Free download: Disability Arts Cymru’s Inaugural Poetry Competition

As patron of Disability Arts Cymru, I’m delighted to introduce the fruits of their first Poetry competition, new work inspired by artwork in a DAC exhibition. You can download the poetry and the art which provoked it by using the link, below. Now over to DAC:

 

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This is Disability Arts Cymru’s first Poetry Competition. We gave the poets a brief to write in response to one of the artworks in our Annual Exhibition. Was this a narrow brief or a wide brief? You could see it either way. Many poetry competitions allow any poem, no matter when it was written or what the subject matter. Others ask people to write on a set subject. Our competition ensured that the poems entered would not be something dug out of the archives but would be freshly written. Looking at the exhibition it is clear that the subject choice was actually very diverse as the show featured photography, photorealistic drawing, abstract and figurative paintings, sculpture and a feast of food for the eyes. So it’s no surprise that the entries were also diverse and for a first competition, we are very pleased with the standard and absolutely delighted to have Menna Elfyn judge the competition and provide the foreword.

To download, free: http://www.disabilityartscymru.co.uk/about-us/projects/projects-2015/poetry-competition/

“Rewriting isn’t just about dialogue” Cosy developments

Rewriting isn’t just about dialogue; it’s the order of the scenes, how you finish a scene, how you get into a scene.

Tom Stoppard

Writing is all about rewriting, and revising a script prior to it going into production is probably my favourite part of the solo process (writing is solitary; rehearsals are communal and social and collaborative).

‘Cosy’ has had a long gestation period – the initial ideas and research into end of life scenarios and exit strategies began when I was on attachment to the National Theatre Studio in London in 2010. I had completed the first draft when Mike Salmon and I applied to Unlimited for a commission and production grant.  We were ecstatic when we were successful in our bid, and immediately embarked on the r&d, with an initial reading of the revised script with our cast in June 2015. Informed by that experience, I began revisions on the script and the second part of the research and development process occurred in Cardiff in November, at Wales Millennium Centre, where the production will preview on 8th March 2016.

Sharon Morgan in 'Cosy'. Photograph by Toby Farrow

Sharon Morgan in ‘Cosy’. Photograph by Toby Farrow

It’s wonderful revising a script when you know who the actors will be. Throughout the rewriting process, I’ve been hearing the voice of Ri Richards, or Sara Beer, and the other four fabulous performers as I tackle revisions. It’s a delicate process; I’m not changing the dialogue to fit the actors, rather, my knowledge of the skills of Bethan Rose Young, Llinos Daniel, Sharon Morgan and Ruth lloyd are urging me on, inspiring me to write a more complex symphony as I can ‘hear’ the individual ‘instruments’ in my head.

I have been tracing through individual strands or plot points, ensuring the characters are consistent, balancing the beats, editing the unnecessary, checking the speed and pace (they’re not the same thing) throughout the text. I feel like a composer setting ideas off into motion. I re-read the work in progress continuously, checking the flow, the change in rhythm, the moments of pause and activity, taking the emotional and dramatic temperature of the piece throughout.

Back in the Summer, I invited partners, allies, directors, dramaturgs, and the interested to a reading of the second draft of the play, collating feedback and responses. These comments informed my revisions but didn’t dictate them…. the amount of contradictory feedback I received was quite wonderful and would have been perplexing, were I not a mature playwright, with a strong sense of the piece I am making!

When working in a room with the actors, our process has not been one of devising, but strengthening the existing script.

The r&d in November was small and private, involving the full cast, director Phillip Zarrilli, producer Mike Salmon, and  Unlimited Impact trainee producer/playwright Tom Wentworth.The company sat around a table with me, working through the script line by line. We identified areas that needed clarifying, or extending, and had open discussions about the themes of ageing and end of life scenerios. I am now finalising what will be the rehearsal draft, the version which will be published in my forthcoming Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors with Oberon.

