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London Calling

by kennyp 

Posted: 09 August 2004
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Jubbly at 13:17 on 13 August 2004  Report this post
Hi Kenny,

You have here an opportunity to bring to life this diverse and sometimes terrifying community that is Hackney. I think your play has enormous potential and is just the sort of thing that would work well on stage or on telly, however its current state needs a lot of work. Your characters are lively and funny and easily recognisable but your dialogue is heavy handed and not very actor friendly. I hear the same voices from your novel which is great but in order to breathe life into them, I think you need to trim down the lines. Go back to each and every line and work out what exactly the purpose of the line is. What is it achieving how is it moving the scene along? When you have done this, trim the line, get the soul of the meaning into what you are saying. You need to leave some of the work for the actors, a simple nod of the head, or another gesture can convey the meaning just as well. Don't be discouraged, you have a fine story to tell and some great lines, the one about parking in Amhurst Rd had me laughing out loud. I guess it's the old show don't tell adage here Kenny. You've got a story to tell, you've got the characters and the scene now you need to make it entertaining. It doesn't have to be naturalistic at all but you need to make football, a subject you're obviously passionate about, just as interesting to anyone who doesn't know the first thing about it. I suggest you go to the theatre, read some contempory plays then experiment with what you already have. Good luck Kenny keep it up.

Cheers

Julie
x

kennyp at 21:49 on 14 August 2004  Report this post
Hi Julie

Thanks for reading and the detailed critique. It was a first attempt at playwrighting after attending Emilia Di Giralamo's playwrighting class. I have taken on board what you said will definately read some more contemporary plays and re-draft the play.

Cheers
Kenny

MasterRevelation at 10:26 on 10 October 2004  Report this post
Hi - I started to read your play but I did find it heavy going. I think that the reason for this was that you have used a form of words which is not actually how people talk in real life.

This is always hard to achieve - I guess we know it when we see it!

May I make a suggestion?

Get a tape recorder and go out and about recording real life conversations in Pizza restaurants, bars and so on. (Of course you would need the owner's permission)

When you have recorded various conversations and the interplay between different people then go home and listen to it over and over to pick out not just what is said, but how it is said.

From this you will begin to get a sense of the way words are used in real life.

Good luck with your future work

Peter

kennyp at 18:35 on 11 October 2004  Report this post
Hi Peter

Thanks for reading and commenting on the piece. The voices depicted in the play, are voices that rarely get aired on stage. The voices are those of contemparary urban Britain. One of my influences would have to be Mike Skinner of "The Streets" whose originality and unerring ear for contemparary language is brilliant.

Cheers
Kenny

Courtney S Hughes at 16:35 on 21 December 2004  Report this post
Kenny, where do I start?

I read this and I liked it a lot... that is the positive. I made a few notes (some of them really picky) but we'll get to those in a minute. I agree with Julie that with a little work this could be put on. Do you know the Tricycle Theatre (you're bound to find them on the web somewhere). They specialise in plays that represent 'ethnic' voices, especially black and Irish. I have seen a few productions there and if you were to approach a theatre then I think they would be a good one to start with. I think that your comments that there aren't many places for these voices to be aired is not true, there is in fact a lot of support and encouragement for writers from Asian and black communities.

As for plays, have you read or seen any of LeRoi Jones' work? Another interesting playwright who tackles similar issues of race is Winsome Pinnok (I may have mispelt there?!) but she is not quite the same league as Jones.

I liked the linking theme of the football, but you have a problem here. By running your story along-side the football and writing it in a naturalistic style your conversations run for around an hour maybe but the football match in the second act lasts for over two hours. I donít suggest making the text longer but maybe thinking about how naturalistic you want it to be.

There are a lot of typos, spelling and grammatical errors in this piece and you need to go through it and make some corrections, Iím a bit of a hypocrite on this one as I cant spell for toffee!

Now, excuse me if I have a lot to say but I am enthusiastic about this play. It needs work, but then maybe it is your first play, which is understandable that itís not going to be perfect straight away.

