Writing

David Hare’s Skylight highlights how things have changed since he wrote it…

Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy on stage together – being able to watch two big names in Portsmouth, I mean, what’s not to like?

7545_poster_iphone

National Theatre Live at the Vue Cinema on 31st July gave us that. In fact, it’s better than being in the West End’s Wyndham Theatre from where it was broadcast. You can eat popcorn and icecream if you like in seats designed for a 21st Century frame. Though this was the “Encore” broadcast, a re-run of a play originally broadcast live on the 17th July, and starring two hugely accomplished actors, the experience really gives you the feel of the live event.

It does take some adjustment, seeing stage acting on screen. When Kyra (Carey Mulligan) enters with her shopping, her body language as she heavily plonks her bags on the table feels distastefully overdone. Her peculiar treatment of the text books she brings home from her work as a teacher jars the eye used to the nuanced performance of the big screen.

Just so with the arrival of 18-year-old Edward, walking into the flat on the sink housing estate where Mulligan lives because she left the door open. But then, this is hard to swallow for another reason. I mean, who leaves their door open on a snowy winter’s night in a clearly troubled housing estate? I mean really, who does that? It seemed strangely middle-classly cutesy, as if Hare had forgotten Kyra lived in the inner city, but in a little country cottage somewhere in the Home Counties.

Their initial interactions were what I had feared the whole play might be. At times unreal but with occasional moments of brilliance in the dialogue, something did not gel. Edward was clearly a 2D device used to set up what was to come later between Kyra and Tom (Bill Nighy). It was uncomfortably done. Edward’s flouncing out at the end of the scene with his “You’ve got to speak to him Kyra!” was straight out of Victorian melodrama.

Tom’s arrival was much better. The story unfolded. Businessman Tom and teacher Kyra had once been an item – having an affair while he ran his expanding chain of restaurants through the 1980s. Their affair had been discovered by Nighy’s wife and Mulligan (a nice middle class woman) had gone into teaching in East Ham.

Along the way, there were moments of comedy that highlighted the snobbery of the business classes and the idealism of liberal middle classes. Essentially the play was about the collision of two world views – the money-minded and the liberal left, interspersed with some cooking and a break in the middle for a shag, which thankfully happened in the interval.

As a writer, it was interesting to see how basic the play was. David Hare, one of Britain’s greatest living playwrights, used cookery to give the two actors something to do while they slugged it out with each other or came to understandings of each other’s views, or grew close, or grew apart. The cooking (I’m sure a symbol of consumerism, community and shared endeavour) alleviated the boredom of the pair standing and pontificating about how their particular views of the world were right.

Hare made a pretty good fist of making Nighy’s character likeable and sympathetic, but it was clear as the play went on that this wasn’t going to be one of those: “make your own mind up” types of plays. Carey Mulligan’s Kyra, the impassioned and idealistic middle class liberal who had given up everything to be a teacher was clearly the character with whom Hare most identified.

Towards the end , both characters ceased to be people at all. Mulligan’s Kyra especially became a mouthpiece for Hare’s opinion, with a long, tedious rant about how marvellous the public sector is and the platitude that “Wealth Creation” was not the truly important thing about life.

This was clearly intended as the highlight of the second half: a kind of super-eloquent Sixth Form Common Room rant, in which the Kyra rehearsed Hare’s particular political bugbears, and received spontaneous applause from the Wyndham’s sympathetic audience. He had pressed the right buttons for his audience, then.

By this time I genuinely had the feeling that Hare had written the play by tickbox. “Oh, okay, so I’ve now done the bit where he accuses her of being guilty. Now let’s do the bit where he accuses her of running away because she’s still in love with him. Okay, now we do the bit where she accuses him of cowardice. Okay, now selfishness…” and so on.

By the time you’d got to the end, just about every base was covered. The two characters were indeed symbols (something Hare himself highlighted in his script) who covered all the angles in the eternal battle between the private sector and public services, and between the unfaithful businessman and his young lover, picking up hypocrisies along the way.

But one really important angle was never approached.

Kyra mocked the idea of people involved in “Wealth Creation”, pointing instead to “real people” as if people involved in business are somehow “not real”. And that was the heart of the problem.

There was a much more profound discussion to be had here about that unhappy marriage, in which business and social enterprises are spliced together. Each is dependent on the other. Business is reliant on education to produce people with innovation and drive, self-belief and originality. As such, business cannot complain about taxation. It is reliant on the use of those resources to supply its employees and its consumers. The employees of business are also “real” people, prone to all the weaknesses of greed and stupidity and selfishness if that connection between business and the wider community is not nurtured.

