Friday, 28 June 2013

Writing a new play.

This is how writing is with me.

I have an idea, a eureka moment and from that idea comes lots of ideas for a story.  I think writing is all about stories, not about grammer or spelling the story is king.  When we hear a story over the garden fence or in the pub, it's a nerd that corrects the story tellers grammer, if the story is good the audience will listen, no matter what.

So, I then chew the idea over, if it doesn't have an ending it isn't an idea.  The end is the most important thing for me.  I want the audience to leave fulfilled and not just "I woke up and it was a dream".   A story is like a map or a journey on a map, it needs a start and a finish, it's no good starting out with your map and not know where you are going.

I think about the idea for a long time, different paths the characters could go down, scenes, drama.

I write in notebooks, clean new notebooks and I make drawings and doodles with different coloured pens.

And then, when I've thought it through I start to write.  When I write new ideas come, different paths, better narrative and by instinct I know which to follow and which to leave.

When I have finished the first write through I save it as draft one and go back to the beginning and start again.

I am never really satisfied, never.

Monday, 17 June 2013

What to do next.

When you get to the end of the show, what next?

So you have packed away the set, costumes and for a while the show, what next?  After all the back slapping and bottles and parties all I'm left with is a shop to empty and a tiredness you wouldn't believe.  I work on projects all the way from their conception to the funding, to sweeping up at the end.  I am responsible for licences, contracts, negotiations, I write reports and even write the script.

When the lights go down and the party is over and everyone walks away I sit down and think about what has been achieved,  how we have made the world (or our tiny part of it) better.  I always think of better ways we could have handled things, attracted people, connected, but those ideas will be passed to the next event and the next, and the next.

so what next?

As a innovator (am I allowed to say that) I am trying to think up the next big idea, I usually do, but being the first in anything is not usually successful, it's the companies that follow that make a impact, but without the likes of Hard Graft and companies like us where would the national theatre be or the Royal Court?

The great thing about being Hard Graft Theatre Co ltd. is that you get to say out loud all those brilliant ideas that others only dream about and one day, you never know, I might actually become successful.

If you want to be part of the next adventure join me now  HERE

Friday, 7 June 2013

Did you just kill our high street?

Before the curtain drops on Oldham’s Theatre in a shop can I take this opportunity to thank the people of Oldham who supported us, we have had a ball.  Before I go though I feel I have a responsibility to tell the communities of Oldham something you don’t know about your town centre.  We all read about the binge drinking yobs of Oldham, how they bought shame on the town nationally, the Telegraph said, “Oldham is England's binge-drinking capital”. 

Well, I have worked in the Town Centre for three weeks Tuesday – Sunday from 6pm till 10pm in our little theatre by the Tommyfield Market, When the show finishes I walk back to my car on Yorkshire Street or I visit The friendly Boltmakers Rest on Rock St, or the fine Ashton Arms and I pass no one.  

Hard Graft also run a successful ghost walk all around the town on a Thursday night, we stop half way in the Jackson’s Pit and in 90 minutes walking the street telling ghostly tales we will see a handful of very sober people going about their business.

Contrary to what people think about Oldham I can tell you that it is lifeless, it is not a no go bleak picture of hard binge drinking, it is the far bleaker truth that no one goes there.

Oldham Town 7pm on a Thursday night.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Guess how many stabbings I have seen in Oldham town centre whilst I've been performing every night here for three weeks?

Or how many drug deals?

Or prostitutes?

Or children being sold into slavery?

How many times I've been threatened by a mad bloke with a Stanley knife?

I'll tell you,

0, that's zero, nil, none.

So, contrary to the media who paint a bleak picture of hard binge drinking in Oldham, the reality is far from that.  After 6pm apart from the odd fellow taking his dog for a walk there is nothing to see in OL1.

So, to those people who think that Oldham is a no go area after 4.30pm - think on, although last night I was talking to a 7 year old lad and his mum about children's theatre.


What I have learnt is that rants like these have no influence on anything, ever - I'll shut up.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Do the working classes deserve theatre?

Every evening we ask our audiences to comment on our shows
As an actor and a writer I think I have a social conscience and believe that the arts are an important part of civilised communities.  I want people from all walks of life to experience the joy that I get from some theatre, I want society en masse to watch great stories told by Actors, live and local.

But as a producer I don’t give a jot for the working classes, simply because they don’t give a toss about my work and me.

For twenty years I have championed working class theatre performing stories in “found “ venues within some the poorest communities in the UK.  I have given away workshops to schools or community centres to encourage them to take part in theatre.  I have given hundreds of pounds of tickets to the less fortunate in society, only to have empty stalls because they never turn up.  I have sold tickets for “pay what you can” nights and still no take up, so my question is, why should I waste my time?  Why should we waste money sending in the clowns to inner city council estates when all they want is Coronation Street and Britain’s Got Talent?

On Saturday night a young man came into our theatre in a shop in Oldham, he sat at the back and laughed.  At the end of our comedy we invited the whole audience to the local pub The Boltmakers Rest on Rock Street Oldham to come and join us for Karaoke, and the young man joined us.  Over a pint he told me he had never seen a play before, he had never been to Panto or had a theatre in Education Company visit his school.  He told me how much he’d enjoyed the show and that he now wanted to see more.

I left that pub not only with a new friend but a renewed enthusiasm to share my art with as many and varied people as possible.  This man reminded me how lucky I was during the 1980’s to have access to great theatre on my doorstep and to have inspirational teachers telling me that if I wanted to, I could work in the arts.   But most of all this man reminded me that, there for the grace of the Gods and good fortune I too could still be on a council estate in Nottingham.

So, this December Hard Graft Theatre Company will produce their annual Christmas show for the young people of the North West and as ever we shall give away hundreds of free tickets to organisations,  community groups and charities to help promote the art of theatre and storytelling, thanks to a young man in a pub singing karaoke.