Around this time last year, I was in the process of writing my first full-length play. And struggling. Very little is truly known about the German side of my family – for long enough, we all believed my Granddad that we came from Bavaria. Lets play some basic Geography: Bavaria – an independent state and South East; Düsseldorf is West, and Württemburg (now Baden-Württemberg) was a Kingdom next door to good ol’ Bayern. Close, but no cigar, Granddad, as much as you loved them.
We knew stories about my great-grandparents, great-uncles and so on, but they were patchy at best. So, in an attempt to link some of these stories and shed light on their actions, I created ‘Once Upon A Time‘. It was essentially a timeline of events showing their individual emigration to Edinburgh until my great-grandfather’s death in WWI. I remember when I finished it, I was exhausted but proud of what I had created. Looking back on it in comparison to my second full-length play, it’s…not very good.
I’m currently in the process of creating my Masters application, which requires a portfolio of writing extracts, and I’m wanting to include parts of this particular play. But in order to include them, I need to reconstruct the play and that is the main obstacle holding up the whole application. My main critique was that I didn’t let the characters live, rather ghosts of characters, which explains why it was so difficult to write. Reading it now, I also notice what my lecturer had meant: my scenes weren’t linking as well as they could. So, the reconstruction begins.
The main problem is what techniques to use, because at the moment it feels like I’m either using too many, or not in the right way: letters home and music. I think it’s the latter… My purpose behind the music was to engage with songs from a person’s childhood: something from Scotland,
and something from Germany,
OK, two things,
so I have a scene at Christmas, which brings it to three,
The idea was to have a uniting constant of music from both sides of the Channel, something that music never fails to do, and I realise I’m not quite there yet. I was aiming for a Brechtian style piece, but there’s only so much distancing from a character’s emotional capacity I can do before it becomes insensitive. That was the only way I could finish it originally, but in retrospect I may have distanced too much. Fingers crossed I get it sorted, the application is due in pretty soon!