Writing paraphernalia

Juvenilia…

The School Pencilpencil

Achingly hard edged and dryly H graded when a dash of B would have assisted with colouring in doodles on the bottom of maths notebooks, the school pencil acted as an early introduction to the joys of displacement activity by virtue of the….

Teachers’ desk sharpenersharpener

Positioned on Misses desk and accessible to all not as an embodiment of shared ownership but as a demonstration of hierarchy; entry to the larger, sharper opening only bestowed on the favoured, alongside the privilege of autonomous handle turning. 

 

Learner fountain pen, coloured pencils and ink

 

 

 

Leaner fountain pen: perfect for pretending to smoke and shoot with, less effective for writing with a tendency to splash Rorschach patterns all over your tectonic plates essay.

Coloured pencils: the tools with which to become an internationally renowned artist once you’ve worked out how to do perspective and draw hands.

Ink: blue black so rich in the jar you want to dive into it. Classier design than anything anyone could ever write.  An object to look and marvel at.

 

Sticky tape you can write onto

 

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Anything is now possible.

Including expletives on the back of peoples’ blazers.

Maturity…
The Manual typewritersilver-reed_silverette

You are a writer because you have one of these in a case with a handle which makes it PORTABLE.

It makes a proper Virginia Woolf style NOISE when you bash away at it and everything else on the desk jumps into the air.  It is imperative to chain smoke when using one. Demands carbon paper as there is no such thing as photocopies yet. Make one mistake on a page of dialogue and you must start again. Encourages thought before pressing keys. Makes hands hurt and heart pound.

 

A word processor actually, what do you drive?

 

 

 

Welcome to the mid 90’s.

You now have a screen on which you can edit 3.5 lines of dialogue before you then press a button and it rattles out really fast onto the page like a telex machine type thing while you sit back and light a fag.  Smoking is still necessary.

A MAJOR INNOVATION is the CORRECTOR ribbon inside. It is now possible to make mistakes and go backwards over the word with white stuff on a reel and it almost looks like no mistake was ever made. Brilliant.  It has a handle too and is just as portable at 5 kilos as the manual typewriter.

 

Transitional period…

From treasury tags to Acco clips, or trombones, the means with which to secure pages in a script gently and imperceptibly shifted from the rope to the metal age.

 

 

 

And today…

 

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Audio recording

 

“You are most powerful when you are most silent. People never expect silence. They expect words, motion, defence, offence, back and forth. They expect to leap into the fray. They are ready, fists up, words hanging from their mouths. Silence? No.”

Alison McGhee/Author

 

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“Theatre is a mirror, a sharp reflection of society.”

Yasmin Reza/Playwright

“If you want people to come to the theatre you have to make theatre inclusive. You have to lure people by getting them excited about a theatrical experience.”

Catherine Tate/Actor

 

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‘Theatre is a way of showing us lives far beyond our own experience; but it lets us into those stories by reflecting our own lives.”

Mark Shenton/Critic

 

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How to write a report

10 tips: advice to self- not necessarily followed.

1. Use an appropriate writing style

 

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Reports offer information.

Resist the almost overwhelming urge to add florid descriptions, narrative twists, cartoons, exclamation marks, swearing, Russian or dialogue.

Your audience doesn’t want to be entertained.  

Your audience wants to feel wiser than they were before reading your report.

And no jokes whatsoever.

Reports are not funny.

 

2. Reap and ye shall sow

 

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A report is an organic sausage; its flavour directly correlates to the quality and density of ingredients contained within.

Gather up factoids of use in a text box when stumped on page 33.

Pull in opinions and lists until your idea harvesting hands are calloused and stained red with opinion.

Only when the field is empty and devoid of material shall ye actually write anything.

 

3. Evidence everything

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Fact.

Not fiction.

Enough said.

 

4. Weights and measures

 

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The difference in postage price for envelopes under and envelopes over 250 grammes is considerable.

