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The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd …

Chatting to another blogger the other day, I mentioned a one-act play what I wrote – blame Ernie Wise for the bad grammar! – and my fellow cybernaut replied that he’d like to read it. Aren’t people kind?

So … two years ago I entered Beyond The Gilded Cage for a playwriting competition. It didn’t win – OK, it never even made the shortlist! – but it does have the minor distinction of being the first play I ever finished. Starting a dialogue comes easily enough when the discordant soundtrack to your childhood is constant parental bickering – all the books tell you that drama needs conflict, so it’s Ta to Ma and Pa for plenty of that! – but fictional endings come harder when disagreements in real life are never really settled.

Anyway, that’s my excuse.

Deadlines help, of course, they always did. One long boring car journey us kids decided to start writing down everything my parents said, so we sat on the back seat scribbling like crazy while they came up with pure comedy gold – things like, “You’re far too close to that cyclist!” … “What cyclist?”  We ended up with pages of this stuff, driven on by the delicious prospect of reading it aloud to everybody when we got to our grandparents’ house. A performance deadline, no less, and we brought the house down!

If my mother and father had ever seen eye to eye, perhaps I wouldn’t still be scribbling crazy dialogues I can’t seem to finish. There’s certainly something of my parents in Sarah and Patrick, the central couple in my play, but whether I manage to bring them together convincingly at the end is anybody’s guess. Ah well, all the books on playwriting tell me that farce is close to tragedy …

If you can spare a little time to read Beyond The Gilded Cage, please click on beyond2 and a Word document should load up (in Protected View) after a few moments. I would be very interested in any feedback, favourable and otherwise – if I can improve it, or improve on it, I might make the shortlist next time!

 

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Image: St Stephen’s CE Primary School

Headline Haiku: in which endings are both lost and multipled (War is Not Healthy #3)

“The world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel.” – Horace Walpole

This post caught my attention because it makes striking, unfussy use of simple, everyday elements. It crosses borders to imply a broader solidarity. Art so direct can hit home where over-elaboration misses the point …

method two madness

in which endings are both lost and multiplied close up s

Silence weeps
and eyes refuse sight.
No questions
can be posed,
nor answers given. Light is
erased. Dust and blood.

The news we see now is overwhelmed with US–our own politics are so chaotic and overwhelming that what is going on in the rest of the world seems almost to have disappeared.  This Headline Haiku was done by me months ago, from what seems to have been a different lifetime of everyday concerns and headlines.

But people are still dying in, and fleeing from, Syria.  And the world still seems paralyzed in response.

in which endings are both lost and multiplied s

My two previously posted Headline Haikus about Syria are currently appearing in the exhibit “We the People: Political Art in an Age of Discord” at the Barrett Art Center, in Poughkeepsie, NY.  All the work in the show is posted online here; Trump is definitely there, but not always front and center.

Out of sight
eyes and ears…

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Off The Cuff!

 

Today I will mostly be writing in the spirit of Thelonius Monk who said, ‘There is no wrong note, it has to do with how you resolve it’. My plan: to keep typing whatever comes into my head until I have finished my bottle of beer.

Yeah, when you listen to Monk play you kind of see what he means.

In this age of targeted marketing, with its seamless soundtrack of endless over-dubs and auto-tuned vocals, how refreshing to hear and see someone flying by the seat of his pants! And returning to William Blake’s idea that without contraries there is no progression, surely here is an example of discord enhancing our appreciation of harmony.

Why have we become so risk-averse? I vividly remember the leader of a blues harmonica course telling us that we were only ever a semitone away from musical safety. In other words, improvise like your life depends on it and trust your instincts. How else are you going to get good at escaping from music’s, or life’s inevitable impasses? Those who only play by the book tend to get most lost when things don’t go to plan – which is often.

I once had an argument with a roomful of musos who reckoned Jimi Hendrix was over-rated. Yes, I had to admit, the guy played bum notes … but look how high he could fly! Maybe there’s a connection … what do you think?

