Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

On a week when a post I wrote over at the other place got a little bit of attention (let me quote "painful/ hilarious" from Spacemakers and, from the wonderful Londonist, "beautifully documented" - yep, that is the sound of my ego rattling), and a play I wrote was performed and Write By Numbers opened up our shop it is kind of wonderful that today marks my fifth year blogging on DA. FIVE YEARS.

This in itself deserves another, proper post when I do my traditional look-back at the year. But not tonight because, well, SLEEP and whatnot.

So really - Happy Birthday DA.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ovid Reworked - The Brixton Project

Ovid Reworked - The Brixton Project

I could list all the ways that I heart this poster but we would be here for some time. So just look at it and see its glory:


As well as co-curating the festival (11 writers, 3 directors, 15 actors, 2 musicians, 1 installation artist and counting) I've written a piece called Skipping Games which is a rather Carol Ann Duffy/ Margaret Atwood inspired take on the story of Phaeton (I was going to write a brief synopsis of the myth but you might as well follow the link; needless to say my take on it is a little bit different, involving as it does Phaeton's three sisters and a skipping rope).

It is, needless to say, all rather exciting. And terrifying. Probably in equal measure.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Yet More Songs For Polar Bears

Yet More Songs For Polar Bears

"Get in quickly!" Arsenal Fan says.

I'm standing in the doorway to his house, covered in snow and somewhat perturbed that it has taken me almost two hours to do a journey from South West London to South East London. Particularly when the snow on the ground, at this stage at least, consists of what I can only describe as a light dusting.

It is times like this when I roll my eyes.

Thankfully Arsenal Fan has already put the heating on and goes about making me some much needed coffee.

"I did think that if you'd asked me to come to yours and I'd looked out of the window and seen all of the snow I would have stayed at home" Arsenal Fan says when I have thawed out enough that it is safe to say this.

"And this is where I can - for once - point out that I am Northern and I scoff at your Southern idea of snow".

I smile, resplendent in Northern Superiority.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

...That is the question.

...That is the question.

Today Dean and I had one of our semi-regular daytrips to Ikea (I use the term 'daytrip' with not quite as much irony as you might imagine; Dean and I are possibly the only two people in Britain who actually enjoy an Ikea outing) when I noticed a bookcase that appeared to be covered in brightly coloured graffiti. And this is Ikea where the overwhelming colour scheme is beige thus making a bookcase covered in green graffiti as noticeable as I would be at a glow-sticked rave.

It was only when I got closer (undoubtedly pulled in by the sight of colour that was not beige or cream or white) that there was something a little bit special about the graffiti...

Shakespeare Does Ikea

And in case you'd like a close up:

To be or not to be

Shakespeare graffiti! On a bookcase in Ikea!

Which obviously made me both excited and confused in equal measure. Because I don't understand the demographic Ikea is aiming for with this one. Brightly coloured graffiti says to me tweenage boy. Whilst Shakespeare says, well, me! And obviously the tweenage boy is going 'what is all that Shakespeare crap about?' and I'm going 'what is that brightly coloured graffiti crap about?'. Thus Ikea, the home of offensive to no one, has created a piece of furniture which NO ONE could possibly want. (Obviously if you have this item in your home I apologise...actually, no I don't. Especially if you have it in the orange version).

We did subsequently find the bookcase in black and (somewhat unsurprisingly) it seems to have made its way into the sale (how could Ikea not see that one coming?).

If music be the food of love...

As if it were haunting us, it also popped up in the special bargains section with a shop-soiled one (in day-glow orange) for the pricely sum of £19.99.


Me neither.

[Though, Ikea, should you wish to sell me one in black for under £5 then it would officially qualify as a comedy purchase and, y'know, we might have a deal.]

Monday, January 04, 2010

52 Weeks, 52 Songs (2009): Part One

52 Weeks, 52 Songs (2009):
Part One

For an explanation of what this is go here, to listen to any of these songs the playlist is here.

1. 'Meet Me By The Rivers Edge' The Gaslight Anthem.

