log on to nabokov's brand new forum and post your opinions on present : tense now.

we're really keen to hear your feedback. what did you think of what you saw? how can we improve the event in the future? what do you make of the blog?

please log on now to www.nabokov-online.com/forum and have your say.

actors biogs

you can read biographies of the core artists here.

October 9 by Al Smith

Grace - Fiona Doyle
Fiona trained at The Bridge Theatre Training Company. Since graduating, she has played a variety of roles including Lucy Brown in The Treepenny Opera (Blackheath Halls), Leanna in First Sins (King's Head Theatre) and The Waitress in Straker Sings Brel directed by Mel Smith (King's Head Theatre). Screen work includes the lead role in Conceptual, funded by EM Media and winner of a variety of awards at various festivals in the UK and America. Last November, Fiona performed at The Old Red Lion Theatre in the acclaimed Riding the Back of the Tiger devised through the Young Vic and directed by Will Mortimer.

Colin - Toby Sharp
After graduating with a BA in Performing Arts from Middlesex University, Toby has played a variety of parts including almost all roles in a Schools tour of Oliver Twist, Derek in the new play Headlong, O'Brien in an adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 that toured Europe and Japan, and the role of Cyril in the recent short film Itchy Love. Toby is very happy to be involved in this exciting political theatre event at the Old Red Lion.

Staggering Through by Rachel Wagstaff

Sarah - Endy McKay
Trained: Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, graduating in July 2004.
Theatre: Julius Caesar (Lyric Hammersmith); Silence (RSC Fringe / Arcola Theatre); Julius Caesar, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (RSC).
Whilst Training: The Pillars of Society; Measure for Measure; The Good Person of Szechwan; All My Sons; Two; A Midsummer Night's Dream; The Country Wife; The Cherry Orchard; Cloud Nine.
TV: The Boston Tea Party (BBC).

Mark - James Davis
James Davis has performed all over the world, including Hamlet in Hamlet (Middle East), Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (East Africa) and Leontes in The Winters Tale (Japan). He has performed in this theatre in Mere Mortals and All In The Timing.

Ed - Liam Shannon
Liam trained at Manchester Metropolitan University. Theatre credits include Victor in Big Night Out (Drill Hall); Eddie in The Vinegar Trip (North West Playwrights). TV includes Dr Daniel Leeming in Where The Heart Is (Series 2, ITV); Jez in City Central (BBC); and Mike in Law and Disorder (Channel Four). Liam works extensively as a voice over artist and for the last three years has been a continuity presenter for the Discovery Channel.

Myths and Legends by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm

Polly - Rebecca Elise

Helen - Jenni Maitland

John - Kris Milnes

Kuta by DC Moore

Gail - Jane Riley
For nabokov, Jane has been involved in Liverpool shorts nights. Theatre credits include: Hatty in Tom's Midnight Garden (Birmingham Stage Company National Tour). Television credits include: Dalziel & Pascoe, Coronation Street, Vincent, Life on Mars, Casualty.

Mary - Marilyn O'Brien
Marilyn trained at ALRA. She is a member of the Old Vic New Voices Company and recently performed in the Old Vic New Voices' 24 Hour Plays. Her theatre credits include Mrs. Clerimont in The Beau Defeated; Sofia Fuentes in Widows; 2nd Maggie/Aunt Glegg in The Mill On The Floss; Mrs. Loveit in Man of Mode; Duchess of York in Richard III. She has also performed at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin, in a series of monologues & at the The Bull Theatre inThe Royal Hunt of The Sun. Her film credits include Rebecca in Hello You.
Jules - Clea Langton
Clea trained at Rusden College of Performing Arts in Australia. Her most recent UK credit is Goody Proctor in Arthur Miller's The Crucible (Chelsea Players). In Australia, Clea had guest roles in T.V serials Neighbours, Stingers, Crash Burn, Marshall Law, Backburner and the telemovie Leather and Silk. Theatre credits include Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Richard III, Antigone, The Stronger, Party Time and Penelope. New works include Strange Fruit and What Lies Between. Clea was also co-director of Australian Theatre School 2000-2002.


last night you saw:

Gavin Osborn

October 9 by Al Smith
directed by Will Mortimer
grace: Fiona Doyle
colin: Toby Sharp

two films by Sue Luciani

Gavin Osborn

Staggering Through by Rachel Wagstaff
directed by Hanna Berrigan
sarah: Endy McKay
mark: James Davis
ed: Liam Shannon



Gavin Osborn

Myths and Legends by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm
directed by Hamish Pirie
helen: Jenni Maitland
polly: Rebecca Elise
john: Kris Milnes

a film by Azhur Saleem

Luke Wright

Kuta by DC Moore
directed by George Perrin
gail: Jane Riley
jules: Clea Langton
mary: Marilyn O’Brien

stage manager: Andy Tandy

pictures of the night

Standing room only the Old Red Lion.

Toby Sharp and Fiona Doyle in Al Smith's play directed by Will Mortimer.

Troubadour Gavin Osborn

James Davis and Endy McKay in Rachel Wagstaff's play directed by Hanna Berrigan.

Rebecca Elise and Jenni Maitland in Morgan Lloyd Malcolm's play directed by Hamish Pirie.

Poet Luke Wright in full flow.

Sue Luciani's film.


Last Rehearsal

With less than seven hours to go, the final stretch...

the excitement is palpable...!

