drama

Resurrecting Randall

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by Pete Gibson who plays Randall Nolan in BLEEDING WITH MOTHER.

Everyone from Carrie Fisher to Sigourney Weaver and William Shatner has reprised a role.

In the case of Captain Kirk there was a ten year gap between his first appearance on the Star Trek television series and his starring role in the franchise’s first feature film. The magic was still there but then so was the melodrama (sorry Bill, I prefer Walter Koenig).

Why would an actor return to a character? We’re an itchy footed transient lot after all, always looking for a fresh challenge.

Unfinished business may be one reason. That was certainly the case for Sigourney who ratcheted-up Ripley from one of the gang to the central iconic character in the Aliens series. I reckon she also wanted to see what she looked like with a Servalan type skinhead (wonder if it made her want to moon stomp?)

When returning to the same script, there is also the rare luxury of getting another go at a character, enhancing it, finding something new in it. Though be warned, even a small gap between productions renders the older mind incapable of recalling lines at an instant!

So here I am facing the prospect of playing Randall Nolan again in Sarah Cassidy’s “Bleeding with Mother” and doing the hard yards with the script in anticipation of performing it again at the King’s Arms Salford (Saturday 10th September).

I am determined to find more in this my third shot at the role (I rehearse read it a couple of years of the role). Polish, improvement and something new is what I am aiming at. But there is another good reason for my reprising Randall:
I just want to.

Bleeding with Mother is a very contemporary play about modern life. But it also transcends time in its themes of death, greed and relationships – issues since the birth of humankind. It also has an old fashioned sense of character, stagecraft and plot. Farcical and comic yes, yet structured and telling a STORY – qualities that are missing from so many plays of today.

This is a play that deserves to be seen again. And in the case of Randall, a lost and bullied soul, displaced and out-of-step with modern life, the subject of working class men’s mental health bears another examination.

They say never go back. But hey, faced with a character on the cusp of an emotional crisis but still able to laugh about farting corpses and nosey neighbours was just too good an opportunity to miss.
See you in Salford.

Bleeding with Mother is staged at the King’s Arms Theatre Salford on Saturday September 10th – doors open 7pm. Tickets are available from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/366987

The play text is also available via this link on Amazon.

Bleeding with Mother will be produced by the newly formed M62 Productions.

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“Bleeding with Mother” A Black Comedy

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Cast September date

Tickets available here. Book soon to avoid disappointment.

Performance dates:

Saturday 10 September 2016 – The King’s Arms, 11 Bloom Street, Salford at 7:30pm

By ‘eck we’ll miss ‘er

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It wasn’t the cough that carried her off, it was the coffin that carried her off ‘in.

BLEEDING WITH MOTHER written by Sarah Cassidy

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My debut stageplay Bleeding with Mother will be laid to rest in May 2016.

Staged in my hometown of Manchester, Bleeding with Mother is an opus kitchen sink drama meets farce as in true Catholic tradition, Sally-Ann Nolan’s coffin is laid out in her home the night before her funeral. There follows a séance, IVF troubles, a hidden fortune, interfering neighbours and some missing Russian dolls.

This black comedy stars Louise Wilson (Doe and Hollyoaks) Pete Gibson (East of Heysham, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and Prey) and Dave Jordan (Various fringe productions and The Actor’s Lab showcase, The Lowry). Audiences will also be introduced to Sheffield Crucible actor, Jennifer Derbyshire.

Tickets are on sale from 5064 Productions and priced at £6 or £5, cheaper than a pint of lager and a packet of crisps (well in town centre ale houses any road).

We’ll be playing at three locations across Manchester, but we’d really love it if folk would come to either the Joshua Brooks or Nexus Art Cafe nights as they’ll be a reet good laugh.

Tour details are:

Saturday 21st May – 2pm at Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

Sunday 22nd May – 2pm at Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

Friday 27th May – 7.30pm at Joshua Brooks, 106 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6NG

Saturday 28th May – 7.30pm at Nexus Arts Cafe, 2 Dale Street, Manchester, M1 1JW

So come and bid ‘Big Sal’ a fond farewell as we join Randall, Carol, Sicknote Sheila and Doug as they bid her a final farewell, and remember that GREAT HUMOUR HAS THE SNIFF OF DEATH ABOUT IT……

Welcome to Station Road

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This week has seen the premiere broadcast of the radio soap that I’ve been co-writing for the past fourteen months.image

Station Road is a continuing radio drama about life in a fictitious and gritty Manchester street. Not only do the characters work and live on Station Road but there is also a public house, café, urban farm and a corner shop.

