Saturday, December 27, 2014

My 2014


When we look back, it’s as if the year has passed so fast.

It helps somehow to make a list. To give a shape.

To remind myself what happened.

In 2014 I…

I moved house. That’s the first thing. It was horrible saying goodbye to Nether Craigwell, where we’d been so happy for so long. But I had to: I couldn’t manage all the stairs.

And I’d never done anything grown up like sell one house and buy another…

I love my new house. It’s on the waterfront in Leith with huge beautiful windows looking over the harbour. I love sitting in my battered old pink chair watching the water…

I’d just moved in when Jean, Sue’s mum, passed away in her care home. That marked the end of an era. She was a fantastic grandma to Bex and Katie and I know they miss her deeply.

I’m so proud of them. Katie now seems to write most of Look magazine every week and Bex has become a world expert on fish farms.

Alex will be two and a half soon and is making his own distinctive and beautiful mark on the world. And I so love being a dad and a grandma…

Meanwhile I keep getting things published in books. It amazes me. I’ve a heap of them:

“How to Write a Play” (it’s simple, really…) in IMAGES OF LIFE (The Book World, Kolkata)

A letter in Letter to an Unknown Soldier (Collins, London) (I loved the fact I was able to use my experience of being trans as part of a war memorial) 

“The Fine Art of Finding a Safe Place to Pee” in OUT THERE (Freight Books, Glasgow) (Not sure a trans woman’s experience has found a place in an LGBT anthology before)

“The Unknown Woman at the Edge of Things” in Dear Scotland (Luath Press, Edinburgh) (This was so beautifully performed by Sally Reid in the Portrait Gallery. And I loved performing it myself afterwards. Especially at Independence rallies)

“The Right to Dream” in INSPIRED BY INDEPENDENCE (Word Power and National Collective, Edinburgh) (It felt weird writing a political piece and i thought it was pretty crap at the time. But actually it’s pretty good. And what a beautiful book!)

A prayer in WE ARE LOVED (United Reformed Church, Edinburgh) (This came out of a workshop I led for members of the United Reformed Church who wanted to be involved in creating LGBTI inclusive liturgy)

“All I want for Christmas is to Wear a Dress” in NAKED AMONG THISTLES (Stewed Rhubarb, Edinburgh) (This was about a wish that came true)

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN (Stewed Rhubarb) (I loved working with Annabel and Susan and Claire and Stuart and performing this at the Fringe. And bits of it all over the place. Including Eastern Europe for a kind of peripatetic literary festival. Where I got driven about like a rock star)

I’d say that is probably the most surprising thing about the year. The discovery that when I stand on a stage something seems to happen. And people listen. 

And what a joy, after so many years in writer’s solitude, to collaborate so much and so closely.

I so loved being Chris Goode’s mum in his ALBEMARLE in West Yorkshire Playhouse. And being on a grown up stage, too. 

And then spending a week with Chris devising a new piece for the National Theatre of Scotland.

Another discovery was to become aware that when I’m in front of a camera I feel completely at home and somehow know what to do. Having my photo taken used to be such an ordeal: and this is such a joy. 

It was so great to work in films. I loved being Carolyn in “High Heels Aren’t Compulsory”. And having a make up lady. Aga was so lovely. I think I want her with me ALL THE TIME.

And it was a gas to be wandering about Prince’s St in my Jesus costume and going up and down escalators filming the trailers for the show. And being filmed having a bath by Annabel and Evi for their documentary. Being filmed by a crew for SONGS OF PRAISE. It was extraordinary and unexpected to be performing a bit of QUEEN JESUS for that programme. And hopefully a huge step forward from the terrifying hatred that play first inspired.

It feels important to keep bearing witness to who I am. Which is why I allowed my voice to be used on a radio advert for the Scottish Government’s “One Scotland” campaign and my story to be featured on their website http://onescotland.org/my-story/.

I hope they do good in the world….

And I’ve written plays in the middle of all this. Two plays: WHITE TED AND THE RIGHT TO DIE for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and JEKYLL AND HYDE for Sell A Door Theatre Company. 

I’m proud of WHITE TED because it was technically such a challenge to write something 50 minutes wrong for 6 student actors in which all the parts were roughly the same size so they could use their performances in their Showcase.

I wrote it for my dear friend Marni who wanted me to write something about the right to die. I hope she would have enjoyed it.

JEKYLL AND HYDE goes into rehearsal in the middle of January. I hope it works.

I’ve been unexpectedly travelling. Huge satisfaction travelling round the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland: the heart of old Europe. Giving a reading every night, outing myself as a trans woman, and then entering into discussion with the audience afterwards. 

Teaching playwriting workshops in two cities in Brazil and spending a week on the Isle of Honey.

Maybe the most beautiful moment of the year was opening my eyes when I was meditating one morning to find a humming bird just inches away: a beautiful creature who had apparently come just to say hello.

Astonishing to be in Tokyo seeing a beautiful all male production of GREAT EXPECTATIONS. 
So looking forward next year to seeing INES THE OPERA being revived by Scottish Opera in Glasgow and Edinburgh  towards the end of January. James McMillan himself is conducting it. The music he wrote to my words is of the intensest beauty and power, and I can’t wait to hear it again.

And then ANNA KARENINA in Manchester’s Royal Exchange; GREAT EXPECTATIONS in Dundee Rep; and J and H touring the country.

All these are happening by themselves; after years of my hoping and trying to get my work revived, and then getting upset when it wasn’t.

There’s also plans to present JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN in Brazil and in Ireland; and I’m definitely performing the show at the General Assembly of the Unitarian church in the spring.

But what comes will come. The main thing is to keep hoping and loving: and keep working.

Just before Christmas I was asked to perform Nova’s speech at the end of Peter Handke’s play THE LONG WAY ROUND.

She says:

“The spirit of the New Age speaks in me and this is what it has to say to you: Yes, there is danger, and it is only because of the danger that I can speak as I am going to - words of resistance.’

Words that keep on and on having to be said.

By all of us.

No matter what….



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