Boston Women in Comedy Festival

Earlier this year my first short film, Stiff was selected to be screened at Boston Women in Comedy Festival.

The film was written in response to Rachel Bloom’s Comedy Short Challenge. Filmmakers were given the opening line of dialogue, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT” and had to write and film a comedy short between 1 and 5 minutes long.

We shot the film in one afternoon. It rained a lot and dogs kept walking into frame but we got into the festival so we must have done something right.

Enjoy!

STIFF from Rachael Walsh on Vimeo.

NaNoWriMo

It’s December and that means NaNoWriMo is over for another year. And this year my grand total for my YA feminist novel, Bach or Stravinsky, was 27,661.

It’s quite a long way short of the 50,000 word target but it’s by far the most I’ve written of a novel before so shut up. You can check out the beginning here:

 

BACH OR STRAVINSKY

“Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There is too much fraternising with the enemy.”

-Henry Kissinger

CHAPTER ONE

Prime Minister Gavin Pritchard stepped out of the car into a mass of people. There was a roar from the gathering of journalists outside Number 10 and he relied on the assorted guards and handlers to lead him safely to the front door as he was blinded by the dazzling flashes of the multitude of cameras pointed in his direction.

“Is there any truth to the rumours, Prime Minister?” the question was barely distinguishable from the dozens of other similarly themed queries being hurled at him from all directions.

“Have you figured out who the threat was from yet, Gavin?”

“Are you scared for your family Prime Minister?” Gavin turned to seek out the owner of the reedy female voice which had delivered this parting gift of a question as the various helpers strained to get him into the house and away from the crowds. He had time to look into the narrowed blue eyes of the reporter, her fingers wrapped tightly around a pen and pad, waiting for a response before the door of his home was closed shut behind him.

Gavin turned quickly to his PA, “Why did she ask that?” he asked her, furiously?

“Pardon?” his PA looked bewildered, obviously oblivious to what he had been asked.

“About my family. The threat wasn’t about my family, was it?”

His PA’s expression softened slightly, “No, sir.”

Gavin nodded slowly.

“Is there anything else?”

Gavin shook his head, clearly struggling to pull his thoughts away from the threat his team had received earlier that day. He knew threats weren’t uncommon, had learned not to get worked up about them but found them hard to contend with on top of a spate of riots across the country over the last few days.

“Alright, I’ll see you tomorrow Mr Pritchard.” His PA withdrew and he watched her as he walked down the hallway to exit through the back of the house where he knew a car would be waiting for her to take her home before they started the circus again in the morning. Should he walk her out he wondered? Then admonished himself. She was perfectly capable of getting into a car and he’d be in much more trouble than her if they were spotted sans protection.

He waited until he heard the door open and close again before climbing the stairs to the second floor. He tried to keep his footsteps light on the wooden staircase to avoid waking his two daughters but his feet felt like lead and they sounded like it as he trudged up the steps. He saw that there was a light on in the bedroom and checked his watch, surprised that Sandra was still awake at this time. He pushed the door open gently in case she had fallen asleep with the light on while waiting for him to come home but saw that she was still awake, sitting in her pyjamas, reading a book. She barely glanced up as he came into the room.

Gavin rubbed his eyes wearily and sat on the edge of the bed. Sandra shifted her feet very slightly and turned the page of the book she was reading.

“A group of women beat up a fourteen year old boy in one of the riots today,” he said heavily, unbuttoning his shirt with aching fingers.

“What?” Sandra’s head jolted up to look at him properly for the first time, “I didn’t see anything about that on the news.”

“They’ll lead with it tomorrow,” Gavin muttered, “Awful. They didn’t realise, they said, that he was that young. They didn’t realise he was only fourteen. Still. He was a mess. Terrible.”

Sandra turned another page of her book, “Well, it’s terrible that men rape fourteen year old girls.”

She said it quietly, innocuously, Gavin took a moment to register what she had said, “Well, yes, of course it is.”

There was a silence as neither of them said anything and Sandra continued reading her book.

“I don’t think it’s any worse or any better,” Gavin felt compelled to speak into the silence, “it’s all awful. All of it.”

