Popping in…

Hi everyone! I know it’s been such a long tine since I’ve posted in this blog – quite a few things have happened.

I’ve received my PhD qualification – a labour of love, fear and doubt! I’m so relieved that I was able to complete it. It’s definitely a marathon rather than a sprint, and if anything it tested my resolve and commitment to a long project.

Where I am now, though, is interesting. After 30 years, I know myself well enough to know my shortcomings and frustrations. My biggest gripe with myself is the inability to sit in one place for a long time – figuratively and literally. It’s another reason why I’m so proud that I managed to finish the PhD in the first place.

I write plays – and then poetry – and then games. I feel like I’m spreading myself thin in many precarious avenues – and of course, self doubt gets to me. I did my PhD in playwriting, right? Surely I should stay and write more plays, produce more, keep going on building up my theatre company. I think about it everyday. I haven’t done a single production this year – and it’s what people ask me about, which is of course understandable. It’s a financial issue and a creative one – but I really do want to get back into it.

Even with poetry, I’ve been on and off for this. I did one open mic this year as opposed to a lot more last year, including a one person show. There is a reason for this. I’ve mentioned on some of my social media about my mental health and how, since 14, has been a roller coaster of sorts. I was hit particularly hard the end of last year and into 2017 – it was hard for me to think clearly, to get out of bed, to get out of this numbness and guilt. What was strange about this year particularly was a feeling of disassociation – one time I left the house, I felt as though I couldn’t feel embodied or grounded in a physical space. It scared me so much, but doing daily yoga and meditation has really helped with that.

So I went back to coding, something I did when I was younger. This feeling of sense of self and embodiment fascinated me throughout my PhD research, which drew me to VR and then AR. Since then, I’ve been learning to code – creating my own novels with an interactive AR layer. It’s a marriage of physical and digital – which I’ve found so interesting and it’s really helped me to find some sort of direction.

I feel a little unbalanced, however. I want to find some way of marrying all of these elements together. I feel bad for neglecting Stars or Mars and increasingly, my poetry. I also remember wanting to create a new initiative called Bards to the Future: a collaboration between Futurists and Artists, which I feel I’ve failed to do anything with as well. I feel ideologically and financially (very much this) stretched – this with my mental health dips have left me with very little self efficacy, and with that, self esteem. To be honest, that’s why I haven’t performed or delivered a paper for a while. I just don’t want to revert to my past self, who was terrified of doing such things, and I don’t want to erase all the effort I put into being able to do this. I love doing it.

I feel as though I haven’t caught up with so many people that I’ve wanted to, which adds to the guilt.

So what do I do now? I’m still working on my games at http://www.criticallitgames.co.uk. Now, I want to try something that incorporates all of these things together. Theatre, Poetry, Novels, AR, Games. I had such an idea walking home last night – which I need to work on and draw a structure from this. An issue that I had with my plays (and theatre in general) is mobility. The physical live nature of theatre makes it fleeting – which makes it precious but also any energy generated from this interaction fades out very quickly. Can AR, gaming and live streaming be able to prolong the conversation of issues raised in theatre? Can the impact be stretched temporally and in terms of audience?

I’ll get back to you with that.

I just want to thank everyone for their support and willingness to listen. Much love x

 

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Nearing the End of 2014…

And it’s about time that I update the blog! 2014 has been such an exciting year – writing, performing, producing and presenting – and I’ve met so many amazing people who have wowed me with their hard work ethics, friendliness and creative brilliance.

Conferences

This was the year of the first SF Theatre conference – Stage the Future! We had performances, papers, discussions and more. You can read reports here and here. I want to thank all those who took part and attended, as well as those who supported us throughout. Also big thanks to Christos Callow Jr. for being a great co-organiser!

I also had the pleasure of presenting SF Theatre things to Lincoln twice this year – one as part of the Performing Science Conference (just before Stage the Future actually!) and the What Happens Next conference. Not a conference, but had a great talk at the Equity North/East Branch in Dec this year – discussing the pros and cons of staging SF on stage. They were a great audience, full of ideas and enthusiasm! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spread the word far and wide!

Performances

Performances have been crazy for me this year: Terra Firma was performed as a rehearsed reading in Feb, then as part of a fully produced play at the Camden Fringe in August. Both took place at the Etcetera Theatre, who were very accommodating indeed. Thank you to Ryan Watson, Alice Havilyn, Natalie Boakye, James Unsworth, Christos Callow Jr., Barra Collins, Rus Kallan, Jessen Aroonachellum, Paul Valentine, Eleanor Russo, Briony Wyatt, Sarah Bauer and Judith Georgi.