At the same time, workers in State education (symbolising the public services) have trouble accepting the fact that without business they would not exist because no taxes would be taken to pay their wages. The fact that today there are fewer public sector wage packets than there were 6 years ago is a much bigger discussion about how the marriage works. What the covenant is between the public sector, the wider public and business was not even considered in this play.

That, I suspect, is partially because Hare is not interested in this more nuanced way of looking at the world. His writing comes straight out of the idealism of the 1960s. It’s also because Skylight was first performed in 1995, way before the Credit Crunch was a twinkle in Tony Blair’s eye. And to be frank, it showed.

Singing trio’s brand spanking wartime show tells Blitz’s biggest secret

Vocal vintage-style trio The Three Belles who formed in Portsmouth three years ago need your help.

The popular trio are heading to Edinburgh to launch London Life, a riotous comedy revue based on the little-known “specialist” magazine from the 1930s and 1940s.

"Dig for Victory!" (photo copyright (c) Beck Photographic www.beckphotographic.com
“Dig for Victory!”
(photo copyright (c) Beck Photographic www.beckphotographic.com

The normally reserved singers decided to put on the show after stumbling on a pile of London Life magazines in an antiques shop.

“We started reading the magazines and couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” explains Anneka Wass of The Three Belles. “Because this magazine, published in the middle of the war was dedicated to people with very particular fads – like wearing rubber or spanking.  It was in fact, a World War 2 fetish magazine.”

A cover from a 1941 issue of London Life
A cover from a 1941 issue of London Life

She goes on to say that after they picked their jaws up off the floor they began to see the comedy potential.

“Their stories are often funny, poignant and sometimes moving. They never spoke about it in public, but these people decided to seek fun in unconventional ways at a time when rubber, leather and clothing was strictly rationed.  It’s never rude, always in good taste – but extremely funny.”

True stories in the show include the woman who made herself a rubber dress from bath curtains only to nearly choke on rubber fumes after sitting in front of a fire, or the married couple who discovered a stiff-upper-lipped love of cross-dressing at a Christmas party.

“The background to their lives is danger,” says Sally Taylor, also of The Three Belles. “It’s tragi-comic. It’s never been told before.”

The Three Belles will be weaving 1940s songs into the show such as Gimme Some Skin, Beat Me Daddy Eight To The Bar, and the earlier Masculine Women, Femine Men.

In order to take the show to Edinburgh, the singers need to raise £10,000 to cover expenses.

“It’s not a cheap business going to the Fringe,” says third Belle Isabelle Moore. “We need help, and have launched a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo that runs until May 24th. Remember, your Belles Need You!”

London Life, The True Story of the Secret Kinks of World War 2 will premiere in July in London before transferring to the Edinburgh Fringe on August 11th.

To find out more about The Three Belles show go to: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-three-belles-go-to-edinburgh-fringe#home

For more information about London Life magazine: http://Londonlifemagazine.org

 

Angelina Jolie – To Say “Grubby” Doesn’t Say Half Of It – Book Review

Angelina – An Unauthorized Biography, by Andrew Morton

Book Review

What can I do in reviewing this book except give you my overriding impressions?

The first one is about the subject matter as Andrew Morton likes to portray her. Under his hands, Jolie comes out of this book as a nasty, mercurial, capricious, selfish, unfaithful manstealing drug addict who continually lies and presents the truth to suit her own needs.

It’s not a flattering portrait by any means. Manipulative, destructive and shallow, Morton presents us with a picture of a woman driven by a series of addictions and compulsions. She is a whirlwind of sexuality and deceit who is quite happy to walk into stable relationships and wreck them to serve her own ends. Even her later work with the UN is portrayed as in some way capricious and self-serving, and even her treatment of the kids she adopts is according to Morton at best worthy of suspicion and at worst actually illegal.

Unlike Jolie, this book is not pretty. There is something mean of spirit in Morton, and it comes through in the overall impression her gives of Jolie, rather than the facts of her life taken individually.

The cause for Jolie’s unstable personality as it is here presented leads me to the second observation about the book. Morton is just as happy to point to the fact that Jolie is a Gemini to account for her character traits as he is to fill the pages with whacky post-Freudian psychobabble to describe her motives. The book is much better when Morton is not theorising on the deep unconscious reasons for Jolie’s behaviour and actually tells you about her behaviour. I don’t expect to be told about her personality on the basis of her star sign or spurious psychology just as I wouldn’t expect to be told that the lumps on her head are evidence that she was more amorous than other women, or that the full moon turns her into a werewolf. That, Mr Morton, is space-filling – and piss-poor writing.