The wise report writer considers this when choosing paper weights and determining report length.

This is experience talking…

Not wisdom.

 

 

 

5. Cast iron copper bottom ad nauseum proof reading

 

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Proof read, leave, return and proof read and repeat countless times.

Proof read, ignore for a fortnight, return and proof read many times more until nothing on any of the pages makes any sense at all.

Give to anyone who can bear it to proof read, when they stop speaking to you pay someone to do it and then do it again as much as you possibly can, neglecting everything and everyone else in your life.

Finally, deal with the inevitable errors that still make their way to print and hope they’re not too noticeable.

 

6. Say the same thing 3 times over

 

série répétition, Paris, France, 2013

 

Say the same thing in three different ways and it will be read and absorbed.

In other kinds of writing repetition is dangerous and to be avoided at all costs, in story arcs, chapters/scenes and definitely in sentences.

In a report, it’s helpful and makes the argument clear.

Funny that, and yet not funny at all of course, because its a report.

 

7. When typesetting use no more than two fonts

 

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Its written.  

Its taken a while and it says what it needs to say.

You’re pleased yes, but its been a dry old process. 

You open up InDesign and now its CARNIVAL TIME! You cut and paste your findings into text boxes, a literary Sarah Lucas.  You slap in obscure fonts you’ve downloaded into your typekit and-yeah- do them in different sizes and colours too. The words you’ve been staring at for so long can suddenly become REALLY INTERESTING. You are WHACKY and CREATIVE and UNIQUE!

And then you realise its virtually impossible to read and inaccessible to anyone without superhero vision.

It then takes a soul obliterating epoch to rectify it all.

So…

Before starting choose two accessible fonts and two sizes.  One for titles/boxes and one for the main body of the text. The odd italic and bold is as outre as you’re going to go from here on in.

A report is to be read and understood, not marvelled over.

Just calm down.

 

8. Don’t put text on top of photos

 

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Only graphic designers can do this and make it look good.

You’re not a graphic designer.

Wind your neck in.

 

9. Check every box that comes back from the printers

 

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Printers sometimes make mistakes.  

The mistakes are sometimes not at the top of the box.

The mistakes can be epic in proportion, double covers, missing pages, upside down chapters, smudges, pages stapled together…

Check every single copy.

 

10.  Expect to be hated in the Post Office

 

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Its rare to send things through the post.

Going to the counter with 60 envelopes which then have to be fed through a post code gleaning machine one by one can cause a distinct atmosphere shift behind your left shoulder.

Don’t go during a busy period.

 

 

 

 

From a scream to a whisper

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Every actor knows that shouting on stage only works in tiny doses but that speaking quietly, with conviction, makes an audience lean in…and listen.

This weeks’ Arts Council and British Council supported NO BOUNDARIES conference, live-linked between Hull Truck Theatre and Home in Manchester was a gathering of the UK cultural clan.

The great, the good and the doing it anyway to the best of their ability sat in the two auditoria, in front of a heady mix of opinion, reflection and prophecy delivered rapid fire, in 10 minute blocks, by a diverse range of speakers. 

Provocations from dynamic artists, producers, shapers and thinkers chewed over the indigestible Brexit cud, and break out groups wrestled with challenges for the arts around identity, collaboration, diversity and it’s birth mother- inclusion- brought giddily out of the Ashram on the hill and back into town-  a repositioning generally viewed as a far better active aim- after all it’s very possible to be diverse without including anyone in anything, least of all decision-making.

The symposium highlighted disability-focused theatre as a political mechanism and platform, powerfully articulated by the extraordinary Jess Thom.

The Separate Doors 2 project ignites at RADA in London next week and the NO BOUNDARIES symposium served as a timely reminder of the many different ways people are fighting the battle for disability representation in theatre.

Complementing the polemic charge, Separate Doors 2 aims to find routes for actors with moderate learning disabilities, less equipped to fight verbal battles, to take their place on stages, in stories crafted to move, to shift perception, assumption and prejudice via imagination and analogy.

