDIS had plummeted into the middle of the planet so they're stuck. Throw in lots of suspense, some strange lettering that not even the Dr can read, a sinister presence taking control of the Ood (twisted house elves if you read Potter, servant creatures who look like their insides are pouring out of their noses if you don't) and the Dr donning a spacesuit (oooh) and embarking down to the centre of the planet and we're nearly there. Oh, and the words "He is awake".

So basically we'd had 50 minutes of incredibly well paced, edge of your seat, setup stuff. And you knew there was something in the pit of the planet that you didn't want to see. That you really didn't want to see. So much so that mid-way through "The Satan Pit" I yelled at the Dr "don't go down!". As if that was going to stop him given that this is a pre-recorded fictional tv show and all.

On one level the story was the basic plot for any episode - nasty monster threatens humanity, someone dies, it all gets a bit hairy and then - just in time - both the Dr and Rose find ways to save themselves and everyone else in the process. And as those sort of plots go it was certainly an assured and interesting version. But somewhere down the line, it turned into something more. What exactly was in the pit? How far do we choose to believe the title of the episode?

And it was there that the magic held. Because the Dr had to face - for the first time in his new Tennant guise - something that he didn't believe in. And that had to push him to question his thinking and belief system. Was he facing Satan? And if he was - what did this mean for him? What we got - in the face of the giant computer generated beast - was Tennant acting his socks off when confronted with this issue. For all the horror and terror and potential for destruction it was resolutely a moment of character - it was about the Dr. It was one of those moments that makes me want to run around in pure joy. And the thing that defeated the beast? Not some clever piece of equipment (though they would have been a bit buggered if the Dr hadn't hit his head on the TARDIS with seconds to spare) but the things that the Dr did believe in. His relationship - love maybe, friendship definitely - with Rose. I was practically screaming at the tv - 'how brilliantly Byronic is this?!'. Because it was about the power of the individual in the face of something which can't be understood. I loved that the episode made no concession to a neat ending - the ideas remained as ones which couldn't be explained. And the Dr made the big - and rather telling - decision not to understand. And it wasn't that he couldn't. It was that he chose not to. Which is a very different thing. Not to mention a rather brave move for Saturday night family television.

As I'm also soppy it should probably be noted that I did end up sobbing into a tissue a number of times during the episode. Yes, I know they want me to cry, but I can't help it. There was a wonderfully understated moment that had me yelping in horror "he thinks he's never going to see her again!"; that sort of thing - you know I love it. And how my heart broke a little at "Tell Rose...oh, she'll know". Because it's not good enough, Doctor, and yet it's just perfect and makes me love the programme even more.

So big pats on the back all round. Now, if only all tv were as challenging as this...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Houston, we have a problem

Houston, we have a problem

"So what are we* looking for?"

"Skinny-ish, quirky, knows a little about Shakespeare"

"That leaves us with [censored for mutual embarrassment] and gay men. Face it; you and [censored] are going to get together"

"I should have said well dressed"

"That leaves you with the gay men then".

*Yes, notice the we. Should I be worried that my life has become a team project?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

School Reunion

School Reunion

Some time ago - before I hit upon the idea of working just enough to pay for all my extra curricular activities - I took part in the WYP's So You Want To Be A Writer course. It involved blood, sweat and writing a ten minute piece which pretended to be a five minute one. There was a showcase too, which I nearly didn't get to on account of the wonderful bus service of Leeds. And if you'd forgotten about that then it doesn't surprise me, because I'd kind of forgotten about it too.

But last night it was school reunion time as we went back for our feedback/follow up meeting. As we sat in the bar beforehand, noting that everyone looked like different people given that they now didn't have five layers of clothing on we joked that the up-coming meeting was going to be like getting your grades back at school.

It wasn't until we were sat round in a circle that I realised that it wasn't a joke. That was exactly what was going to happen. We were getting our grades back in front of the entire class. And what would I - I who I've assesed want to be a playwright more than anyone in the room - do if I was greeted with a C-? Shit, what would I do with a B +?