This gathering also gave Phillip and Llinos a chance to share with us some of the early explorations they’re making for what might be the ‘soundtrack’ of the production. Llinos is a talented singer and musician, known in Wales for playing the harp, but for ‘Cosy’ she and Phillip have been exploring the use of medieval instruments – the crwth and bowed psaltery.

Llinos Daniel with crwth and hammer psaltery. Cosy r&d day

Llinos Daniel with crwth and bowed psaltery. Cosy r&d day

Rehearsals begin in early February, which is putting wind in my rewriting sails. As I write, I’m just finishing off the last details – where god and the devil are reputed to be – knowing the text will change again once we are in the rehearsal room, trying it out on the floor. I can’t wait.

Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors: Selected Plays by Kaite O’Reilly

I’m delighted to make this pre-publication announcement: Oberon books will publish five of my plays and performance texts to coincide with the World premiere of Cosy at the Wales Millennium Centre in March 2016.

The news is so fresh, we haven’t yet settled on the image for the cover. I’ve been liaising with my agents and editor at Oberon about what production photographs to use after drawing up a shortlist by the fantastically talented Toby Farrow and Patrick Baldwin, who documented In Water I’m Weightless (National Theatre Wales) and peeling (Graeae Theatre Company) respectively. Mock-ups of the front and back covers will be made early in the New Year, with publicity bling thanks to Lyn Gardner, theatre critic for The Guardian. My long-term collaborator John McGrath, out-going artistic director of National Theatre Wales and in-coming director of the Manchester International Festival, will write the preface.

What follows is from Oberon books website

9781783193172
Atypical Plays For Atypical Actors is the first of its kind: a collection of dramas which redefines the notion of normalcy and extends the range of what it is to be human. From monologues, to performance texts, to realist plays, these involving and subversive pieces explore disability as a portal to new experience.

Includes the plays: peeling, The Almond and the Seahorse, In Water I’m Weightless, the 9 Fridas and Cosy.

Although disabled characters appear often in plays within the Western theatrical tradition, seldom have the writers been disabled or Deaf themselves, or written from those atypical embodied experiences. This is what contributes to making Kaite O’Reilly’s Selected Plays essential reading – critically acclaimed plays and performance texts written in a range of styles over twelve years, but all informed by a political and cultural disability perspective. They ‘answer back’ to the moral and medical models of disability and attempt to subvert or critique assumptions and negative representations of disabled people.

The selected plays and performance texts exhibit a broad approach to issues around disability. Some, like In Water I’m Weightless/The ‘d’ Monologues (part of the Cultural Olympiad and official festival celebrating the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics) are embedded in disability politics, aesthetics, and ‘crip’ humour. A montage of monologues that can be performed solo or as a chorus, they challenge the normative gaze and celebrate all the possibilities of human variety. The Almond and the Seahorse is different, a ‘mainstream’ character-led realist drama about survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury, with subversive politics in its belly. A response to ‘tragic but brave’ depictions of head injury and memory loss, and informed by personal experience, the play interrogates the reality of living with TBI, questioning who the ‘victims’ are.

peeling, a landmark play written for one Deaf and two disabled female actors, was originally produced by Graeae Theatre Company in 2002, 2003, and for BBC Radio 3. A ‘feminist masterpiece…quietly ground breaking’ (Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman), it has become a set text for Theatre and Drama and Disability Studies university degree courses in the UK and US. Frequently remounted, its lively meta-theatrical form supports its central themes of war, eugenics, and a woman’s control over her fertility, which are as relevant today as ever.

The performance text the 9 Fridas is a complex mosaic offering multiple representations of arguably the world’s most famous female artist, Frida Kahlo, reclaiming her as a disability icon. Performed in Mandarin translation, it was the closing production of the 2014 Taipei Art Festival and will transfer to Hong Kong in October 2016. It is currently being translated into German, Hindi, and Spanish.

