Thursday, May 16, 2013

Big Cities

Oh hey, yeah. Guess what?

I got funding for my show! All I had to do was write a really long and complicated application, weep over an Excel spreadsheet and try and work out how to say "please please give me money please" so that it didn't look like "please please give me money please" which, quite frankly, is comma-deficient and Arts Council Inappropriate (ACI).

(Side question: am I still supposed to be trying to be Arts Council Appropriate (ACA)? Might the mere inclusion of the sentence "please please give me money please" in this otherwise roundly insignificant blog post have a negative impact on my future career? Please advise.)

I wanted to write a mature and totally ACA blog post about all of this. I wanted to include thoughtful rehearsal room musings. Maybe a couple of selfies in a dance studio, holding in my stomach in a pair RADA-regulation warm up pants. I hoped I would suddenly get all serious about everything, and start saying things like "it's really more about process than product" in between mouthfuls of quinoa and acai berry salad.

Unfortunately I couldn't quite work out how to do that.

I did, however, want to write something about it here. I wouldn't be doing this show at all if it wasn't for this blog. This hangover-strewn, template-from-2005, hey-have-you-heard-of-this-new-thing-called-MySpace place where I've tracked failures (e.g. being dumped) and successes (e.g. being dumped, as it turned out), moving cities and jobs and haircuts*, where I have been comforted, amused and moved by online people living in far away places. If it wasn't for this blog I wouldn't know what I sounded like when I wrote words.

(As it turns out I sound like the previous sentence. Move aside, Shakespeare.)

*this is not true. I have had pretty much the same "haircut" since 1996.

So now I'm doing a show called Bright Lights, for which this blog formed the basis. These are the words about the show:

It's Léonie's last day. Tomorrow she escapes office drudgery to fulfill her ambition of becoming a wildly-successful, internationally-renowned vocal artist. As philosopher R. Kelly once said: "if you can dream it, then you can do it". Well, she's dreamt it, and now she's ready to do it.

With looped vocals and percussive stationery, Léonie creates music live on stage as she tells a comic, irreverent and touching story of disappointment, triumph, and things never quite working out the way you might expect.

Bright Lights is an antidote to the ever-looming spectre of Simon Cowell. Told with warmth and wit, this is a story of stepping away from familiar comforts into the horrifying potential of the unknown.

A few weeks ago I went down to London to work with word master Inua Ellams (note: he does not call himself Word Master Inua Ellams) (he probably should, though) who is working with me as dramaturg,

On the first morning I walked to the rehearsal room and felt terribly nervous. I knew I was nervous because I couldn't take a full breath and I kept stopping to take "arty" photos on my phone, such as the following:

(I call this "Hackney: Sprung".)

As it turned out, I was silly to be nervous, and even sillier to waste time taking crap photos as a delaying tactic. Over the next few days we picked through the threads of the story, creating conflicts, tension, character and locations, and generally magicking it all about a bit (technical term).

At lunchtimes we ate curry and strolled up and down a deliriously sunny Brick Lane, chasing hipsters and pigeons. My 2005, office-bound self would have been delirious with joy. (My 2013 self played it cool, obv.)

By the end of the three days we had filled reams of notecards with conflicts, responses, story goals, triggers and all sorts of exciting things. I took another arty picture:

(I call this "Word Master Inua Ellams Poses With Some Stationery")

Ben and I stayed at my sister Sophie's flat while in London. Ben, it soon transpired, had only really made the trip down south to hang with his BFF.

(I call this "IloveyounoIloveyounoIloveyou")

We hung out in Sophie's trendy flat, and everyday I got to rifle through Sophie's trendy clothes to pick an outfit ("I don't know why you even bother packing to come down here"). Ben and I went to the theatre twice (to see the Low Road at the Royal Court and Little Bulb's stupendous Orpheus at the BAC) and generally had an excellent, Londony time.

Since then I have been doing admin and edmin*, and working with producer Rachel, sound designer Dan and set designer Ro. I have been loitering about at Contact (who are commissioning me for this endeavour): writing, practicing, planning. Next week I get to go back down to London and work with brilliant, fierce and inspiring director Montserrat Gili for three days in a prelude to the long rehearsal process in a few weeks.

*edmin = admin for the Edinburgh Festival. I invented this term last year. If you know that someone else invented it first then, please, do not tell me. I don't want to know.

It is all desperately exciting (for me). What with this, and all the Eggs Collective joy shimmering on the horizon, as well as my solo music stuff and the Geddes Loom plans, well. I don't know where I get the time to sit around wondering how many oatcakes is too many. Luckily I am excellent at time management and I know that once you hit ten you are probably pushing it.

(Oh, are you in Edinburgh this summer? Come and find me, we'll hang out!)