So the grading from Alex (Lit Manager), Mark (WYP's almost inhouse playwright and course leader) and Alan (Director of the pieces) began. And it inspired that odd mix of curious, nosey interest and 'oh crap they'll be coming to me in five pieces...in three...in one...' I also discovered that there is only so long I can maintain interest in other people's work in such circumstances. That damn egotistical self has a lot to answer for.

When it did come to 'REM's Back Catalogue' I had the immediate relief that all three of them could remember it. Because I died a little for the people whose pieces had become a haze in the memory and would probably have fainted right there and then had mine been consigned to that grouping. So, first box ticked. Then:

"I've got 'sweet' written after it"

Sweet? Sweet like Richard Curtis or sweet like when you've eaten an entire bag of Candifloss in one sitting?

"I'm soppy and I like that sort of thing - they were young and in love and he could have been a rock star -"

Ah that's ok, I'm soppy too. I cry at Neighbours.

I know without even looking over who in the room isn't soppy. Even if his last play was taglined as A Beeston Rom Com.

"I thought there was a bit of incidental stuff that didn't have a pay off -"

Fair enough, I'd thought pretty much the same thing at the time. The fact it wasn't clearly placed on 6th July 2006 meant some of the early stuff seemed a bit out of place.

"And the character of Charlie -"

Was his name Charlie? Shit, I can't remember. There I am worrying that they won't remember and it turns out that they know more than I do. And it strikes me that in this moment if I were pushed I couldn't name any of the characters. Brilliant.

"I kept thinking that something was going to happen with him and then it didn't"

A-ha, we agree on something; I can deal with this. Because this was one of the things that made me love theatre, made me see something I'd never imagined.

"When I wrote it I saw - Charlie - as being the minor character and the story being between - erm - the male and female couple" [nice one Corinne] "It wasn't until I saw it acted that it struck me that he - Charlie - was the one who stole the piece. But I don't think that's something I could have picked up on before that point".

And yes, I'm talking with my hands.

"I liked it -"

Thank you Alan. Call it poetic justice, I'd said an hour or so earlier that I'd liked his direction of the play at the WYP which has had more walkouts than any other I've worked on.

"There was a deftness - a lightness to it"

Keep going Alan.

"What it made me think of - you know those dramas on ITV at 9.00 o'clock starring Caroline Quentin"

"Caroline Quentin?!" It splutters out of my mouth, an involuntary missile.

"It's a good thing - they're dramas where no one gets shot or takes drugs but they're really well written"

Mmm, probably a fair point. I haven't given any of my characters a gun so far. There's still time though.

It's back to Alex now.

"It was pointed out to me that the kind of new writing we've been doing here - it's of a certain type [by this it means high rise flats and people who find it socially acceptable to tuck reebok trousers into their socks] but our main audience - they live in semi-detached houses, shop at Sainsburys and own cats"

"Well they do say write about what you know". Though obviously I don't know about cats.

Mark nods, and it confirms my suspicions of the hole I'd been bracketed in.

"Right - and I think that just occasionally we should give the audience something that's about them"

It's Alan's turn again. Only - despite the ITV thing - I don't mind too much. He's funny.

"Did you know that 85% of the plays submitted to Channel Four's The Play's The Thing either had suicide or rape in them?"

Hey, that's not funny.

"The other 15% were about puppies"

Sweet, I suppose some might say.

"I can't think of a single play that's about nice people" Alan pauses and looks directly at me "You should write it"

There's a dual thing going on in my head now. One: Yey that he thinks I can write. And two: Bugger. Does that mean Alan Rickman's never going to be in one of my plays?

We loop around it some more before moving on to the next piece up for grading. There are some interesting points. It starts to get late. Alan sings 'One day more' and I laugh out loud. No one else does. Does that make me a musical Geek?

Afterwards I stay and talk to Alex about SSoB which she read some months ago. She suggests a couple of plays for me to read and says what I really need to find is my muscle.