Well I decided to post a final pre-show blog as probably won't get a chance tomorrow. Today I went along to a rehearsal. And get this....my actors were off book! Pretty much completely! And I'm not saying I didn't expect this but if anyone has been reading these blogs from the beginning they would know that this piece is 17, yes 17, pages long....and they know it!!! Not only this but Hamish has been nailing the direction so much so that I had very little to add or say and could simply sit back and enjoy!
Apparently one of the reasons for their brilliance (they reliably informed me) was that after yesterdays rehearsal the actors found a pub and did a line run. Despite wierding out the locals and being accosted by a smack addict it apparently went very well and really helped with the lines...very method daaaaahling (the whole piece is set in a pub).
So am very impressed with the team and their dedication and enthusiasm and so grateful as well!!
I worked my pub shift tonight and was faced with a familiar person that I assumed was a regular but eventually realised was Will who is directing Al's piece! And he was with with Fiona, one of the actors in their piece! We swapped stories and generally chatted about how great this week has been and how we hope we can do it again...hint hint Nabokov! But it was great to bump into them.
So all that remains to be said is well done everyone and I really can't wait to see what everyone has come up with!
see you tomorrow! xxx


final cut

well i'm pretty much done now. I presume everyone else is crazy busy at the moment, hence the reason why I'm hogging the blog space.

I've been editing all night, and the film has become more of an experimental piece. In a way, I actually prefer this to the more narrative film that I was planning on doing! Or am I just telling myself that?!

I'm going to spend tomorrow morning tweaking and finding out places that the film slows down, although there are moments where I want to purposefully slow the pace down to an agonising length. I hope it works and will be well receieved. i suppose that's it, and I'll see you all tomorrow!

All change!!

Got up this morning, after being tempted to the pub last night. I was good though, I didn't stay for too long. The plan today was to meet up in the afternoon and shoot the scenes with my actor - that would complete everything I need for the film leaving me the rest of the day and tonight to edit.

The search for an asian actor was a bit tough. I got a good contact from James who was really great, but busy all week and weekend. He did give me numbers of other asian actors that worked with him on Bombay Dreams. Cool. Unfortunately they too were busy. But I do now have contacts for my graduation film! So I'm still without an actor. Then I suddenly remember one of my friends from film school used to be an actor in India! Brilliant! After some persuasion he agrees to go ahead and after a meeting in the pub last night, we were all set to go.

So I meet my producer in Cafe Nero on Long Acre this morning. Then my phone buzzes. A text. My actor has pulled out. He got totally drunk, threw up everywhere and had only just woken up!! Damn!! Should've made him sign a contract! Aaaaggghhh, actor's pulling out. It seems to be happening all the time. The last film I made was plagued by this. Oh well...

So over a not-very-nice cup of Cafe Nero coffee, my producer and I rehashed an idea out of stuff that I had already shot....and we came up with a ridiculously simple idea (well I say we, but it was mainly her...!). I think that it will be really effective, and it still gets across my idea of life carrying on regardless, whether through apathy or through determination. Either way, these things happen all the time all across the world.

So the film will probably end up being more a 'piece' rather than a narrative short film. Oh well, roll with the punches.

See y'all tomorrow and good luck to everyone who will be actually up on stage and performing tomorrow! I can just hide behind my girlfriend whilst the film is playing!


1st draft done

last night me and chris and the rest of aisle16 were in manchester for the poetry festival there. it was great, but did involve about 12 hours spent in a car during the last 24 hours. consequently i haven't exactly had much time to be sitting down writing poetry.

joel16 and i got back to essex about 7pm this evening. had a curry. watched derek and clive. smoked cigarettes, talked about derek and clive. talked about the fact i had to write a poem about terrorism, or suicide bombings, or bali or something... by sunday. i did my usual thing of saying 'oh, i'll do it in the morning, i'll feel refreshed then.' but we're in luton tomorrow doing poetry boyband to luton people. so it just kind of welled up inside of me. i felt ill. i went upstairs and wrote out over 2000 words worth of quotes from heat magazine - the idea i had was to talk about potent news through impotent, nonsense media - felt ill at the shit peddled through heat and alike. sat down and speed wrote a first draft. took it to joel. he didn't think it was shit. i have now worked through the first draft and i'm gonna finish it tomorrow.

this is the first peom i have written since may. i feel kind of relieved. this process seems to have helped actually. i'll keep you posted.

"... tell you what though, it didn't half give me the horn..."

ummm... that's a bit scary

I like to think of the old red lion as a place not dissimilar to being in my front room. Nice and cosy and not particularly clean.
The notion of it being chock full of people is making me rather nauseous.

article on present : tense in 'the friday thing'

the following is an article published today in The Friday Thing:


nabokov is a young London-based theatre group consisting of four playwrights, four directors, two film makers, two poets and a musician (um, not quite, but we'll let it slide - nabokov ed). Last Sunday evening at the Old Red Lion pub in Angel, they were sat together around a large table, all of them quite disappeared behind a sea of newsprint. What they were doing was completing step one of their new project: finding the story. At the end of the session, they had decided. The story was the Bali suicide bombings. So, step two. Step two was slightly trickier. Step two was to go off and create a night of theatrical performance using the Bali bombings as their inspiration. The end result will be Present : Tense. They gave themselves seven days to put it together.

nabokov carried out a little survey recently, quizzing the general public on their attitude toward the theatre. The most common reasons people gave for not giving two stuffs for the theatre were primarily that it's boring, irrelevant, expensive and full of old people. The members of nabokov are determined to try to change this perception. Giving themselves just a week to prepare an evening's entertainment which will be politically relevant, and above all, entertaining, is brave of them. To chart their progress, they've also created a blog, updated by each of them throughout the week. Last night there were a couple of first rehearsals. The excitement, and the tension, are mounting.

Present : Tense will consist of live drama, film, poetry and song. It could, of course, all go horribly wrong. However, even if it does, the chances are it will be a damn sight more exciting than any evening of Rod Stewart songs masquerading as drama. There is also a very good chance that the subject matter will give rise to some controversial material. Already on the blog there is talk of attempting to explore some of the motivations of the suicide bomber. In the current environment, where even to begin to attempt to see things from the other side is tantamount to capitulation, it could be that theatre will provide the ideal medium in which to challenge conventional thought.

Whether nabokov can manage to make a success out of Present : Tense or not remains to be seen, but there can be no doubting the courage and the conviction of its members. Whatever happens on Sunday night, it seems highly unlikely that the words 'boring', 'irrelevant' or 'full of old people' will be bandied about in response. Not that there's anything wrong with old people of course. Apart from the fact that they're reactionary and remind the young of death. Oh, and at a fiver a shot, it's far from expensive.