For a good portion of December 2008 and January 2009 I played Sound of '59 on repeat. I played it so much that when I hear it now it plunges me back to those weeks in all their heady glory of falling for someone new, living in Forest Hill and David Tennant's back getting better quick enough for me to see him for the third time in Hamlet. Worryingly, it also reminds me intensely of writing about Kneehigh Theatre Company and adaptation. Oh well. Of all of the songs on that album 'Meet Me By The Rivers Edge' was my favourite - it had me with one line: 'you wore Audrey Hepburn pearls'.

I saw the band live at Latitude in the summer and, thankfully, they were as wonderful as I wanted them to be. It also led to the discovery that, maybe, I might actually fancy a man who had tattoos. I'm not sure if my mind's processed this one yet.

2. 'You Can't Count On Me' Counting Crows

I heart Adam Duritz and, really, I could have picked almost any song, especially since I like writing to them. But 'You Can't Count On Me' was my favourite from Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings and it packed some punch in January.

Sorry, did I mention that I heart Adam Duritz?

3. 'Summertime' NKOTB.

Some times you just have to do something to placate your inner eleven year old. And some times that thing has to be whooping and considering the molestation of Joey NKOTB at the Hammersmith Apollo. Seriously I cannot utter enough superlatives for how great that night in January was (though I did give it a go here). 'Summertime' is a piece of old-skool boyband pop and shows just how glorious such music can be. In twenty years time will JLS be dancing in co-ordinated outifts at the Hammersmith Apollo? Some how I doubt it.

4.'Snow Day' Lisa Loeb.


I honestly can't remember when, prior to February 2009, I had a 'snow day'. And, even now if you mention 'Snow Day' in London everyone immediately knows that you mean February 2009, just as the rest of England (without even getting the Camericans started) quite rightly roll their eyes. For 24 hours everything stopped and instead there was much picture-postcard photo taking and snowmen building and strangers talking to each other in the street (which in London is obviously a sign of an impending Apocalypse). Ms Loeb's snow day is, I posit, more of a metaphorical than literal one but, back in February, my brain couldn't help but make the link (see also the fact that I named my posts abut the snow after the title of a Snow Patrol album...cough, geek).

5. 'First Love' Emmy The Great.

Do you know how much I hate the Alexandra Burke version of 'Hallelujah'? Let's just say that it is almost as much as I hate Leona Lewis's version of 'Run' (Simon Cowell, step away from my music collection, NOW). I heard that Burke didn't like 'Hallelujah' when she first heard it which, frankly, says it all. But don't let my rant sidetrack you from the greatness of 'First Love' which has the kind of intertextual relationship with 'Hallelujah' which makes me squeak with joy. Some times, for no clear reason, a song just makes it on repeat play and this was the one that dominated the first week or so of February for me.

6. 'Free Fallin' John Mayer.

Believe it or not, I'd never listened to John Mayer before February this year. This is pretty much standard boy with guitar material and as such I am one big sucker for it. Makes me think of writing at the table in the bay window in my former Forest Hill flat.

7. 'Little Victories' Matt Nathanson.

There's a point in foreverafterwards, the play I wrote as my final project for my MA, where Alice, the lead character says 'You were nice to me, even when I didn't deserve it'. The response that comes is: 'That's a little victory for me'.

I wrote that line because of this song, just as I borrowed stole lines from Mr Nathanson elsewhere. Even though he didn't release any new material in 2009 not having heard of him until the early part of the year I've had the joy of discovering his entire output (and there are years worth, I can only conclude that he must have been making albums when he was a toddler). In particular Nathanson was a long term companion during the endless days and evenings trapped in Goldsmiths College library (causing Arsenal Fan to roll his eyes muchly at the sound of boy-with-guitar leaking from my earphones) and if Counting Crows begot Films About Ghosts then Matt Nathanson begot foreverafterwards (and probably After Eurydice too). I probably owe him a pint.

8. 'Observatory Crest' Captain Beefheart and His Magical Band

I'm sitting on one of the squashy sofas in Nice Pub, food in front of me, talking to Surfer Girl and Arsenal Fan. I notice Breakfast Club Boy the moment he rounds the bar, largely because of the combination of his rather noticeable hair and the large earphones he is wearing. He's got the kind of earphones that immediately say 'Music Geek'. They're black and disproportionately large and make his hair stick up and -

They're now on my head.

