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Last call for tomorrow at the Theatre Royal, in The Studio, from 4.30 – 6.30 pm you can be there at a rehearsed reading of five new pieces for theatre which will have been intensely explored through the day with Director, Ken Gouge, and four actors who have never seen the work before. The writers have been meeting regularly as a peer group to develop their work, also generously hosted by the Theatre Royal. This is the second such event. It’s free to the public at the reading stage – the first event was much appreciated by all concerned as a fascinating insight into the process of turning a script into a performance piece. If you’re a writer, an actor, a director or someone who loves the theatre arts, do come if you’re free.
ALSO NOTE the Playwrights Scratch Project in the D&G Arts Festival on June 4th – this one with an open submission for writers CLOSING DATE for scripts is 26th April. For full details e mail firstname.lastname@example.org or see the Creative Scotland page here:
Extracts from three brand new scripts will be presented by actors at a directed, rehearsed reading. Selected from across Scotland and Cumbria, the scripts are read for the first time by the company that morning, then the director and actors get to work. This event is a must for those interested in how new writing for performance develops. There will be an informal gathering in the bar post-show to discuss the plays with the playwrights, actors and the director, Ken Gouge, Edinburgh Festival Fringe First winner. See the Festival brochure page http://www.dgartsfestival.org.uk/event
We’re having a lazy Sunday…..
So here’s a story (BHD made earlier)…
All In A Row
And you know what he said to her, when I introduced them? He said of man’s desiring? Joy Of Man’s Desiring. It’s from a hymn. And he did that thing with his voice at the end, to make it a question.
Mary smiled, and bit her lip gently.
And what did she say?
Well, she was all over him, metaphorically. She was like a school girl. Well, perhaps not like one of today’s school girls, but you know what I mean.
You do have to give him full marks, for effort, she said, tilting her head and looking at Martyn over her glasses.
Do you? I thought it was all rather cheesy.
Lighten up, Martyn. Harry always flirts, with everyone, you said.
Martyn shot her a glance. She hadn’t met him, had she? He’d always tried to keep Mary and Harry apart, keep her in reserve, so to speak, keep her clean.
You’re better off without her. If she can be won over that easily.
Won over by Harry, Martyn thought. Not won over by him, by Martyn. She hadn’t been a pushover for Martyn. He rubbed the flat of his palm around the rim of his wine glass, and it squealed delightedly.
I suppose so.
No suppose about it! Drink your wine. Relax. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.
Well, Martyn thought, I don’t know about that. In fact, from what he’d seen on the news and read in the papers that was the last thing there was. The trouble was, the sort of fish Mary was talking about weren’t on quotas. They were fair game for anybody, even for each other these days. They were fair game for the Harries of this world. But it was just a metaphor, a dead metaphor, a worn out, used up metaphor.
There are plenty of other pebbles on the beach, he said out loud, not meaning to.
You’re right. I shan’t worry about it anymore.
But he couldn’t help worrying. Wasn’t anybody safe from Harry? Wasn’t there anyone who Harry wouldn’t have a pop at? And always some clever little witticism, popping off the top of his head. Martyn wondered if they really were that spontaneous. Did he rehearse them beforehand, work them out in advance? He’d known Joy’s name in advance. Martyn knew that, because he’d made the mistake of telling him. I’m going out with that girl, he’d said, from the Health Club.
Oh? Which one’s that? Harry had asked, all innocence. Joy, Martyn had said, and then, and this was the really stupid thing, he’d said, why don’t you come and join us for a drink; because that’s what he always did, with Harry. He always asked him along, because Harry was Martyn’s sidekick. Or was it the other way around?
Well, he’d not made that mistake tonight. He’d said, we’re going for a quiet little drink together at the Curwen Arms.
What? That little place out in the sticks?
That’s the one. A little, quiet, tete-a-tete- for two.
And Harry had said, I thought you and this Mary weren’t like that?
You know, an item.
We’re not an item, Martyn had insisted, and they weren’t either. They were just good friends, and, so long as Harry kept his nose out, good friends they would stay. Unless of course they became an item, which Martyn hadn’t got around to testing out just yet.
Maybe he had a little book of them, Harry: those clever little things he said; ready to fling into the conversation when the chance arose. Women liked that sort of thing. How many times had he heard them say, because he makes me laugh. Bastard!
At least Mary wouldn’t fall for something like that, even if she did give him full marks for trying.
He took a long drink of the wine, tilting his head back as he did so, which brought the foyer of the hotel into his line of vision. Harry was standing just inside the revolving door, looking around. Martyn choked on the wine and two red dribbles like tinted tears ran down his chin.
Steady on Martyn. No need to drink it quite that fast.
Harry, he said.
Let’s not think about Harry any more, she said, reaching forward and laying her hand on his arm.