Cosy is a darkly comedic look at the joys and humiliations of getting older and how we shuffle off this mortal coil. Three generations of a dysfunctional family explore their choices in a world obsessed with eternal youth, and asks whose life (or death) is it, anyway? An Unlimited Commission, Cosy will premiere and tour nationally in 2016, appearing at the Unlimited Festivals at Southbank Centre and Tramway.

The book will be published 1 March 2016 and is available for pre-orders at Oberon and Amazon

 

 

 

Masterclass with Kaite O’Reilly at Ty Newydd, June 2016

 

Lloyd George's former home: Ty Newydd - writers' centre of Wales

Lloyd George’s former home: Ty Newydd – writers’ centre of Wales

 

I am delighted to announce my return to Ty Newydd, the writers’ centre of Wales, where I will be leading a Masterclass in Writing for Performance in June 2016…

The website has just gone live and you can read all about the residential courses offered here .  Use coupon code TN2015 at checkout to get 10% off 2016 courses until end of January 2016:

Beginnings, Middles, and Ends: A Masterclass in Writing for Performance

Mon 06 Jun – Sat 11 Jun 2016

Tutor / Kaite O’Reilly

Course Fee / From £475 – £625 per person

Genres / DramaPerformance PoetryTheatreWriting for Live Performance

Language / English

Working with participants’ own work-in-progress as well as selected performance texts by established writers, this masterclass will explore:

  • Dynamic openings and arresting starts. How to dive into the action of the moment, avoiding prevarication and ‘set-ups’;
  • How to keep middles taut, engaging, and with driving action;
  • Different kinds of conflict needed for effective drama, and how to map change in the beats, character development, and narrative;
  • Different form and dramatic structures for live performance; and
  • How to draw all to a satisfying close, avoiding the formulaic.

This intensive and practical course will give the participants opportunities to create new work as well as reconsider and revise existing work-in-progress.

The week will be intensely practical, with a selection of specially created exercises to explore new territory in on-going work, or to seed new work. Timed exercises will focus on developing the participant’s individual voice and vision. Practical group workshops will share emerging work, with one-to-one dramaturgical sessions to discuss participants’ projects.

In order to focus on the writers and support their writing, the course will run with only eight select participants. Successful participants will be asked to prepare for the week by reading several selected texts in advance.

To apply for the masterclass, please submit your initial ideas for new work or an outline of work in progress (max. 500 words) plus a paragraph outlining your goals for the week (max. 300 words).

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playing ‘The Maids’ video – Wales, Ireland, South Korea, Singapore, Austria….

Earlier this year I was dramaturg and co-creator of an intensely exciting intercultural production between The Llanarth Group (Wales), Theatre P’Yut (Korea) and Gaitkrash (Ireland): playing ‘The Maids’. Documented elsewhere on this blog, we responded to issues in Genet’s ‘The Maids’ in the contemporary global context of austerity and boom.

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Paul Whittaker of Hide Productions documented several performances, and I’m really thrilled to be able to post the link for a stunning film he has made of the work.

You can see the work here

 

 

 

 

 

 

A hat trick in 2016… UK, Germany, Hong Kong….

And here’s something I hope I don’t often do – puff out my chest and blog (brag?) about me me me…

I started this blog to write about process and creativity, to document various routes through writing and collaboration in live performance. This is terrific when you’re in the rehearsal room and have wonderful fellow artists to bounce off (and photograph), but it’s perhaps not so riveting (or possible) when in the slow dark hours of solitary revision, or research. This is why I’ve been focusing more on other writers, workshops, and small publishers of late whilst I’ve been cautiously working my way through the tentative revisions of a play and a novel.

But in the midst of what feels creatively like a deep winter, growth stirs underfoot and although it is only November, I already have confirmation of shoots appearing, particularly for March 2016. This is what I wish to share with you today, these emerging green tips…

February 2016 will start with rehearsals in Cardiff on the play I am currently writing. Cosy is an Unlimited commission, which you can read about on my sister blog here.  It will premiere in Wales in March 2016, directed by Phillip Zarrilli  with a cast of six fabulous female performers, and I’ll be posting more about the dates and details of this when the season launches shortly.