If you want to be a part of what could turn out to be a revolution in political theatre, call the Old Red Lion box office on 020 7837 7816 to reserve your place.

We'll see you there.




2.30PM Been searching high and low for a decent graveyard. So far I've only stumbled across a few headstones, where do we keep our dead in the suburbs? Getting desperate so head into a church and talk to the priest 'hello I'm making a short film, and am in need of a good looking graveyard' he looks at me like I've just sworn at him. Made my apologies and left but not before saying a Hail Mary, it seems you can take the girl out of the church...

4.10PM Ask and the lord will giveth... found my graveyard and get to work, only to be interrupted by a phonecall from my editor, he's got paid work in Soho, flatline, game over, thinking about digging myself a hole right now.

4.30PM Panic conversations with my producer 'what am I going to do?' He thinks for a moment 'why not do the edit yourself?' 'WHATAREYOURCRAZYIGOTAWEEKTHAT'SITYOUWANTMETOMAKEA FILMANDLEARNHOWTOEDITINJUSTONEWEEK' phone goes dead, maybe he lost signal I tell myself.

5.15PM Soldiering on, getting my shots, although I fear it's pretty pointless at this stage. Get a text through, my producer's just spoken to an editor on the Da Vinci Code, apparently there's nothing to it, pah, what does he know.

6.30PM Chasing ravens around Bushy park, I get the feeling they're having a little fun with me, everytime I get close to the shot they fly off, so I'm running around after them cursing, much to the fishermen's amusement, why I am I doing this again?

7.45PM Sit down in front of the AVID editing suite ok mister be gentle with me, we haven't got time for any funny business. Start playing it footage so far so good, maybe it's not as hard as I think.

9.35PM Windows message pops up 'fatal error' AAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH


8AM Meet Chris at Earl's court, take a look at his lyrics over a coffee, damn they're good, trying to edit them but there's no need - get into the studio and he lays down his vocal track with my fab sound designer Mark. Despite only having had four hours sleep (this man loves to work!) Mark nails it and cuts me the track in minutes. Realise quickly that the hip hop bed will over power Chris's lyric so we try something else, laying in a composition Mark played me last week - I knew when I heard it I wanted to use it but I had no idea we'd be turning it around this quickly. Clutching the CD track in my hand I leave the studio smiling, maybe it's not hopeless afteral.

11.30AM Yes it is hopeless AVID hates me.

12.10PM My editor Emile administers medicine over the phone and talks me through the basics, 'send the Avid my love' he tells me 'I think it needs it.'

4.40pm Just checked the clock, editing is completely absorbing, actually it's rather brilliant, I want to shout from the rooftops, 'it's possible, if I can do it then you definately can, let's make movies baby.'

5.15PM 'fatal error,' back to square one.

9.30PM Got a sequence that's starting to make sense, turn off the computer for the night, wonder if my day's work will still be there in the morning?


8.45AM Sequence still there phewww! Now I'm needing a little something to end up with, some kind a scavanging, end of the end type feel...

10.10AM Looking at Vultures, funny creatures, the stench of rotting meat is making me queasy.

11.30AM Just spent the last twenty minutes watching the penguins feed, fantastic animals poor things have no idea they're being abducted by crazy american evangelist cause to 'disprove' the theory of evolution, I don't think they'd agree with that somehow.

2.30PM Back on board after quick chat with the lovely old lady who lives on the island, tell her I'm making a film in a week, she thinks I'm nuts. Last time we spoke I was telling her how difficult it was to get a feature of the ground what with it costing so much money etc she told me
to 'go stand in the middle off the road and swing my knickers round above my head, anything to get their attention'... and I'm the crazy one?!


10.30AM Just caught up with everyone's blogs, brilliant stuff, really looking forward to seeing everyone's work on Sunday, and we've sold out, fantastic, can't wait, hold on, I haven't got a ticket...

sunday: sold out

sunday is completely sold out as of midday yesterday. thank you to everyone who has booked a ticket and shown such an interest in the project.

the old red lion is operating a waiting list in case of returns, so you can call 020 7837 7816 to get your name on that.

Rehearsal two...

Hi all,

Last night, Will, Fiona and Toby came over for the second rehearsal, all very exciting and exponentially frightening. I left them to their own devices whilst I met a couple of friends for some food. I'd met these guys in Edinburgh over the fringe, and we talked a bunch about what we were all up to. We started to talk about the Present : Tense project, and all about the representation of Bali in the media, and, they started talking about their experiences in Thailand over Christmas last year. Totally unbeknown to me, these guys had first hand experience of the tsunami disaster, had been trapped in the waters and beaten around by the wreckage. Unprompted, they pretty much reeled off first hand experience accounts of all of the topics that have been raised on this blog - most pertinently the view of disasters in the media. What really came across was the distance that we perceive ourselves from massive events, and how dulled those perceptions become as soon as you step away from them. Their stories were stuffed to bursting with details which I'd love to cram into the script, whether it be through lines or through Will's direction. I came home, and found Will and the cast running through the script, and I filled them in on these guy's experience, and it all seemed to strike very close to home. I hope they come on Sunday.

One down...

Well, we had our first rehearsal tonight! And i echo Dave's comments about very new and fresh script. Though it was wonderful to hear it all out loud and get it out of my head!
The actors are brilliant and I feel so excited about watching them over the next couple of days! Poor old Becci is pretty ill at the moment but dosed up with drugs so soldiered on through! Jenni was, ironically, delayed by a bomb scare in Nottinghill but made good time! We had corpsing and I did some cutting. And it all seemed pretty positive to be honest! They will be rehearsing tomorrow and I am going to go and sit in on their rehearsal on saturday.
I am definitely very excited and very positive but who knows what will happen?!
Me and Hamish had a good meeting before the rehearsal and went through all my intentions which to be honest were all very fresh and scrappy but I surprised myself by revealing a bit of a method to my madness...but I have every confidence in Hamish and his brilliant ability and am surprisingly relaxed!!
god this is a rollercoaster!


kuta, second draft


just had our first rehearsal of 'kuta' with george and our actresses. was very odd to have something so fresh in my head suddenly read out loud. like being caught half-naked by a grandparent. or something.

enough about me flashing to the nearly-dead. back to the script. sat in the paines plough office just about to endeavour with a significant re-draft. after a big chat with george, we've decided on some major changes. we decided to concentrate on the story-telling aspect of the piece and hopefully the changes will enhance this.

fingers crossed.

am very tired. want to read all the other blogs but need to write first.

joke: how many Fruedians does it take to change a lightbulb?

answer: penis.

er i mean two.


and they said i couldn't write.

oh fuck.


