A break from your survey answers as I wanted to tell you about 4 pieces of dramatic writing that I’ve seen this week:
CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION by Annie Baker
A brilliant use of ‘form’, a great idea for a stage-play and for exploration of character, as 5 disparate characters come together over 6 weeks in an acting class – what works so well is the contrast between what happens in the acting games, and what’s really going on, the changes that develop in the rest of the characters’ lives, largely as a result of their coming together in the weekly classes. A Royal Court ‘Theatre Local’ production at the Rose Lipman community centre in Haggerston, East London – it’s a classic community hall space which is the play’s setting so this works perfectly. Mind you, if the Royal Court thinks it’s ‘Theatre Local’ initiative is working – taking theatre to the heart of local inner London communities – they need to have a rethink. The audience on Monday night was your classic Royal Court media-luvvies gathering (present company included) transplanted to deepest Haggerston. Having said that, I imagine more of them \ us (media-luvvies) live around Hackney than Sloane Square! (deeply parochial observation that may not mean much to non-Londoners).
THE CARAVAN TRILOGY by Adam Thursby
Earlier the same evening I’d been to a screening of Adam Thursby’s micro-budget three linked short films. Each was a separate, self-contained story, but all used the same isolated, dilapidated rural caravan as the setting. These are three brilliant shorts that demonstrate the beauty of this format – original, thought-provoking, comic – but all very, very dark. Excellently directed by Andrew Gunn (Life On Mars, Dr Who) and with the very good Ian Puleston-Davies and David Warner as cast. These short films are definitely worth looking out for on the festival circuit in the next year or so. And here’s a link to their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheCaravanTrilogy
I’m very pleased to be able to add that Adam Thursby is an alumni(us?) of the 2Phils screenwriting course. The boy done good.
THE WORLD’S END
At the weekend I made a rare visit to the local multiplex to see THE WORLD’S END. Now, I have a policy of trying to be positive in this newsletter. But this week I’ve failed (again). As a big fan of SHAUN OF THE DEAD, I found TWE really disappointing. OK, so there are some very funny moments – some cracking comic dialogue, and the cast is great – Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan (speaking of whom, have you seen THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED? – you should), Paddy Considine, David Bradley etc etc. But I found it a bit depressing that nine years later the hugely talented Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are still trying to remake SHAUN OF THE DEAD – and every time they do, it gets a bit worse. SOTD was such a brilliantly simple idea – a downbeat, comic, anglicised pastiche of Dawn of the Dead, made on a minimal budget with maximum imagination and comic invention. Whereas TWE is a bit of a narrative mess – the ‘premise’ such as it is, takes so much explaining and even by the end is over-complicated and just a bit…weak. But what’s most depressing is how expensive it looks – there’s a plethora of special effects and flashy CGI. But as we all know it’s no substitute for a story that delivers, and characters that we really care about. The characters and relationships have real potential but they’re swamped by the fat budget and some half-baked sci-fi ideas. Rather depressing. So come on boys, it’s time to try something completely different – something NEW. The World’s End isn’t worthy of your undoubted comic talents.
…which leads me onto show number 4, my viewing highlight of the week, the brilliant, strking originality of THE RETURNED. In a different – but equally fresh, imaginative – way to Shaun Of The Dead, THE RETURNED has taken the ‘zombie’ genre and completely re-invented it. I’m gobsmacked by the imagination, scale and story-telling ambition of this show. It has a brilliant dramatic premise \ story starting point but at the same time feels strongly character-driven and universal in the stories and themes it explores. Outstanding and completely gripping.
IMAGINE : WOODY ALLEN
And then finally on BBC1 on Monday the almost 2 hour first part of the ‘Imagine’ BBC documentary about Woody Allen. There were clips of him doing stand-up in the early 60’s – which reminded me of how brilliantly funny he was – several laugh-out-loud moments; and by the end of the first part they were up to the pinnacle of his work (in my opinion) ANNIE HALL and then MANHATTAN. These are still two of my favourite films EVER and seeing clips from them, listening to people talk about them, just reminded me how wonderful they are. I first saw these films in my formative late teens, and late 70’s Woody Allen was one of the main reasons I decided I wanted to work in this ridiculous business. Have a look at this opening sequence of MANHATTAN, to pep up your Friday –
Gets me every time.
A quick reminder about our two new weekend screenwriting courses, with special guests CHRIS CHIBNALL (September) and LUCY GANNON (November).
Places are selling fast on both. We make a point of limiting numbers on each course to 20, so that we can give you all our fullest attention. So early booking is definitely advised.
NB I’m now giving myself and you an August break from these weekly newsletters. The next edition will be FRIDAY SEPT 6th.
Have a great August recharging your creative batteries!
All the best
July 26th 2013