Saint Lucia and the Three Notebooks!

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It’s Santa Lucia, over here – the gift bringer. One of these days I’ll tell you about the various forms the legend and the tradition take, but not today. Today – as you may have gathered by the post’s title – it’s about the notebooks.

Because, you see, this year, together with the usual candy, a couple of books, and the first December snowfall* in ages, Saint Lucia gave me three notebooks – and they couldn’t be more different. Continue reading

Tiny Tims, Black Cloaks, and Major Rows

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The second run of “my” A Christmas Carol” opens tonight – and let me boast a little: we’re sold out all the way to January. There is no way on earth to call it anything else than a huge hit, and I’m inordinately proud.

That said… Continue reading

Things done, not done, to do… the yearly reckoning

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Oh, look – the end of November!

The end of November, when I usually wrap up my writing year, and take stock of it. This year… well, this year things might be a wee bit different – but I’ll get there.

First, the writing year – the good and the bad of it… Continue reading

Tableaux Vivants

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I’ve always loved the idea of tableaux vivants. Enacting a painting, or a scene from a story – in one long frozen moment complete with props and costumes… Half theatre, half illustration. It appeals very much.

I remember reading Behind a Mask, one of Louisa May Alcott’s gothic stories, during a mostly sleepless overnight train ride… Continue reading

Missing the Squirrels

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I think I told you in passing that I parted ways with the Squirrels… It happened earlier this year – around March, actually – and there were Reasons. It was a hard thing to do, after a decade with them, and a much longer time, if on and off, with Gemma the Director – but I had choices to make, and… Reasons.

It was a mostly civilised affair: I explained, and teared up a little, and they were mostly quite nice about it, and some of them actually teared up in turn. So I came away, and exchanged calls and emails with Gemma now and then, but never acted on the standing invitation to go and sit through rehearsal with them – because… well, I’d come away. I’d come away, and I had Reasons, and I didn’t want to tag along unofficially – much less to be dragged in again “just this once”… Continue reading

A Halloween story – in a way…

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Until a few years ago – say a decade or so – in a village not far from here, the old, old tradition of Meeting March was still very much alive: on the last night of February, young and old armed themselves with pans, and ran around making all the din they could, to scare away Old Winter.

It was good fun, older than the hills, quite pagan – and nobody found it a particular reason for scandal… Continue reading

The Three Pages Club

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Many years ago, when I was young and carefree, I thought up, together with a friend, the notion for a writing group called the Three Pages Club.

This is how it was meant to work: once every two months, one of the members would propose three rules. Any kind of rules: content, form, restrictions, theme, mandatory elements, style, tone… anything. Continue reading

Limits, and comfort zones, and the barbaric horde

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A couple of weeks ago, Nina asked how I would like to be an assistant teacher in the Children’s drama classes.

“Not very…” I warily murmured. Because the fact is… oh, let me explain.

I don’t remember whether I’ve told you this before, but the Company runs a Drama School, you see, where I’ve been teaching play-writing for a few years now. Teaching the grown-ups – or at least reasonably so… As of this year, we also have a course for elementary school children, and the people teaching it have suggested the need for an assistant, and Nina asked me. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Writers

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Gordon Craig in The Dead Heart

In 1859, as A Tale of Two Cities was being first serialized in weekly instalments in Dickens’ own magazine, All The Year Round, a play by Watts Phillips, called The Dead Heart, made its stage debut at the Adelphi, to much success.

Phillips, a novelist and playwright, had had little luck lately, because he insisted on writing serious, near-austere pieces that pleased the critics (and, apparently, the Queen) more than they did the melodrama-loving general public.

The Dead Heart, though, a stirring tale of the French Revolution, filled with thwarted love, howling injustice, epic struggles, evil abbés, heroic sacrifice, and so on, was a different matter – all the more so because very soon people started to notice the close resemblance between the play and that new novel by Mr. Dickens… Continue reading