...ever changing

keeping you all up to date...I shot some stuff around London today. Was fun just to get out there and do something. As I was doing so, new ideas kept popping into my head drawing the idea of the film into new directions. I'm just going to let the idea go and see what I end up with on Sunday. I'm becoming more interested about the apathy with the world's media on bali. Well not just the media, but your everyday joe walking down the street. It's like nothing happened. You can really sense it as you're walking on the streets - the bombs just don't mean anything.

I fear that I might be editing this right through Saturday night - I'll have to cancel that fancy dress party I was going to go to. Damn, I was looking forward to dressing up as a 1940s fighter pilot... I also have a cold coming on too, so I might be quite close to dying when I turn up for the showing. I'll wear a quarantine suit if I'm particulalry contagious.

After a few restless nights, it feels really good and exciting to get the ball rolling, albeit a bit late. I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone else brings to the table. Good luck to everyone for the few remaining days we have!!

ps - here's something to make you laugh. A bit late seeming as it concentrates on the american election - but a great little film!


and so it begins

am meeting my actors in a couple of hours for the first rehearsal of Al's play, and i'm pretty excited. I do have a sore throat from three hours of pretending to be a feral child (another play, another rehearsal, best not to ask), but i am going to use Gav as my inspiration and struggle through. The piece is very understated and i think is a really nice mediation on everything that has happen. looking forward to seeing how everyone has approached it, good luck guys!


ok. i'm better now. many thanks for all your support in this difficult time. now, what day is it? Thursday? you're having a laugh? ... oh, dear

Kuta, first draft

Hello everyone.

It's been incredibly exciting to read about your progress this week - I've been itching to get involved. And now my patience has paid off as I write with the first draft of Kuta by DC Moore in my sweaty palm.

I have three superb actresses to work with - Jane Riley, Clea Langton and Marilyn O'Brien - and a first rehearsal this evening.

I’m raring to go.


beginning to panic...

Oh dear. Thursday already? I was supposed to have everything set for today and shoot a masterpiece. Unfortunately that ain't the case! My ideas have been changing constantly, over and over and over again, due to lots of different things-but mainly my indecision. Bummer. Although I'm expecting something great to happen now that I'm backed up into the corner, armed with my camera. I suspect that I'm going to be editing this thing right up to the wire. You'll be getting one hot DVD to play on Sunday, right off the burner.

I've been out shooting some grab shots today - after having got up at one, whoops. But what I got was really nice...I think. I'm just hoping that once it's all edited together, the damn thing will make sense and make the audience go "ooh, aaahhhh" instead of "what the fuck was that..." I'm going to get a bagel to recharge, then go film some more. I'm off to the tube. Let's hope I don't get shot as I'm carrying a rather bulky black camera bag....ho hum

slow road to recovery

Turning my head is proving a challenge. It all hurts.

Drinks are evil. Except water, that one is ok.

Needless to say, I can't remember how songs go anymore. Can't even recall how to play guitar.
Starting to think that both of my songs are total shit, and am rather embarassed that I titled one of posts '2 songs down' as it suggests an ego the size of Bournemouth. I would like to say that that is not the case. Indeed, I would be more self-deprecating but I'm just not very good at it.

Would love to lie down, but not allowed to in the office. My hands are shaking.

chomping at the bit!

Well I am currently at work and as I am new noone really has anything for me to do yet so basically sitting here waiting for jobs to come my way and writing bits and bobs. Firts rehearsal is tonight and really looking forward to it!
Gav - what did you do to yourself?! Don't be shamefaced! The demon-drink can attack the very best of 'em!
anyway, keep blogging so I have something more to read than the company's ebilling instruction manual...!!!

help me.


I let myself down last night. Very badly. I feel sick.

First run through...

We had the first run through last night over at mine. Met Fiona and Toby outside Covent Garden tube (never arrange to meet someone outside Covent Garden tube, especially if you don't know what they look like, it was very panto), and we went, chatted and handed over the scripts, had some dinner, Will came over and did his director thing, before we all headed to the pub. Will's got his first proper rehearsal tonight, so it's time for me to fade out a bit. Very exciting.


Arghh - slow down!


Some of you know me - hello again - some of you don't - very nice to meet you. Sorry i couldn't make the meeting on Sunday but coming on here now has thrown me right into the whole process very quickly. Gav - 2 songs - stop showing off! ;-)

I am still at very early notes stage for my poem. Finding the subject matter tricky. As a performance poet, you can very easily sound like you're preaching and so I am desperately trying to avoid that, but at the same time trying to treat the subject with the relative respect it deserves (that'll be relatively quite a lot then, Luke).

Anyway I have some ideas now and think it might be quite a loose multi voice piece reflecting terrorism through the many eyes of the media. So some crass bits in there two, but ultimately dealing with desensitisation of these ordeals.

Anyway, good lukc to you all and I look forward to meeting you all on Sunday.


take two

Well. I sent my script to my director late last night, thinking, at least I have something, fully confident that directors are normally too polite to point out if it's rubbish. Hanna was in fact very polite. But unfortunately she spotted the minor flaw in my piece: that it wasn't very good. She was very diplomatic about how she drew this to my attention but I picked up on her sweet and gentle comments. After a very depressed morning (yes, aero again), I ended up ditching half the script, reworking it, and writing something faintly ridiculous...