That said, this book does give an account of Jolie’s life which – with its emphasis on destructive sex and drug abuse is like watching a slow motion car crash. She cuts herself as a kid, her mother gives up her bed to Jolie and her boyfriend when the couple are just 14, Jolie nearly stabs him to death and he does the same for her at the same age and both go to hospital… And so the sad show goes on. The young Jolie takes copious drugs and screws anything that is slightly warm and still breathing, and appears perfectly happy to wreck relationships and treat the people around her like disposable syringes. Essentially, she is portrayed as a fickle, feckless “user” – in all its connotations.

It’s not nice reading, but I suspect it is in part accurate – though it skims over Jolie’s acting skills and attempts pat “psychological” interpretations of her life as seen from the outside rather than giving a genuine insight into the woman herself. In Morton’s telling, the life she leads becomes so debauched and so dissolute that even she can’t handle it any more – the night she shares an apartment with her lover, ex-husband, lesbian ex-lover and her girlfriend and has a breakdown is pricelessly funny in the deadpan way it is delivered by Morton. I don’t think he was meant to be funny, but one can have little sympathy for a two dimensional character who has been set up by the author as willing to make a mess of her life apparently on purpose.

The character of Jolie is remarkable in this book simply because she weathers it all. She’s portrayed as a kind of adult role-play Lara Croft who raids married men’s beds rather than ancient tombs and comes out completely unscathed.

Where others would go to pieces, she simply goes for the next fix, which is either a tumble in the hay with someone else’s husband or a shot in the arm to keep her going. Unafraid to wreck the happiness of others to supply her own obsessions and compulsions, I found that I at once hated this version of Jolie and begrudgingly admired her for her apparent armour-plating and psychotic self-serving.

Her treatment of her father Jon Voight throughout is awful. Morton implies that Jolie wants to blame him for all her woes rather than address them, mature and grow up. This, could be true, I suppose, it could be the extreme life that the extremely wealthy lead, or it could be a gross caricature. If it really does lift the lid on what is beneath the surface beauty of Hollywood, and of Jolie, then it made me glad of my rather boring life.

To be frank, I felt grubby reading about Morton’s Jolie and her shenanigans.

Some things are better left unsaid. And some books unwritten. This is one of them.

Portsmouth Writers Are The Ones To Watch on 7th March

A new collection of work from Portsmouth writers will be launched on March 7th at The Square Tower, Old Portsmouth at 7.30pm.

“Writers To Watch” is an anthology of stories, poems and longer book extracts that was originally showcased by Portsmouth writers during the 2012 Portsmouth Bookfest.

Writers to Watch - A Collection of Writing from Portsmouth Authors
Writers to Watch – A Collection of Writing from Portsmouth Authors

Dom Kippin, Literature Development Officer for Portsmouth City Council says:

“The original idea for the 2012 Bookfest was that 20 writers should present their work for 12 minutes a piece over the length of the Bookfest. They gave their readings in libraries in Portsmouth. The quality was so high, we decided other people should know about this.”

Matt Wingett, one of the writers who appears in the book and editor of the anthology says: “Portsmouth has been the home of some great writers from the past. I am proud to be associated with new writers in the Portsmouth area who have very distinctive voices and clear visions of what they have to say. This book showcases their work.”

The launch, at the Square Tower in Old Portsmouth will have short readings from 10 contributors to the book, as well as a break for tea and a chance to chat with the authors. It starts at 7.30pm and entry is free.

For further information, go to: http://writerstowatch.eventbrite.co.uk/ and to http://www.facebook.com/events/430601837016134/433473933395591/

Portsmouth Writer’s Hub – 7th Feb 2013

An interesting writer’s hub last night at the New Theatre Royal gave me plenty to think about. The night was one in which writers were able to get their pieces of work read and performed by actors on stage in the grand old Matcham theatre.

It was fascinating to see the different approaches of different writers. I should state from the beginning that the standard of writing was high and the vision of each writer very clear. These are personal responses and include my emotional engagement with the pieces.

“Tom’s Field” by Johanna Walker was intriguing from the opening, with an increasingly poignant “slow burn” building up as it went on. The story was of an older couple apparently on a camping holiday doing the inanities that an older couple who have retired and don’t really know what to do with their time do: crosswords, tea, gossip about the neighbour’s tent.  But underneath it was a rising note of tension to do with waiting for someone. When that someone arrived, it was their hostile daughter-in-law with their grandson.