March will also bring the German language premiere of my play about the survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury – The Almond and the Seahorse – translated by Frank Heibert as Mandel & Seepferdchen. The premiere will be 24th March 2016 at Mainfranken Theater Wurzburg, Germany. Details in German here. I’m fortunate to have worked before with Frank – he translated my debut YARD  (The Bush Theatre 1998, winner of the Peggy Ramsay Award) for the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin, where it ran for two years as Schlachthaus.

Schlachthaus by Kaite O'Reilly, Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin. http://www.kaiteoreilly.com/plays/schlachthaus/index.htm

Schlachthaus by Kaite O’Reilly, Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin. http://www.kaiteoreilly.com/plays/schlachthaus/index.htm

You can see some striking images from that acclaimed production, directed by Martin Kloepfer here. Frank and I have collaborated on other texts, and I feel so privileged to continue evolving this relationship across language and representation with such an admired and skilful translator.

Translation also features in my hat trick of the year, the remounting of my performance text about Frida Kahlo, the 9 Fridas. The closing production of The 2014 Taipei Arts Festival, directed in the Mandarin by Phillip Zarrilli, this Mobius Strip production will transfer to Hong Kong in October 2016, in association with Hong Kong Repertory Theatre. I hope to be back in Taipei for rehearsals and also at the premiere in Hong Kong in the Autumn. The autumn is a fascinating time to be in Taiwan, and my rehearsal/travel diary from the six weeks I spent in Taipei in 2014 was published by Wales Arts Review here.

There are also other projects afoot, publications and writing courses I will be revealing shortly (watch this space!) – but I hope that your own creativity is progressing slowly but surely. It may be winter, but there is still richness and fecundity in these apparent dreary November days.

Fair Acre Press – Maligned Species: ecologists and poets

It’s been a morning of listening rather than reading or writing, thanks to Nadia Kingsley and Fair Acre Press’s new podcast: Maligned Species. I’ve been engrossed, drawn in despite myself to the fascinating and entertaining podcast on spiders by ecologist and broadcaster Brett Westwood. His lively and charismatic talk has taught me more in thirty minutes about this maligned species than I previously knew in my lifetime (an ancient order: spiders have been around for about 400 million years!). Brett offers startling and quirky details which could be wonderful starting points for creativity (the male spider bringing silk-wrapped presents to distract the female whilst he mates with her; bondage and spiders, anyone?) and I can well imagine many reaching for a pen after experiencing these absorbing podcasts.

Which is the point.

Nadia established the Maligned Species project as a free online resource involving both ecologists and poets. The aim is to encourage poetry-writing on the subject of spiders, frogs, stinging nettles, and grey squirrels – culminating in four poetry ebooks – one on each subject.

On the website Nadia describes the project thus:

M A L I G N E D S P E C I E S : P O E T R Y. S C I E N C E. Y O U.

Take a spider, a frog, the nettle and grey squirrel.

Ask an ecologist, expert in their field, all about it.

Invite a poet to creatively respond to this through poetry.

Now, it’s over to you.

Whether you’re a lover of nature, a burgeoning or established poet, or fascinated by what makes these species tick, Fair Acre Press hopes that you will feel inspired by the scientists and poets in our team to write poetry with a more scientific slant…

You can download podcasts and read prompts at www.fairacrepress.co.uk: hear Nigel Brown give us his scientific slant on the humble frog, and what John Handley has to say about the grey squirrel: listen to Brett Westwood tell us why spiders are always in the bath, and find out from Matthew Oates just how a nettle stings. Then listen to nine poets discuss and read from their own poetry to inspire you to write with a more scientific slant.

Submissions are open in January 2016; with E-Books on sale from February. To enter is free, and monies from E-Book sales will be donated to the ecological organisations – Buglife, Froglife, Plantlife, and the Shropshire Wildlife Trust to help with their vital ongoing work.

So, if you believe that a poet is a species who can respond to scientific facts, then it’s time we got started!