Crap, I'm going to have to send Four Chords to the gym.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

From Paris to [London]: Part One

From Paris to [London]: Part One

So DA went on holiday (and yes I know it's a little weird to be refering to myself in this weird DA tense, as if it were me and I were it, but I can't help it at the moment. Hopefully, like my attraction to a fluffy orange hat when I was 12, it will prove to be a passing - if painful - phase) and I guess, since you've had to put up with me buggering off for great chunks of the last month or so - and I promise this will not continue as I have a lot of stuff to do this month to make up for being, as D has labelled me, a 'socialite'. I don't, after all, have Paris's bank balance - I should provide you with some kind of run down of the week before I get into the reviews and mock travel guides. This means that this is the blog you can laugh at. Out loud. Preferably in somewhere where you shouldn't be laughing, because that's my favourite kind.

Basically, London went something like this:

Wednesday:

I am on holiday! Holiday! Give me a 'H'...give me an 'O'...give me a 'L' - right you get the picture. So I was excited. And even more so because a trip to London with Cat and Val means there is going to be wine. It is the only civilised way to travel. Especially when it is served in En-ger-land plastic cups from the pound shop.

So there was wine. And some nibbles. And some getting lost on the way to the Travelodge, despite the fact that we were only there barely two months earlier. This might have been connected to the wine, but I wouldn't like to make such accusations against my friends. I'll let the facts speak for themselves.

Once we'd gone the right way down the road, made ourselves beautiful and drunk some more wine it was onwards for a pre-theatre meal and, what is this? A happy hour? Or more precisely a happy two hours? How did you know I was coming? Because happy hours make me very happy indeed, especially when there is a drink named Dorothy's Orgasm on the menu. Since it was happy hour, I had two. Which might be seen as being greedy, but I would bite my, erm, thumb at anyone who says so. It is bad manners, after all, not to make full use of happy hour in all its guises.

Obviously I'd decided to risk servere weather conditions and leave the travelodge wearing my rock-chick jacket and pashmina rather than my BIG Coat. And obviously this meant that it was right on cue for London to serve up one of its biggest downpours of the year. I thought there was a water shortage going on? And it choses today - when I've spent twenty minutes straightening my hair - to try and prove otherwise? Not. Impressed.

So, rather than an elegant walk, the entrance into the Palace Theatre turns into an inelegant run, complete with pashmina over my head. And not in an Hepburn esque way either. But the theatre itself - it's lovely. All thick carpets and unknown corridors. I've been told that the changing room for the FoH-ers is the size of a small broom cupboard and getting changed requires you to have the ability to stand on one foot whilst someone puts their elbow into your ear but - hey - I don't work there. And did I mention the carpets?

Whistle Down the Wind starts and I amused that my only contact with the music from the show is from such great pop luminaries as Tina Arena and the might Boyzone. I get particularly over excited when 'No Matter What' starts and I have to hold in the urge to start my 'chic a cha cha cha's.

Normally I'm not one for stage school children (other than the fact that my children are going to be on stage quicker than you can say 'Annie') but this lot - they're good. In time. More incredibly, they're in tune. I'm impressed.

Forty minutes later and 'No Matter What' is coming round for the tenth time. Once again Lloyd Webber seems to be eating himself.

Ten minutes later? What's that? You've guessed it, 'Chic a cha cha cha'

Ten minutes later? No, that's not 'chic a cha cha cha' - that's the sound of me sobbing.

Two minutes later? Yep, still sobbing.

It's over - phew, I might stop crying now. For the first time in as a long as I can remember the audience for a musical stay sitting. I'm - strangely - pleased.

After a quick bit of stage dooring and a quick - if expensive - drink at a local pub where closing time seems to be 10:45 for no clear reason it's on to Soho's finest Too2Much. We get in free - hopefully not because we're mistaken for being in drag but because we're fabulous - and what's that I see in the corner? A drag queen in pvc swinging around a pole, and Girls Aloud playing in my ear? Seriously, this is really spoiling us.

Kylie's 'Better the Devil You Know' comes on. I try in vain to remember the Steps dance. I can't so resort to generic Steps moves.

