Tales From Ovid: Day Four 2

I’m at the stage in the project when I’d like to sleep for approximately 36 hours straight. It’s the twittery, jittery tiredness that comes with knowing that – oh, there is still this person to speak to, and what order are we doing these plays in?, and oh DRLLING (okay, not drilling because the workmen have been lovely and considerate and we have not even had to bribe them with cake), and we need these flyers, and that’s MY play that’s being performed, and EMAILS and phonecalls and printers and coffee and did you know that we needed a table because I didn’t and – well, I’m sure you get the picture. So rather than considering in that manner for the rest of this blog post I’m just going to post some photos so you can see why several people in this project have had no sleep for the best part of four days.

After we’d cleared out ‘the stuff’:

In the beginning there was a shop.

Emily makes war with the boarding on the wall:

The Boards of Doom after Emily attacked them.

Day One In Shop 82:

The 'A' Board of Power

We have a shop sign!:

Our Shop Sign!

Ilana Winterstein in Melissa Bubnic’s No Victim (adapted from ‘The Rape of Proserpina’):

No Victim

And just because I think this photo gives you a glimpse of how beautiful I think our little shop is:

The Fall of Troy (Rehearsal)

That photo was taken during the ‘dress’ rehearsal of Patrick Dunlea’s The Fall of Troy and if you’re wondering about the coats and the fact that the actors look like they’re visibly shaking let it go on record that Wednesday 27th January was bloody cold. 24 hours later I can just about feel my fingers…

[Photos taken by Emily Harwood & Estelle Buckridge]

Tales From Ovid: Shopkeeper

As a child do you remember playing ‘shop’? I do. Generally there would be a theme to the shop – I was particularly keen at playing Post Office and Bakery. And Library, which isn’t exactly a shop but follows some of the same principles (see, I was primed to spend a good chunk of my early to mid twenties in customer service roles).

And I couldn’t help but think back to that when I collected our shop keys today. Because – for (almost) three weeks, Charlie and I are officially shopkeepers. All I need is my old plastic till, some teddy bears and my doll Bonnie and I am ready to sell fake dog licenses and mud pies. Which probably explains why I was so excited as I went to open the shutter.

Only – well, there had to be something that provided some sort of comic interlude and, predictably, the moment I went to insert the key into the lock it became painfully obvious that something wasn’t quite right. Either my career as a shopkeeper was over before it had even begun as I was unable to do something as simple as insert a key into a lock or – I hoped – I’d been given the wrong key.

Thankfully it turned out to be the latter rather than the former and soon I was back, shutter opening.

And, erm, it is safe to say I wasn’t quite expecting the sight that greeted me:


Inside Shop 82.

Free Soup (& other crap)

On the plus side one of the things on our to-do list had been: ‘get a ladder’ (result), however I don’t remember the bit of the list that said ‘get several muddy crates’. And a ‘Free Soup’ sign?

So, yes, a little bit of a mixed bag of abandoned items from the shop’s last (temporary) occupants.

Just when I was about to start cataloguing everything in the unit (I do like a list) a man in a green hoodie popped his head through the open shutter.

“Have you been told not to use the sink?”

“Nooo”. For indeed I hadn’t been. Though now I look at it I can see it is partially disconnected.

“I’m the onsite plumber” explains Green Hoodie Man in a cheerful manner. “We think there’s a crack in the basin – it flooded the entire shop last week”.


Green Hoodie Man and I stand over the sink for a bit. He tinkers, we both wait. There is most definitely a leak.

“I wouldn’t use the sink” he says.

I agree.

Once we’ve said our goodbyes another man pops in.

“I got sent round to see about woodchippings” He says.

It is safe to say it was never quite this surreal when I used to play ‘shop’.

Tales From Ovid: The Anatomy #1

I was having a break between some fairly dull-but-necessary admin work for Ovid Reworked when the pull of a red pen and some scrap paper proved to be too much.

And thus the first ‘The Anatomy Of…’ was born. For if I was to draw the anatomy of The Brixton Project it might look like this:

Anatomy: #1

There’s a bigger version of it here. I think it sums up the last few weeks quite well, albeit had I been 100% true to events I would have written the word ‘SHUTTER’ all over the piece of paper because ‘Shutter Conversations’ have been many and plentiful (though, at least until we’re into the shop, pushed to one side with a solution – other than just locking everyone in and thus failing every fire safety policy there has ever been – having presented itself).

Reasons For Listing: Your List 1

As with many ideas in the last year I was on a train somewhere in London when I dreamt up Reasons For Listing. It certainly didn’t come out fully formed – Charlie would give it the working title which has firmly stuck a week or so later – and I wasn’t sure exactly how all the pieces slotted together. But I knew then I wanted to write about an adult with Autism (and not the Savant-style Autism that apears in many fictional portrayals) and I wanted the piece to be in some way interactive. That the experience of Autism should be a catalyst for an interactive piece seemed oddly right in a way that I couldn’t quite articulate but which instinctively felt right.

The plot fell together quickly and I soon began to get a feel for who Joseph, Reasons For Listing‘s protagonist, was (and indeed is for, really, we are still getting to know each other). My starting point – intensely personal and spotted with the kind of fears that if I thought about them too hard would prevent me from sleeping – was there but no loner visible.  Reasons For Listing is about a young man who has Asperger’s Syndrome but it’s also about growing up, striking out on your own and puzzling out the world around you. Which, at some point, every one of us has to do (for some it is, quite simply, a bit later or a bit harder than for others).

It’s a cliche to say that a picture paints a thousand words. I’m a playwright so I wouldn’t dismiss words so easily. But what might a photograph express? If we were to choose them what might it say about us? Living alone for the first time Joseph begins to create a photographic list of everything which makes him happy. And those pictures told a story too; there’s something about the photos that I realised he would choose that elevated him from casual labels. Because we’re all a lot more complex than a throw-away sentence describing some aspect of who we are.

As it stands I have a draft of Reasons For Listing which is labelled 0.75. In the next few weeks it’s going into the hands of both Charlie and a willing actor and it will undoubtedly see itself anew again at that point. But before we get there there’s the vital part of Reasons For Listing that requires your contribution:

If you were to take a photograph of something which makes you happy what would it be?

The idea is that Joseph’s story will never quite be the same in any two performances, changed as it is by the photos that people submit. For there is Joseph’s list of things that make him happy and then there are the lists those who he comes into contact with (or, equally pertinently, who come into contact with him). And that includes you.

We’ve written up all the details here and the only limit to what can be submitted it your imagination. Equally, if you want to submit more than one photograph please feel free.

So, what makes you happy?

Inspirations: Number One

I saw this in a sides street when I was walking down Park Street near London Bridge (the same street where the original sites of both The Globe and The Rose Theatres are, fact fans):

I Know I Have Lost

I don’t know who wrote it, or when it was written, or, indeed, why it was written. There was something about those words, written on a decaying wall, that spoke to me.

Defeat, resignation, an anonymous cry in the dark…there’s something both a little bit beautiful and  a little bit terrible about it.