My first uploaded spoken word piece.
Time has been unbearable.
I’m so tired. I have yet to start my journey.
To hear Daisy in audio 😉 click on the link below
I’ll be back after a few long messages.
THE ORDER OF THE BLACK DOG
My family. Here we all are, sitting around the circular dining room table- flecked with bits of gold. Ma sits under a hanging portrait of this Christmas just gone. Three weeks ago. We are all smiling in it including Poppy. Poppy sits playing with her Annabelle doll, on my husband’s lap. Sat opposite from Ma, closest to the electric fire hearth is Gran. I find myself sitting across from Gran. An iciness breathes mist over us. It separates me from them, cloaks me in a fog. I try to swallow. The air is so thick it chokes me, I’m forced to put my hands to my throat. Nobody notices me. Nobody notices me the way they used to. I tune in to the conversation-taking place.
‘Of course I’m not suggesting this is your fault. I should have known. Done more…’ Nan bursts into tears. A cry out for:
I need attention I’m suffering the most.
My skin bristles. Nan pulls her scarf tighter around her neck, and then throws out a familiar comment about it being draughty.
‘You know I could catch pneumonia with my Asthma.’ She coughs. Ma gets up to put on the electric fire.
‘I didn’t take her seriously. You know what Angie was like?’ Ma’s eyes are red as the rosary beads she is thumbing; she looks over to an unusually quiet Poppy.
‘Did she just do it to spite me?’ How could she just leave her own…?’
My husband throws a warning look at Ma,
‘Marie, for Poppies sake. Our Angie suffered more than she let on.’ Ma sits back down. ‘Let’s put on a cartoon, luv?’ Poppy shakes her head.
She doesn’t look at us. I look straight at her, willing her to leave this table. Leave this conversation. She lifts her head and looks me dead on in the eyes. I instinctively smile. Eddie and me always stood together when it came to Poppy. Her face is pale, her eyes sunken, her skin is drawn in so tight I can see cheek bones protrude. Beneath her eyes-, veiled shadows betray her youthful face. She clings onto Annabelle, still looking me dead on in the eyes.
‘When’s Mummy coming home?’
Silence. Her words enmesh with the silence. Her question disarms me. Marks me. The arrow leaves its bow splintering my heart. I open my mouth to scream out as many words as I can. Condensation steams the air distilling me into silence. I reach my hand across the table to grab hers. She doesn’t see me. I glare at my family sitting at the round table. They say nothing. Smothering themselves in sorrow, they witheringly curl inwards. I urge to shake them, uproot them from winters glaze.
-Answer her! Answer my daughter.
Instead, Gran succumbs to a puddle of wrinkled tears, mechanically Ma gets off her chair, attempts to console Gran and naturally it’s up to Eddie to mediate. My calm, rational Eddie. His eyes read as vacant –his beard is wild and unkempt. It’s impossible to read his face. He clears his throat,
‘We’re gonna see Mummy when we give her… say a proper goodbye.’
Gran flounders in her anglers net of remorse. Great splotchy splashes of grief escape. She wails,
‘She’s with the angels –looking down at you, darling!’
I roll my eyes. Of course I love her! Lately, she grates my skin more frequently with her, melodramatics.
– Confess how you truly feel. Relieved!
I’m so fixated on evoking a response from Gran; unnoticed, a light flickers with an intensity to match my own. Eddie carries Poppy over to the sofa, sits her down to watch a cartoon. He covers her with a blanket then kisses her forehead.
‘We’ll see mummy soon? To say goodbye?’
Eddie nods his head, his voice cracks.
‘When will mummy come back from saying goodbye? In spring? My teacher says it’s winter – everything goes to sleep like her?’ Poppy points to ‘Sleeping Beauty’ on the television.
Eddie focuses on the image. The Prince is just about to kiss Aurora on the lips. He turns his head away from the television before he can see Aurora wake up to her true loves kiss. He grinds down on his teeth. Poppy’s eyes remain transfixed on the television. Eddie gets up, crosses the dining room table; I’m compelled to follow him, I have to stop him. Tell him I’m still here. I haven’t gone anywhere. I’ve so much to tell him.