The Reality Test was a short play of mine that was produced as part of the Writers Bloc Night “CAGED”. I managed to do a few rehearsals before I had to leave for both conferences, leaving the production afterwards in the very capable hands of Jack Heath and Alice Havilyn, who did a great performance on the night – thank you so much!

Notes from Other Worlds was published and performed! Thanks go to Playdead Press for making my 20 year + dream a reality – nothing beat the moment when I saw my book in Foyles. Incredible! The SF monologue book has been a long project for me on and off, and it was all so so worth it. Thanks also go to Jessen Aroonachellum, Briony Wyatt, Judith Georgi, Eleanor Russo, Paul Valentine and Eva Mi Becker for their readings. SUM was my last run of performances in the year, which included my own performance – which I was extremely nervous about! I’ve always wanted to act in one of my SF plays and the cast and crew made the experience so comfortable, fun and challenging (in a good way!). Thanks go to Christos Callow Jr., Melanie Crossey, Lydia Kay, Briony Wyatt, Eleanor Russo and Lucy Harrison for her amazing composition and overall managerial skills! It’s such an honour to act amongst such talented people – especially Melanie, whom I shared most of my scenes with. I couldn’t have found a better Syne! Videos will hopefully come soon.

Publications

Notes from Other Worlds and SUM were published this year, which I’m ecstatic about! notes_from_other_worlds_front_coversum-front-cover

Aren’t they beautiful? You can read more about them here. I also have a small play published at Amazing Stories, one that inspired the writing of SUM. The original idea was a posthuman version of Susan Glaspell’s (great name) Trifles. So an amazing year all round – I couldn’t have done any of it if it weren’t for these amazing people in my life. I’m incredibly blessed.

Hope you have a Merry Christmas and see you all in 2015! xxx

Updates!

I’m delighted to announce some autumnal updates!

1) Notes from Other Worlds – Reading at Creative Centre for Collaborative Collaboration

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I’m having a reading to celebrate my first published book, Notes from Other Worlds (you can see my fingers oddly coiled in the polished sheen of the cover) at the Centre for Creative Collaboration in Kings Cross on 29th September, 7:30-9:00pm. It’s free, there’s wine and books. What could be better?

The Link for more info on the book can be found here.

2) Sum – Bread and Roses Theatre 

SUMimageFB

Sum, a new play of mine, is being staged at the Bread and Roses Theatre from the 27th-29th November and the 4th-6th December – focusing on new societies created from the pilot of a hivemind technology. Odd fact – the image is actually a painting of mine 🙂

I’m actually whipping up a separate site for this, along with notes and ideas, so you can have a peek if you want!

Tickets are already on sale! Have a look here.

3) Interview with Female Arts

If you’d like to know a little more about both of these projects plus a little more, check out my interview with Female Arts where I discussed them in a little more detail. They are a great initiative that promote female involvement in the arts (they also reviewed Terra Firma for us!).

The link is here.

Thanks!

Notes from Other Worlds!

Cover

 

Here it is! My first published book – Notes from Other Worlds! What a neat shiny cover it is too – it’s hard not to get a reflection in the picture.

The idea behind the publication was to compile a collection of Science Fiction styled monologues for actors seeking an alternative to the standard as well as short stories for general readers. What’s especially unique about the collection is that they’re written for any age and gender – even if there may be the odd reference to age and gender in a couple of pieces – you’ll see why.

Each monologue comes with some crib notes (as sparse as I could make them, in my opinion), with the rest of the details to be filled in by the reader/performer. What I’d be interested to see is how people interpret the text for performance.

Where can you find them, you might (hopefully) ask? I have the initial lot of copies here, which I will be selling at a reading soon – I’m ironing out the details of those!

 

Appearances!

The month of August is speeding past (rather predictably), but it’s an especially exciting one for me!

1) Notes from Other Worlds

You may have noticed me post on monologues from time to time – well, I have good news on that front! Notes from Other Worlds is being published by Playdead Press, which is my collection of monologues based on SF tropes, but ones I feel lend themselves particularly to the human experience and therefore feels effective being acted out. The cover reveal will come soon!