You write a lot of characters in here, sometimes too many. It is difficult to know what is needed and what is superfluous, the problem with theatre is that every character needs justification as every actor needs paying. A play with ten characters is harder to get performed than a play with four!

You have a few moments where you refer to the pregnancy testing kit, 'he sees it in her bag', 'it falls on the floor'. Someone on the right hand side of row eight wont see its a pregnancy kit, let alone whether or not it is positive or negative, small objects and movements are a problem, especially if they are pivotal to the plot, donít worry this is something I did with my first attempt at writing a play.

There is a little spoon-feeding at the beginning of the play 'Are you still going out with Eva?' and 'what are you talking about, your girlfriend Eva is Polish.' The audience will have plenty of time to learn that Eva is his Girlfriend, do you need to tell them? We also learn that her brother is coming over from Poland and that the tickets are to her hometown in Poland so do we need to be told she is Polish? (Again, something I used to do - Learn from your mistakes they say)

Let me reiterate here, I have so much to say because I enjoyed it and want to encourage you to make it better... it has potential.

Finally, and maybe this is just a personal gripe... the ending, when a fight broke out between the brother and Ade I knew Eva was going to get it, you almost saved yourself with the blood drenched tickets falling from her pocket but again too small for the stage. Is there some other way to end this? Killing off a character at the end is sometimes seen as the biggest no-no but rules are there to be broken I guess. (again, I am being a hypocrite because I also have been known to kill people off at the end... I'm getting better though, I now kill them at the beginning!)

Anyway, well done, I enjoyed the characters and many of the issues you raised. Keep going!

Courtney


kennyp at 23:05 on 22 December 2004  Report this post
Hi Courtney

Thanks for reading and the detailed critique on the piece.

I had a look at the Tricycle theatre website and they do read unsolicited scripts, for a £12.00 fee!

I must confess I have not heard of Leroi Jones but doing a search on google revealed a bit about him and he does sound like an interesting character. I'm not aware if he has had any of his plays in the UK at all. But will definatley be on the look out.Have you seen any of his plays here?

You're right about the running time along side the football. I would need some suggestions from a director on how to make that work. But the piece isn't wholely naturalistic as Adebayo's monologue is addressed to the audience.

You're right about the constraints of theatre that every character has to be an essential element in furthering the play and there stage time has to be fairly substantial!

Again the scenes with the pregnancy testing kit hopefully a director would suggest a theatrical way of making it work.

Cheers
Kenny




Courtney S Hughes at 08:49 on 23 December 2004  Report this post
Hi Kenny.

Glad the advice helped. RE: The Tricycle... whilst a £12 reading fee is a bit steep I am sure if you really worked hard on something it would be an investment worth making. As I said, I have seen plays there before and sometimes tickets are reasonably priced so maybe you should go along and see a few of their productions before submitting something.

One of the plays I saw there was Winsome Pinnoks 'Water' in a double bill with 'Wine in the Wilderness' by Alice Childress, another playwright I think you might find interesting and also who wrote on themes of black oppression in America in the 1960's (at the same time as Leroi Jones). To be honest I didnt enjoy Pinnoks play much but the Childress piece was a suberbly acted big budget afair.

I have seen Leroi Jones, about a week or so after seeing the Childress play, and it was a performance of 'The Dutchman' on of his most famous plays. It was performed (stangely) just down the road from the Tricycle in a pub theatre but annoyingly I cant remember what the theatre/pub was called :( He changed his name in the late 60's as part of the Black Muslims to Amiri Baraka so sometimes his plays may be listed under this name, plays written under the name Amiri Baraka tend to be a lot harder and there is a greater sense of hatred in these plays.

So in short, read Childress and Jones/Baraka if you can. You will probably be able to find a lot of books which have plays written by black playwrights, especially black women playwrights, if this is where you want your writing to lead. I know there are a few as I did some research in this area a few years ago.

WOW! You're going to be a busy man this Christmas!

Courtney


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