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It’s hoped that by finding a place for exceptional actors with learning disabilities on main stages, in TV and film, collaborating with exceptional writers and directors, in drama and comedy that appeals to general audiences that the rudderless dark sailed boat the UK currently drifts along in is guided away from the rocks by warm breezes of knowledge and understanding.

Or at least to be part of that drive for a broad-viewed future.

The artistic integration in high quality theatre programming and making that Separate Doors 2 wants to encourage won’t shout, but it will influence those who need to hear the message, delivering a compelling argument for inclusion to those who can effect change… in a whisper.

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Pioneers at RADA

Separate Doors 2 aims to change the UK theatre landscape for the better, offering tools for producers and directors to cast actors with learning disabilities in general audience facing work.

The project, focused on an exploration of the silent approach with RADA in London, starts soon.

Its going to be a dynamic and diverse rehearsal room.

Here are some of the key creatives making fire…

 

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This is me. I’ll be producing, directing some new writing, chairing the panel at the event and writing a printed report of the whole project. I can’t wait to work in the rehearsal room with this inspiring and brilliant team, all committed to finding ways to build bridges into general programme work for exceptional actors with learning disabilities.

 

Geoff BullenGeoff Bullen is director of short courses at RADA where he is Emeritus Director of actor training and specialises in teaching Shakespeare. Geoff will work with me to direct the project in the rehearsal room and in the performance space.

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Toby Meredith will work with me and the RADA team on the silent approach and in developing character through scene work. A graduate of Dark Horse actor training programmes he recently worked on the research and development process for A MAN WITH DOWNS’ SYNDROME TALKS ABOUT LOVE AND TELLS A STORY.

Jack Condon is a finJack Condonal year student actor at RADA and he’ll be working with the team to explore Shakespearean text, character and ensemble movement work, developing skills in the silent approach and considering the opportunities offered by working as an actor in an integrated process.

 

 

Version 2Rebekah Hill is a Dark Horse actor training graduate with production experience.  She’ll develop character and scenes using the silent approach and Stanislavsky based techniques. 

 

 

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Angela Gasparetto is a movement director and specialist and she will explore the silent approach and the possibilities of integrated work with an emphasis on physicality. 

 

 

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Joe Sproulle is an actor with production and national touring experience who recently worked on the research and development process for A MAN WITH DOWNS’ SYNDROME TALKS ABOUT LOVE AND TELLS A STORY. Trained in the silent approach he looks forward to sharing and developing his skills within this project ensemble.

Joel Trill

 

Joel Trill is a voice and accent specialist and he will collaborate with the directors and ensemble to explore sound, character and vocal transformation through story, working with and learning about the silent approach and integrated rehearsal processes.

 

 

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Alice Rogers has recently graduated from a Dark Horse foundation acting course and is developing her skills in the silent approach and building performance for production. 

 

 

Gary LagdenGary Lagden is a text and acting technique specialist and he will work with the silent approach to explore non verbal narrative and technique for actors with learning disabilities in integrated work which plays out to general audiences. 

 

 

A further female actor, two Assistant Directors and two creative associates complete the team, more news is to come soon alongside information re: the esteemed panel who’ll debate potential and obstacles in representation and casting after the process showing at RADA.

It all shapes up to be very exciting indeed, check in to the Separate Doors 2 page on this site for insights into the project as it happens.

Making tomorrows theatre today.

 

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Theatre boxed off

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Verbatim

A piece of theatre made entirely of real peoples harvested opinions and recollections, shaped into a structure and then presented theatrically. The process avoids authorial voice and guarantees authenticity.

Commercial

Popular, entertaining, accomplished and designed to attract a high ticket price.

Disability-led

Theatre or other art forms examining the disability life experience featuring the work of artists with disabilities, leading.

