My own plays, personal, The Red Book Series, Theatre, thoughts, Uncategorized

on learning, listening and leaving the dead behind

So I’ve been doing this since 2009. When a journal is finished, I go through and take moments from it – things I’m working on or notes from a class or scribbles in the margin. It helps me remember where I’ve been and what meant something to me as the years fly by. I am currently about five journals behind. This has been a deliberate choice. You see, the last one I collated was from December 2012. It was a document of deaths, both fictional as I wrote Unicorn and real as I sat beside my beloved Grandmother and watched her die. So I’ve been holding off.

No one in history has ever been more dead than my grandmother. I listened to the changing textures of her breath. I studied the minutiae of her final moments. I dressed her for her funeral. My hands were on her and she felt like ice. She is the most dead being to have ever existed for me. And yet… and yet I still feel that I could jump on the Traralgon train and, in an hour, be sitting at her kitchen table, chatting with her and cutting her finger nails.

I try not to think about how much time has passed but it has been months and months and journal after journal has been filled and it still hurts such a lot that she isn’t here.

Yesterday, I decided to acknowledge that time and to collate the next journal. I’m glad I did. As painful as it felt to start with, it did make me remember what a beautiful, beautiful year it has been and how many amazing artists I have around me. This picks up just a month after Granny died, January 23rd and finishes March 27th. It contains the words of Raimondo Cortese, Robert Reid, Paul Cox, Patricia Cornelius, Stephen Cleary, Richard Murphet, Sarah Cane and a whole lot of me working things out. Thank you to all these incredible artists. Enjoy.

The Red Book Series, Part Six

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Unicorn, Oxford, England 27th January 2013:

KIT                    This – this moment right now – is the furthest I have ever been from you. Silence. Now this is.

A note to myself, Oxford, England 23rd January 2013 (I was hanging out with a lot of neuro-scientists)

There is nothing intangible left about humanity. Even memory is now just a cluster of proteins. Nothing more romantic or infinite than that. We are changing. I am not the same person I was five years ago. Not a cell of that person remains.

Unicorn, Oxford, England 25th January 2013

ALBA               I’m going, Kit. I am going tonight and it’s not a touristy, greyhound round trip there and back again. I am going There and I’m staying There.

KIT                  Where’s There?

ALBA               I don’t give a damn. Somewhere near the seas. I think I’d like that. I’ve never seen the sea before.  A beat.

KIT                  I saw it once.

ALBA               I know.

KIT                  The week dad –

ALBA               I know.

KIT                  I know you know!  A beat It was beautiful, Alba. It was totally – We stopped and mum brought us ice-creams and we ate them just staring at it. Then we got back in the car and we kept driving and the ocean…. It kept pace with us. Like it was just there – just filling the left window of the car hour after hour until it wasn’t special anymore and all it was big. And blue. And it made me feel very small. And pink. And a long, long way from home.

Considering Monet, Musee de l’Orangerie, Paris 1st February 2013

Individually, no brush stroke is genius. Just as no single words written by Shakespeare is truly profound. If you stand close to the painting, each individual brushstroke is apparent: the thickness of the paint, the separate hairs, the flick of the hand. It is a bit like reading a play that was written to be lived aloud: you see the bones – the structure – of the thing and each individual syllable that went into its creation. Then you step back. You step back or you read it aloud and the riot of paint, the mechanics of the art, becomes one picture. One immense image.

Notes for yours the face, Paris, France, 5th February 2013:

It is about temporary things – moments, beauty, passion – all of which will be outlasted by the image they create. It is about being alone even when you are holding someone’s hand in a city of millions.

Notes from class, Raimondo Cortese, 5th March 2013 (If the phrase is in quotation marks, it means I got the exact phrasing and am quoting Raimondo Cortese. Everything else is paraphrased or a tangent my brain took.)

–       “Suspension of disbelief is just an excuse for ‘stuff doesn’t work.’”

–       Beckett is a poet of words but today we must be poets of actions. We and our forebears have different relationships with what is pertinent to now.

–       “If you want to write, you must be abnormal. Find your aberration. It’s weird. It is very, very odd.”

Notes from dramaturgy class, Robert Reid, 6th March, 2013:

–       “Dramaturgy is the art of being professionally interested in stuff.”

My adaptation of Slaughterhouse Five, 8th March 2013:

A beginning. There is no part for John Wayne in this story. No. No John Wayne or Frank Sinatra. No tans. No flashing teeth. Barely any words even. A long silence. I mean, what’s there to say after a massacre? Another silence. Everybody is supposed to be dead. Everything is supposed to be very quiet. And it always is. Except for the birds. Silence.  The actors consider the silence. One shrugs. So it goes.

Notes from a lecture by Paul Cox, 7th March 2013

–       This is the danger of researching today: you used to research by looking at the yellow pages, dialling a number and speaking to a Society. Today, the Internet can take you to the other side of the world without human interaction. Have we lost the ability to concentrate on a face? To make a connection? To ask ‘who is that person’? This is not progress. This is the dark ages.

–       “You must caress the eyeballs. The eyeballs don’t matter any more… Cinema is an abstract medium. ‘That’s entertainment’ is such a damaging slogan.”

–       “We are all travelling to die. But we are also travelling to live.”

