30 April 2007

I'll get back to you later on this, but if you're at all interested you can hear me ramble about The May Queen here, in a tone I hoped was approaching sage but came out inevitably lugubrious. With a hint of renascent Scouse? It always comes back a bit after I've been hanging out with hometowners.

Click the link, go to Listen Again on the right hand side, then 'Claire Hamilton on Sunday'. I'm about 46/47 minutes in, you click the fast forward button if you want a shortcut.

More Aristophanes today, then back to Liverpool tomorrow, into the theatre with MQ, and she's ready. First preview on Friday, far away so close. Much grinding of pencils and gnashing of LX tape before then, I shouldn't wonder.

24 April 2007

Hats off to the West End Whingers for hosting such a cracking do. I'd come straight from the Court, pondering the devastation mental illness wreaks on its sufferers, and the shame and stigma still heaped upon them. The second half of Anthony Neilson's play dramatised this with masterful dignity and discipline, an extraordinary contrast with the excess and abandon of the first, a Lewis Carrollesque trip to The Wonderful World of Dissocia. Gotta love that singing polar bear...
Anyhoo after digesting all that the party in "London's fabulous, fashionable West End" was just the tonic, and such a pleasure to see some of my fellow bloggers: JMC, Fin, Natasha, Ben Y, Lance, Ben E, and of course Andrew and Phil!

Back to the May Queen rehearsals tomorrow, but not before a workshop in the a.m. and a telephone interview during the train journey. Then in the evening one for the radio, and a new place to stay. I'll also try and catch the Liverpool v Chelsea semi-final. I expect there'll be one or two pubs in Liverpool showing the game...

17 April 2007

To paraphrase the mighty Windass, I'm writing this when I should be writing that, when in fact I should be at this. Sorry Richard, it's not good form I know, and I expect it means my application to join the Monsterists will mysteriously disappear down the back of the sofa. But I've got songs to write you know, and a miniature play for our show at the Everyman in June, and though I want no sympathy for this I'm behind, having spent most of the past 24 hours trying and failing to set up a wireless interweb connection between my pc and the laptop whereon I write, research and sometimes even blog, effortlessly wirelessly, at the Library. But in spite of the fact that I can breezily connect with the flat upstairs's wireless and so surf in bed when they're online, my own kit's unfathomably duff. Of course all that really probably means is I'm incredibly dim. All that remains is for me to toss a coin - heads I take the wireless router thingy back to the shop, tails I try and get a net-head in to sort me out.

In other news, I rounded off a very exciting week of shows by catching the last night of Owen McCafferty's Mojo Mickybo, a play so full of heart and bite, makes you glad and sad to be alive.

Also I should report that Scott Graham, he of the awesome Frantic Assembly, is movement director on May Queen and has been up at the Playhouse working with the company on one particular scene... can't wait to see the results.

11 April 2007

Trying to get some work done. The work in question is fifteen or twenty pages of BIRDS, my bash at a musical version of the Aristophanes. So the pages will include some songs. Such a world away from The May Queen, which is no doubt a good thing. Occasionally my phone will buzz and I get a question from the rehearsal room. I'm trying (that word again) to set aside the tragic mode and write silly. Not so easy though. Unbidden these words came to me at the desk -

Beloved son
Share your wounds with me
I have always carried you in my heart
And looked after you.
Speak to your mother, make her happy
Though you are already leaving me, my cherished hope.

The death of Christ, the suffering of the Virgin - in 15th century lyrics set by Gorecki in his Symphony No.3 and then used to devastating effect by Robert Lepage in Lipsynch. It comes back to me now, part because the Virgin is central to my play, part because I visited the cathedral to see the statues draped in mourning purple on Easter Saturday, and part, no doubt and rather bathetically, because I just waved off my sons and their mother at Euston, they've gone up to Cumbria, to visit my mother.

Saw Attempts on Monday, off to The Caretaker at the Tricycle tonight, and Satyagraha (omg) on Friday.

07 April 2007

Well as you can see I didn't get around to blogging while in Liverpool for rehearsals, partly because my head was so full by the end of the day that even this kind of mild cogitation was beyond me and I craved a cold beer, a plate of something precision-engineered for the microwave, and the cricket highlights. The night before I sent the final, final text off to the printers I had to burn the midnight oil and it was very hard going, I must say. Sitting in my little flat with all sorts of distracting thoughts swirling around my head I nonetheless, amongst other tasks, had to search for a substitute name for a merchant ship mentioned in the play. I had called it The Western Approaches but Alisa correctly called me on this, saying that people would be confused because wasn't that the name of the fleet headquarters? I eventually found a good replacement, but by bedtime I was proper beat. The rehearsal room, if it's run properly and it is, is the most creative of times for a playwright, up there with the eureka moments of the very early days of a play. In that room, minute by minute, ideas and memories are aired to the group, energies are crackling, the words begin to sing. What were 'lines' are now living things, accompanied by flashing eyes, or low authoritative brows, or a telling twist of the wrist, or a giveaway catch in the voice. During a break there are people swapping experiences in the corner, buzzing off each other, and in the throes of improvisations around the story, the author, if he's half-awake and I was, marvelling at the metamorphosis yet again, the conversations the characters had in his head, fleshed out and in that process by some strange alchemy, no longer his but everyone's, reflected back to him, changed for the better.

I stayed in a comfy place, very central. For the first week the May Queen company were in the annexe at the Everyman, essentially the attic space of 13 Hope Street which houses the theatre's engine room, so to speak, or at least some of it - finance people, press and marketing departments, and in the capacious basement, wardrobe. As of next week proceedings move down to the Playhouse in Williamson Square, pictured below.

playhouse

01 April 2007

The train is booked, the play is fully cast - now it's time to see if we can dance.

Yes up to Liverpool soon, rehearsals start tomorrow. Well there's a meet and greet in the morning and then your guess is as good as mine. A readthrough I suppose but one never knows, do one?

My sister's away this week so I'll be the only Sharkey in the village, which is odd.

I've got broadband in the place I'm staying, so look out.

I've also got one of those tender spots on my thumb (I'm a nail-biter, for my sins). Someone, you know who you are, blogged about this sort of thing recently and I was fascinated but now it's been edited out. Or did I dream it?

Much to catch up upon, not least Miniaturists 6, I'll try and scratch out something about that very soon, pm's thoughts about blogging and busyness strike a chord but I so enjoy reading everyone else's stuff and besides how could I show my face at the West End Whingers party if I grind to a halt?

Till North, then, pinch punch and more fools us.