-There is no God! We were right all along. Religion is for people who can’t think for themselves. We were right to take the piss.
Eddie flinches, puts his hands in his jean pockets. I follow him down Ma’s hallway and into the bathroom. He closes the door on me. It doesn’t ever close fully. I slip through the crack of the door that is always ajar.
Head down. Still. He sits on the toilet seat. I kneel down before him; go to lay my head on his knee. He flinches again. Hits himself in the head. Bangs his fist on the wall screams out:
‘Why? We could’ve figured it out, you fucking stubborn mare’ I bring out the best and worst in Eddie. Till death do us part. What are the chances?
He still refuses to let me go. Stubborn.
My symptoms intensify in the days leading up to the funeral. Everything‘s heightened especially emotions that seemingly walk precariously on stilts. I can’t walk through walls or levitate. Nothing like any of the horrors Eddie and me used to watch together, on the sofa.
Unheard, I bellow continuously,
-Just let me go!
Every time I hear my name called reflections of nostalgia flash and beam over and around me. Prompted, I gravitate towards the source. Someone needs me. These past three weeks, I’ve been teleported from one conversation to another. I find myself in a room; familiar or not familiar, with people I know and people I don’t know.
Today I’m summoned to the usual bickering between Ma and Gran. The familiar sound of Gran’s kettle boils in the background.
‘I want that picture of her on her graduation day and flowers- blown up .With azaleas. And roses – she loved roses- pink.’
‘She hates that picture! And she loves- loved yellow roses…’ Ma’s wobbly voice mirrors her jelly struck legs propping her up in her work shoes. She staggers backwards. Like the black dog with a bone, Gran won’t give in,
‘No, she’s my eldest grand daughter and I know her – it is… was pink!’
Ma sits down, doesn’t speak. I go over to her to put my arms around her then she dissolves into tears. Gran bulldozes her way over to us. Intimidated, I move out of her way. Gran holds Ma and Ma lets Gran hug her. Ma calms down, mentions something about pink and yellow roses
Vexed, I shriek
– don’t back down Ma, I love yellow. Yellow roses. The kettle whistles for attention. My voice is lost to an object.
‘I’ll go make that cup of tea’ Nan retreats to her kitchen.
Another opportunity to get close to Ma again. I need to hug her, give her some of my energy. As if on cue, Mum’s tear-stained face crumples just like my heart. A poking hot iron burns a hole right through it. Gran re-enters the room I scarper.
‘Here you go, love. Lost three of my own …, as you know, mind, they never got to Angie’s age. Yellow’s more of a quirky colour like our Angie… was.’ They smile at each other. I move back, the distance seems to illuminate their smiles.
Tonight, I beg for there to be a heaven. This has to be hell. The familiar, incongruous, gravitational pull lures me out of my cavernous abyss. I blink my eyes several times to focus: orientate myself. Hung up around the wall are vintage Disney posters. My eyes settle on Poppies bed. Eddie bends over Poppy and kisses her goodnight,
‘Mummy loves you just as much as I do.’ He tucks her in.
He switches off the light before walking out. I stand and watch my worn out daughter in her bed. She sings herself to sleep just as she does every night. She sings our song: twinkle twinkle little star. With each inflection of her sweet singing voice, the words serve as a needle. Each word stipulates smelting hot ink into my flesh. My neck is ablaze. Before closing her eyes, she whispers,
‘I love you mummy.’
When I reply, scorching chains wrap and lasso me around my neck. My skin swells up in blisters. The familiar sound of her breathing evaporates the pain. I need to be close to her, I need to smell her, kiss her. Carelessly, I run over to her bed to touch her sleeping head. Startled I lunge backward as Poppy instantly wakes up screaming.
– I’m powerless
. Eddie barges into the room, throws on the light and takes Poppy into his arms. I watch her body stiffen; then relax. I watch him settle my daughter back to sleep. My hands ball into tight fists.
-She must know I’m here.
Before I can touch her face, she wakes up screaming like – like she has seen a- ghost.
-I’m that Ghost! I put my hands to my mouth in horror.
