Monday, January 30, 2012

Sex, Chips and The Ghost opens at Oran Mor

All through the rehearsals for SEX CHIPS AND THE HOLY GHOST I have been meaning to write about the process.

It's been impossible, though. The learning curve has just been too great.

And the pressures of the process: we've had a fortnight, rehearsing in the Citizens theatre Glasgow.

And then this morning we stood on the set for the very first time.

Generally theatres spend almost a week in the process of technical rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and maybe a preview or two, before they actually open.

We did all that in an hour and a half, and then before we knew it were out there in front of an audience.

A full house. With press.

And at one point I forgot my lines, but David covered for me brilliantly, and we got through, and the people there seemed to enjoy it.

And I wish I do a better job of describing what it felt like, or reflect upon it somehow.

But I can't. It happened. We did it. I'm proud of what we did.

And then tomorrow we do it all over again.

Monday, January 02, 2012

the year 2011

There’s something very wonderful about this year coming towards its end as the play is performed that I wrote at its very beginning.

I feel incredibly proud of TREE OF KNOWLEDGE and its production: its cast and its creative team. It’s been a joy to work on these last weeks, and after so long an absence it makes me so happy to be back at the Traverse again.

And back with a play that provokes so much thought, and so much feeling, and so much pleasure. And that Nick Hern has so beautifully published.

Watching the last performance - a full house, like all the performances in the last week - the cast’s luminous, authoritative performances. Watching the audience leaning forward to watch them. It all makes me forget how miserable I was when I was writing it way back in January, how isolated I felt, how full of so much tension it made me ill.

How I decided I would try to stop struggling with these mammoth tasks alone, and perform more, and collaborate more.

Not a very sensible decision as I then had to plunge into turning GOD’S NEW FROCK into a kind of tranny old testament book of prophecy, and THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN into a book-like Gospel.
Which took me up to September.

The spirit of Adam Smith must have escaped from the play and into my real self, somehow, because when I wrote the report to Creative Scotland on how I had spent the £10,000 they had granted me, I calculated this worked out as a payment of £5.95 an hour.

Only just above the minimum wage: but that didn’t stop Hugh Henry MSP and the Scottish Sun denouncing it and me as a grotesque waste of tax-payers’ money.

It was a bit of a shock to find myself in the tabloids again; but I kept bumping into people who read the paper and seemed utterly unimpressed by what the paper was actually saying.

What impressed them was the fact I’d had two big photographs in and a whole page to myself.

So I stopped being dismayed, and got on with the writing. Which I finally finished after a wonderful stay at Retreats For You and came home with a thick bundle of typescript which I now, somehow, need to find time to rewrite and revise.

In the meantime I was performing: with Suzanne Dance and Harriet Davidson doing LEAVE TO REMAIN at the Bath Literary Festival and a fascinating international conference on theatrical activism.

Just on my own doing JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN in a Glasgow pub, a Liverpool hotel room, and the beautiful kitchen/performing space in The Bakehouse, Gatehouse of Fleet.

And then developing SEX, CHIPS AND THE HOLY GHOST with David Walshe and Susan Worsfold for Oran Mor next February.

And loving it. Rediscovering the joy of performing which got buried under the shame of discovering I really hated being a boy and wanted to be a girl. When I was sixteen: all those years ago.

None of which has also stopped me taking huge pleasure in the revivals of my ANNA KARENINA (Adam Smith College and most beautifully by Dundee Rep) and my INES DE CASTRO (in the States by Shakespeare Carolina, and in Uzice, Serbia, by the National Theatre of Serbia).

And in listening to my dear PRINCESSE DE CLEVES being repeated on Radio 3.

I adapted THE CHERRY ORCHARD for Theatre Alba to perform in Duddingston kirk garden during the Festival. The pleasure of adapting that beautiful play. That beautiful production. My unexpected love affair with the work of Anton Chekhov.

I rediscovered my translation of Lorca’s THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA, which Nick Hern is publishing in the new year. She will form a nice trilogy witht he already published BLLOD WEDDING and YERMA.

And the book chapter I wrote about the protests around the opening of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN in 2009. Which will be coming out in:
Rivers, I., & Ward, R. (Eds.). Out of the ordinary: Representations of LGBT lives
I recently discovered I may be on the cover. I keep trying to enjoy representations of my self. I celebrated the beautiful portrait Fiona Robertson painted of me.

I need to celebrate the beautiful photographic portrait Neil Montgomery created the year before but which I was a bit too dazed, somehow, to properly take in.

I am trying to enjoy the trailer that’s just been made of SEX CHIPS AND THE HOLY GHOST.

It’s a really lovely piece of work: will I get used, ever, to seeing myself on film?

I suspect i will have to. Huge changes on the way....

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