Don’t Look Back in Langour … introducing One Night One Day


Things in the mirror may be closer than you think … as close as August 9 2018, in fact.

It all started with a simple little update due to smartphones.

An old one-act play needed a buff and polish. Mobile phone messages were an integral part of its premise, and the subsequent emergence of smartphones now rendered things a little “quaint”. So I started to tinker…


“I like your old stuff better than your – … actually, what is all this crap?”

Fortunately, not in a George Lucas sort of fiddling about, sticking garish new tech onto old glories.

In fact, there was actually a plot hole that thankfully no one noticed: A character is bombarded with SMSs, such that she can’t find the original message. Back in the days of old-school Nokias, you’d just go to Sent Messages and there it would be. Nowadays, smartphone conversation threads require you to swish waaaaayyyy way back to the start. Plot hole fixed! Serendipity! Hooray for progress!


Inspiration … as easy as falling off a log

While at it, I fixed up some dialogue that annoyed me …

… Then a few trims for pacing.

… And culled some pop culture jokes that were somewhat of-their-time.

… And replaced some speechy bits that burned with the fire of misguided youth.

Then, having got back into the minds of the characters, the occasional idea popped up. A few new lines. Some “what-if” potential plot directions. More lines. More potential…

Back during the play’s original run, punters commonly asked “But what happened next?”, to which my answer was “Meh, who cares?” and “Do we need to know?”

But, a seed of an idea did sprout between complimentary pre-show and post-show sherries. And now, years later, during a blatant bit of procrastination while “ruminating” over my play Spd D8n, the seed sprouted…

… culminating in “One Night One Day”, which makes its debut tomorrow night, as a Blak Yak Theatre production, directed by Dr Melissa Merchant.

Ellin Sears, left, Joel Sammels, Sjaan Lucas and Jarrod Buttery. Picture: Michael McAllan

What’s it like? Beats me.

Melissa has studiously kept me away, so I’ll be as surprised as anyone else attending opening night. More so, given my tendency to forget what I’ve written after handing it in.

For those who saw the original incarnation as One Night Stand Off a decade ago, there’s quite a bit different, besides a much *much* better title. Hopefully not the afore-mentioned George Lucas sort of “different”, but a slicker, funnier, and more surprising different. And a whole second half that now finally does answer the question “So what did happen next?”

With bonus “Potential for nudity”, far beyond what I subjected myself to playing “Greg” ten years ago.

So, chookas to the cast, crew and Dr Merchant. I look forward to seeing the end result!

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Diary of a Play #11: The End

And so, as Spd D8n’s cast took a bow to well-deserved applause from a great final night audience, my colon could at last unclench with relief.

The show’s run was finally over.

For earlier diary entries, go to the Spd D8n page.

Within the hour, stage and auditorium were stripped, tech packed up, and kitchen cleared. The after-show party was had, then one by one, cast and crew departed. Until finally, mysef, via an equally weary Uber driver with suspicious navigation skills on his final job for the night.

So, do I now feel a great aching void?


The 2 week run was just right. Better a scarcity of dates to increase the chances for decent clusters of crowds, than spreading thin across a longer period.

In the past as an actor, I’ve often staggered through umpteen performances wondering if a play’s run would ever end. Hopefully Spd D8n never reached that stage for the cast.

Lessons learnt*

*or at least vaguely noticed.
  1. Pitching

    Lesson one: Don’t go out to spooky woods with that odd teacher from school

When approaching a theatre group with a script, you need to describe what it’s about in an enticing way.

I sorta winged it, luckily having been mulling the plot strands beforehand.

Next time, I’d have my 15, 50, and 200 word pitches prepped in advance. It also helps later when publicity kicks in, rather than knocking stuff up on the fly.

  1. Deadlines

Ha ha ha.

Creative Momentum: A load of balls

As this diary proved, at times my main creative momentum was coming up with excuses for the non-appearance of a draft.

Even with an endpoint and scene map, Spd D8n’s patchwork structure was a real headache.

Thankfully Blak Yak supported my wonky tribulations.

Next time, the script would preferably be significantly closer to done.

But then, without a deadline, would I have got the thing finished? Oh self-discipline, thou art a paradoxical mistress.

  1. Read-throughs

There’s only so long you can burble away to yourself with a stopwatch. Read-throughs by fresh eyes and clear voices are gold. Don’t waste them.

Ideally, further read-throughs would’ve led to more streamlining. Looxury! In the real world actors need to get cracking on a finished script. Luckily, cast and director workshopped out the more egregious bits.

  1. Directing

“Perhaps a little less on the smoke machine, luvvee.”

I’m so glad I opted not to direct, being too easily distracted by my next shiny projects, my phone, the wallpaper … frankly, anything really.