They play the gay disco song. In a gay disco. I lasso dance. The night can't get any better.

Some hour in the morning. It's cabaret time. Ohhh.

Some later hour in the morning. Back to the travelodge. We pass some kind of comic/sci-fi shop and I'm like a rabbit in the headlights at all the wonderful Dr Who stuff. I vow to get a David Tennant Doll so that I can play with it though, sadly, I don't think you can take its clothes off.

Bed. Cat kicks me. An hour or so later I return the favour.

Thursday:

It's off to our breakfast cafe. Aren't we cosmopolitan having a cafe several hours from where we live?

Then it's Covent Garden where we are mostly going into Urban Outfitters and trying to spot celebs. Because if any of you read Heat's Spotted page you will know that you're just tripping over celebs in the Covent Garden area. But today - not one. Not even a former Big Brother contestant. Where are they all? And don't try telling me that they're at work because I'm not buying it.

Nik joins us. We continue to try and spot celebs. There are none.

We take the tube over to near the river. I claim there is a Pret close by where Nik will be able to get something to eat. There isn't.

We arrive at The Globe. The sun is shining - predictably I've decided to wear my BIG Coat - and, god, the place looks beautiful. I love The Globe more than I can say. It feels like you're touching something incredibly special when you're there. And all that Shakespeare. Bliss.

Time for Titus and Val and I have taken the seats for the first half, something we're pleased about having calculated that this would be the longer half. We're also slightly pleased about the decision when wine is sprayed over the front few rows of the groundlings. Heh heh.

There's no Boyzone or Tina Arena here but - wow - there's blood. Lots and lots and lots. But that's not my main concern. No - I'm more preoccupied with how much I'm enjoying this production. I've never seen Titus before, but as the play itself - well, it's good in the way that lots of Shakespeare is good, but it's not a particular favourite of mine. I'm partial to a bit of revenge melodrama of the Jacobean type (of which Titus is the grandaddy) but it's early Shakespeare so - well - it's no Lear or Hamlet. And when you're measuring on that scale then it's bound to come off worse. Which is undoubtedly unfair - what with them not being written when Titus was - but then so is life.

But today I'm struck with just how vibrant this play is. And how the term 'horrid laughter' - a book about which I read on my way to my Oxford interview in preparation for being quizzed on The Changeling - was so apt. Because what is portrayed on stage is horrific. Rape. Mutilation. Murder. But it's so horrible, so beyond comprehension that it kicks in the reaction of laughter. And Shakespeare - and this production - was astute enough to recognise this. You shouldn't laugh - but you do simply because otherwise you couldn't keep watching.

And I'm moved because here - in the seeds of Titus - I'm seeing all of the other tragedies. I'm seeing what Shakespeare would build on and twist - there's the splash of Iago - of Lear - of Macbeth - of Brutus and of course of Hamlet and what would become Shakespeare's great take on the revenge tragedy genre. Watching Titus is to peer into the brain of young Will and see all that endless possibility. And once again I can't help but be in awe of everything he was and everything he wrote.

By now it's deep into the second half, and Val and I are now groundlings. We've seen pints of blood, hands cut off, heads waved around the stage - but now - now - I'm acting as a slightly unsuccessful sheild because there are two (fake) dead birds a few metres away from us. They clearly forgot to put that warning on the door.

When Titus is over it's time for one of the other great pleasures in my life - a giftshop. And The Globe has one great giftshop. But I am sensible. I have restraint. I stumble to the till with 2 postcards - three badges - a pen - and a large cool poster that is basically a large timeline of all of Will's plays, with important events tacted on for good measure. I call this restraint as the dent to my bank balance could have been much more servere, I could have bought more Arden Shakespeares after all.