I find myself sitting in the dark scratching my head now (I forgot to turn the lights on and didn't realise that I'd been sitting here for hours). I sent it off to her, this time massively apprehensive, but she just called and seems so much happier with it, uttering the words 'I really like it'. So that seems to be a start. And she says she's found some great actors. So now I'm meeting her tomorrow morning (I'm not a morning person like Sue so this may not go so well) to discuss it before our 10 am rehearsals..... eeek......

So I might go for a run now to counteract the chocolate consumed today. Or perhaps I might turn the lights on. Who knows? I'm glad everyone's feeling so inspired. I'm looking forward to seeing/hearing everyone else's and a few stiff drinks on Sunday.

book now for sunday

as if they needed reminding, the artists are working to a deadline of 8pm on sunday. that's when the curtain goes up on a public performance of their work, exactly 7 days after they decided on the topic.

tickets are selling fast, so make sure you don't miss out by calling the old red lion box office now on 020 7837 7816 to reserve your place.

present : tense
sunday 9 october 2005
the old red lion theatre, 418 st john street, london ec1v 4nj
8pm // £5
book now on 020 7837 7816

2 songs down

Ok. Two songs are written. It's just a question of learning them now. I have rather foolishly attempted quite a long narrative song, a love story really. The fact that it's a love story is not the foolish part. The folly is the length. I now have to memorise the damn thing. No doubt my guitar will be covered, as usual, with little notes sellotaped all over the frame, reminding me how the 2nd verse goes.

Some of you who haven't already dozed off due to my penchant for waffling, may want to know the reason behind a love song. Well, it's kind of a love song to travelling, to seeing the world and meeting new people, and ending up in a strange place, on a beach, with a stranger who has chocolate brown eyes. It's about Bali in the sense that, when something so ugly as suicide bombings happens in somewhere so beautiful and idyllic, it only seems to remind you just how beautiful that place is. So I wanted to look at Bali from the point of view of a couple who were having that 'night' on the same evening that others were suffering. To see the beauty in it still, I guess. It comes over a bit like a tourist information ditty right now, but I'll polish it up.

This process is having a detremental effect on my relationship, but what the hell - I'm writing again, after quite a drought, so thanks to you guys for all making me suitably angry. I must admit that those two hours on Sunday reminded me so much of my horrific Drama school / devised theatre experiences, that I wanted to drink until I was sick when I got home. I don't really deal with creative things that way, not very well anyway, so the fact that I stayed right til the end is testament to you all. It sounds to me like you're all doing wonderful, inspirational things, and I wish you all the best on Sunday. I just have to sit on my own and jingle-jangle on my guitar a little bit - you lot actually have to engage with other people. I don't envy that.

Anyway, I plan to write one more song for reasons best kept to myself. I guess i'm feeling that the two I have are quite serious, and there's nothing I like more than bursting all that with a big shiny pin. So, ...I'm thinking about penguins.

Short and sweet

Wow, this whole process is so great! Am loving seeing everyones movements as the week progresses. I went to a performance of a short piece of mine last night and came away less terrified than I was before! There is something about short pieces that can really pack a punch...I think the fact that you have no time to faff around so you just get straight to the point! I must admit I am worrying about the length of mine not least for the poor actors that have to learn the lines but I think there will be a rehearsal tomorrow so any cutting that needs to be done can be done then.
Keep going guys! Can't wait to see the end products!


Just finished the script and emailed it off to Will. Am meeting Fiona and Toby for the first time tomorrow evening with scripts in hand. It's been a good evening of writing, as usual, I've got the "surely this will only run at 2 minutes" vibe going, but that always seems to go after the first rehearsal (fingers crossed). We'll see how it develops. Al


Too big..too big...

I've been wrestling with a few ideas amid doing another film (for Geroge - he's busting my balls this week!). So many distractions from keeping me working, but when I have been I've been scouring the internet for stories and articles for that wonderful thing called inspiration. I have to keep telling myself that I need to actually get a film out at the end of this, so anything with multiple casts in various locations with strands of stories going off here there and everywhere just won't cut with a short film made so frantically.

Sue, I salute you in having actually got something shot!! I'm still sat here scratching my head. I did have an idea that ultimately was too big for this project, but something that I could definitely take away with me for the future (so there's a bonus!). I'm playing around with another idea I have, which is a small piece about a mother of one of the bombers. How do they cope with it? What if they believed they had done a good thing, but also, deep down they're hurt at losing a son...hmmmmmm. Or is it an absolute thought that their son is now in heaven, and he did the right thing, and praise allah!

Ultimately I would like to find some small, minute story that would be related to Bali (or other) bombings, and just expose it for a few minutes, to chip off at the issue, rather than try to get to the heart of it and try and find answers. I'm rambling now, and this is just another outlet for me not writing the script. Then casting, then rehearsing, then shooting, then editing aaaaaggghhghhhhhH!!!

First some food though.

a picture

this is something that i saw in the guardian the other day which i found really interesting and provoking, i love the question. also the artist behind it sticks empty speech bubbles on posters and lets the public fill them in. it is a really democratic process, and you never know what response you'll get. this is for james as he wanted some pictures.

the importance of being earnest

I wholeheartedly agree. It's so strange how far down the news agenda the bombs at Bali have already become, and I wonder how much that has to do with our egocentricity. Remember 3 years ago, how it was all over our headlines, for ages, when the bombs went off there? And now, practically nothing. Is that because of 7/7 here...suddenly no one's quite so interested in the bombs of others because we've had our own and so everyone's far too busy freaking about getting on the tube to care about people they don't know who live miles away?

Like everyone else blogging, yes, it's the apathy that gets to me. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to write...I'm pretty much there (mine's promised to my director Hanna by tomorrow morning) and it's a little all over the place. I thought I might write something satricial, perhaps something even (dare I say it) flippant. I tried very hard. Really I did. But the problem is I tend to write heavy doom-laden crap and it is to that which I have naturally returned. Well. Sort of. I now have the evening to polish it all up before wrapping it in a ribbon and sending it off to Hanna. We're going to cast on Wednesday and rehearse Thurs and Fri, so I'm not sure about line learning and whatnot.