Staging decisions like table logistics, cast entrances, lighting cues … I can barely decide what to have for lunch.

I really liked what Therese did with the show, and will blatantly pinch some staging ideas for the rewrite. I admired how she battled through what is the most draining job of all, glad it wasn’t me.

  1. Collaboration

Theatre is a collaborative effort, as opposed to the more solitary avenues a writer might find themselves in.

Statistically speaking, at least one of these people did not adequately wash their hands after using the toilet

It means handing over your baby and allowing other people to do their thing.

This can be a scary thing – terrifying in some circumstances – but the reward is seeing people invest their efforts and creativity in the common goal of making the best possible show.

Yes, your baby changes, but in an organic progressive way, rather than a more insular Bad Boy Bubby sort of thing.

From the focus of the vigilant tech folk watching for lighting and sound cues, the regimental discipline of the stage manager’s props table, the smiling bar and front desk staff, publicity pixies, and various other volunteers, the end product comes from a whole team working together, and that’s a lovely thing to share in.

So, where to from here?

The Baby Turtle of New Projects sets forth on another perilous adventure

“No, there is another”

At one point in this diary, I was suddenly producing two plays.

Unfortunately/fortunately, the stars and schedules couldn’t align and One Night One Day was deferred to next year.

That will be the full-length version of my one-act One Night Stand Off, having finally agreed with various witnesses to the original that, yep, there is more to the story. And a much better title.

Short but enthusiastic

I have one or two candidates in mind for a 10-minute play competition coming up. There’s also a backlog of unfinished/unpolished short stories in dire need of attention.

Diary of a Publication?

Jane Austen ponders her potential next work, “Self and Self-Publishing”

So what was that other project occupying my attention such that I spent Spd D8n rehearsals shrugging my shoulders to script questions?

With writing largely done and beta readers engaged, the wondrous world of self-publishing looms dauntingly in the distance.

A blog diary of that process may well emerge.

Meh, we’ll see.

“Weren’t you working on a novel?”

Shush now.

No, really, shush.

Spd D8n

As for the play itself?

Well, the edit I’ve been itching to do is underway.

Having watched the performance, mulled physical logistics, and gathered feedback, I’m making multiple revisions. Some interest by a different theatre group in performing it next year might be an ideal road test.

Fringe Theatre … because sometimes you just want to see a lady with an eagle landing on her leg

There was also after-show chat about converting the show for the Perth Fringe. Too soon for 2018, but maybe 2019?

Hmm …

Basically halve the play duration, while still resolving five character journeys and without confusing the hell out of audience and cast alike with a ADHD-addled mess?

… Yeah, could happen.

But it would involve significant mulling over, probably involving at least two pints at my local.


If feasible, stage-able, cast-able, can-be-arsed-able, perhaps this isn’t the last diary entry after all …

But until then, may the Cosmic Duck of Peace and Happy Waddling gaze favourably upon you all

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Diary of a Play #10: Hooray, Hooray, itsa Halfway Through the Play

And so it began …

For earlier diary entries, go to the Spd D8n page.

Thursday night – opening night.

I sat in and watched the first performance, an understudy tackling my short but enthusiastic cameo.

Backstage mostly consists of waiting for your cue

This was the first time I’d heard the complete play since early rehearsal, but now with fully fleshed character reactions and mannerisms, lighting, sound, and … well, … everything.

My nerves were bubbling – for the cast, for Therese’s first show as director, and for my script. All revealed to public scrutiny at last.

Fortunately, they did a great job.

For once I was able to turn off the critical editor voice in my head and just enjoy the performances.

Besides monitoring the audience reaction like a hawk, of course.

It’s satisfying (and greatly relieving) to hear laughter at key jokes and punchlines, but also interesting to see which ones don’t get expected responses.

And waiting ….

Sometimes a seemingly innocuous line gets an unexpected laugh, or a personal favourite gag might fly silently past without troubling the scorers. There’s even the occasional “Aww” at certain character moments.

Best of all though: no snoring.

The reactions vary across the nights, every audience is different.

We listen out from the green room, gauging what sort of crowd we have. There’s always the nervous wait for the first proper laugh, with the potential for a long laborious evening if it isn’t forthcoming.

This is where a loud laugher in the audience is gold.

At heart, people are shy, needing a certain critical mass before feeling safely anonymous in the crowd to vocalise a reaction.

Unless a guffawing person comes along, who acts like a catalyst to make it okay for everyone to get noisy.

And waiting … hic. … Hang on, who am I mean to be again?

Polite chuckling barely carries backstage, causing casts of comedies much performance angst and evaluation of life choices.

But get a loud laugher along, cacking themselves at the first hint of a joke, then everyone quickly sighs in relief and gets on with the job as usual, with no emergency contingencies of donning funny noses, accents or other desperate new re-interpretations.

