Category Archives: teaching

>Stuff Happens

>Kind of Dark has been in rehearsal the last couple of days. Suzanne Bell is directing Mark Arends and Raquel Cassidy. Amazingly, it goes live on Sunday at 5pm and 8pm. The other writers in the show are Glyn Cannon, Stephen Sharkey, Nancy Harris and Frederic Blanchette translated by Christopher Campbell. There’s a full running order at www.miniaturists.co.uk. Book tickets (£9 / £7 concessions) at arcolatheatre.com or on 0207 503 1646.

I’ve been working on a schools project in Tottenham for a couple of months and selected plays are being presented at a show at The Arts Theatre in about ten days time. It’s been a great project. The pupils have written a wide range of really theatrical pieces. I’m looking forward to the show to see what the other schools have created as well.

My Birkbeck students have also delivered their plays. Two good, strong groups. A couple of weeks of tutorials and then I’m done for the term.

The radio play is in The Radio Times, but they’ve spelt my name wrong – ‘Goodman’ rather than ‘Woodman’. It’s right in the online version. I’ve been sent a copy of the final edit and I think it’s really wonderful – the disparate strands edit together beatifully and Soweto’s music really works. Wednesday, 2:15pm.

>A week in radio

>On Thursday I’m off to Birmingham for the recording of The Climb, my radio dramadoc destined for Radio 4’s Afternoon Play slot on July 4th. Soweto Kinch‘s music has been commissioned and will be recorded soon after. Soweto’s musings on moments of transcendence have been recorded (produced by Rosie Boulton) and edited into the script. The drama producer Peter Leslie Wild has cast Paul Clarkson and John Flitcroft as Clive and Billy. All I have to do is cart my bike to the studio and watch them work. Looking forward to it.

Tomorrow is my first full session with the pupils in Tottenham. I’ll spend a lot of today working out how the session might go. Wednesday is the two Birkbeck sessions. Friday will be in Brum again to pick up marking. Busy-ish week.

I see that Hampstead are about to produce the follow up to Nell Leyshon‘s Comfort Me With Apples. I had hoped it would be called Pleasure Me With a Banana, but it’s actually titled Glass Eels. Should be worth a look.

>Kindertransport

>Went to see Shared Experience’s production of Diane Samuels‘ play Kindertransport at The Hampstead Theatre the other evening. I’m working on a schools project over in Tottenham which uses the play as a starting point. It’s fascinating to talk about the play with the students – to see how they miss some of the conventions (and are therefore occasionally ‘lost’), but still engage with it’s themes and relate them to their own experiences. It’s going to be an exciting couple of months.

I’ve also started work at Birkbeck – so far, so good.

I’ve decided to keep on working in Birmingham – the mortgage you understand.

I’ve been ill with a mystery virus (hat over it’s eyes, stays in the shadows, whistles tunelessly). It’s knocked my attempt at getting fit. I must get back out on the bike soon.

>Sitting on the fence

>We’ve had a new fence put up. Apparently there’s a world shortage of fences, so P jumped at the chance to order one. It’s very nice in a fencey sort of way. I’ve tried leaning on it and it seems to work.

We went to see a preview of A Matter of Life and Death at The National last night. It’s a big, big show. It will be interesting to see what the world thinks of it (note: 2+ hours without an interval – take mints).

I start teaching at Birkbeck this week – looking forward to it (in a nervous kind of way).

>Spring has sprung …

>This is the first time we’ve seen our new garden in the Spring. We are surprised to find that we have an outrageously pink tree. It’s good because a) it looks pretty and b) its ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ness makes me laugh – we have a shameless tree.

Tuesday to Birmingham. I had encouraged some of my students to see Attempts On Her Life. After reading some of the reviews, I was worried that they might not like it, but of course they lapped it up. It’s a big deal for them – a trip to London – so I’m glad it went well.

I have delivered a first full draft of Rolling News to Birmingham Rep and a second draft of the radio play to the BBC. Such a relief – and the post-draft hangover hasn’t kicked in yet. Perhaps this is the time it doesn’t happen?

I’ve managed to pick up some work on a schools project down here as well, which helps the confidence. Some other irons in the fire as well.

>The British Library

>Annoyed by the proposed funding cuts to The British Library? An online petition in protest at the cuts has been set up at the Government’s Number 10 Web site. The wording is…

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to keep the British Library FREE of charge to users! Don’t cut its budget!.

And it goes on…

You may have read in newspapers that the government is considering cutting the British Library’s budget by up to 7%. That might not sound much, but it will result in the library cutting its opening hours dramatically, and charging a fee to use the reading rooms.If you believe that to be a truly British Library, the library services the BL provides should be free of charge to the user – then sign the petition!

The BL is a truly world class institution, and one which belongs to all of us. We have a duty of care to support it, for the benefit of future generations. Please, Mr Blair, don’t cut its budget!

You can sign it here.

>After the storm

>I went to Birmingham yesterday to prepare for teaching which starts in a couple of weeks. All trains were speed-limited, so it took longer than usual to get there. The journey back was even worse – longer, overcrowded and failing to reach home (P picked me up from Gerrards Cross).

Theatre closures seem to be piling up. Our local (privatised) arts centre went broke and closed a few weeks ago. Lyn Gardner writes about the Wandsworth Tory council doing the dirty on Battersea Arts Centre and Alfred Hickling writes about Leicester Haymarket and Chester’s Gateway theatres here. According to one comment on LG’s article the Northampton theatres are under threat as well. With funding cuts looming over touring, things are looking bleak again.

Plumber calling this afternoon to quote. Builders have finished.

Update: More on Battersea, Northampton and, unfortunately, Basingstoke as well here. For a more general article on theatre funding (with reference to the Brighton Gardner Centre’s closure), see here.

>Wipeout

>A day lost… We had the builders in today to take down a lean-to and shore up the back wall. They were as cool as you like, but I’d decided the back of the house was going to fall down. It didn’t (hasn’t yet).

What did happen was lots of noise and a storm of brick dust as they cut through walls. The dust is still settling now, hours later and after a couple of laps with the Dyson and a damp cloth. I’ve got terracotta snot for goodness sake.

Today was meant to be switchover day – put the radio play to one side for a while and concentrate on starting the first full draft of the Birmingham play. It didn’t happen. Could you write in a collapsing house? Maybe I’ll format the document and write a few lines just to put down a marker.

I did, however, mark student work. And a plumber (the mole man) came round and gave us a quote for replacing the supply pipe. So perhaps a day not totally lost.

Tomorrow is the mortar-drying day (i.e. no builders), so I’ll either watch that or write a play.

>Does anyone know…?

>Next semester I’m teaching a module that discusses Attempts on Her Life, Blasted and Hysteria. Which is great, because all three have productions coming up.

I’ll also be working with Top Girls, Shopping and F***ing, The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Gladiator Games. Does anyone know of any productions of these between now and early May?

>One last heave

>One more week of teaching and then I’m done until the end of January. Teaching is the best part of the job (at the Uni), but it is a consuming activity and it’s taken a toll this semester. I am always a nervous lecturer, but the commuting has added another level of fatigue to the process.

Yesterday was cold and fine so we got started with the outdoor work on the shed. It took all day to get the base right and cut the floor. We now have about 1.5 inches of height with 6 feet to go. Today was supposed to be wet and windy, but looking out the office window it’s a beautiful day. Unfortunately, with the short day, it’s already too late to start work (the superstructure has to be erected in one go or it will blow away apparently).

Today – preparation for tomorrow’s sessions, marking student work, radio play and structure of Birmingham play (some breakthroughs with this, but they need to be tested).