Today I have eaten an aero and half a caramel. Writing drives me to chocolate, you see. Particularly writing about stuff that is so fresh, so incensing, so difficult to get your head around.

I thought I might write about the gorillas using sticks and how this is the first step towards them constructing bombs. But somehow I just couldn't work it in. Perhaps next time.

Well. Must go think about how to rescue the twaddle that is currently my script. Wishing everyone else a far less hair-wrenching time. On the other hand, we're sitting in our comfy (okay, cold and draughty and very messy) flats and whatever we think or say, we are currently very removed from all the stuff that's going on over there. As one of my characters might/will say. It makes you think.

killer dolphins

so Al has sent me his initial beginnings and scratchy ideas dotted around underneath. I'm really liking it, and Hamish's comments about the lack of coverage of this event make me only more excited about exploring it further. it all comes down to individual stories, finding a way to actually address the issue in a way that the media no longer feel they can. I'm glad we can add a voice to what has happened, especially as the news seems to have given up.

I also sent Al a piece about USA military dolphins that escaped when hurricane Katrina hit. They have toxic darts and have been trained to shoot spies and terrorists. The military are refusing to admit that they may have escaped. I love this idea so much, it's very Austin Powers with sharks and lasers. Just wanted to warn you in case you find yourself in the gulf of mexico. I hope Al can fit it in somewhere.

stepping into the breach

my virgin blog right just looking for the button and the fucking time runs out which would be fine but your man here turns my computer off. livid. Obviously great week for my modem to run away with clare brunette wigan student, daily sport. as unemployed and invited to a blog party. i feel like i am back in maths coming out with excuses to mr coates.

No-one in my flat has brought up bali once, had a mate over for dinner did a lovely beef and ale crumble to finish no word. now i am not claiming i'm the epicentre of political debate far from it but the more apathy i meet the more conviced i am. it develops a new importance rammed by our nations attitude. 5 live news not a mention.

telecomunications green lanes palmers green just before north circular is open till 11 and stayed open to 11.15 for me last night while printing morgan's play. there was a sense of community as he passed me the pages he knew it was time to get stuck in like the blitz or challenge anneka toddlers past their bedtime carrying tins of emulsion for fire fighters for the t.v room of the old peoples home.

well done morgan 17 page epic she had that lovely hysterical tinge to her voice when we spoke ater i read it, every word i said was wonderful in her eyes. if you ever have to split up with a partner make them write a play in a day, read it and tell them your having an affair with their 12 year-old brother, you get put up for the OBE and smothered in those warm kissses that come only after orgasms and suprises.

and weve got a cast great news, was fun calling the actors while play was being written. turn out lovely parts allot to say though. great cast beccy elise, jenny maitland and morgan's friend kris.
in the morning morgan used the word choppy.
'its a bit hard for them as its quite choppy'
by midnight
'yeah well its not too bad for them because its quite choppy.'

so it's exciting. i seem to have things to do earlier than expected feeling the pressure now as i'd hoped i could get by with hiding behind the manic hustle, get the play on thursday night half written but oh no. responsibility here it comes. lets hope we can do morgan's words justice.



7AM Woke up with a start, did i agree to make a short film in a one week last night or was that just the guiness talking?...oh no...i think...damn it. Quick check out the window, shit light what am I going to do? Enter on cue soothing words from my producer 'the sun's not even up yet'... ah yes, right, fine, no problem, good, fuck it let's get to work.

9.30AM First shot in the bag, think it will end up on the tail of the film, solar eclipse filmed through green protective glass, looks strangely like the Islam symbol on the flag, that worked out well.

12.50am In town filming up and down Slone Street, London's equivalent to Rodeo Drive Baby but there ain't nothing Rodeo about this drive, what is it with the Brits we're so damn repressed we can't even bling with style and that doesn't work for me when I've teamed up with Chris a performance poet to make a film about the Bali Bombings and the stories I'd heard of locals stealing the rings, bracelets, watches etc from the limbs of victims, then getting an attack of the guilts and returning them to the wrong bodies, thus hampering the identification process. I think the story freaked Chris out abit, but he's writing away, or so he tells me, not heard from him yet.

2.40pm Just been asked to leave Tiffanys - very amusing.

3.15pm My camera's attracting attention, I forgot how much fun it was filming with the general public, where's my first? God damn it, shut this street down I got shots to get, ha no way, you're on your own now girl. I wonder how many multi million grossing directors would fare out there in the field without their army of a crew around them?

5.15pm Reviwing my rushes in Bar Italia - a lot of shots but I'm planning on a snappy edit which means a whole days filming working will go by in a flash, how many days do you say I've got left now?

8.30pm Just seen an award winning short film, very tasty. Director tells me to keep one eye on the real world, not to make film my whole life. I know she's right but when you've spent the last two months holed up writing scripts you find the fictional addictive and too colourful to turn away from it. Enter PRESENT: TENSE it's got me looking around, grabbing images out of the air again. That can only be a good thing. 6 days and counting...


6.15AM Shot out of bed with a strange mixed feeling of fear and excitement. I never sleep for long on a shoot, but not tired. Worked through our script ideas - struggling to make the visual transition between Bling -Club / Rap Culture and Death - I know the images I'm going to get but for the piece to feel whole, I need to travel the audience through these seemingly contrasting ideologies. It's the contrast that makes it difficult, and exciting. This oppostion of styles, Bling V Graveyards is also necessary to the story we're trying to tell, it's what these bombs did, took one world where people were out enjoying themselves and destroyed it, permanently, fatal, cut to black.

7.30pm Still no word from my writer, not worried, honest...

8.20pm No word, No light, No film....bugger.

9.20am Seaching for flights on the internet, some great last minute deals, very tempting, I could send a postcard 'good luck guys, my thoughts are with you...'