So, next time you’re at the theatre and someone is laughing like a drain, give them a thankful pat on the back. Especially if it’s an odd wheezy laugh as they may actually be having an asthma attack.

These people are freeing you from the shackles of self-consciousness, emancipating you from inhibition, enhancing your enjoyment.

Those people who sit laughing uproariously to themselves on late night trains? They’re a slightly different demographic. Approach with caution.

#GreenRoomLife: Scripts, stimulants, lacquer, lozenges, a mirror, a pianna’, and the door to a (hopefully) adoring public

And so, the nervous first night energy has turned into a more relaxed process, almost routine.

The green room is host to some quite random topics and tangents. There is an easy-going team camaraderie going on in the cast and crew, which is always one of the most enjoyable things in doing a show.

Ideas for improvements, trims, and additions happen as I watch the monitor, listening to reactions, weighing up line modifications. I look forward to collating the director’s and actors’ opinions and notes of what worked and what didn’t, so I can get cracking on a post-show rewrite.

A positive first night review does wonders for morale. As does positive feedback from audience members after the show and on the FacialBook.

Social media cross-liking continues apace.

A few days off, now back to do it all again.

3 more nights to fill, so we can’t get complacent. Two weeks has been about right for the run. It has whizzed by, but won’t outstay its welcome.

And if all else fails, send out the hula hoop girl

Next Time: Pass the rubber gloves, time for … The Wash Up

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Diary of a Play #9: Putting It Out, Putting It In, Putting It On

Did I mention busy?

For earlier diary entries, go to the Spd D8n page.

After the languorous postings about the writing process, the rehearsal period has flashed by far faster than I blog.

So fast, that tomorrow is Opening Night. Holy funk-monkeys!

With only minimal moves to block, Spd D8n has had a short rehearsal period. It’s the memorisation load with this one, as the cast mention to me in varying degrees of passive aggression and cold stares.

So, what’s been happening?

The photoshoot:

Joanne and Tom debate the pros and cons of snooze buttons

9am on a Sunday, the cast gather at a local café bar for a range of promotional pictures.

The actors don costumes and assume characters, becoming Mike, Jacqui, Joanne, Chloe, and Tom.

No need for the writer at this, so I’m only there in spirit (but actually snuggled up in bed).

Social media gambits:

Mike explains the joy of filling in tax returns to Jacqui

Also filmed are a series of “dating videos” that the cast have devised for their characters. These will be sent out to t’internet in a variety of social media ways.

Like, here: Meet the gang

All involved have of course been duly posting and re-posting on our various social media peccadillos, liking each other’s items so as to cross-post and expand the echo chamber.

[Like] it or not, this is how humans do a significant part of their social interaction nowadays.


“Do we have any flyers yet?” I asked.

Oh dear, look at the old man wanting his shredded-tree pamphlets.

We’re in the digital age now, where the aforementioned cross-liking of social media items means Spd D8n is constantly flitting across newsfeeds between the fake news and viagra adverts (or maybe that’s just mine), garnering more eyeballs than any ignored old flyer sitting on a cluttered noticeboard could ever hope for.

Tom and Chloe limber up for a quick game of Pictionary while the phoographer sets up

But there is still a non-Facebook crowd out there, whether simply non-tech folk or conscientious objectors.

You forward them a Facebook link and they frown at you.

Not in emoji. A real proper frown, as though you just sneezed on their hand.

They’ll have none of your “But it’s on Facebook” nonsense.

And sometimes when catching up with folk, it’s so much easier to fling out a flyer or two. Especially if you did actually sneeze on their hand and don’t have any tissues.

Bump in and tech cues:

This is a big one.

Literally, turning the tables

At last our booked slot has arrived in the venue’s myriad array of activities – chair yoga classes, bingo, RSL meetings, square dancing, and other mysterious pursuits of the elderly.

The lighting rig is tested, the tables are set on the stage, and access spaces are paced out for fit.

By now, scripts are expected to be memorised, and tentatively tried out in the performance setting.

It’s a long rehearsal …

… unless you’re the writer with a brief cameo, who can swan in quite late, conveniently around the time the pizzas arrive.

 The press:

“We need a press release to send tomorrow,” Therese says midway through the second run.

“We’ve been here since 3!”

I glance at my watch. 9pm Sunday night.

The actors have been here since 3pm, the director 11am.

That’s a long committed day.

Whereas I’d barely managed to slob out of bed in time to watch the noon football match in my underpants*.

* Note for grammar pedants – the match was held in a reputable sporting venue, not in my underpants, which are generally unavailable for public recreational purposes.