It turned out that the son, Tom, had disappeared and that the daughter-in-law blamed the parents-in-law in some way. There was a moment when I did wonder whether the grandparents were culpable, but there was nothing in the text to support this, and the weight of the grandmother’s pleading to be allowed to see her grandson along with the clear exposition of the anguish they were in didn’t help the younger woman’s case. Others saw it differently, but since we weren’t given more information about the back story, it was left wide open

The dialogue in Tom’s Field was very real, and I engaged emotionally because I cared about those two old people and the boy, while the structuring of the scene made it an absolute gem.  The simplicity with which the central conflicts were presented and played out made it extremely strong indeed.

In Jeff Page‘s piece, “Flat Above Star Food And Wine”, telling of a relationship between two firebrand radicals and their older selves, there were some interesting interactions, especially to do with the interplay of power. However, this piece was for my taste so heavily laden with concepts that I couldn’t follow the line of narrative. My feeling was that the dialogue needed serious pruning and the central conflicts and drives needed to be laid out more clearly.  I also found it peculiar that what appeared to be wealthy middle class people, one of whom was an MP, were using “fucking” and “coppers” regularly in their language. It may have been that the actors were miscast for the roles given them, but it left me unconvinced and I feel I would need to read the text to really understand it.

Rachel Besser‘s “A Little Light Breathing” was powerful in a different way, and certainly caused most discussion among the group.  Besser had responded to the Jimmy Saville scandal with a piece about a 35-year-old woman returning to her public school in order to confront the headmistress with her experience of being molested when 15. Or, at least, that’s nearly what it was about. From the woman’s description, no such assault took place.

The woman described the teacher placing his hand on her clothed “chest” to aid her breathing, and this is where it fell apart for me. A quick check of the dictionary shows the chest to be any part of the thorax – from the neck down to the diaphragm. As soon as I heard these words, I immediately understood them as meaning that the hand had been placed either on the flat area above the breasts, or close to the diaphragm beneath the breasts – a perfectly natural place to put a hand when guiding breathing exercises. Indeed, I personally had done this with a male client to whom I was giving public speaking training only the night before.

No mention was made of touching the breast at any point during the play. No tweak, no grope. Nothing.  Just a hand on the “chest”, with clothes on. I remained confused why a 35-year-old who is a successful documentary maker should be revisiting this non-event, now. I also found equating such a minor event with the experience of a girl who was raped by her father problematic: conflating two very different experiences in this way undermined the woman’s credibility.

I was surprised how many people – especially younger people – seemed to think that a touch to the chest rather than the breast constituted a sexual assault. To me, again, this consensus is a symptom of the knots our society has tied itself up in over the matter of sexuality. In schools in which teachers are simply not allowed to touch children, not allowed to give them a supportive hug when they fall down or physically move them when they play up, we have a whole generation growing up unable to gauge what constitutes “normal” contact.

As it turned out, the teacher did have a history of sexual abuse in this story, but I could just as easily have seen exactly the same exchange on stage as the start of a story with the opposite message: the teacher is hunted down and subjected to vilification when he is innocent. I found the piece deeply disturbing not because it dealt with assault, but because it dealt with non-assault. To me, it highlighted the horror men experience daily trying to negotiate the media-led world (symbolised by the documentary maker) in which paranoia and over-reaction have become the norm.

It also showed how vague language and euphemism can really muddy the water. Perhaps the young woman meant her breast. But if she did, then she should have said it. I was at a loss to know what the fuss was about as the dialogue stood.

As you can tell from my responses, there was definitely something powerful in this work, and it certainly opened a can of worms for me. Matters of detail to one side, the writer had a strong eye for a conflict, with the headmistress continually blocking the younger woman’s  attempts to express what happened to her. Besser should be commended for tackling such a controversial topic even if the execution needs further work.

The night finished with two comic pieces by Lucy Bell, “Old Birds” and “Set Menu”. Both showcased Lucy’s uncanny knack for sparkling dialogue and her naturally comic turn of phrase.

The first, a story of two “Old Birds” at a spa talking about their sex lives and spending their money how they want was hilariously funny. I enjoyed them no end, and felt a kind of delight in their company and their horrifying obsessions – one of having sex with very young men and the other of  having her hymen surgically replaced to please the “old man”. It was an exposition of some of the more colourful extremes of our glorious, brash culture, and I delighted in its crassness.

