Monthly Archives: November 2012

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month

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Hello all, I hope you’re all doing well today.

As I am writing this, it is the 17th November, which means I’m actually a couple of days late for writing a post about the NaNoWriMo halfway point. So, lets all do me a favour and pretend it’s the 15th all over again.

November every year is an exciting time for thousands of writers. That is already established and published authors of best-selling books, those who aren’t quite there yet and those who have never written a word before in their lives. All these wonderful, creative people will spend the month, bent over their computers in coffee shops across the world, attempting to write a minimum of 50,000 words in just 30 days. This is National Novel Writing Month; “Thirty days of literary abandon”.

This year is my first time participating in NaNoWriMo, so I thought I’d share some of my experiences up to this point.

I came into the month with a single goal; to hit the word count goal. I’m not too worried about what it is I’m writing, I just want to write. For me, the month is an exercise in writing as often and as much as I can, so that after the month is done I can attack my other projects with vigour. Because of this goal, of course, some of what I have written is rather good, and some of it is an absolute, unresolvable mess! But that’s okay. And actually, that’s kind of the point for me, that it’s okay to produce something messy, unpolished and possibly a bit crappy, the point is to write without holding back, without endlessly editing yourself and without spending 3 months on a single chapter! The editing and fixing stage comes later, beyond November.

In order to test myself in this way, I decided on a very basic idea for my novel, but did not plan it. The idea was vague. It would be based on my character from my theatre company ‘The Same, But Different’, Gylligan the Traveller. Now I say character, but really Gylligan is more of a persona than anything else, and if we want to deconstruct what exactly it is I mean by persona, we’ll have to read the first chapter of my book! Anyway, the book is sort of part auto-biography and part nonsense. I had the idea that it would have a vague narrative which follows my own life in the most basic of ways, (ie; I left home and moved to London), and then is filled out with ridiculous ideas, (ie; London is facing a large scale but harmless zombie epidemic). As well as this, the book is littered with random thoughts, ideas and philosophies that Gylligan has made up throughout his life. So pretty much, I can write whatever I want without having to make much sense. This I thought would work as a platform for me to be able to simply write without any plan, foresight or strict format/style. It also works as a way for me to experiment with how I’m writing, as I’ve only tried telling linear stories before.

This is working out pretty well for me so far. As I said, some of it is utter rubbish, but some of it is okay, and either way, I’m managing to keep up without any plan or worry about what the book should be.

So, lets talk a little bit about the logistics of NaNoWriMo. As I said, I’m pretty much keeping on target. I’ve been about a day behind since I began and every now and again drop even further back, but somehow, I’m finding time to catch myself up. That’s the best thing about the month. The fact that I know I have to keep on writing otherwise I’ll fall too far behind. This fact lurks in the back of your mind and compels you to carry on writing, and before you know it, writing has just becomes part of your daily routine. It’s funny, that before this I found it hard to make time for writing, and now that I have a goal and deadline I’m magically able to make time. This is something I’ll take with me from beyond this month, and when I go back to my other book it’ll be with a clear deadline in sight.

Another thing I’m enjoying is the community. I’m not a very social person in the digi-shere, but I’ve found great joy in the odd forum comment and other bits. The NaNoWriMo website is really good, keeping track of your progress and helping to make you feel as part of a group. I’ve read that groups of people have weekly meetups, in which I can only presume they all sit in silence, writing. This to me, sounds like a great idea, and perhaps next year I’ll try to get in on some of that. It’s good to know that you’re one of many taking part in the event, and this also helps you to carry on going.

But it is hard. I’m finding it very hard actually. Maybe because I’ve been relatively busy, maybe it’s due to my lack of a plan, but maybe it’s more to do with the fact that quite simply, writing is hard. It is horrible writing without editing as you go, and actually the knowledge that you have to write everyday can become quite stressful. I find myself fretting over word counts and forcing myself to write a certain amount, even after all inspiration has dried up for that particular day.

Overall though, it’s great to be a part of it. I’m really enjoying writing every day. I’m enjoying experimenting with what I’m writing and the way I’m writing it, but sometimes I do worry about the quality of work. Finally, I enjoy knowing that I’m just one of thousands taking part in the month.

I will write another post on NaNoWriMo at the end of the month. In the meantime, if anyone fancies it, feel free to share your thoughts and experiences of the month with me. How you are doing, how you are enjoying it, etc. It would be good to hear how fellow Wrimos (that’s what we are apparently) are doing.

5 Minute Festival

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Howdy,

So as you should know (I’ve been plugging it enough!) me and my group ‘The Same, But Different’ performed our show ‘Starring James Franco’ at the 5 minute festival last night.

The 5 minute festival is organised by LOST Theatre as a platform for various companies to see what they can do with just 300 seconds. It was a nice night of theatre with a great audience and nice atmosphere. Everyone was really supportive and the whole thing was very sporting, despite the competitive element.

So, our show was a reduced and re-edited version of a 30 minute show that we devised together last year. I found the whole thing to be an excellent lesson in effective time management. It’s very difficult putting together an entertaining, interesting and coherent show in 5 minutes. There does seem to be a certain single-scene/monologue format that seems to work well, however, we wanted to experiment with taking moments from our larger show and making something that had the feel of a trailer or something. Quick and chaotic, getting a lot into a short amount of time.