Notes from class, Richard Murphet, 18th March 2013

–       Theatre’s strength as an art form is not dialogue so much as image… it is about creating memorable moments and interactions between people. The story is only eh vehicle for this… the Ancient Greeks told the same story again and again. The newness of the story isn’t important. The depth is what matters.

–       Sarah Cane: “I keep coming back to the theatre in the hope that someone in a darkened room will burn an image into my mind.”

–       Peter Hatton: “The image is a possibility rendered present. Images are at best a clarification, not only of what is there but what is more than there.”

–       “Stories walk, like animals or men”. There are gaps between elements. The story is the stride over something not said… choosing deliberately one word or another, knowing that the gap between them is unique.

–       Every word we ever say has a history stretching out behind and in front of it.

Notes from a film class by Stephen Cleary, 19th March 2013

–       Narrative point of view: how you manipulate the audience into seeing the story from a particular perspective. A story is just that. It is how the writer conveys the story, when they reveal what, when they let the audience know more or less or as much as the characters. Groups of characters work because through them we experience their different points of view. Sherlock is far ahead of us intellectually but emotionally behind while Watson is intellectually behind but emotionally ahead. Hermione is ahead intellectually, Ron, ahead emotionally.

–       The shower scene in Psycho: The long shot on her eyes to show that yes, the star of the film, Lee, really is dead. A new protagonist is needed and all we have is this strange boy. He takes the money, which has been the entire plot up to this point, and throws it away along with our former protagonist. Hitchcock is adept at this fast transition that, by the time the car gets stuck in the swamp, we are on the strange boy’s side. We want the car and the evidence gone.

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Fragmentary texts, 20th March 2013

Two women.

– It doesn’t feel like me talking. It’s not me talking.

– Your mouth is moving.

– So it is. Touch it. My mouth.

– I… can feel your teeth through your lips.

– Teeth are just bone. Put your fingers in.

– Sometimes mine hurt. My teeth hurt. Smiling all day.  Do they have (what you call them?) pain thingies? Your teeth are wet. Your mouth is wet. Your tongue. … Ouch.

A love letter in the form of a multiple choice questionnaire.

Question 1:

What colour are my eyes?

  1. Blue as the ocean. Blue as the sky.
  2. Green as a forest. As a leaf. As a leaf in a forest.
  3. Black as sin. As lust. As wanting.
  4. I don’t give a fuck. They are yours. They are yours and that’s all that fucking matters. Be blue, be green, be black, be blind but let me gaze into them.  Let me study their depths. Let me –

Two women.

– I don’t want to use words. I want to use some other… some old, old long dead form of…

– You’re scaring me.

– Am I? I’m sorry. I am. Have you ever heard a horse scream? A pig? A goat? The most ageless sound. Like – it’s like –

I can’t do it. Sorry.

 

Interview with Patricia Cornelius in PWA magazine, undated

If I wasn’t a writer I’d be a farmer. I’d wear gumboots and dungarees. My hair would be worn in a no nonsense basin cut and my gender would be indefinable. Actually I’d look like a bloke. My life would be a constant drama – a race to harvest before the rains, up to my elbows in a pregnant sheep’s twat, beating wet bags against encroaching fires. My hands would be thrown up in despair, cursing God. My hands would be thrown up in the air, dancing joyously at the birth of a dozen piglets. I would be dog tired at the end of the day and I’d sit back and smoke, yes, smoke a big fat cigarette and think ‘I really should get out and go to the theatre one day.’

Extract from a play I started writing and then abandoned, The Architects of Warsaw, 25th March 2013

Three architects are drafting plans for the buildings of their city as bombs fall around them.

–       I’ve never noticed the gutters on the post office before. Shame to spot them now as it burns. Beautiful craftsmanship. A nice feature.

–       My chest hurts.

–       Deep breathes. Embrace plain. That’s what your generation does. One day you will draw a square – an empty cube – and hold it up for all to see. A tribute to your faith in humans to inhabit any space. To fill even the starkest room with their humanity and make it breathe. But remember the gutters. You won’t want to but try. Think of how the tiniest feature will illuminate your restraint. Otherwise it will just be a square. Four brick walls. How’s the chest?

 

An exercise, Isolation is, 27th March 2013

Like the sensation of hollowness in the centre of your chest, like there is a cavity inside your ribs and your lungs and your heart and your organs are not large enough to fill it.

Like not quite knowing how to move your arms. Like looking down at your hands and thinking them alien. Like holding another person’s hand in a crowded city and feeling a chasm open up between you. ‘There’s a hole in my neighbourhood down which of late I can’t help but fall.’ Like sitting on a tiny desert island – one cartoonish palm tree – and watching the ships sail past and having nothing to flag them down with. Like cooking for one. Like not bothering to eat it. Like tumbleweed. Like not getting the joke. Like the Iron Curtain. Like distance. Like the Australian landscape. Like naming a town Nhill. Or Wail. And placing it in the middle of flat nothing. Like masturbating without a climax.

Like taking valium. Like procrastination. Like not screaming. Like deliberately not screaming. Like trying to merge on a freeway. Like no one letting you in. Like blindness.  Like deafness. Like puberty. Like forgetting how to read. Forgetting a face. Like reaching. Like striving. Like grasping. Like failing.

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