Duty bound, I bang out a press release and away it winged the next day. I’ve been meaning to write a sample PR for my fledgling writing services business, so that’s two birds with one stone.

Tech and Dress rehearsal:

And so, the tech run, where effects cues join the costumed actors for a full run of the play.

Actors blink in the spotlights, delivering lines at performance pace, actual sounds occurring rather than someone just making odd noises.

“Erm, guys, where is … everything?”

The prop table is policed with ruthless efficiency by Lorna, herding bewildered actors to their cues and entrances.

The Stage Manager assumes “God” status as performance nears – though obviously more Goddess in Lorna’s elegantly mercurial case. </StageManager’sPet>

The green room is a slightly nervous atmosphere of circling actors silently mouthing lines and indulging in really quite odd warm-up routines. It’s becoming more business-like, and the nervy energy will build in intensity as opening night approaches.

And then, … that’s it, besides emergency line runs for the paranoid.

My feelings?

Nervous, yes. Though far more for the actors getting up there to do it. Every rehearsal, I’m relieved to no longer put myself through such bravado feats of memory. I salute you, guys. And apologise again for the “Ethical Non-monogamy” scene.

But on the whole, I’m feeling content. The cast and crew have a buzz of focus and energy. Therese has corralled a great team to bring this off.

All it needs now is a crowd to come see it…

Next time: Up, up, and away. The performance begins.

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Diary of a Play #8: It’s kicking off, Pru!

The rehearsal schedule has emerged, and suddenly it’s all on.

Realisation that the show goes up in a month’s time – holy crap!

For earlier diary entries, go to the Spd D8n page.
  • Props are being collated, desks constructed, in preparation for theatre bump-in. Spd D8n is deliberately sparse – no set, just furniture and props. This keeps logistics simpler for all concerned, especially should the show go on the road or re-stage at fringe festivals.
  • “Scripts down by next Monday” – oh, how the actors laugh at such foolish idealism. These laughs will slowly ebb away into sobs as the memorisation task sinks in. Poor sods.

    Ewww. And someone should probably give the stage a good sweep, too.

  • Photo shoot this weekend. This means thoughts of character costumes, hair styles, demeanour. This is an early roadtest at portraying the characters.
  • In the background, stage crew are being coaxed – friends are contacted, availabilities checked, favours called in. Sphincters remain taut until the all-important Stage Manager is locked in.
  • Across the mixing desk, minds that are to ours as ours are to the beasts, view our world with technical eyes, and slowly and surely build their lighting rigs to illuminate us.
  • Sound effects are collated for cues.  A plethora of odd noises, burps, farts, and doorbells emanate from the director’s laptop at unexpected moments. Well, she says she’s testing sounds effects, anyway.


A writer rests between witticisms

Busy times.

Except for the writer, who can sit back and watch it all happen. At least until the publicity cranks up.

Besides occasional rehearsal of my – ahem – cameo.

First up, though: the group read-through.


I sit in on this, trying to remain as innocuous as possible as the cast take turns to explain their respective characters. The danger of the writer being present is that actors might feel less free about expressing their interpretation for fear it’s “wrong”. Fortunately, there are only occasional glances for confirmation my way. I can only shrug anyway, my head deep in other projects now so it’s all vague fog for me.

An acting visual metaphor the other day

The character explanation exercise is an interesting perspective for the writer. Other people are suddenly fleshing out your characters, getting into their shoes, and taking ownership. The actor goes forensic on any little snippet that might reveal some facet to be gripped and extrapolated. Some of these have been deliberately laid, and you almost say “Bingo!” when they’re picked up on. Some are news to me, but hey, lets see where it goes.

Then the line run begins.

I grab my notepad for no great reason. The script is locked in now, with people memorising it as written – no matter how much I would kill for one more edit.

I draw some squiggles instead, and try not to feel too queasy.

Or maybe … Jungian?

It’s been read a number of times now, so the freshness is gone, the reactions muted with familiarity.

So obviously I just assume the script is dreadful and I’m an over-writing hack. Why did I come along again?

More squiggles, though more Freudian in nature now.

However, this is where the actors start bringing in their stuff. Phrasings, facial reactions, quirks. Some zinging delivery of jokes. Sneak previews of the performances to come.

For me, less squiggling, more listening.

I still want to chop and change lines, though, but then I always will.

Feck, I missed my cue.

And so the line run goes, choccy biscuits providing sustenance.

Still early stages but very promising.

Lots of lines to learn, and hopefully the workshopping between director and actors will achieve the streamlining my itching red pen is aching to do to the script.

Anyway, the various tasks and operations seem to be in full flight now. So this is where I bid them adieu till I’m actually needed.

Next time: Tartin’ the Wares – Marketing and Publicity

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Diary of a Play #7: Ditching the Pre-Contraceptions

The read-through – that moment when all the voices in the playwright’s head are suddenly made real.