Hearing the scripts come alive for the first time on Saturday was quite simply marvellous. A couple of the writers, myself included were interviewed live in the studio at ALL FM prior to the episode being aired.

The episode was played mid-interview, and it was pretty special not imageonly hearing our scripts come to life but we also have a theme tune. An actual catchy theme tune that we’ve since been humming in our script meetings.

A surreal moment yesterday as I left work to drive to the weekly Station Road writers meeting, the pilot was played out again during ALL FM’s Drivetime show and as I sat in traffic, I felt such pride listening to the scene that I wrote

Check out our blog which is all about the show and tune in at 17:30 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on ALL FM 96.9 www.allfm.org

Writing as a team

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Collaborative Writing

It’s been a while since I wrote about how I am finding being part of the writers group for the radio soap.

Twelve months on and we are a core of six writers, meeting weekly and we have currently written 168 scenes on our brand new community radio soap opera.

It has been an organic process to get to where we are. Twelve months ago there were fifteen writers at the very first session and to be honest it would have been chaos if it had continued to be that number, and I’m not sure that I would have been in it for the long haul either.

As the initial weeks passed by a writer would stop coming to the meetings until we found it to be the same six writers that would turn up each week.

This was a good number of people to have involved in the process. It meant that we were able to really get to grips with the characters that we created, the world that the soap is set in and without a large number of people to get their point across meant that storylining is more of less a discussion rather than a battle.

Within the team there are various expert areas. A stand-up comedian, a short story professional, an actor, a novice and a radio writer/presenter. With our diverse backgrounds I think we get the best from our characters and we all more or less write our scenes with the same tone, and voice.

Our weekly meetings consist of reading through the previous weeks scenes. This is my favourite part as it’s enjoyable hearing the characters come to life and from something that we’d discussed briefly during story lining to actually having full scenes which feed into the overall soap feels like an accomplishment.

The writer of the scene to be read aloud has to talk briefly about the scene, where the conflict is and what is the change from the beginning to the end of the scene. Some scenes are harder than others to do this.

After the read throughs, we then look into the stories for the next week. Where our characters are up to in terms of their story lines and which characters are needed to assist in developing the story further.

We’ve been a writing group for a year now and it has passed really quickly. The actors were cast before Christmas and recordings are made each week. It’ll be really good to finally hear it on air though, something that I am looking forward to.

A number of things that I have learned from my experience of being part of a collaborative group of writers.
• Discussions amongst more than one person can generate a raft of ideas.
• If a character hasn’t got a solid back-story and biog then writers can really struggle when it comes to putting that character under conflict. It’s important that this is nailed down at the very start of introducing this character otherwise it never seems believable.
• Drop-box is a valuable tool for sharing ideas and scripts.
• Being part of a writing team keeps you motivated. We meet on a Monday night and on several occasions when I’ve had a really tough day at work, what I’ve really wanted to do is go home to rest. Knowing that there are five people relying on you means that you have to attend. I’ve never been to a meeting and not come away feeling motivated again.
• Being taught to listen to others and let go of your own great ideas if the group decide that something else works better.
• Learning to compromise and not feel precious about an idea.

I’m sure there will be more to blog about as the year progresses.

Once I get the official airtime date I will ensure I update this site.

 

Farewell 30s

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This week I passed my Masters Degree in Television and Radio Scriptwriting.

It has taken two years and eight months of hard work, tight deadlines but to be totally honest I enjoyed every minute of it so much that it never felt like I was studying at that level.

Having a passion for storytelling and writing, it meant that I had a reason to sit at my laptop for hours on end, buy different coloured writing books to make notes on and spend a ridiculous amount of money on text books.

It is also a good excuse to binge watch fabulous television shows where I’m merely analysing how the storyline runs, how characters conflict etc.

The MA is also a fitting way to say farewell to what has been the best decade of my life so far.

I turn the big 4-0 in September and I’m already trying to think of things I need to plan on completing in my forties. How on earth can I match the past decade in terms of developing as a person?

I don’t recognise me as a thirty year old. Back then my life was all about getting through every day and not suffering with another panic attack, or a bout of depression. Anxiety and low self-esteem were part of my character back in 2004.