“Set Menu” was also a beauty, showing the oppression of one woman by her husband and by social and religious mores.  At no point was this story lecturing, and it was stronger for it.

In all, a really fascinating night, showing writers at different stages of development, each with very different voices.  I was impressed by the work of all the writers. A lot of thought and much creativity went into the night. I’d be interested to see a production of the work of these writers, and will keep an eye out to see how it develops.

After You’ve Gone – What Next After The Three Belles and Sing Sing Sing?

The Three Belles - fond memories...

A forlorn sight meets the eyes of the Pompeyite out for a walk on Southsea Common a few days after the circus leaves town.

A circle of yellowed grass and a few handfuls of sawdust are all that tell of the wonders that paraded, galloped, shimmered and sparkled there only days before beneath the Big Top. Standing at the ring’s centre, the roars of laughter, the gasps of amazement, bursts of applause and shouts of joy are silent; the only movement a few dried stalks in the sea breeze.

I know that departed circus feeling so well. It’s 3.45 in the morning after The Three Belles put on their show Sing Sing Sing at the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth and my mind is still buzzing with the triumphs of the night, still blaring in the silence that has now come.

The Three Belles - fond memories...
The Three Belles – fond memories…

Fast forward two years, with a ton of other writing jobs and Belles adventures in between. The latest step in developing their original idea came in a very short time – just 6 brief weeks. In mid-December, I’d immersed myself in reading a full history of World War 2, then poring over eyewitness accounts of the Blitz and watching hours and hours of documentaries and war films. After that, we had a meeting at my house in which I presented to them a storyline for a completely revamped show. The idea was to take  elements from previous shows we’d worked on, add more depth of characterisation and more character interaction so that we could unfold a story of humour, tragedy, pathos and drama in a setting of beautiful music.

The new script proper was started on 2nd January by all of us to an agreed plan, completed on the 18th and rehearsed relentlessly for the next two weeks. I by no means wrote it all – it was a genuinely shared project with emails flying between us in a frenzy of writing activity.  We steered it along together, creating, nipping and tucking as we went, quietly focused on what we wanted, changing lines, adding scenes and working collaboratively in a way that was completely new for me.

Before then I had virtually stalked The Three Belles! I had caught them in live shows whenever I could so I could learn the rhythms of their natural speech and the qualities, pitches and timbres of their spoken voices.  Now, writing for their characters alongside them and seeing them deliver the lines we had written was utterly fascinating. There were times I got it wrong. There were times when their inventiveness amazed me. And there were times when it just felt absolutely right that a scene should be such a shape, or have such an outcome.

Those rehearsals were intensive and they were fun. The sheer hard work and professionalism of The Three Belles and of William Keel-Stocker left me feeling delighted just to know them.

Then came performance night.

There is a moment before a show when there are just hours to go and a writer has nothing left to do except sit there, hold his breath and cross his fingers while the actors and stage crew work it all out. Would it work?  Would it all come together? I felt sick with not knowing if we’d got it right. Had I got the rhythm of the scenes right, did the narrative arcs work? Would the audience like it?

The answer was a very big YES. The cast were magnificent. From the opening in which Will introduced the Belles – right the way through to the roar of the crowd at the end, the show had a vibrancy and joy that lifted people up.  It was a fantastic night.

Now I wonder what I’m going to do next? I’ve lived and breathed The Three Belles’ world for the last 6 weeks: reading, writing, sleeping, dreaming, waking and creating.

My mind’s a yellowed circle of grass. I wonder what new tent will pitch up here? What new show? What characters will dance before me in the Big Top of my mind’s eye?

I don’t know. All I know for now is that this was a fabulous night and the hard work was so very, very worth it.

As for the next project… Well. We shall see!

Dorothy’s Response To Hearing There Are Only 50 Tickets Left for Sing Sing Sing

I told Dorothy there were only 50 tickets left for Sing Sing Sing at The New Theatre Royal on February 2nd.  This was her response…

Dotty… Profound thoughts from the songstress…
Dotty… Profound thoughts from the songstress…

WHAT DOES THIS STRANGE GURNING MEAN? EXPERTS ARE DIVIDED.  TO FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF, GRAB ONE OF THE LAST TICKETS AT THE NEW THEATRE ROYAL, OR REMAIN PUZZLED FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!

Sing Sing Sing with The Three Belles – Nearly Sold Out – Rehearsal Piccies…

Another fascinating day with The Three Belles, Joe Bishop and Will Keel-Stocker today. Full rehearsal this time, with props and full stage layout.  The next time we work this, it will be at The New Theatre Royal in rehearsals on Saturday.