Well, the voices regarding the play anyway.

For earlier diary entries, go to the Spd D8n page.

Either a beautiful noise or a gawd-awful cacophony is about to ensue …

The writing process is largely solitary. Just as well, because for me it involves pulling faces while enacting character dialogue and reactions, and an inordinate amount of fidgeting.

Some of Spd D8n was written at my weekly writing group sessions at my local, with moral support – and beer – close at hand to push onwards. Face-pulling is minimised so as not to scare off newcomers.

Submitting for review is the first exposure, but there you have time to ready yourself for critique.

“Time for the read-through” – quite a bit like “Let’s go to the vet to get spayed.”

The read-through is the proper rabbit-in-the-spotlights moment.

A whole bunch of new people holding a tangible copy of your script. Touching it, flicking through it, reading, nodding, frowning, commenting. Judging.

I’ll just sit over way there in that far corner, if you don’t mind.  Behind the fern, emerging only for the occasional cracker biscuit.

All those preconceptions in your head are null and void. The script is unsheathed and unprotected, about to be interpreted in a wholly different way.

No choice but to be Zen and detach, welcome the new perspectives, accept change. And don’t hit people with fern branches.

Luckily, Therese the director decided to combine the read-through with the audition process, thus the actors were quite nervous also. Eager to impress. That can only help.

Actors often prepare with a series of vocal warm-ups

A word from the writer before we begin?

Oh. Umm…

“Be gentle”?

“Please like it”?

Profuse apologies for the unintelligible unfunny nonsense they’re subjecting themselves to for the next two hours?

I opted for the “I’ll probably do some rewrites based on tonight” and a vaguely passive aggressive insinuation that I’d be snide about them in this blog. Otherwise, I’ll be behind this fern if you need me.

So it began …

Stephen King in On Writing recommends putting a work away for a few months, so as to come at it with fresh eyes of a reader. I’d not looked at the script whatsoever since handing it in for review – more through laziness than strategy though.

I was pretty confident about Act One, having previously read it aloud and timed it. Reassuringly, the actors read it largely the way intended. Most importantly, laughs from the get go. Phew!

The Goat of Self-Doubt terrorises another writer

Act Two was almost like listening to someone else’s play. I could barely remember it.  I’d pretty much handed this in as soon as it felt finished. Not quite “first draft”, but very raw.

Hence, some fixing is needed – trims, tidying, enhance some jokes, and maybe cut a small scene which didn’t add much and marked the beginning of the “this is all starting to go on a bit” feeling.

But on the whole, it sounded pretty good, helped by a strong set of actors reading very well and immediately inhabiting the characters. Therese has some tough casting decisions ahead!

Things that flit through the Writer’s head during read-through:

  • Is the opening scene the best to kick off with? Does it set the tone, style, and conventions of what’s to come?
  • Is the order of the scenes correct and balanced? Do the characters get equal time across the play? Is there a variety of scene style to keep the audience on their toes?
  • Will it appear rude if I walk out mid-scene to get another beer?
  • Fair cop, the characters sometimes repeated themselves, restating their motivations or thoughts. These were points where I recall getting stuck and trying to find ways to progress. Trim time!
  • Does the tricky “fireworks” scene towards the end work, or is even intelligible?
  • Has anyone noticed how much camembert I’m swiping each visit to the nibblies table?
  • The actors body language. Is it all banging on too long? Are they sliding down their chairs waiting for the end? Are they feeling as guilty as I am about the camembert? Seriously, there was a whole wheel of it at the beginning.

A visual metaphor the other day

All in all, though, a success. We survived, and the play feels like it has potential.

Now, the casting decisions are ruminated, and it nears time for me to walk away somewhat and leave the director and cast to it. At the very least, avoid the tedious horror of blocking night.

Next time: All locked in – the first rehearsal

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24 Hours to Ulcers – Part 3: Post Hoc

Sleep had, wine stains faded, it’s time to address the wash up …

Besides some sound effect editing, a quick pop in to tech rehearsal, and an equally quick evasion from debate about lighting options, my part was done at around 2pm. The director and actors were welcome to the script “Framed” from there.

By 3pm, babbling deliriously and leaning wearily on loved ones and strangers, I finally napped until show time. It was fitful sleep, not just because of the football telecast I could hear from the bedroom – I was getting nervous.

Tenpins, murder, jealousy, personal space invasion – “Framed” in action

Fortunately, not anything like last year as an actor where I fretfully paced around trying to get lines sticking to memory, freaking out fellow cast members and the occasional bar patron. Besides a worry at 3am that no end was in sight, the writing task is MUCH easier on the nerves.

