Saturday 23 February 2013

Playing Detective (1)

I’m writing this during rehearsals for Slung Low’s 15 Minutes Live. It’s a great event – five new radio plays performed live with and audience, and recorded for podcast. They’ve done two so far, each in a different venue, and this weekend is the third.

At some point last year Alan Lane asked me if'd like to write something for this one. I was chuffed to be asked, as it seemed to tie in with what we’ve been doing with The Machine.  I originally imagined that I’d write something about the Friendly Floatees, a story that I really like but that never found a home in What I Heard About the World. But then the Floatees did turn up in Emergency DrinkingWater, and so I left them there.

I started thinking about developing the idea of the Clues Game that I’ve tried out on Twitter a few times (you can see a Storify of it here). Piecing together the clues of a story. How an object is a clue to numerous plots and narratives. I started calling it Playing Detective.

I started running again last April, after a six year layoff. It took a few weeks to get the rhythm back, but then I started to enjoy the head space it gave me. I found myself writing Playing Detective in my head on these runs. Or rather, and I know this is a cliché, it started to write itself.

If you’ve seen Third Angel's work before, or read this blog, you may well be aware that I have a passing interest in genre fiction. Not just detective novels, but also Lad-Lit. And Playing Detective seemed to jump, or blend, genres. A story appeared unexpectedly, but that seemed to fit, as often detective fiction is about one thing on a plot level, and about something else – a place, or a wider issue – underneath that.

The Clues Game is still in there, but the piece as a whole seems to be as much about remembered experience (no surprises there), about cataloguing and about the people who are such a huge part of your life at a particular age, in a particular time and place, and what it’s like years later when they are no longer around.

Playing Detective is one of five scripts we’re performing tomorrow. I’m in two others, Lullaby by James Phillips and An Anatomy of Grappling by Chris Fittock. They’re both great, really different, and it’s nice to be involved in them as a performer, partly because that helps me to not be the writer (too much) when rehearsing mine. It's interesting, too, to find connections between the three pieces, all written entirely independently. I haven't heard or read them yet, but I’m looking forward to hearing the other two pieces, Judith Adams’ Sista Icarus and Mark Hollander’s The Tragic and Unexpected Conflation of Reuben Fleischman

It’s fast and busy work here. As I write this in the kitchen at The HUB, the band are rehearsing the songs for Lullaby in the next room. Food is being prepared, the kettle is always on, and the foley and sound team don't seem to ever get a break. It's not a bad way to spend a Saturday. If you're in Leeds tomorrow, I think it will be a great way to spend a Sunday. Come down.