No! Harry, he said, nodding towards the door. At which point Harry spotted him, put a broad smile on his face, and crossed the room towards them. Bloody hell, Martyn said.
Mary twisted around in her seat. A rather good looking man, in a very well cut suit, that somehow seemed as casual as jeans and a T-shirt, was striding towards them with a cheeky grin on his face.
Martyn, you sly old thing, Harry said, thrusting a hand out.
What are you doing here? Martyn demanded, ignoring it.
And you must be? Harry said, and the hand twisted, into an open palmed gesture of supplication into which Mary, without thinking, laid her own palm. Harry’s palm ascended, carrying the back of her hand to his lips.
Mary, she said, half-amused.
He brushed the back of her hand with his moustache, his brown eyes gazing into hers. Quite contrary, I’ll bet….
There’s lots going on….
Did you know BHDandMe are putting on a Workshop as part of the Colonsay Book Festival (April 23/24th)?
Before that, BHD hopes to be at the Big Lit Weekend at Gatehouse of Fleet, on Friday 15th April to Sunday 17th.
Also we’ve been busy putting up books on Amazon. There’s a second volume of the Readings For Writers sequence: Love and Nothing Else begins with a look at a story by Stacy Aumonier, and there are eleven others – some have appeared on the Thresholds website and some on this blog, including the final essay, comparing Huston’s film with Arthur Miller’s original short story of The Misfits.
I’ve also finally got around to publishing ‘An Early Frost‘. These 10 poems (with the additional ‘Ullswater Requiem’ sequence) were written during my time working at Bank House, above Howtown pier on Ullswater in the English Lake District. All the poems except one, have appeared in magazines, on websites or in anthologies, and the Ullswater Requiem was one of a group of poems that won a Sir Patrick Geddes Memorial Trust award – the first, I think, made to a piece of Creative work.
Waiting On the Tide’s Turn
This story came to me from a retired head-teacher. His school was one of the village schools on the north Cumbrian coast, where the Eden and Waver and Wampool rivers run out into the estuary of the Solway Firth. It is low lying land; so low that the high tide laps and washes the shoreline pastures, and below their crumbling edges the mud is smooth as silk, and soft, and the gullies and little streams that run into the estuary, that lie, mere trickles between high, mud-soft banks when the tide is out, fill to the brim with rushing waters when the tide has run in.
The story involved one of the mothers at the school he ran. She was an aristocratic lady: haughty, imperious. She was better with horses and dogs than she was with people. She kept the dogs on a short lead and barked out orders that they obeyed instantly. They gazed at with attentive eyes awaiting her next command. She kept her horses on a tight rein and they pricked up their ears when she was nearby, and rolled their eyes at the sight of the short whip she carried. She wore dark stockings and tweed skirts, with a flounce of something soft and white at her throat.
She used to bring the dogs with her when she delivered her children to my informant’s school. She had no cage in the back of the car, and would let the dogs out to be patted by the children. But they wouldn’t jump up and make a fuss like ordinary dogs. SIT, she would command, and they would do so, immediately, and stare up at her as the children crowded round to pat their heads. Then when the tide had subsided she would rap out IN, and the dogs would leap back into the car and take their places, not on the seats, but on the floor behind the driver and passenger seats, where they would curl up and tentatively sleep.
One day, the ex-headmaster told me, she came into the school at lunchtime. The dogs were not with her. She looked distressed. In fact, she looked as if she had aged several years in the few hours since the morning. Have you seen my dogs? She asked. Nobody had seen them since that morning’s school run. She was distraught, and the colour had risen to her cheeks. It was unheard of that she did not know where they were.
That evening, when she collected her children she looked even worse. The headmaster was so concerned that he reached out to touch her arm. That she did not pull away, or look scornfully at him when he did so was perhaps even more disturbing to him. She looked embarrassed, he told me. I’d never seen her show any signs of human doubt before. The dogs were not in her car. Have you found the dogs, he asked, thinking that he knew what the answer would be.
Her voice faltered as she spoke.
I had forgotten them, she said. This morning, when I left after dropping off the children I had taken them for a run on the foreshore. There was a ewe, struggling in the mudflats of the estuary. I told the dogs to sit, and wait, while I tried to free it. It was mired deep, and I struggled with it for maybe half an hour until it finally came clear. I was in such mess then. It scampered away, as they do, over the sea washed turf, as if nothing had happened, but I was soaked and filthy. I went back to the car and drove home. I showered and changed, and then I went down to have coffee. It was only then that I realised the dogs were not with me. I couldn’t think what had happened to them, where they might be. They have never wandered off before. She said, I thought perhaps, they might have come to the school, which is why I drove over to ask you if you had seen them. It was when I turned back that I recalled the events of the morning. They were always such obedient dogs, and I had told them to wait.
And were they still there, he asked?