Writers have delete buttons, autosave, or can just start again if it all turns to poo. Or just shout “It’s metaphor, obviously. You clearly don’t understand! Why does nobody ever understand?!” and flounce out in a huff.

Actors are up there on the tightrope, colons clenched, synapses firing. And 12 hours is a seriously short time to commit it all to transient memory.

And sometimes it doesn’t quite happen. Ah well, it’s all for fun.

As with last year, the standard of the shows was high, with varied interpretations of the theme, if a lot more dead bodies.

My personal fave was “Find It”, with a perfectly placed smartphone camera sound effect, and different take on the theme.

Find It – Australian theatre getting down to the true big questions in modern society


Lessons learnt?

  • It is possible to work to a deadline – it’s just a matter of discipline, and plying myself with sufficient wine and pot noodle snacks
  • Planning out a piece beforehand? Bah! I still find writing by the seat of the pants far more interesting and inventive.
  • Sleep is good.
  • It is possible to hand over a piece of work and say “All yours, go for it” to a director, and actually mean it.
  • Sleep is, like, really good.
  • A bowling tenpin is an incredibly useful stage prop if you put your mind to it
  • Having knocked up a script in 5 hours or so, how did it take a year to finish off my latest play Spd D8n? (coming up this August, folks, plug plug)
  • Sleep: Be In It

Writer waddles hasty retreat from adjudicators bearing gifts

A great experience, well-organised, culminating in a very entertaining night of theatre. Well done to Lorna and the Blak Yak posse for another successful 24 Hour Project.

Oh, by the way – Woohoo!

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24 Hours to Ulcers – Part 2: In Media Res

So, off we go.

The names are drawn from the hat, and I’m in yellow team.

YELLOW TEAM Writer: Martin Lindsay Director: Christine Ellis Actors: Sarah Christiner James Donnelly

We have a theme: “I can never unsee that” – courtesy of Blak Yak emeritus Jarrod Buttery.

“And the topic is … oh for f*&ks sake, Jarrod.”

8pm to 9pm:

Designated meet time with the cast and director to knock ideas about. Frankly, the topic left me a little blank, but funnily enough,  a few randomly associated items and topics were enough to pop something vaguely feasible in mind.

Ask my actor and actress about their skills and boundaries, and fortunately they’re pretty broad-minded types who shouldn’t shy from getting close and personal if needed.

Nonplussed tech guys remain nonplussed

Chat with the tech team about what’s available and the effects that might be used. Sepia wash for a flashback? Perfect! Director comes up with an interesting set addition to play with perspective. Nice.

Okay, that’ll do. Off I go.

9pm – 10pm:

Rush home to write, discover I’ve locked myself out. Doh! Roam around the 24 hour IGA shopping centre fomenting ideas till my girlfriend and daughter get back from the movies. Not a great start…

10pm – 11pm:

Have finally made it into the house. Debrief about pros and cons of Beauty and the Beast and Emma Watson’s performance in same. Distracting discussion about if the beast is a cursed Prince, where the hell are the king and queen? Quality time with girlfriend.

10:55pm, finally pick up laptop, open blank word document, then update live blog, carrying on my writing tradition of blogging about the writing process far more than actually executing the writing progress. Okay, scene 1 …

11pm – 12am:

A page and a bit done, a wine poured, lava lamp is flowing, cat and girlfriend put to bed. Things are sorta happening at last.

Aims: Keep the dialogue under control – it’s a two hander, so fifteen odd minutes is potentially a lot of lines to learn. Internalise – pointed looks, guarded reactions, Pinteresque pauses of mysterious intent. Chuck in some story hooks, set in questions for the audience to want to know the answer to. Who are these people? Where are they? What’s happened? Stop blogging.

12am – 1am:

3 pages. Then with the magic of double-spacing – 4 pages.

Okay, it’s getting there, though not quite in the way I was expecting. I *think* it’s funny, just in a more visual way than anything dialogue wise. Strangely sensual. Very slow burn. Will need to be played deadly serious for best effect.

Is it possible to do a murder mystery with only two characters?

Whodunnit? I dunno, I make these things up as I go.

1am – 2am:

Okay, 7 pages in and I couldn’t help but put in some sound and lighting effects. Did want to keep it simple, as we only have a short tech rehearsal and the lads have plenty on their plate across the night. Will try to make the cues easy to spot.

More sultry sensuality, in a film noir style. Almost needs a smoky sax in the background. The cast members are going to be awfully well acquainted by the end of the Project.

Hmm, probably two more “flashbacks” to write, building to some sort of conclusion/revelation. That could require some seriously angsty pacing about.

2am – 3am:

Angst alert. Getting near the build-up and climax, and I’m still pantsing it with an ending still not in mind.

