Chekhov’s 150th Year

A really interesting piece in today’s edition of The Guardian, written by Dan Rebellato – the full text of which can be found here.

Especially liked the very direct question: “What hubristic impulse is it that draws us to rewrite this man and his work?”

Particularly because I’m at a bit of a standstill with Hit The Baby, Natasha!, stuck with knowing that I want to take it in new directions which our preview production did not explore, but not quite managing to summon the energy to tackle it, eighteen months after the event.

Time to put my little Chekhovian thinking cap on, I suspect…

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Revisiting The Red Death

Today I emailed a synopsis for my new, heavily reworked version of The Masque of the Red Death to the lovely Fiona Kelcher back at BBC Radio Birmingham. I’m now going to get a few sample scenes written to send over next.

It’s been very strange going back to the original Poe story and then looking at my script again. The radio version needs to introduce more speaking characters, have more actual events in it, and be less about Prospero’s interior journey than it was before. So that’s what I’ve done. I hope The Powers That Be will like it enough to want to take it up and put it on…

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Lost In Translation

Just seen this really, really interesting article by John M Morrison in The Guardian (1st September 2010), about people making radical changes to plays when they translate them from other languages into English versions.

I hope what I’m doing falls under the okay banner of: “If writers feel the urge to improve or reinvent the classics, they can choose to present the work under their own names and with a new title.”

If you want to change the focus of these plays, I think it’s okay to use the original text as a basis for writing something else, which doesn’t pretend to be the original play and which makes it very clear that it’s your deliberate reworking of the material.

But maybe the danger comes when you keep the original title, keep the original author’s name on it, and sort of allow anyone who doesn’t know the play to assume that that’s what the author themselves has written… That would be bad.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2010/sep/01/lost-translation-war-foreign-dramatists
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The Pain and the Itch

I’m still not used to this not-doing-any-work thing…

We’re off to Melbourne on 23rd August, and we’re officially having a month off for a proper holiday period of rest, relaxation and custard slices. All the same, there is a satisfying pile of playtexts sitting a few feet away from me now which must be squeezed into my suitcase somehow, ready for when work resumes in October…

The plan is to start development work on SIX new productions, which we can then carry on developing when we get back next year. Ooh, my tummy tingles at the very thought of it!

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The Wonderful World of Radio

Had a great little meeting today with the lovely Fiona Kelcher who is a Development Producer for BBC Radio in Birmingham. We’re looking into the possibilities of doing something with “The Masque of the Red Death”, and I’m also pestering to be able to do something with Dennis Wheatley’s “The Devil Rides Out”…

We’ll just have to keep our collective fingers crossed and hope that it might all happen!

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Auteurs

Just been re-reading an old Lyn Gardner blog piece from The Guardian (29th November 2007), the full text of which can be read here.

The bit I like most comes towards the end:

“…We have no difficulty with the idea of director as auteur when it comes to new work, but only with so-called classic texts. …[W]hen it comes to high-art texts such as Euripides, Chekhov and, indeed, Shakespeare, a hands-off sign goes up and they are ring-fenced by cultural barbed wire. It’s nonsense.

If we want these plays to stay alive, then directors must be allowed to realise their vision and use the texts in a way that speaks to them – and is likely to speak to modern audiences. Otherwise the plays will gather dust, or we risk creating a classic tradition that is no more than museum theatre full of pale, creaking ghosts of plays that have haemorrhaged all relevance and meaning.”


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