Envy bubbles inside me as I witness Eddie consoling Poppy again. I’m half hoping he won’t succeed.
What kind of a mother am I?
I’ve been telling everyone to let me go.
Where will I go?
I can’t drive, no one can see me. There are no other lost souls wondering about telling me to join the dead community!
I won’t give up on my daughter. She needs me. I have to be here.
The stroke of our clock announces its time; a primitive realisation slithers down my very core. Nausea spirals up into my throat. I run into our bathroom, heave over the toilet, nothing comes out. I catch sight of my reflection in the mirror; I see vicious V-shaped welts where the noose of the rope has cut into my neck. This is what Eddie came home to.
The cloying black dog of depression haunted me. Its delivered dose of pain was exquisite- nothing took it away. Not drinking, overdosing, drugging myself, talking-nothing. Eventually, I told it to sit down. I told Eddie repeatedly,
– I just want to disappear.
– How can I help you? His eyes pleaded for an answer. I would always lash out,
-Unless you help me disappear, you can’t!
I remained imprisoned in our bed and he would go back to work and look after Poppy and the house. He could walk away from me. I couldn’t. I resent him for that. I can see myself now, googling the various ways people commit suicide. One article struck my eye ‘Men are more successful at committing suicide’.
-They don’t mess about with poisoning themselves –they resort to more violent means.
That is the moment I reached out to the wrong Alpha.
The black dog and I began sleeping together. It became my obsession. Up-close, I could analyse it, experiment with it. As a couple, it didn’t take much to find that Alpha rage. One phone call from Ma,
-Just snap out of it. If you’re going to do it, get on with it.
-Fine, I will! I hung up on her before she could hang up on me.
My impulsiveness finds me trapped within this mirror. It’s cold. Everything I read is back to front. Everything I do is back to front. It doesn’t reflect my true intentions. When I reach out, in fact, the more I reach out the more pain I inflict. I back away from the mirror until I’m pressed up, with my back against the bathroom wall.
What have I done?
What right do I have trying to tell my family how to deal with their loss?
Eddie will never know that I was messing about; I didn’t know if I could actually go through with it. From a great height in a corner of the bathroom my body feels cut loose from itself. I can see it happen in front of my eyes. Like a rerun episode, I can’t pause. The noose around my neck, in the shower. Steam shrouds the mirror, with slippery feet, I accidently knock myself off that chair and in that moment I realise,
– I don’t want to die.
I can’t scream and tell anyone. I made the decision when I decided to sleep with my enemy. I’ve interrupted the natural course of life. A lost soul in life: a lost soul in death. There are no bright lights to come with this epiphany. I exit the bathroom, stumble down the staircase, out the front door, and walk aimlessly down the street. I sense a familiar pair of eyes examining me; I look up and see the black dog in its true form. It waits for me to catch up. We walk side by side. I don’t look back. I am the one preventing people from moving on. I have to let go.
COMMENTARY TM3 Approaching script writing the Aristotelian way.
My challenge was to write a whole play in 18 minutes. I believe that there is too much exposition and would suit as a longer script. When I cut, or slowed certain dialogue-it’s original appeal became lost to a different type of play. The characters lost what made them unique. This is where I rely loosely on morality play techniques. This story could have started in many ways. I felt it best to reveal the turning point and the how and why’s at the end of the play. It is linear and has a beginning, middle and end reminiscent of Greek Tragedy plays.
I often use a stream of consciousness technique to get into a writing zone. For scene 1, I started typing on a blank page and let characters come to my head and speak whatever they wanted. This was how the first scene was produced. I was tempted to discard it until I received positive and constructive feedback on the TGF forum.
A possible subconscious influence for early drafts came from reading the chapter on David Edgars’ how to write a play, (chapter 2 page 17). In TMA 2, I focused on creating characters to reveal the plot and as exposition. Upon reflection, after reading the on-going debate about the primacy of plot versus characters, I think to an extent this true of, e.g., medieval genre morality plays.
Difficulties arose to make the characters more 3-dimensional when using archetypical/universal characters. I relied heavily on a strong plot to drive the narrative and the characters through to the conclusion of the script. TMA3- plot informed the characters and their motives.
