Category Archives: artworcs

Another book on the way…

Proposed cover

Proposed cover

UPDATED 8/1/14: The script has now been published (ISBN: 978-1-291-62773-2) and is available from from lulu, Amazon and possibly from other booksellers.

I’m planning to publish the script of my 2005 play Upside Down and Back to Front as a book in the near future. I’ve sent off for a proof copy and this is the cover I’m thinking of using.

The play tells the story of a photographer travelling around Worcestershire in 1913 and the present-day story of a batch of pictures being found in an attic. It has loads of characters, which means the cast of three have to work really hard!

The play was commissioned and produced by artworcs at the Number 8 Community Arts Centre in Pershore. It was fun to do.

The cover image features my Gran in the hop yards when she was a girl.

More news on this soon.

artworcs and a psychogeographical bike ride

>Last Thursday I travelled up to Worcester for a wake. Like all good wakes it was a cheerful affair, but it marked a passing.

In 2003 Sheila Farrell, Deborah Rees, Peter Wild and I set up an arts production company called artworcs. This was partly a reaction to the City Council cutting funding to the city’s producing theatre, The Swan, and partly a desire to create a company to produce cross-art form work utilising the professional talent based in and around Worcester.

Between 2003 and 2007 artworcs created a whole series of projects. These included Upside Down and Back to Front in 2005 (visual arts, education workshops and a newly commissioned play) and The Worcester Pilgrim (visual arts, early music and Alex Jones’ play of the same name performed in Worcester Cathedral). The company collaborated with many great artists and educators in all of these projects.

Although the team remain individually active in the arts, artworcs is now closed for business. We achieved a lot.

The wake was a great chance to catch up with Sheila, Deborah and Peter.

Photo: Charlie McCarthy, Paul Clarkson and Polly Lister in my play Upside Down and Back to Front (photo: Robert Day)

I was staying in the Midlands for the weekend’s 20/20 conference in Birmingham (I’ll write about that in the next few days).

Friday was an empty day, so I got on my bike and headed over Ankerdine to Herefordshire via the Bromyard Downs. This was a ride through my training grounds of 30 years ago. The rhythm of the landscape (slower than it used to be) and the unfolding map of my memory made it a special ride.

It’s not quite nostalgia – physical effort keeps you in the moment. But there’s a kind of muscle memory (not always accurate – I was caught out on some bends) that speaks the past through you. It makes me realise how little I know the area I now live in. It takes years to get the whole map in your head.

>Stuff

>The time trialling season begins for me tomorrow with a 10 mile event. I will report (eventually).

Next weekend I have a weekend off the bike to go and see my artworcs friends. I am also attending the 20:20 conference in Birmingham where my short play A Page Turner is receiving its first performances alongside 19 other short plays by writers who attended the MA / MPhil(B) in Playwriting Studies at Birmingham University.

In other news: 

My sister, Marie, won two Silver medals at New Zealand’s National Masters Championships. She was second in the 500 metre TT and the Individual Pursuit. Well done (again), Marie.

We took last weekend off to celebrate Pat’s birthday. Two films at the BFI: Letter for an Unknown Woman on the Saturday and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner on Sunday. The former harks back to the well-made play of the late nineteenth century (the heroine – a good woman who does a bad thing – handily gets a disease that kills her as a kind of moral retribution. The sort of plot that only survives in opera nowadays). The latter has a tight cause and effect, three act structure that felt much more modern. I didn’t cry watching Spencer Tracy‘s last performance… I didn’t. I don’t cry. It was a good weekend.

Today I was at Hillingdon cycle circuit helping Ray and the rest of the club run a British Cycling Go Ride event for school children new to the sport. It was great fun with some really committed performances by the kids. It was very cold though.

>Walk Through Walls

>Another walls post … a more positive one.

We had the artworcs company AGM in Worcester today. After the official business was concluded I had a chance to experience Walk Through Walls (two audio-walks created by Kate Chapman and Charlotte Goodwin with original music from Nina West). The walks have an audio-accompaniment on an MP3 player. The music, documentary recollections and drama are edited together brilliantly.

The walk that tracks through the Diglis area of the city is particularly moving. It’s an old industrial area between canal and river – Worcester Porcelain was made here until recently. Now acres and acres are being developed as apartment blocks. The designs are … unambitious (think 70s student hall of residence), the standard of finish is adequate at best, and the history of the area is obliterated or cheaply pastiched. The testimonies and drama on the audio highlight this rape of the area for profit. The area needed to be redeveloped, but there’s no heart in this rush to generate investment ‘product’.

The other audio-walk (centred on Fort Royal Park and Wylds Lane) is more elegiac. The views from the Park take in the Malvern Hills and the (strangely over-polished) Cathedral. The rape of the 1960s – when four lane roads were driven through the medieval city dividing the centre from the Cathedral and riverside – is visible, but less immediate than the damage at Diglis.

Walk Through Walls was the fifth and final part of the 18 month long Worcester Pilgrim project (there was a production of new play, an artists’ books exhibition, an early music education project and the audio-walks). It’s been a demanding time for the company, but the work has been of a high quality. It was a long day, with the drive there and back, but well worth the trip to catch up with my fellow directors and to experience these walks.

>Raining

>

I’m in Birmingham and it’s raining. P is off to Liverpool for the weekend. This should mean I have the weekend dedicated to writing and shed putting-up (I shy away from the phrase ‘shed erection’ here to avoid startling the nervous), but unfortunately I have a meeting in Worcester tomorrow. This will mean a 6am start and a late return.

The meeting – on artworcs’ Worcester Pilgrim Project – is important, but I dislike going back to to the city. I lived in and around the place for 28 years, working in the same office for 18 of those. Eventually I ran away to the circus (i.e. writing plays). Things went well and the city’s theatre (The Swan) was a key part of my development. Then in 2002, out of the blue, the Tory-controlled City Council cut the theatre’s funding and professional production was lost. The loss of the company was dispiriting and hit me and others hard. Four years later the subject still makes me angry. Moving to London is a big part of laying these ghosts.

On the positive side, I’ll be meeting up with good friends and planning high quality professional arts production for the city. The work goes on.

>The Radio Times

>I’ve just been down to the High Street to buy a copy of The Radio Times. My first radio play is on Radio 4 next week (Tuesday at 2.15) and I wanted to see the details in print. And there they are! Unfortunately the play didn’t make the cover – Daniel Craig has some new film coming out.

The play, called Upside Down and Back to Front, is an adaptation of a stage play I wrote for artworcs. Cutting it to half the length, increasing the cast size from 3 to 8 and trying to work out how to write for radio almost stymied me. It’s a very different play with a very different meaning (?).

Later – I’ve just spotted that they’ve mis-credited one of the actors: Florence is played by Alex Tregear, not Alex Kelly (both great actors).