10pm Chris' s email just came through, we're on the same track, great, the idea works, hope I don't run out of time to do it justice. I'm off to the graveyards with my camera, this filming lark's just so glamourous.

Getting there...

Been up a chunk of the night musing over new ideas. Have settled on a conversation between a victim's partner and a foreign office worker. Have sent a sample over to Will for his consideration, and am off to work to earn my crust. I, too, have been cutting articles out of newspapers on trains, and scanning the internet for suicide bomb facts over lunch at work. People are beginning to chatter behind my back, pointing fingers and looking sheepishly at the fire escapes.

Jed Bartlett and the lack of answers

Firstly, apologies for not posting anything sooner. I, like most of you, also have a job that is kind of getting in the way of my Bali-based thought processes. My job consists of writing and recording continuity links for Discovery - sort of "Good morning and welcome to Discovery Channel, next up, Amanda Lamb takes a young couple to Peru in A Place In The Sun...". The reason I disclose this mind-numbing information to you all, is that currently, my brain is a huge ball of mush and goo because of this job. Thinking about Bali, or anything springing from the notion of Bali, has left me simultaneously depressed and furious. Again, like most of you I suspect, time is going to have to be the small moments of time I get on train journeys, or when I get home trying to avoid eating in order to focus on the task in hand. I am forever ripping articles out of newspapers on the train, causing consternation amongst the next person to pick up my copy of 'Metro', when most of his pages fall out. Seriously, you should see their faces when that happens - like their world has fallen out of their arse cos they couldn't read the article about the World Beard Championships.

Anyway, the long and the short of my musings have led me to the idea of writing two songs. One will be rather bizarre I think, as following the Sunday meeting I have had so many things buzzing round my head that I think they'll somehow all fall in there unwittingly. I am always more taken by microcosms of things, taking something huge like the Bali bombings, and making it smaller and smaller until you can see the heart of it. With this in mind, I've been thinking of writing a love song, about a tourist's holiday romance with a scuba diving instructor. I'm sort of better at story songs, something with a narrative that maybe seems to be taking you to one place and ends up in a restaurant on the tourist's last night by the sea.

The second song idea has taken hold thanks to my obsession with The West Wing. For anyone who doesn't watch it, it's the best drama i've ever seen on TV, and kind of dominates my evenings right now, as the 6th series is out and it is, as usual, brilliant. Anyway, an argument between President Jed Bartlett and his cheif of staff Leo McGarry yesterday was bang on the money about what we can do to stop these senseless suicide bombings. They described it as a 'cycle of violence', and as Jed yelled "How does it end, Leo?", Leo's response was "We don't know how it ends". And the fact is, we don't know. There is no simple solution to this puzzle, no peace talks that will make all this just go away, and no easy answers at all. It made me thing of when I was younger and life seemed to be full of easy answers, as every problem had a solution. Things are a little different now, more simple yet far more complex.

Anyway, blah blah blah blah

papers & pint glasses

The present : tense artists plough through the newsprint at The Old Red Lion:



I ate a kitkat today and watched the last ten minutes of Sixth Sense in the hope of some inspiration.
I think I might go to bed now.

where did that post go?!

for some reason the below post didn't work! But what it basically said was i'm all done! 17 pages of script are waiting for Hamish in his inbox and I kept to the deadline. Feeling a bit sorry for my actors and the amount of lines they have to learn! Och well...
Anyway, it remains to be seen how good it is as I'm a bit too close to it at the moment but am hoping to hear word from Hamish when he's read it...
v exciting.


so far so good...

I seem to be the most vocal at the moment and I suspect it is because I literally only have today to get the lionshare of my play done so don't worry, after tonight I will probably go very quiet and everyone else can get a word in edgeways!
well I'm getting there. I have five pages of script and i still have about three and a half hours left so looks like this little puppy could be atleast ten minutes long if not more. I went with the theme of the bombings and how they are portrayed in the media and how we are almost becoming immune to it all and am about to find a way to weave in my musings on the video footage of the bombers. Its all quite a simple set up at the moment. Set in a pub, conversation between friends, the kind of stuff everyone does...but who knows what could happen in the next couple of hours!
Just been on the phone to Jenni Maitland who I have almost subconsciously ended up writing a part for and luckily she is able to do it! I spoke to Hamish and he is calling our other actress to see if she is available and I am holding fire on the male actor as I haven't actually written the part yet so don't want to restrict myself...in my head I have a character that a couple of guys could play but I never really know how they end up until they're on the page!
This probably all seems a bit premature but I am acutely aware of how little time I have after today and would like to set it all rolling now so that we can spend the rest of the week tweaking it and making it work! Goddamn my crippled bank balance and my lame-ass temping job...but I gotta eat!

more soon...

diversion tactics

Ok, lunch was good and Diagnosis Murder was a thrilling distraction but I really need to get down to the task in hand.
I've been scouring the interenet and re-reading the papers and nothing strikes me more that the idea that a member of the public managed to unwittingly film one of the bombers wandering into one of the restaurants wearing a back pack just seconds before he detonated. It's terrifying. I don't know why but it keeps making me think of horror movies where they film something or take a photograph and then later when watching it back they notice something/someone in it that wasn't there when they first hit the record button. This person who was filming would never have known who he was filming or what was contained in that back pack but then watching it back now must chill him/her to the bone.
It also makes me think of the fact that with all this ability to film and record actual events we are taken so much closer to the action. There is that feeling when watching these recordings that we are watching something irreversible...something that looks so real and yet is an echo that we cannot change. Im waffling now but It never fails to freak me out when watching a ghost/horror film and they use the person in the mirror/film thing. And for some reason I am reminded of that when I watch the amateur footage of the bomber wandering remarkably casually into the restaurant. And this in turn reminds me of a quote from the husband of one of the tube bombing victims..."The two cruellest words in the English language are IF ONLY".
I am starting to form an idea.

idle hands

since it's mainly the writers that have blogged so far, i thought i'd add some directing type thoughts... hmmm not really sure what they may be yet. i'm looking forward to seeing where my writer Al takes the subject, the papers today are all too familiar which I find really interesting, it's as if they are struggling to find a new take on bombings, as if the horror of the bombings are not enough. This kind of gets me back to the idea of an article i read today about it being 10 years since OJ Simpson was found not guilty - it's all this media sensationalizing that is all too familiar, and it is just a horrible thought that such devastation is no longer as news worthy as it once was.