Other influences came from conversations with my blogger acquaintance, Clarissa Simmens( Simmens C. 2017) who is from Roma gypsy descendant, and my own great -grandparent’s lineage who fled the Russian 1918 revolution to live a life in the slums of Paris. The setting and background gave the characters more complex motives and inner conflict. Panacea is an old woman who was left with her second sight and not accepted by society or her Nephew.
In this world, it seems society is lured by visual aids. Vladimir was more ready to accept Eve’s gift of soothing people’s problems because of how she appeared outwardly. Vladimir is complex, he was left with third-degree burns from the 1903 revolution, lost his parents, went to live with his “strange” grandmother.
Hopefully, a writer will get a true sense of Vladimir’s character by the end of the play. He did what he had to do to survive. He is human. Flawed. He didn’t stop and analyse whether he should save baby Eve in the Revolution; instinct took over. My inspiration for how he and Eve arrived in Paris (maintaining a high-status life during and after WW1) is taken from George Orwell’s book ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ set in 1925. There is reference to espionage and a secret Russian society, whom, paid people to convert to communism after the war (Gutenberg.net.au. (2017).
The music in the piece serves as a device to vary the pace of the play. I hope that the melancholy moments of when Eve/ Panacea plays will give the audience a time to pause, or at the very least, vary or change the pace of emotion.
Genre: this play is not one type of play. I describe it as experimental, immersive drama with elements of morality play themes because, the characters do indeed impart the audience with a strong message.
Humans are complex. There is a clear theme of choices and consequences.
I don’t want to ignore any doubts about this piece: H.R. made constructive comments on the language and the exposition of the piece (refer to XX FEEDBACK (2017)). I hope that the timelessness of dialogue and language could very well take place in Paris, or indeed a modern society setting of today. My choice of setting reinforces to emphasise that these stereotypical characters still function inside time. Does Eve deserve her fate? Probably not.
Time has moved on, wars still occur yet society still seems to dwell on escapism i.e. Piano music metaphor to deal with life, dwelling on people who seem to have the illusion of the perfect life/ status. Society still struggles with acceptance of identity, race, ethnicity, mental health status etc. We’ve made advancements in technology/society but what about advancements in what type of human we should strive to be?
PT3Thank you for handing in TMA03.
This TMA accounts for 35% per cent of your continuous assessment mark for the module.
There are three parts to TMA 03:
a creative writing element;
extracts of peer review contributions.
Write a stage script ?18 minutes running time.
Write a radio script ?18 minutes running time.
Write a film script ?18 minutes running time.
Please state clearly on the first page which medium (stage, radio or film) you are writing for.
Your script can be either a stand-alone work, complete in itself, or it can be part of a longer play or film. If the latter, it should be structurally resolved (e.g. it might be a complete act from a larger piece; it should not finish mid-action or mid-scene). If providing a section, provide a summary of the larger project ? no more than 200 words ? situating the submitted section in relation to the larger work and offering some context. This summary will not be assessed in itself, and it won’t feature in the word or page counts.
Your script should not be an adaptation of work by another author or an adaptation of a piece of your own work which has been submitted for an earlier TMA.
This part constitutes 15% of this TMA?s grade.
Write a commentary (700 words) about the process of creating your work, the context in which it was developed, and your relevant further reading.
WHERE YOUR TMA SUCCEEDED
A Fair Wish World is powerful piece about loss, vision (actual sight and second sight), mental health and how war and conflict shapes or rather twists people. It’s full of big ideas and you work within a very imaginative immersive theatre setting. Also you have two people, one of whom has apparently saved the other, when it turns out that Vladimir is more reliant on Eve. History is full of unusually talented women who have surrendered their power to a man (Doris Day’s third husband was abusive and stole her money, Billie Holliday was permanently attracted to abusers). There’s a link here to the depressing litany of young women and their exploitative lovers, so this theme has a timeless resonance (although Vladimir isn’t a villain).