Though the styling has been done, with a little tangent in getting Word to change my hanging indent -argh!!

When blocked, fiddle with the format I say.

The cover page has been added with all the details so far … and a title based on a lame pun – so situation normal there!

It’s turned out a bit more “serious” than I’d normally expect of myself. A hotbed of emotions and betrayals. As I type this, the next little direction is springing an idea. Which is a relief!

Actually, blogging along with it has made for a useful periodic break. My writing group does 25 minute pomodoro sessions, so I’m doing about 25 minutes writing per hour, the rest of the time tweaking, formatting, basic editing, and of course, blogging.

Back to it. Time to tango …

3am – 4am:

That word … ooh ooh … E – N – D, the End. How can three letters mean so much?

That inkling of a next direction previously mentioned became a path to an ending.

And with a surge of typing, I got there.It did mean an early joke had to go, but it was a pretty cheap one so no great loss.

Gotta love the “pantsing it” method of writing, it really is a legitimate surprise with where things end up, usually organically. I did actually joke about such an ending earlier, little knowing it would end up a viable solution.

It’s quite a different play to what I was expecting, but I think it’s a more interesting piece then a bunch of jokes in an odd situation. Buggered if I’d want to act it though!

Okay, now to tidy it up. Better make sure the front half doesn’t contradict the second half, place any Chekhov’s guns and red herrings, and look for any glaring plot holes that the late hour and the third glass of wine might have obscured.

Bit concerned about the amount of lighting cues, but there’s a lot of flashbacks – can’t really tell a whodunnit without them though.

4am – 5am:

My candle doth flicker and fade…

Some tweaks and polishes, and the inclusion of a line that I’d almost forgot and would have been most annoyed to have missed.

Then a hunt for some sound effects. You’re in an odd place when you’re trying out various toilet flush sounds at 4:30am. Near enough is good enough at this stage, I’ll hopefully trim them in Audacity tomorrow.

The question is, just power through now and polish up the script with tired brain, or just bundle it up and let the director make changes where needed. Will two hours sleep actually help?

Hmm, haven’t thought of ominous intro/outro music. Nah, that’s for discussion with the director.

I think the deed is done, email the troops, prep the usb stick and time to catch some zzzz’s.

5am – 6am:

Searching for a usb stick, … searching, searching, … then finally (!) sneak my way to bed.

6am – 7am:

Cat repeatedly jumps on and off the bed until finally pitched out and the bedroom door closed.

7am – 8am:

“Shouldn’t you be up by now?”

Oh crap, pressed alarm off button instead of snooze.

8am – 9am:

Somehow manage to be on time. Somehow manage bed hair despite barely an hour on the pillow. Yes, I am still in the same clothing as last night.

Christine the director arrives and secures one of the better rehearsal rooms. USB given for scripts to be printed. Page 3, and I’ve neglected a lighting cue. Rush to get the cue reinstated before multiple copies made.

Walk-thru the script with the director’s fresh eyes and my tired eyes looking at what is essentially a first draft. Meh, coupla typos, but it’s otherwise pretty close.

Ended up with minimal props, no furniture, bit of tech. There’s a few “time periods” going on structure-wise, but lighting cues should fix that.

9am – 10am:

Actors roll up, I explain my motives and aims, then sit in for a read-thru. Yay, they’re laughing at what I hoped they would and get the film noir slow burn style. And the added-at-the-last-minute line is a winner, and is pretty close to my favourite.

At last, I can walk away and consider some sleep.

Oh, except for that intro/outro music by 1pm tech rehearsal. Groan!

Back to the internet … but otherwise, apart from some emergency gophering, the writer’s job is done.

NEXT EPISODE: It’s show time.

Posted in Community Theatre, First Draft, Independent Theatre, Perth Theatre, Plays, playwright, Theatre, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

24 Hours to Ulcers – Part 1: A Priori

I think I’ve done a silly thing.

Admittedly, my history isn’t short of silly things done, said, or apologised profusely for. But this is a case of knowingly ignoring reservations and that tiny voice saying “Don’t do it, you fool!”, but signing up all the same.

Special delivery of something fresh and steaming

It’s the Blak Yak 24 Hour Theatre Project, and after previous involvement as an actor, this time I’m taking it on as a writer.

So what does it involve?

A whole bunch of theatre types turn up to be randomly assigned to groups – one writer, one director, then a random number of actors – and given a common random topic. A brief get-to-know-you ensues, where the actors tell the writer all their brilliant ideas, to which the writer nods their head, smiles, and completely ignores them.

A serious timepiece being serious the other day

The writer then toddles off home to subject his or her self to 12 hours of frantic terror, handing in a script for a 15 minute play early the next morning. The director and actor then block, rehearse, and finally perform the piece that evening.