Sandra looked at him slowly again but simply said, “You look tired.”

“We got a threat today. I did,” he corrected himself, “I got a threat.”

It wasn’t the first time he had told Sandra this but he was gratified to see her eyes widen, “From who?”

“We don’t know yet. Anonymous. It’ll be nothing but they’ve increased security. I can barely put one foot in front of the other without bumping into an armed guard.” He joked.

“That’s good,” Sandra said, turning back to her book.

“Yes. Well. They’re not taking any chances with it. The British public’s not getting rid of me that easily.”

He felt a dull thud in his neck and a sharp pain and tried to put his hand to his neck to feel what had happened but didn’t seem to be able to move his arm. Then he felt a further pain in his neck and a hot, wet feeling. He turned his head, sending further pain shooting into him and saw Sandra clutching a letter opener covered in blood. His blood. What had happened? He opened his mouth to tell her not to worry and everything went black.

Recording in Progress

My newest play Recording in Progress is getting its first trial run at The Exchange, North Shields next week.

The basic premise is about a live recording of a radio show that goes horrendously wrong. I started thinking about the idea about a year ago when I saw Frank Sumatra at Alphabetti. It was staged as if it was a live radio play with the actors responsible for doing their own sound effects live onstage and I really loved that transparency and started wondering about what would happen if things started to go really wrong.

If Emma Rice wants to make Shakespeare as interesting as The Archers then I want to make The Archers as interesting as Shakespeare and hopefully this will be a good start.

Tickets for Theatre Scratch Night at The Exchange are £3 and the show starts at 7.30pm on Thursday 10th November. 

Durham Book Festival 2016

I’m lucky enough to be doing the maternity cover for the Young People’s Programme Manager at New Writing North and last week was Durham Book Festival.

I worked for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society during the festival last year so I thought I was totally prepared for the madness that comes with a city being taken over by artists and writers but DBF was a whole new experience and I loved it.

Highlights included Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project and all round wonderful human being. The Incomplete Shakespeare with John Crace and John Sutherland (who share the same birthday btw and that birthday was in fact the day they were performing at the festival – no cake, massive shame) was also brilliant as was Anthony Horowitz‘s event with Professor Simon James of Durham University English Department fame.

The last day of the festival saw me and my mate (she is definitely my mate, she asked me to apply) Lizzie – NWN’s Participation Manager – manning Empty Shop HQ (if you haven’t been before, visit the lovely Nick and Carlo) for a long and drafty 10 hours but it was all worth it for the Silent Book Disco hosted by Forum Books.

Thanks DBF! It’s been a real slice.

Yes/No

I just submitted the final draft for my newest play Yes/No to The Customs House last week.

I think it’s absolutely fantastic that The Customs House provides this opportunity for new writing and for their Youth Theatre. When I was directing the Junior Westovians I always found it so frustrating that Youth Theatre plays seemed so patronising and childish but plays written for adults always had tiny casts. One of the best plays I found for the Junior Westovians was Inspector Drake’s Last Case by David Tristram. It wasn’t written for a young cast but the tone was completely right for my group of insanely talented comedy actors and it was definitely a huge influence for us when we decided to write Dead & Breakfast.

The brief for The Customs House was to write either a mystery or a modern retelling of a classic story. I’m such a huge fan of murder mysteries and am currently devouring Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders so I knew I wanted to write something in the murder mystery style but I wanted to avoid the classic country house setting since I though it would be too similar to Dead & Breakfast.

Yes/No centres around the mysterious death of a young boy on a school trip one year before the play is set. David’s friends are still coping with their loss and one in particular, Sarah, has never believed his death was really an accident. On the anniversary of his death the group return to the place he died and attempt to contact him using a Ouija board to try and find out what really happened that night.

I met with the Junior Youth Theatre before I started writing the play and it really helped me develop the characters and write to their strengths. Jayden, their director, had told me that many of them are talented comic actors but she was keen for them to try something serious too so I think the script is the perfect combination of mysterious with some one-liners. I can’t wait to see it on its feet!