I shall be directing “Escaping the Storm” as well as having written it. Directing requires a whole different set of skills so I try to keep the two creative facets apart. Once the play is written I cease to become the Writer and become the Director. The text will be treated exactly as if we bought it off the “plays” shelf at Waterstones. If the actors want to discuss the reading of a line I say that the writer is in a pub somewhere and we have to unravel intention from what is before us. Quite often I’ve forgotten writing a line in any case and haven’t a clue why it’s there. On the other hand I trust that the writer knew what he was doing when he wrote it so I’m not going to indulge in cuts or rewrites. At the moment, however, that is a little way in the future. Now, I’ve got to work with the designer (Annette Sumption whom I trust implicitly having worked with her for nearly forty years) and the other vital makers and doers as well as working out schedules for the actors. The development period starts in a fortnight and the actual rehearsals two weeks later. The script is very much of secondary importance at the moment.
When Jane McKell first suggested the idea of writing a play about Marie Stopes to coincide with the centenary of the publication of her book “Married Love”, I was thrilled. Here was an opportunity to write about one of the most important women of the twentieth century who spent time on our own Isle of Portland. I started off knowing only that she was the writer of That Book (one I hadn’t actually read and which was still regarded as shocking by people of my parents’ generation) and that she had gifted the people of Portland the cottages that were to become the Portland Museum. However, it only took me a brief time reading wikipaedia to realise that I was dealing with someone who, sixty years after her death, still generates sharply divided emotions amounting to veneration in some and hatred in others; whose personal life was full of complexities and contradictions and whose ideas present extreme challenges to us in the twenty-first century. Marie Stopes was a brilliant scientist whose work is still recognised today. She was a feminist but jibbed against the strictures of the Suffrage movement. but she also openly courted controversy and laid herself bare in the courts and newspapers of the time. (more…)
Click here for link My new play for children “The Fisherman’s Daughter” opens at the Weymouth Leviathan Literary Festival on Sunday March 13th. It is produced by AsOne Theatre and it’s going to be great. Shipwrecks, storms, pirates and sea monsters and the story of a sad lonely girl befriended by an out of work librarian. Oh, and a one legged story telling sea gull. Please book tickets now to avoid being disappointed.