I was in an unfulfilling job and seemed to be afraid a lot of the time. Don’t ask me what I was afraid of – perhaps just living? One things for sure I felt stuck in a rut and the only focus in my life were my young children and husband.

Family is of course important but I also felt like I needed more in my life.

Then I had one of those life changing conversations with a work colleague.

I’d always wanted to study for a degree. My colleague had studied for her degree with the Open University when she was a single mother. She was then an Early Years Advisory Teacher, who ended up getting a job in the Grand Cayman islands training their teachers. She encouraged me to study with the Open University too.

“I’ll be 35 by the time I get a degree” I’d wailed to her, to which her response was just the response I needed. “You’ll be 35 anyway – you can either be 35 and with a degree or 35 and without one”.

That moment right there changed my life forever. The person I am sitting on my sofa typing this blog post is not the same person contemplating her future on her 30th birthday.

I graduated as an undergraduate in BA (Hons) Humanities with Media Studies in July 2009, age 34 (combining credits).

I will graduate in July 2014, age 39 with a Masters in Television and Radio Scriptwriting.

I learnt to swim age 33 years old. I can still remember my boys faces when I dived in the swimming pool in Spain and swam under the water with them (instead of my usual clinging to the side).20130821_140843

I went on a Fear of Flying course age 34, my first flight as an adult and since then have travelled to USA, Canada, Spain, Portugal, France, Menorca, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Amsterdam and Ireland.

From being paralysed in fear at talking to groups of people, I now present a weekly entertainment show on my local community radio station.

I have a fulfilling job working for a university in Media City where I get to help students on a daily basis. A complete career change for me leaving local government finance to move into Higher Education (wouldn’t have been possible without the degree).

It really has been a metamorphosis of character for me in the past decade and it both worries and excites me at the prospect of the next decade.

Will it be as exciting? Is there anything else I should do to improve my life? Or is this the decade where I should just chill out and appreciate life in general, enjoy the extra time now the children are getting bigger and swim in as many oceans as I can?

One thing is for sure. I’m a firm believer that there are key moments in your life and you can either choose to ignore them, or embrace them and make those changes.

Joining a writing team

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Get out of your comfort zone and do something that terrifies you. That’s a healthy motto – right?

One of the aspects of my MA which challenged me the most was the collaborative group project in semester two.

An eight part radio drama where I worked with seven other writers and devised a radio serial with a forty-five minute episode written by each member of the team.

It was a challenge to say the least. Not only a divide in age and gender, but also in sense of humour. We spent most of the semester arguing about the serial storyline and at the last meeting still hadn’t nailed it down fully.

Not one to learn by my mistakes I’ve gone and done it again and joined a writing team for a soap opera at a community radio station.Collaborative working

Firstly it’ll be great to get my writing on the radio again, secondly it will be good for the CV if I can show that I’ve worked as part of a writing team in a professional context,  and thirdly if I don’t have someone giving me strict deadlines I fear that my writing will only occur when meeting competition deadlines.

This project is at the very beginning of becoming a radio soap opera, and with a team of twelve writers we won’t all get commissioned to write an episode. Which mirrors real life on a television soap opera too.

Last night was the first get together of this new writing team, and I thought I would blog about the journey from inception to writing that first episode.

The writing team is a diverse group of local people from Manchester who are a mix of volunteers at the radio station, writers and others who just want to get involved in this thrilling project.

We began the session by reading aloud a couple of short radio scripts. When asked for volunteers there was an uncomfortable silence so I put my hand up. Reading scripts out loud doesn’t phase me anymore as I’ve had two and a half years of doing this week in week out.

We were then given a large selection of photographs of people which had been cut out from newspapers and magazines. A range of ages, gender and ethnicity were covered and each of us chose one picture. Mine was a woman in her mid-twenties in a yoga pose. I thought I could have a lot of fun in creating her character as she looked quite chilled and peaceful.

My aim is to make my character the least stereotype for that particular image which is what I did when writing her character biography.

Other groups worked together on each of the characters, but the group that I was put in we worked solo and then shared our ideas. I found this approach better as the least conflict at the early stages the better.

Briefly we then came up with a long list of places that would be featured in our make shift soap opera world. Pub, café, library, bridge, park and pound shop were just a few of the suggested places that would feature in our community.

We also need to name our community in the upcoming weeks.

It’s certainly exciting to be part of something new creatively, and of course getting to know new people in this context is something that I find beneficial. Who knows, today community radio – tomorrow the writing team on House of Cards!