Fiction Friday- Monologues

For the majority who don’t know – my research has been focused recently on the monologue. It’s known for having a loose definition and as such, not much has been written on it academically. There’s the aside, the apostrophe, the solliquoy, the dramatic monologue, the dialectic monologue, the dialogic monologue, monologue to absent other and so on, with its multiplicity of function being just as varied.

However, there is a common thread – that the monologue places the self at the centre stage of the show, no matter how the “self” is portrayed. In this vein, I have written SF monologues to focus on character and how they see externally the results of certain tropes. I have performed 2 recently – one with the Purpureus Writers at the Centre for Creative Collaboration (3 Degrees) and at a reading with Ben Markovits at Gower Street in London (Mercurial Harbour). If anyone wants to hear some and are around, I’ll let you know via Twitter or will post in here. Without further ado, have a look here for the intro to my collection – I’ve planned about 12 monologues so far!

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At the Firestation (prob not what you think!)

So in a rather overdue blog post (I have more, I’m trying to go back and follow up instead of rambling ad infinitum about how many years I’ve gained on this planet), I came to Windsor for the first time (I know, I haven’t been to Legoland *sob*) and saw the Royal Holloway’s takeover of the Firestation Art Centre for their Play Festival. In the style of which I love, you’re free to pick and choose what you want to see free of charge, which is lovely. I did almost lose my phone, which would’ve made a rather pricey visit in retrospect, but I was lucky and want to thank whoever did hand my blackberry in *kisses*

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OK, judging by these photos and the Jubilee celebrations, yes – the blog post is that overdue!

Anyhow, it was lovely to get a sense of what the RHUL gang had to show and to get the general gist and atmosphere of the arts students. First of all, they appear very well read and amicable and I particularly like their sense of humour for their comedy improv. The idea of picking a card to determine the dystopian/utopian setting was nicely bizarre. I also got to learn a bit on rhetoric and argumental devices on their philosophy lecture by the students themselves, which I did enjoy – but I’ve lost my sheet!

All in all, a nice little afternoon and a very quaint and pretty area to be in as well!

Review of How Plays Work

How odd – when I said that I was feeling my age, I wasn’t wrong! I tend to be reading a lot of non-fiction, more so than fiction (although both concepts are rather vague as they are!), and recently I’ve come across a lot of Playwriting books. Now, those of you who believe that writing is a craft – it most definitely is – the difference is that we’ve usually had relatively more exposure to it than say photography or web design. A lot of forethought, structuring and depth is required for any piece of writing (even this one!), and I’m sure I’m not alone in being lost for words on occasion or placed the punchline before the buildup to a joke!

So, on to the book itself! How Plays Work, by David Edgar – pretty self explanatory, I have to say!

It’s a great comprehensive guide into each of the building blocks required to construct a coherent and meaningful performance piece. The sections are: Actions, Character, Genre, Structure, Scenes, Devices and my greatest nemesis – Endings!

Now, I purposefully left out the first chapter, which really sparked my interest in this book in the first place. It’s called Audiences, which really put my writing head on back into perspective. If I had a penny for every time someone called me out for “writing for myself” and “don’t assume the reader will understand what the author is saying” to the plain “what the hell is this text I see before me!?”, then I wouldn’t need funding at all! I tend to be as cryptic as well… me, I guess. The fact that David Edgar put the Audience first and foremost struck a chord with me, because, well, the audience is always right.

I have never seen so many references being used to so many different plays in one publication before. David Edgar, who founded the Playwriting Studies course at Birmingham 2 years after I was born, clearly knows his stuff. He skips across concepts like Emplotment, Axis and Currency, Contractual and Performative plot forms whilst casually dropping in some masterpieces of Ibsen, Shakespeare (of course), Brecht, Noel Coward, Beckett, Ayckbourn, Miller, Sarah Kane and Caryl Churchill just to name a few.

I got this book from Ebay, and it really gives you bang for your buck – especially revising it to go through some steps and ideas when structuring what essentially is “people talking”, and seeing what methods you can go through to get to your characters and extract all their needs and little quirks to make it believable and well, most importantly, to mean something. It’s like a very comprehensive manual, although with so many references, you can go off the beaten track a little and just stare bewilderingly at the wildlife.

I’d say it’s definitely a good read if you’re looking into Play writing or even another form of fiction. Give it a shot!

The inclined mind – Why do a PhD?

People often say that despite the number of choices you have, you’ll gravitate towards the one your heart chooses. Of course it’s really the mind that does this, but I appreciate the sentiment. But what if your mind is having a really crap day and is grasping at straws to find solace? Are events that are chosen impulsively not worth the pathways that have been carefully trod over and over again?

For me, it’s a bit of both. I loved University, despite entering it with the mindset that is only now taught to students – uni life won’t be the utopia of free love you’ve been mindlessly force fed (unless you really work hard at it, I guess) and ever since, I end up gravitating towards study again – I can’t help it. I flirt with the professional world but it’s usually a fling at that. I worked in online marketing for a year and really enjoyed it, more than I thought I would, but studying always beckons to me. Of course, the PhD is a different kettle of fish, but it’s a choice that I’ve stuck by despite the monetary fear.

I guess it boils down to this: if you asked me whether I’d have a  husband, mortgage car and 2.4 children and knowing exactly where I’m going and what I’m doing or studying something that I really wanted without a clue of what the future holds, I’d go for the latter. I’m a bit of a weirdo, aren’t I?

Hello world!

It’s rather apt that the title “Hello World!” (yeah, I would’ve capitalised the W) is the one I was going to use before I saw the default setting on the blog. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve been brainwashed by computer programming and its need to signal arrival of anything new with this rather tedious greeting!

Some people may know me as the editor of Enigma Magazine, whose humble presence is also shared on wordpress. It’s nice to swing back and forth between the personal and professional like this. Some people may also know me as a writer and occasional performance poet – although I regrettably haven’t done that much as of late.

So, with the rather odd greeting, I welcome you to the life and times of a prospective student of a PhD – as you could’ve figured by the name. Skitty Kitty is appropriate as I’m rather prone to a nervous disposition and well, I like cats. I’ve seen many a blog that deals with the tribulations and trepidations that come with such an extreme academic undertaking, but what about the countdown to the beginning? All those UCAS fearers will know what I’m talking about. The excitement and extreme nervousness never dies away for me, at least.

Do I feel 17 again? Well, hmm… not entirely (although my hair is short again!), which is for me, a pretty major achievement. The precipice and the plunge look so much better from a more mature set of eyes.

At the moment, I’ve become hamster like – hoarding all information I can, giving me solace before the term begins. Unfortunately, I should also be hoarding money, but information is more easily accessible.

With the rather strange hibernation before the winter, I will be poking my head out and about, looking for funding ventures, events and tidbits of information that will hopefully sate your curiosity that little bit more. Look out for me!

Susan