So, no pressure then.

This Friday it begins. And just to complicate things, I’ll be stepping straight out of the car from a long distance trip.

Tactics? Well, I considered swotting up on the volunteered topics so far and devise something in advance, but there’s about twenty-odd, so that’s more trouble than it’s worth. Alternatively, I could find some old half-finished piece then massage it to vaguely approach whatever topic is picked. But nah, all the fun is in testing yourself.

I feel reasonably able to hit the ground running, given my writing group’s weekly sessions start with a 5 minute free-writing exercise to a random topic that often gives surprisingly usable results. There are a lot of 5 minutes in 12 hours, so something decent has to crop up surely. Surely.

I’ll attempt to blog during the 12 hour writing process to give an “in the moment” perspective on the ordeal, then again after the completed performance when the wine and/or recriminations are flowing.

And if in doubt, opt for Arty Bollocks

Posted in Community Theatre, Independent Theatre, Perth Theatre, Plays, playwright, Theatre, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diary of a Play #6: In the Name of the Palaver

And lo, the Facebook event did go up.

And lo, the good people did look upon their screens.

And they were hence to say “… oh”, then scrolled to the next item on their newsfeeds.

But hey ho, here it is at last …


For those coming in late … and I mean, come on, it’s part 6 now:
Diary of a Play #1: Script’s Just Got Real
Diary of a Play #2: Five Go On An Adventure
Diary of a Play #3: I’m Gonna First Draft Forever
Diary of a Play #4: Please Critique Me, Let Me Know
Diary of a Play #5: The Elegant Art of the Excuse

Therese Cruise is taking on directing duties, in the salubrious facilities of a newly refurbished theatre in Shenton Park.

Deets are available at:

or the book of faces:

It’s all ages away yet, with plenty of marketing and fun stuff to come.

Now, just in case the media don’t come beating upon my door, here’s an interview I recorded earlier with myself and a rather nice glass of wine.

Q: So, “Spd D8n”. How did that name come about? Random placement of Scrabble tiles?

A: … You don’t get a number eight tile in Scrabble.

Q: That’s the last time I buy a board game cheap on eBay.

… and I’m hoping you won’t judge my handwriting

A: I figured the play couldn’t be called “Speed Dating”, or else you risked a whole bunch of people turning up expecting to find love via a strictly managed dating format, then instead get a dodgy bit of independent theatre. And hey, art.

Q: Can audience members still expect to find love if they come along?

A: Hang about the bar after the show, theatre types are notoriously easy.

Q: Where did the idea for the play come from?

A: Ages ago, I blagged a free ticket to a speed dating night due to a dire shortage of guys. It sounded like a laugh, then the idea of just four minutes at a time to learn about a person struck me as an interesting concept for a play.

Q: Does this happen each time you go out somewhere?

A: Pretty much. Stay tuned for “I’m Just Popping Down to the Shops – the Musical”.

Q: I don’t think I will.

Hipster speed dating – ironic, but lonely

A: Fair enough. So I went along, percolating this vague idea, then proceeded to have a whole bunch of odd conversations and encounters. From there, five characters began to take shape.

Q: Did you pick up?

A: Is that relevant? We’re talking about the play.

Q: I think we can take that as a “no”.

A: I started on my merry writing way, but eventually got stuck. Luckily, the same group was desperately short of guys again so I blagged another free entry. And this time, some really odd stuff happened.

Q: Pick up?

A: Nup.

Q: Dammmmnn, dude. Lift yo’ game.

Miguel’s lyrics were bad, but all the girls complimented his fingering technique

A: Combining these new encounters along with anecdotes from friends, and some blatant eavesdropping when my local pub hosted a few speed dating nights, the rest of the play worked itself out from there.

Q: And that’s when you approached Blak Yak to put the show on.

A: Pretty much, yup.

Q: And then you faffed about on it for twelve odd months, continually promising them it was nearly ready.

A: Pretty much, yup.

Q: But now it’s written?

So much in common already … including poor dress sense

A: Pretty much, yup.

Q: Really written?

A: I’ve taken a break from it, so as to have fresh-eyed edit and tidy, along with any initial feedback from the director, and my own brutally critical opinion of everything that I write. Including letters to the milkman.

Q: But it is *actually* written? I’m not asking for myself, but for certain theatre committee members who have just booked a theatre and started publicising it.

A: It’s really very nearly ready.

Q: Are you lying?

A: … no.

(Interview ended at 11:23 pm, after a long doubtful stare between both parties)

Next time: Scripts! Actors! Drinks! Nibblies! The read-thru approacheth …

Posted in Community Theatre, Editing, First Draft, Independent Theatre, Perth Theatre, Plays, playwright, Theatre, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment