So I'm watching a lot of football. Euro 2008 - or the European Championships to old timers like me - is proving very entertaining. Group A comes to a head tonight with a decider between Turkey and the Czech Republic (or 'Czechoslovakia', as David Pleat would have it) for the second qualifying spot. Now my usual modus operandi is to record the games and watch them last thing, remote in hand so I can zip through the injury stoppages and the more annoying punditry, naming no names Mr Allardyce. Tonight, alas, this strategy will avail me naught as there will be no avoiding the result come 9.30 - either Green Lanes and environs (including our little offshoot) will be resounding to several hundred car horns, trumpeting a Turkish triumph, or... they will not.
Meanwhile I am working on the Christmas play for Northern Stage, Hansel and Gretel. It's a very pleasurable job, already. The Brothers Grimm (as distinct from the Brothers Grim) are fascinating source material, all seven pages or whatever it is according to which edition you pick up. As with last year's Christmas Carol, Erica (Whyman) is directing and Neil (Murray) designing, so that's a head start, getting the old band back together. We're starting earlier than we might have done because Neil is working on his own production of a new piece for September, a Bryony Lavery version of Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber. So that'll be bloody exciting.
So it's Christmas in my head, albeit of a starkly different sort from the Dickensian goings on last time round. From a mechanical point of view, the source material is brief to the point of insubstantial, compared to the prolix and effervescent Charlie D. There's an almost biblical ghostliness to the characters and action in the Grimms treatment. But they are of course, precisely for that reason, a gift to people like me who come along after and set about fleshing them out. I'm adding some shall we call them variations to the story, some inspired by my reading, majorly of this literally wonderful book
and a significant one from a chance remark by a director friend during a quick catch up.
What else will I tell you? Cloudcuckooland got a mention in The Seoul Times, Edinburgh fringe preview (about halfway down). I've seen one of the best new plays for yonks, The Pitmen Painters (featuring Mr Michael Hodges who was our Scrooge last year), and one of the best versions of a very old play you could wish for, Roger McGough's Tartuffe. Mostly though I have been sitting and thinking about stories. When the footie's not been on.