Without hello or how are you or would you like your hair squashing with my earphones he says:

"Captain Beefheart".

Captain Beefheart is one of those wet patches of absence in my musical knowledge. An absence I didn't know was there until Mr Beefheart came up in conversation as such things are wont to do when you have lunch with a music geek.

Breakfast Club Boy scrolls through his ipod until he finds the right album (for, with hopeless predictability it appears that he has the entire back catalogue at his hands).

"Try this - "

He hands his ipod over -

I brace myself for though we both like a boy with guitar (albeit in slightly different ways) it remains that Breakfast Club Boy thinks that my taste in music is bland and predictable and I think his is shouty and unmelodic.

Yet, as the opening chords fill my ears I feel surprise flood me -

"That wasn't quite what I expected..." I say after I've listened to a couple of songs.

Breakfast Club Boy smirks.

"Told you so".

[Postscript: months later Mr Beefheart cropped up again on The Mighty Snow Patrol's 'mixtape' Late Night Tales. Stalking I'd call it.]

9. 'Someone Else's Life' Joshua Radin.

Mr Radin was another of those BwGs who characterised the early months of 2009. Broken, soulful - hey, I was writing about a play about a failing relationship this was my bread and butter.

10. 'A Dustland Fairytale' The Killers.

It's not quite the song that goes with this photo:


But when Bourbon, Old Friend and (Lovely) Tour Guide saw The Killers in Newcastle in March it was the first time that I'd heard 'A Dustland Fairytale' live (my favourite song on Day and Age, fact fans). It didn't have the throw-yourself about impetus of 'Human', or the they-really-should-play-this-in-Doctor-Who-montages of 'Spaceman', or the spine-tingling chanting of 'All These Things I've Done', and certainly not the sheer unmitigated brilliance (genuis) of 'Mr Brightside' but I couldn't help but feel that this was painfully beautiful. And, anyway, 'Mr Brightside' would make the list of songs that defined my life (never mind a particular year) so it's only fair that this very 2009 association got a look in.

[Postscript: I got stick from some quarters for my love of The Killers in March '09 but I do not care. I heart The Killers.]

52 Weeks, 52 Songs (2009)

52 Weeks, 52 Songs (2009)

So I mentioned that I had a review of the year fandango in the planning and I'm now ready to reveal that it is based around the idea of '52 weeks, 52 songs'. Which is pretty much what it says on the tin in as much as I've picked 52 songs that have somehow or other defined a week (or weeks) of my life in 2009 and then made them into one playlist of greatness (and, erm, greatness though they might all be it has given way to some odd bedfellows. The bit where Cheryl Cole gives way to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds is one of the particular highlights of music which shouldn't ever be put next to each other). And because this is 2010 and all that - I've created the playlist on spotify so you can (if you are so inclined and spotified-up) listen to any of the tracks that might take your fancy.

But what is a playlist on its own? Because of course each of the 52 songs has a story, or a feeling, or a moment and I've written something for each of them so that when I look back I will have a synopsis of the year in 52 handy bite-size, soundtracked nuggets (if I needed them, Alanis Morrisette followed up by The Carpenters clearly points to a couple of weeks of emotional turmoil). Some of the extracts are mini scenes, some are links, some are a few lines as I explain why I absolutely couldn't get through the list and not put something by Counting Crows on there.

In terms of songs I've restricted myself to one song by all but three artists who sneak in there with two each (it may come as no surprise that one of them is The Mighty Snow Patrol [owners of song of the decade according to Channel Four, the most played song on the radio of the noughties according to official figures and DT's choice for 'Song of The Decade'. Feel my pride - and I was there when Gary Lightbody said that we were the first crowd ever to sing 'Chasing Cars' back at him]). There are some ommisions, some technical [Michael Nyman's 'The Musicologist Score which is not officially available], some because the realisation came too late. I might give a nod to these at the end. But I think the final list straddles those songs I've loved this year, with those that have stuck in my head and those I will love forever.