Obviously since I am still lugging the big coat the weather is still glorious. Which also means that the time must be ripe for going to a pub. And then - if only for Sakis and the great god of Eurovision - to a Greek restaurant on the south bank. At this point I spot someone who I recognise. Not recognise in that I went to school with them, but recognise them because they're some kind of famous. Only I don't know her name. And no one else gets a good enough look at her - what with her hat pulled down and refusal to make eye contact - to be able to help. But she's an actress. I know she is. And I'm not just making it up like I did about the Pret.

We've eaten and I still don't know who she is. Now this is starting to bug me.

Kali spera Sakis.

No, I can't remember. This officially makes it a Crap Spot.

Nik and I wave goodbye to Cat and Val at Kings Cross. And then get on with the important business of taking Nik's photo by the 'Platform 9 3/4s' sign.

Friday:

Am lazy and listen to the entirety of the Breakfast Show before making any kind of reasonable movement.

It's off on Coza's Literary Tour: Bloomsbury. Get only a little confused that we can see the reflection of the BT Tower on one of the buildings but we can't see the tower itself. How is that possible?

We find the tower. And Ginny's house. The sun breaks through the clouds just for that moment and it feels like we're in a movie. Not a blockbuster movie, admittedly, but a movie nonetheless.

Surely it's lunch time now - and what's that on Tottenham Court Road - a pub? Well, if we must.

Back on the literary trail. Find the Bloomsbury Group plaque. Get odd looks from the people inside the building as I pose next to it.

It's Ginny's Tavistock Square. And in the corner of the garden there's her monument. I wonder how many times she walked around the garden. Nik wonders how to get a stray leaf out of her picture of the plaque.

Onwards to Russell Square. We walk the wrong way round it, but find a fantastic fountain in the process so all is not lost. T S Eliot's plaque is hidden round the corner of one of the houses but you can't fool me that easily.

I can't see a single tat shop selling anything Bloomsbury related. Points to the Night and Day cafe and to the weird bar that has Virginia Woolf on its door for no clear reason, but I want more.

I trawl a gift shop. T-shirts with the underground map on? Check. Beatles tat? Check. Anything to do with one of the most iconic groups of writers of the 20th century who lived mere footsteps away? No no no.

I see a business plan. I have the shop and products in my vision. I could run tours. That's it, forget the girl band and the writing, a Bloomsbury shop is where it's at.

Literary Tour over, I continue my tour of Prets that weren't the one I mentioned yesterday and we make our way to Oxford Street. Nik buys a pashmina. I am proud.

Back to Nik's. I hate re-packing.

Google is a wonderful thing. Coupled with a vague name, I discover that my mystery spotted of yesterday is Frances Barber. All is right with the world.

Bed. I have a weird dream in which Edith Bowman shouts at me. Don't worry though, I shout back at her.

TBC...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Did I Tell You The One About Two Literary Greats And A Parisian Art Deco Loo?

Did I Tell You The One About Two Literary Greats And A Parisian Art Deco Loo?

So, after a week of getting used to the life of doing lots of fun, interesting things without the need to work I'm back in Leeds. And tomorrow it's back to work. Bad Girls The Musical to be precise. I think that's what's called coming down to earth with a bump.

But before there was the bump there was - in no particular order - drag queens, celeb spotting, musicals, salted and unsalted butter, guidebooks, one of the best Shakespeare productions I've seen in a while, fake French, real French, being escorted to the toilet, Ginny Woolf memorials, lots of monuments, questionable stories about Fitzgerald and Hemmingway, laughing until I cried, pointing at Policemen and some rather nice ice cream. Oh and before I forget - let the world know: I ate frogs legs. And whilst they're not the most attractive thing to look at (and Nik and I refused to eat them with our hands) they really don't taste as you'd expect a frog to taste like. Not that I know what you'd expect a frog to taste like, since green and slimey isn't a flavour. But let me tell you should you spend the rest of your life in ignorance - they just taste of generic white meat.

So I've got two reviews, two 'Coza's Guides to...' and a little overview of Paris for you (though sadly no recipes on how to cook frogs). Not now because I've been filling in a job application this afternoon (and I've got two more to look forward to doing tomorrow) but just you hold on. Because they're going to be good. Some might even say mega.