The theme opens up like a kaleidoscope and my bottle is nearly empty. Without mistakes, no true creativity. Maybe it’s time to cut ourselves some slack and learn to play again. My two-and-three-quarter-year-old grand-daughter began our game today with, ‘I’m a baby penguin … ‘

You’re never too old to visit Antarctica! It’s surprisingly easy to find. Just turn left at Non Sequitur …

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Image: Critter Babies

Ella at 100

So hard to write well about music … somebody once compared it to dancing about architecture … so hats off to this thoughtful, heartfelt tribute complete with original artwork! The first two lines prompted me to add this music link … https://youtu.be/SjJry0vhHj4

method two madness

ella singing s

For Ella

The task of
the basket:  calling
unfinished
collections
together with messages
condensed into song.

The elders
plant wandering seeds,
summoning
the dropped lines
into fertilized pockets,
bringing roots to light.

Cut loose but
not lost.  Walking on
air–a voice–
unclouded,
animated, multiplied,
luminous. Flying.

Today would have been Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday.  I’m pleased to have my drawing and poem included in the anthology celebration “Ella @ 100” .

“The only thing better than singing is more singing.”
–Ella Fitzgerald

Happy Birthday Ella.

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Art Attack # 1

 

 

Inspired by the free-flowing piece on writing that I linked in my previous post, here are some foot-loose and fancy-free reflections prompted by the above graphic.

I’m a sucker for clever graphics. This one pretty well sums up my philosophy of life. If you define science as the exploration of nature, you have the classic art-nature opposition which dissolves because art seeks to celebrate and even emulate nature by mimicking it. As we learn ever more about our world, art evolves to reflect scientific understanding. And like natural evolution, a more willed process than used to be thought, art involves performance-feedback-revision.

I’m also a sucker for equations. An equation to represent the graphic might be:

Knowledge + Creativity = Reverence

By coincidence, I’ve just read this in ‘V’ by Howard Jacobson:

There was rapture and there was responsibility. Each imposed an obligation of seriousness but together they made the serious sacred.

Dionysus and Apollo together make up the ancient Greek ideal – two sides of the same coin, no one without the other. The poet William Blake understood that ‘without Contraries is no progression’. But what strikes me about the equation is how it echoes the Buddhist concept of Higher Worlds: Learning, Realisation and Compassion.

A swift digression – I’m no student of religion and happy to be put right but my understanding is that there are 10 Worlds:

Hell, Hunger, Anger, Animality, Tranquillity, Heaven, Learning, Realisation, Compassion, Nirvana.

Hunger is absolute want. Anger is the root of conflict and war. Animality is obsession with status, pecking-order, dog-eats-dog. Tranquillity, sometimes known as Humanity, is inertia – passive acceptance of the status quo. Suffering two or more of these Worlds becomes a Hell on earth. Heaven is a temporary respite from the other Lower Worlds.

Now the good news. As we all know, there are positives in adversity which enable us to climb out. Learning is our evolutionary lifeline. Realisation I take to mean mastery, the attainment of skills which help us transcend ego. Compassion is simply fellow-feeling. Blend these Higher Worlds to attain Nirvana – escape from the cycle of Birth and Death, with all its inevitable suffering.

Now – cards on the table – I don’t happen to believe in Reincarnation, any more than I believe in Transubstantiation. Infected by the scientific method, I require hard evidence of life after death – evidence which is so far not forthcoming. But the 10 Worlds work for me as a theory of human life, with the potential to alleviate my natural and universal fear of death. And if I can use the certainty of my own demise as a means of enhancing my appreciation of life, so much the better – one in the eye for the Grim Reaper, you might say …

Enough for now. More to come next post, though, as I’ve only just scratched the surface of what I want to say. It gets more cheerful, promise!

Here’s a taste of what’s to come …

 

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Image: Twitter