Part One: Song 1 -10 (Winter to Spring)

Part Two: (Spring to Summer)

Part Three: (Summer to Autumn)

Part Four: (Autumn to Winter)

Part Five: Winter

Saturday, January 02, 2010

"Louder, Louder, And We'll Run For Our Lives"

"Louder, Louder, And We'll Run For Our Lives"

[Warning: contains scenes of a fangirl nature. Proceed at your own risk]

Dear The Tenth Doctor,

Child of the eighties that I am you were certainly not my first Doctor. Neither will you be my last. I confess - I felt a thrill of expectation when I saw the trailer for Doctor Eleven's first outings. And, though I love RTD, Steven Moffat has remained the writer I look forward to most of all and the idea of him in charge - that would be the sound of a fangirl shrieking.

But, to borrow a phrase, you were my Doctor.

You were wildly arrogant, fiercely intelligent, gloriously ridiculous. You cared too much and yet were, on more than one occasion, effortlessly dismissive. You loved words, how they felt in your mouth, the sounds they made. You made mistakes and because of everything you were those mistakes were writ large. You loved a joke, a crazy plan and running. Especially the running.

Some of that is simply part of who the Doctor is, part of the trajectory that started all those years ago, but it was all you in a very special way.

You never fired a gun but you turned people into soldiers.

You loved but you would never say it.

You were achingly brave and, though I worried for moment as you laid crouched in the snow, you never gave up hope.

You raged.

You had the most friends, the most bonds, of any Doctor and yet you were the only one to regenerate alone.

And, yes, I cried. Cried from the moment that it looked like you would have to fire that gun. Cried as you thought, just for a fleeting second, that you had beaten destiny. Cried when I heard the gentle four knocks that came from where we could never have expected them to come. Cried as you made the choice we always knew you would. Cried as you (and maybe us too) got your 'reward'. Cried as the Universe sung you to sleep.

'I don't want to go'

No, I didn't want you to either.

In addressing this letter I have, I admit, been a bit disingenuous. An open letter to a fictional character. But then is that more odd than an open letter to someone who will never read it? I don't know.

I was going to write two letters before I realised that in writing to the Tenth Doctor I could say what I wanted to say in one. For the Tenth Doctor was nothing if not the meeting of two men; writer and actor. This is me, I hold them both in awe.

RTD, I rolled my eyes at your stunt casting (and then had to unroll them as quickly as they invariably worked), I quibbled about your plotholes and, even now, do not get me started on your use of deus ex machina. Your conclusions could not - in maybe all but Doomsday and The End Of Time - surpass their buildup.

That you spoilt Rose for me slightly by the ending you ultimately chose to give her.

And, let us not forget, the human Dalek idea was allowed to get to screen on your watch.

But - I thought this because I wanted more from you, more that was there. Your ambition, your daring, the places where you were willing to go. That, at your best, you shunned what was easy and went with what was complex and challenging and invariably more interesting. That you saw Doctor Who not as sci-fi (though of course it was and is) but as drama. That there is a heart beating under all your writing. That you could always, always, write a line. And, maybe more than your ability to write a line that I could clutch to me, that you knew absolutely what should be unsaid. That you let your actors breathe.

As someone who firmly remembers sitting with her father watching re-runs of Doctor Who on Sunday mornings when can't have been more than five or six I have a lot to thank you for. It's odd how fervent fanboys and girls of the show are, but as a fanboy too you know that more than most. So, even though you didn't cast me as a companion somewhere down the line - thank you.

As for Tennant, your Doctor had so much soul it actually hurt. That joy, that enthusiasm, that - it has always been clear - you were loving it as much as we were.

Soul's the thing we drama writers can't write. Try as we might, the thing behind the eyes evades us. That's entirely you. And you conjured up so much and let it hang. You made me laugh. You made me cry. You saw the darkness and made the Doctor epic and haunting in a way I cannot remember from anyone else. I believed entirely everything you had seen, everything you had done, everything that made you defiant and broken and triumphant.

Above everything, I loved you most in your silence.

You were, quite simply, magnificent.

Mr Tenth Doctor, and all you represent, I think I'm going to miss you.

Love Corinne.x

PS. Allons-y.