New writing

A play in script form written by a playwright which did not exist before this current production. Risky, as no one may like it, compare with ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’ which is less risky because people already know if they like it or not.

Relaxed performance

A specific style and context for theatrical delivery designed to support audiences with learning disabilities and neuro-differences.

LGBT/Transgender/Non binary

Theatre made by and for people who are not heterosexual and 100 per cent gender specific and identified.

Integrated

A piece of theatre featuring actors and collaborators who are not 100 per cent non disabled.

Dementia-friendly

Theatre framed to be appealing for people with dementia.

BAME

Theatre made with and by actors, artists and leadership which is not 100 per cent white.

Issues-based

A context in which to explore a specific concern arising from a state of difference or conflict.

Compelling, innovative, accessible, narrative-based, embracing, scorchingly written and daringly executed theatre from diverse voices which mitigates against the segregation of identity theatre could be a very good thing…

Right now…

 

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Truth

 

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A home truth

A moment of truth

Truth is stranger than fiction

 

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Pinnochio by Pepe Aveni

 

A grain of truth

 

Half the truth is often the whole truth

 

A liar is not believed when he tells the truth

 

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Pinnochio by Kenton Wilson

 

A nugget of truth

 

The greater the truth the greater the lie

 

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Pinnochio profile by David Wiles

 

The naked truth

 

The truth will out

 

Truth, justice and the American way

 

 

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The death of Pinnochio by Gottfried Heinwein

 

Production shots; a genre guide

 

A bit of theatre related fun as fundraising displacement activity…

Enjoy!

The drinking tea top turn two shot

 

Modelled here by Dames Dench and Smith and Sirs McKellen and Stewart only ever to be attempted by the ennobled theatrical. Note the casual mugs in the first photograph and the formal teacups in the second, contemporary and classic drama encapsulated in pot and bone china, different centuries but both classy, civilised and mid afternoon in Surrey.

 

The star actors transformed two shot

 

Played two ways here: Peter Bowles and Penelope Keith gently disguise themselves in restoration costume whilst re-assuringly playing the characters we know and love from the tele. Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton show they are very much not themselves but in character with the aid of non radio 2 eyebrow make up, braces, ringlets and a dowdy dress.

 

The thousand yard stare

 

Tanya Moodie gives joy towards the sky, Glenda Jackson a despairingly quizzical glance in the same direction, David Tennant appeals to a passing giant while Joe Sproulle has seen and been amazed by it, whatever it might be, at the back of the dress circle.

 

The actor grab

 

Nothing indicates drama better in a photograph than grabbing a fellow actor, especially by the head, or the ears if possible, that’s even stronger.  Body grabbing a colleague is beautifully demonstrated here on Denise Gough, Tamsin Outhwaite goes for the highly accomplished triple; an ear head and body grab and Headlongs‘ 1984 is a masterclass in bonce grabbing.

 

Pointing and kissing

Keeping the imagery active and sexy with Sir Lenny Henry and Kathryn Hunter.

 

The dramatic lean

 

Beautiful movement here from Kevin Spacey followed by an example of the eponymous ‘lean threatening to smother’ from Frantic Assembly

 

The all pile on

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The Ramps On the Moons‘ Government Inspector cast with a large scale rendition of  ‘We’re all in it, there’s bloody loads of us and we are magnificent.’  

 

Going Grrh and Aaargh

 

Dame Glenda again, Dame Harriet Walter and Maxine Peake. Silently noisy. Dynamic.

 

The ‘this is where it all started’ rehearsal room shot

 

Good for programme padding and front of house when the production shots didn’t come out very well.  Tamsin Greig chuckles while clutching a scenes’ worth of A4, Harriet Walter gives intense textual scrutiny and we have a double whammy at the National theatre with some world class script in hand pointing.

 

Wildcards..

The ‘You don’t get more dramatic than this’

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The beautifully positioned

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And finally, the ‘look at the set like this because the moment an actor sets foot on it the floor is filthy’

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