Here are some shots I snapped today:

Gail Prepares for the worst....
Gail Prepares for the worst….

 

Will and Anneka Dance Dance Dance while Izzie looks on.
Will and Anneka Dance Dance Dance while Izzie looks on.

It has been quite an experience. I’ve never written like this before – in a pragmatic and collaborative way, and it opens up whole new possibilities.  Fascinating stuff.

My thoughts?

How hard everyone has worked!  From Chloe, the sound and lights woman closely annotating the script, through the Belles learning lines, working the staging, perfecting their characters and applying themselves to selling tickets – through Joe Bishop working up his character, and how he has managed to arrange a surprise guest appearance, to Will Keel-Stocker making the music happen, arranging the scores and in between times learning his lines, too.  I suppose I have worked on it, too, but this has been such a positive experience it hasn’t felt like work.

Latest news is the Dress Circle is sold out, the stalls are nearly full and the theatre has now opened the Upper Circle.

You can get your tickets for Sing Sing Sing from the New Theatre Royal, here.  The show will be on Saturday 2nd February, at 7.30 pm.

A Farmhouse Somewhere In Northern France… (French Resistance)

The Three Belles - fond memories...

The scene: somewhere in Northern France British troops have pushed the Germans back towards Berlin and secured the perimeter. As the dust settles and a semblance of normality returns to the countryside a woman in the French Resistance comes out to greet the British.

Normandie, Aout 1944. French Resistance member.
Normandie, Aout 1944. French Resistance member.

A photographer attached to the regiment is on hand to capture the moment as she stands demurely with gun in hand, sleeves rolled up as if ready to do a job of work, no matter how unpalatable that work might be. She smiles enigmatically to the camera.  Is it a grin, a look of satisfaction, an expression that says that such young eyes have seen too much? Is it the  blatant confident flirtation of a young woman pleased to see the soldiers she has been waiting for?

Perhaps it is all these. It is a triumphal picture – the moment in history in which a young French woman is at last free to show her face again after the Normandy landings, and a moment in which she begins to transform into being a civilian once more. There is, no doubt, a degree of showing off in it, too. The moment is captured.

The picture, captioned only “Normandie, Aout 1944” is a little blurred, grainy and discoloured, but speaks plenty of the world to come when Europe is at peace again.

Find this interesting? For a longer view of how the modern world is connected to the  events of 1945,  come to Sing Sing Sing The Three Belles’ stage show on Saturday 2nd February at The New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth.

The Three Belles – Next Round of Rehearsals

Well, another fascinating day at “the office” with a full run-through of Sing Sing Sing. Will Keel-Stocker added an extra layer to the proceedings, with his easy smile and questioning brain.

There were some really interesting moments as The Belles took hold of their characters and begin to inhabit them more.  Here are some thoughts about each character, as I saw them start to blossom and grow:

Betty – rich, impulsive, living for the moment. Betty is neither good nor bad, but a bundle of self-interest whose real pay-off in life is enjoying the now. She’s also a Polar Responder. If you tell her she can’t do something, she’ll do it, just to prove you’re wrong. It makes her morally complex, and at times unpredictable – both in her thoughtlessness and her generosity. She is exciting because of it, prone to daydreaming and being creative – and is also morally ambiguous and certainly not the best person to go to for advice.

Gailpoor, smart, feisty – she’s a redhead who will put you in your place if you step out of line.  Gail is your salt of the Earth working class gal, who says what’s on her mind.  She’s all too aware of her vulnerability in a world in which her hometown is being flattened around her. Unlucky in love, she’s looking for a man who can do right by her, and although she is at times hostile to “Lady Muck” Betty, she also knows Betty has a certain careless charm that she wants to learn. Watch out for Gail losing her temper – because when she blows her stack, it’s nuclear.

DorothyA sweet-natured and honest young middle class woman who has just married, and whose man is away fighting.  Dorothy is steady, reliable and caring. She has a sweet generosity in her nature that is fed by her faith.  She always sees the good in people, and trusts in Providence that things will work out right.  She loves Gail and Betty very much, and although she sometimes becomes exasperated with the latter, she maintains an optimism that Betty will grow and mature in time to become a moral person.  Whether she is right, needs to be seen!

So, a few thoughts.  We are working on the final notes as we go along.  It’s getting exciting!

Tickets for Sing Sing Sing are available here.