You can see our show and vote for us here: http://www.losttheatre.co.uk/index.php/whats-on/festivals/five-minute-festival/voting-poll – I don’t seem to be able to make a link today for some reason…

Please do vote, as it could give us a shot of performing on Saturday also.

About the day. When we arrived and our designated time shot for our tech rehearsal came, we were hurried into the theatre where we had just under 20 minutes to tech the whole thing. We were using a script that we had sent in about 2 weeks ago and then heavily altered, so I was a little worried about the tech, but it ran very smoothly indeed. We were then made to do a speed run, and then it was filmed. And that was it…the version that all of you will see was done! I remember stepping outside and thinking, ‘oh god, that’s it, isn’t it!’ I didn’t really have time to comprehend that we were doing our show, let alone that the filmed version was already in the bag.

Anyway, we then had about 3 hours to kill after which the night began.

Our group was the opening act of the second half, and so we were able to watch the first half, which was great. Our show went well, I think. What I was very pleased with, was that the audience quickly started reacting to us during the show; clapping and whooping or whistling at us, which to me, signified that they got the vibe we were going for. That in 5 minutes we’d opened a platform where people realised that they could call out and interact with us. I think that’s pretty hard to do in just 5 minutes, so I’m quite proud of the fact.

As I said, please do vote for us, as it would help our chances greatly. And either way, watch some of the shows, see what you think does/doesn’t work in 5 minutes. What you like, what you don’t and what you might do with 5 min. Report back to me, we’ll chat about it. Or not. Whatever.

Also, watch Sound and Fury which was on the first night. It’s a great piece by a company I know called ‘Postdramatic’. Check them out.

Either tomorrow, or later today, I’m going to do another post based on my experiences in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as we are now half way through!

Have a good one.

Reminder: James Franco at the LOST 5 minute theatre festival!

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Hello all,
Just a quick reminder that my company ‘The Same, But Different’ will be performing a 5 minute version of our show ‘Starring James Franco’ as part of LOST Theatre’s 5 Minute Theatre Festival on Wednesday! That’s not tomorrow, but the next day! Ironically, the LOST theatre can be found in London, or if you cannot make it / live outside of the UK, you can watch it online here. I believe it will be available online all day Thursday.

Also, you can read a previous post about it here.

To promote the show, I decided to make some new posters. So, in honour of James Franco and in the spirit of the 5 min festival, I made three new posters, each in no more, and no less than 5 minutes. I hope you enjoy them, and can see the artistry beyond what was possible in such time constrictions…

Starring James Franco at the 5 minute festival

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As I stated in my last post, November is a very exciting month indeed. I am a week into National Novel Writing Month which is good fun but rather demanding, and next week my theatre company The Same, But Different are performing as part of Lost Theatre’s 5 Minute Theatre Festival.

First things first, I will write a post on NaNoWriMo when we hit the halfway point, with updates on my progress, thoughts and experiences of the event. Now however, I’ll tell you a little bit about my show next week and how you can watch it!
The Same, But Different is a company of five individuals; Gylligan the Traveller, Tarzan boy, The Economy, What is Edd? and our leader The Chancellor. We are a theatre group which create original works that highlight the absurdity of how people choose to kill time between life and death. With a mix of life performance and digital media we use absurdist humour and the concept of failure to access themes such as fame, disaster and occultism. But however devastating these themes may be we always seek to deal with them in a humorous way.

Starring James Franco was our first work as a company and is still under development, although since then we have also created a performance/night long event called Y2K.

For the 5 minute festival we will adapt Starring James Franco to a 5 minute piece, altering and developing our previous work whilst working on new material also. So, a little bit about the show!

Featuring ‘dance’, obsolete media, music that is culturally irrelevant and an informal performance style, Starring James Franco is an absurdly humorous yet sinister exploration into the concepts of fame, cultural obsession, dissociation and fear. Mostly, Starring James Franco is a show about the absurdity of fame, also approaching ideas of self worth, hope and despair in the process.

How much of that will come across during the 5 minute version, we can’t wait to find out!

The 5 Minute festival is the 5th of its kind. The idea is that “the UK’s 40 most talented, innovative companies battle it out in front of a live and online audience”.

So, over the course of 4 days there will be 40 shows, each lasting – yep you guessed it – 5 minutes. These shows are watched live and digitally before being put to an audience vote. 2 shows qualify each night to go into the final.

‘Oh! But when did theatre become a competition?!’ I hear you cry. ‘Well,’ I say taking you in my arms and holding you close, ‘that’s just the way of things now! It’s a cruel, competitive world we live in and each of us has to do our part!’ Right, I’m rambling now, but the point is that you should definitely watch and vote for our show. Or at least watch it and let me know what you think regardless of whether or not you vote, because that’s what’s really important here!

We are on Wednesday the 14th of November, and interestingly, we’re the only act listed under a group name as opposed to under a single artist’s name, so you can easily spot us.

I’m not sure exactly where you go to watch it, but I will find out for sure. I presume it will be uploaded to their youtube channel. Anyhow go along to the Lost Theatre Website and check it all out.

Looks to be a great week.