Write to Play has headed North in its second year – to Liverpool, Manchester and Bolton, where Graeae and our brilliant partner organisations (Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, the Octagon Theatre Bolton and the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester) are about to start working with five brilliant new writers based in the North-West.
To get to know them a little better, we asked them what book, record and play they would take to a desert island. Here’s what they had to say…
I like people, buildings and busyness, preferably near a Costa, so island life wouldn’t suit me. The Dictionary of Imaginary Places could come into its own here. Instead of brooding on my predicament, I could hang out in Middle Earth or Xanadu. I could also keep my Costa loyalty card in it as a bookmark and to keep the sun from melting it into a grotesque, Dali-type parody of its glorious former self.
For a record… (Records! How quaint!) Many of my favourite songs were written by Jimmy Webb, so an album, please, of his best songs, singers to be exhaustively debated another time.
To explain my choice of play: I once watched a drunk stumble against a parked car and say sorry to it, only to slam his fist down on the bonnet a second later. What had happened in the man’s mind between his apology and the punch? Soon after, I saw Olly’s Prison on TV (choosing TV drama may be cheating) by Edward Bond, in which a tragic father undergoes a similar mental reversal. I’ve since meant to study it to see how Bond pulled off such a breathtaking, emotional U-turn in just 40 minutes of monologue. Having picked this, it’s possibly a tad bleak for a desert island, so I may choose Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information instead, which would cheer me up, reminding me of the odd, unexpected depths beneath seemingly banal conversations – and of the lovable weirdos that most people really are. So I’ve mentioned two dramas. Told you I was a cheater.
Well I see this desert island being quite hot during the days and quite cold during the nights so after making my beach hut, I’d like to settle down with the selected works of S.T. Coleridge as I’d take comfort from tales of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and think things could be worse. Also some beautiful poetry would go well with the sunshine.
Record wise, I’d have to go for What’s going on by Marvin Gaye. I think I know each track quite well and it would be quite ironic hearing that song on a desert island. But his voice is truly like silk so could warm me up on those cold nights.
I’m a massive fan of a few playwrights, but I feel The Tempest would be apt due to my situation and I feel with reading this I’d have hope of being rescued.
Book – can I have facebook? Oh no actually I’d have the Argos Catalogue, I can read that for hours. It’s a bit cosy, it reminds me of Christmas as a kid, circling all the things you want and then looking at them big massive swing set things at the back and imagining winning the pools and buying two.
Music – one of the early 80s Now albums with a bit of Boy George on. Bit of Adam Ant, was he early 80s? I don’t own this album. I’d rather have something that would surprise me a bit, but still something that I already know a bit so that I can sing the wrong words to it. You could really belt the songs out on a desert island. I can’t sing but I enjoy singing really badly, really loudly.
Play – I don’t want a play written down in a book. I want the proper, colourful, real-life(ish) on-stage version because that’s gonna do you more good if you’re lonely and sick of looking at sand. Probably a musical so you could sing along and pretend you’ve got mates there. West Side Story so I can be all the characters, except for Maria, urgh.
Just ONE book??!! A confederacy of Dunces, a tragicomedy by John Kennedy Toole. The fact he posthumously won a Pulitzer Prize after giving up and committing suicide will be a reminder in my darkest hours on the island NEVER to give up. “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” It’s sheer genius and would give me huge gawfawing belly laughs seeing me through the long days/nights. Being alone, I need a host of characters, larger than life and entertaining, and this book has a constant stream led by Ignatius J. Reilly. This masterpiece is set in New Orleans so I will travel from the island when I immerse myself, yet again, in this glorious feast of writing.
I’m Piscean, two fish, so I need a pre-recorded mix. John Lennon’ s Imagine, the National Anthem of my utopian island, sung every evening at sunset, in awe at the glowing sun going down while searching the horizon for fellow fun/peace lovers, and as the sun sets, the first star twinkles Liza Minnelli belting out Cabaret reminds me to high kick my way through the night and let loose, have fun, and that life IS a cabaret.
Ken Campbell’s epic production of The Warp by Neil Oram, the world’s longest play, a production that changed my theatrical life as an actor performing, and as an audience member – a wholeheartedly enlightening experience! 22 hours long, ten episodes trace an English mystic’s many previous lives over thousands of years. That will definitely keep me entertained and absorbed. Each time I see it I will discover something new and exciting, like turning another page in the play of life.
I am rubbish at making choices. When eating out I’m still choosing ages after everyone else. I usually get it down to three then have to ask the waiter for their advice – drives friends mad.
So, you have been warned. Here goes.
The play would be A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry – the first, and only play so far, to make me cry. And there is also Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. More recent Blackbird by David Harrower, or Pillowman by Martin McDonagh.
The book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (there are many more!) and I would like an atlas so I can entertain myself making up stories. Oh and a dictionary.
Music would be 20 Cheatin’ Heartbreakers – songs full of stories. (There are far more but I would still be choosing into next week!).