There is an interesting piece I’ve linked below here about Peter Brook (he’s 91!!) and his latest production – how stripped back and bare it is and how for example a single piece of cloth can represent several things, eg a piece of cloth is twisted into a snake at one point. This is, in my opinion, a true sense of live theatre, where the audience invests their imagination as opposed to being passive observers – as we are a bit with television. (Also it keeps costs down!) So your idea of the immersive, promenade production is a good idea as well as showing that you are using the medium of theatre as fully as you can.
All the characters resonate, but none more so than Panacea (I’ve got this image of Coco Chanel in my head) and Vladimir, the Russian aristocrat. Panacea because of her contrasting powers and down to earthiness but Vladimir because it was only a few years since the entire Russian imperial family, the Romanovs with their five children were murdered at Ekaterinburg in 1918. The British royal family offered mealy mouthed excuses for not offering them shelter but the real reason was they were afraid of a similar revolution in England, as I’m sure you know. I read the play a couple of times before I read the commentary, so I wasn’t pre informed. I really like the way that Eve can ‘see’ certain things and how when her sight returns, it becomes a curse. You may to have to indicate this quite strongly to the audience but it’s a bold and exciting idea.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE NEXT DRAFT
I have a few suggestions for the next draft (and I really hope you continue with this play). Firstly it would be to add some more movement to scene one it as it’s currently a little static. I’m wondering if Eve could get up from the piano and be doing something – getting dressed perhaps in her evening finery? Panacea could offer to help her lace her boots or maybe at some point she could loosen Eve’s corset so she can breathe or brush her hair? You could even have Eve trying to find things which have been placed among the audience – depending on whether you want the audience involved or not.
(I recently went to a promenade production of ‘Jane Eyre’ in a stately home. At one point, the actress playing Jane had placed the sketches she was going to show to Rochester on a piano and an audience member was leaning on the piano without realising. There was an awkward un-Bronte moment as Jane tried to yank the sketches from under the audience member’s elbow!)
Because Panacea comes across as a slightly mystical character who just shows up, I wonder if she could be slightly earthier, in contrast to Eve’s more romantic language. She does have some lovely moments such as her laughter over how useless mirrors are to her, but as much of the play is between her and Eve, and she is a magical creature, perhaps making her the more down to earth seeming would contrast more brightly with her supernatural gifts. See my L4 comment.
In the final scene there is quite a bit of explanation and it feels just a bit squashed. With maybe ten or fifteen minutes more you could find a way to blend in the back story a little more but I understand the difficulty of covering an entire play in eighteen minutes.
Overall, I think you’ve written a big, brave play, which tackles big subjects. It has flaws and needs some development but it’s part of your development as a writer that you take some risks, and personally, I don’t think you can really tell whether a play has legs until you’ve heard it spoken out loud by other people. But I’ve read it out loud and it packs a punch.
You’ve probably already heard of the London Playwrights Blog but if not, they publish opportunities every week. There’s no substitute for
In your commentary you discuss the process of writing the play, in comprehensive detail including the difficulties, and with references to course materials and a commendably large amount of outside reading.
As this is an MA, a high level of both analysis and presentation is required, and your presentation is fine here. It can be helpful when you are sick of the sight of your script/story to give it to a trusted friend or at least leave it a while to give yourself some space.
You don’t have to agree with course or outside materials, either, just show that you have reflected on the ideas within and show how they might have affected your own creative choices. It’s also helpful to explain briefly what you intend to reflect on – such as characterisation, structure and dialogue (maybe picking one area you feel confident in and another where you may feel less confident). Your tone is good, in that you are aware of your own style and what you are trying to achieve without adopting the I-have-achieved-a masterwork-and-now-I-will-reflect-on-aspects-of-its-awesomeness. Instead your tone is curious and questing and always willing to learn.
Thank you for the peer group references. You have always been very active on the forums. Also your references are very good.
I’ve given you a high merit for both the script, and the commentary, an overall high merit pass of 82% As mentioned, scene one is a little static, and the final scene has a slightly ‘expositiony’ feel, but these are very fixable. What I would suggest now for the script is to read out loud and perhaps workshop it as the most difficult bit is letting it out of your head and into the mouths and bodies of actors. You’ve done really well Tasha and taken risks with your writing. Well done.
If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.
❤ Daisy xoxo
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