Thursday, March 27, 2008

27th March 2008
I finally finished QUEEN ECHINACEA today.
It's a play with a really chequered history, and I've no idea if I'll ever see her performed...
Originally this was a commission from Boilerhouse to write a site specific piece about genetics.
It was to be performed in St Cuthbert's graveyard in the West End of Prince's St. and open during the Fringe of 2007.
It's a beautiful, amazing graveyard. As far as I can remember the idea was to split the audience up into groups of about 25 or so.
Everyone would meet together at the beginning, be split up, and then see 5 or 6 scenes, I can't remember exactly how many. They would see them in a different order, depending on which group they were in.
But together they would see the last scene, too: and be free to reassemble a very different experience in their memory.
Anyway, I was all excited about it.
But although the Scottish Arts Council gave me the money to write the script, they wouldn't give Boilerhouse the money to stage it.
Goodness knows why.
The last time this happened to me was with TREE OF LIFE and the Brunton.
I was incredibly angry at the time, and wrote letters to the press, and got very cross with the SAC... but this time, for some reason, I didn't really have the energy.
I just wanted to write a play. Me and Boilerhouse agreed that it would be a shame to waste a commission.
I thought I'd resurrect an old piece I wrote a while ago but never really finished or did anything with.
It was based on the life of a dear friend of mine, who lives on the top of the Royal Mile and works as a transsexual prostitute.
I wrote it when I was teaching a playwriting class. I structured the classes then by having each particpant agree to bring something they had written to each class.
And it works best if I bring something too.
So, bit by bit, I brought QUEEN ECHINACEA.
I thought I'd rewrite her and make the main character someone who'd worked as a geneticist before transitioning...
and then, after talking with the director, agreed to open it up a bit more and have three characters.
So Echinacea is engaged in a kind of dialogue with three aspects of her self: her old self, Potts, when she was living as a man (played by a young woman), her present self, Echinacea (played by a transgender woman) and her singing dream self, the Diva (played by a drag queen).
It has been so insanely hard to write.
The last few pages were like wading through glue; or running up an escalator going down; or those nightmares when you have to run but can barely walk.
And she had to be handed in before the end of the financial year.
And she has been.
And, after all that, I'm proud of her.

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