Thursday, 10 May 2012

'Actual Reality' is a Gripping Yarn

This weekend Gripping Yarns will take place at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter, and my monologue, Actual Reality, is one of the twelve pieces selected for performance.

Although I do a lot of writing for different things, I have never written a script or monologue, and submitted it anywhere, because I’m always saying ‘I haven’t got an idea I want to develop’. So, when I turned up halfway through the first scriptwriting workshop, I had no intention of writing a script, I just wanted to say hello to Sheila (Show of Strength), but as I walked around the beautifully refurbished museum, a kernel of an idea started to form.

Front of leaflet advertising the writing workshops for the project

On my list of ‘Interests’ you will find History, and although I have my favourite periods, part of my interest lies in a desire to learn from the past and understand how it affects our present and ultimately our future. This gave me an idea: what if you were in the future, looking back at the present as if it was the past? What defines this period of time? How could things change on a small or large scale?

I still didn’t put anything down on paper, but over the next few weeks a couple of issues came up in the news and suddenly I had a starting point, but no real story. Time was marching on and as I was now considering submitting a monologue I needed to get back to the museum and properly explore the objects on display.

If you’ve been to the new museum and picked up one of the maps, you’ll know that finding your way around is still a bit confusing, but thankfully they have the room numbers on the walls, so, on my second visit, I was determined to visit every room. It was the last, and perhaps the most underwhelming room I tracked down that provided the inspiration I needed.

Room 6, Behind the Scenes, is a tiny room which aims to give you an idea of what happens behind the scenes at the museum, and on the wall you will find copies of catalogue cards for objects in the museum. They have a picture of the item and all sorts of information like, what it is, what it’s made from, where it comes from, etc, etc. As I looked at the cards I found myself wondering how you would fill out the cards if you were cataloguing a human. Suddenly, I knew I had an idea I wanted to develop and no more excuses not to write it.

Without giving too much away (in case you pop into the museum and watch the performance), Actual Reality, explores what it means to be human, my frustration with endless terms and conditions and disclaimers as well as the constant advertising bombardment and privacy intrusion from companies battling for our personal information and touches on some current political ideas. That’s right, I’ve packed all that (and more) into a darkly humorous, five minute (ish) piece holding a mirror up to modern life.

That’s enough about my piece, there are eleven others being performed and it’s going to be a brilliant weekend at the museum. I haven’t seen all of work, but it’s likely that there will be pieces that make you laugh, some that make you sad and definitely ones that make you stop and think.

It’s a similar setup to Show of Strength’s Trading Local, but instead of taking place in local shops, each piece will be performed in the museum. If you’ve never been to Trading Local, think of it as a mini theatre festival that happens in one building and there will be a timetable so you can see find out what’s happening, when and where it’s taking place. Assuming it becomes available online, I’ll post a link to it, when it’s released.

In the meantime, if you want to find out more, there are some links below and I hope you get a chance to visit the RAMM over the weekend and see some of the Gripping Yarns.

Useful Links

RAMM Gripping Yarns Page
Exeter Northcott Gripping Yarns Page
Exeter Northcott Gripping Yarns Press Release
Show of Strength