2) Loncon3

I’ll be on the panel for Staging the Fantastic for Loncon3 amongst a stellar set of people, which I’m both excited and nervous for! The details are here:

Staging the Fantastic
Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)
Sat Aug 16th, 6pm – 7pm

Erin M. Underwood, Susan Gray, James Patrick Kelly, Geoff Ryman, David Wake
Is this a golden age for genre theatre? On both sides of the Atlantic, fantastical theatre has seen notable successes in recent years – from ‘blockbuster‘ productions at the National Theatre of His Dark Materials and the original Tori Amos/Samuel Adamson musical, the Light Princess, to smaller, thought-provoking independent work from groups such as The Alchemist Theatre Company, Unlimited Theatre, Luna Theatre Company, and the BFG Collective. Earlier this year, Stage the Future was the first international academic conference on SF theatre; and the forthcoming anthology Geek Theater collects genre theatre by numerous playwrights and other SF authors. So what are the challenges and opportunities of putting SF and fantasy on stage? How does SF theatre use special effects, which are so central to other forms of visual SF? And how is the audience for SF theatre growing and changing?

 

3) Terra Firma at the Etcetera Theatre

On the 18th -20th (just after Loncon actually), starts our run of Terra Firma at the Camden Fringe! Find more out at http://www.terrafirmaplay.co.uk.

See you there! 🙂

What the Evolution Lounge Taught Me

evolSo recently, I took part in this introduction to the Evolution Lounge as an exercise of mindfulness and embodied cognition in a “site of chaos”, which happened to be the centre of a busy tube station. It’s a situation that I, as a chronic Londoner, have experienced many times. It holds many resonances for me; clocking up many moods, memories and experiences just being in this particular site. Of course, they hardly ever enter my mind as I’m usually rushing to some engagement or other (like people do when they’re at stations!). This really allowed me to slow the process down.

I don’t want to spoil the experience for those wanting to take part in it, so I’ll relay my feelings and thoughts from the session.

What was particularly novel and groundbreaking for me was the aspect of practicing mindfulness in this scape of noise, of rush, of adrenaline. I’ve practiced meditation and what I would normally associate with it is finding a quiet area where distractions are minimalised to carry this out. That’s why meditation retreats are so popular, I’d imagine – so this idea intrigued and startled me.

The observations whilst in this mindfulness, as a group, what we picked up in terms of noise, touch and sensation, contrasting this to the inner space and how it felt through the body- just staying still and engaging, but also linking it to how we feel and think at that present moment in a group.

It’s taken some time to percolate, but I realised how much it resonated not only in my daily practices, but in my actual PhD practice too.

What I’ve always found quite difficult is to actually distinguish between thoughts and feelings and how they react on the body. I’m often centered in my own head space and don’t often realise how much my feelings are playing out as well. I’ve always known it, in a way, but the exercise that I did yesterday really brought that to the foreground.

I’ve also realised that my PhD practice focuses on this concept too, from the more blatant 3 degrees – a monologue that I’d written that focuses on citizens undertaking this compulsory mindfulness, allowed to only think to 3 degrees of separation in a world even more saturated in data then we are today – to Object meet Subject, whereby a solipsistic conversation takes place to the point where object and subject cannot be distinguished. My current play that I’m writing, Pioneer, deals with the different test stages of hiveminds – from the pilot where people are becoming convinced to compromise their individuality for this idea of strengthened community and enhanced intimacy (which seems to me to be an extrapolated social media) to the ways in which this technology becomes increasingly warped and uncontrollable.

Because of this, embodied cognition becomes increasingly important to me, not only in my daily practice but how characters can envisage and portray a world that differs from ours, in both an acting theory and an engagement through writing. This is what I’m researching for my worldview chapter now.

Find out more about the evolution lounge here

Stars or Mars!

Another delay – so it goes!logo

Some stuff has happened since my last post:

Stars or Mars, my new theatre company on SF Theatre, is now up and running at http://www.starsormarstheatre.co.uk! I really should buy a domain for this site, I think… if you go on the site, you can see updates for Terra Firma and collaborations between futurists and artists, which I’m in the midst of organising now actually! Email me at starsormarstheatre@gmail.com if you’d like to get involved!

 

Also:

I reviewed the Headlong Theatre production of 1984 at Amazing Stories, which you can find here – thrilling, dark, unsettling and timeless!

Stage the Future, myself, and Science Fiction Theatre at large also got a mention in the SciFi London Blog: http://www.sci-fi-london.com/blog/2014/05/brave-new-world-science-fiction-theatre-or-beam-me-la-right-now-scotty!

If you want to see me in the flesh – I’m going to the CRSF (which is actually tomorrow, oops!) in Liverpool – giving a talk on SF Theatre and Worldbuilding. If you’re in the area, do drop by – I’d love to meet you!

Susan