Here we go...

Well I have to agree with Rachel on the blogging issues she encountered! I tried to create all sorts of fun and 'funky' usernames but someone evidently had got there first with mogstar and mog and morgan and youmustbejokingthisisridiculous...so i decided to go with my name in full which bizarrely no one had claimed...odd.
But here I am. I think last nights personal realisation that, because of my day job and evening commitments, I only have today to write my piece has crept up on me and I am currently scouring the web for more titbits of inspiration!
This is definitely a challenge...but fun...therefore I will try and blog as the day goes on and my ideas begin to form themselves into a script. I have promised my director Hamish that he will have a script in his inbox (oo er) by 10pm tonight so watch this space!
Think I am going to start the process off with some lunch. Perhaps I will write a piece about soup.

Blogging troubles

As a writer, you'd think I'd be okay with making the most out of modern technology and communication. The greatest struggle I've had today has nothing to do with the idea of writing a play in a few days. Oh no. It has been creating a user name that I will remember for my Blog account. Every suggestion I came up with was vetoed. Apparently others had got there first. I find this quite distressing.

However, undeterred, I have now found a rather bizarre user name I will probably forget straightaway. So if you don't hear from me again, you'll know why.

I'm now off to think about higher things, such as whether drama which is created as a direct response to a horrific event is, in fact, jumping on the bandwagon of sensationalism, and how best I should get around this, and also, perhaps more immediately, if I have anything in the house other than toast to consume for my lunch.


Approaching Bali...

Dear all,

Been thinking about how to set off on this story, and a couple of elements strike me as being of particular interest. First, I'm fascinated by the footage of these acts that arise. I was reading on the BBC website that there's footage from a tourist of one of the suicide bombers entering one of the restaurants. I haven't seen it yet, but it's excruciatingly watchable - grotesque and fascinating in equal measure. Second, just thinking back a couple of days, it seems to me that the impact of these events really strikes home when the Home Office plasters all over the media the number for a special helpline for relatives of those affected. There's a Jack Lemmon movie called "Missing" where he goes in search of his son who has been 'disappeared' in Chile - the total lack of help that he receives after what he calls an 'act of terrorism' is incredibly moving, and a direction I'm keen to follow. How that will manifest itself, I don't yet know. I think I've got a cast of two, that's up to Will, but I'm greatly looking foward to it.


Filmmaking in a week

I'm Azhur Saleem, and one of the filmmakers embarking on this project. Just a brief intro, I've been interested in filmmaking for a long time now, having made a number of short films. I'm currentlly studying at The London Film School.

Well, after we all decided on the subject, I got home and the actual logistics of producing a short film in a week slowly dawned on me. We've been told that this blog is a day by day account of the creative process, so here goes...

I've decided that I'm going to work with instinct on this. I don't think I've really got time to formulate an idea and keep reworking it till I feel it's 'ready' to shoot. Therefore, what I end up with might work and generate debate, criticism etc etc or it just might fall on it's face amid murmurs of "what did that mean?" But it's this chance of experimenting and the risk of failing which attracted me to this project in the first place. Also, the immediacy of a film-in-a-week is quite refreshing in a process that normally takes several months from start to finish.

What interested me most about the debate on Sunday, was the idea of heroes, and what is a hero? This made me think about suicide bombers, and how in certain parts of the world they would be considered as heroes. I want to make something that could show this idea, and challenge peoples' perception of a hero/suicide bomber. I want to also point out for the record that I don't condone what's going on, but I can see the reason why people would go to such extremes.

Well, I have a few ideas circulating around my head, and I'll jot them down on here when they're feeling a bit more solid.

and the topic is...


After much deliberation over piles of newsprint and a pint or two, the situation in Bali was considered the most important news story of the moment, and thus our topic.

Other news stories that caught the eye included the use of the Terrorism Act to forcibly eject Walter Wolfgang from the Labour Party Conference; Penguins being promoted as proof of intelligent design by the Christian right; a suicide pact made on the internet; Time Magazine's publication of a list of 35 heroes; Turkey's impending accession to the EU and the Kate Moss takes cocaine saga.

Several concepts cropped up repeatedly in relation to various different stories: the creation and definition of heroes, terrorism, suicide, media hypocrisy and the rise of the Christian right. We saw all these concepts in the Bali story, so it became our choice.

Over the course of the next seven days, the artists will post their progress here. Stay tuned.

the artists

Lining up to take the present : tense challenge are some of the most exciting young artists at work in the UK today. They are:
The Playwrights:
Morgan Lloyd Malcolm
DC Moore
Al Smith
Rachel Wagstaff
The Directors:
Hanna Berrigan
Will Mortimer
George Perrin
Hamish Pirrie
The Poets:
Chris Hicks
Luke Wright
The Film Makers:
Sue Luciani
Azhur Saleem
The Musician:
Gavin Osborn
For full biographies, click here.


present : tense

We’re trouser wettingly excited to announce a brand new nabokov event that promises a dazzling display of artistic pyrotechnics.

present : tense challenges some of the UK’s most exciting young artists to respond to the most important news story of the moment in just seven days.

Four playwrights, four directors, two film makers, two poets and a musician convene this Sunday 2 October to scour the newspapers for the most significant story on the news agenda. They each have seven days to create a piece of work that responds to the topic they choose. As the news changes, they will be forced to adapt their work, until it is performed for the public exactly one week after they began on Sunday 9 October.

Throughout the week, the public can follow their progress on this blog, where each artist will post daily updates on their progress.

present : tense aims to be backlash theatre at its most responsive, offering artists the chance to have their say on the most important issue of the day.