Category Archives: Plays

CAST OFF – the collection (continued)

A few blogs ago I started a mini series of posts giving opening or closing excerpts fromCast Off the collection of short stories in Cast Off. Each story is a glimpse into the character of one of Shakespeare’s female characters whilst they are off stage – and quite possibly not behaving at all as Shakespeare had envisioned them. But, after the hundreds – or maybe thousands – of adaptations of his plays, and books using his characters or plots as the starting point for going off in many weird and wonderful directions, I don’t think he will be too bothered by my efforts.

Anyway, here are three more opening paragraphs, which I hope will pique your interest enough to read further:

The Quality of Mirth (The Merchant of Venice)

(Portia’s maid, Nerissa, is keeping a diary of her life with her mistress)

Dear Diary, Well, I haven’t had a chance to write much in you recently. It’s just been sooo busy, what with the old master dying, the funeral, and stuff. Then the lawyers read out the will. All to go to his only daughter Portia, my mistress, as was expected. But the crafty old goat has tied it up in such a way that it depends on who she marries whether she gets anything. Or nothing. Did I say crafty? Cruel more like. What if my poor mistress ends up having to marry someone she doesn’t like, or hasn’t met before? When I just know she already fancies someone else rotten.

Journey to the Fair Mountain (Hamlet)

Journey to the Fair Mountain(Gertrude is to be married off to a distant cousin in Denmark to save the family home for her mother and sisters)

We were so cold when we arrived. My hands and feet were numb, my nose felt raw and my cheeks were stinging. I could feel my hair, damp and icy, clinging round my face and neck. Alise, with blue lips and streaming eyes, stumbled as she helped me down from my horse. She arranged my gown whilst the old retainer, who had accompanied us on the last part of the journey, dismounted stiffly and knocked on the great door. The rest of the retinue melted away into other parts of the castle, taking the horses with them. The clip-clop of their hooves on the cobbles created a ghostly echo that lingered in the chill air. Alise pushed my hair back from my face and patted my shoulder gently.  “You look lovely, milady,” she said, encouragingly. The door was opened by a young man, who took my hand and drew me quickly into the great hall. Alise followed, as did the old man who bowed deeply to the younger man then settled into the background, his cloak merging with the tapestries on the walls.

The Tangled Knot (Twelfth Night)

(The clown has his own theories as to why Olivia doesn’t want to get married for seven years).

They call me the clown, and clowning is what I do. If I can’t make people laugh, I go hungry. But opportunities for laughing, and getting paid for it, are in short supply in my current household, that’s why I need to look around. Not that I don’t care about my mistress, mind. Or that I don’t understand why her current predicament is no joke. Just because I’m a clown, doesn’t mean I can’t be serious and think. Or that I don’t see things that some of my supposed betters are blind to even when it’s staring them in the face. That’s the life of a clown I suppose. Some of us are better suited to a thinking cap than a hat full of bells. But that’s not the life we’ve been called for. So it’s “Hey Ho,” and on with the motley, as they say.

Links:

Cast Off: myBook.to/CastOff

Or you can go straight to my Amazon author page for this and other books. There is always at least one story available free on this site, so you can ‘try before you buy.’

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

Cast Off, and several of my other stories, are published by Solstice: http://www.solsticepublishing.com

solstice logo (1)

 

 

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Thirteen Tales From Shakespeare.

Today, for my #SundayBlogShare, I am delighted to reveal the news that Solstice Publishing has accepted my collection of short stories based on plays by Shakespeare. Iwilliam_shakespeares_first_folio_1623 had intended to get the collection ready for publication in 2016, the 400th anniversary of his death. But ‘stuff happens’ and I hadn’t written enough till earlier this year. So I’m celebrating the 401st anniversary instead!

The collection is called Cast Off. Each story is between 1,000 and 5,000 words long. Each has, as the central figure, one of the bard’s female characters. The story is built around what they might have been doing, or thinking about, during the times they were not on stage – writing their diary, arguing about what lines they’ve been given, wondering whether to go back on stage for the final act …

Mostly they are light-hearted. Although they make use of the plots in the plays, they are meant to engage the general reader who does not go to the theatre often,  let alone to Shakespeare; people who enjoy the occasional trip out to see a play by Shakespeare; and even people who know his work well (so may recognise the odd quotation or reference). But they shouldn’t upset the scholars either – there is nothing too iconoclastic!

Some people may have already read one or more of the stories, as four have appeared in different anthologies, published by Solstice, in recent years: lets have fun 3-001

Chains of Magic – The Food of Love

Journey to the Fair Mountain – A Winter Holiday Anthology

The Ghost Queen – Realms of Fantastic Stories, Volume 1.

A Midsummer Day’s Dream – Let’s Have Fun, Volume Three

All these anthologies are available from the Solstice website: http://www.solsticepublishing.com

Or via my Amazon author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

 

 

 

New website for play reviews

barb-1-b-w-2-1Barbara Goulden is a well known reporter, theatre critic, novelist and aspiring playwright from Coventry UK. Earlier this year she and a few reporter friends and theatre enthusiasts launched a website where they could post reviews of plays being performed locally. Not just amateur performances, but those at professional theatres too, including the Royal Shakespeare Company’s performances in Stratford upon Avon.

Below Barbara talks about how the website came about, and what else she is involved in on the literary front.

“Our new website, Elementary What’s On, www.elementarywhatson.com started with me moaning about the fact thatelementary-whatson our local daily and weekly newspapers no longer have enough staff to review plays and shows being staged in Coventry and Warwickshire.

As a reporter for 40 years, I’ve had the privilege of being among first night audiences for some tremendous performances by both amateur and professional theatre companies.

I still remember Antony Sher making every word count while hanging upside down on a rope in the Swan Theatre at Stratford.

But these days there are hardly enough reporters to cover council meetings, let alone stage performances.

Recently the smaller studio at the Belgrade in Coventry had a terrific play called Ostrich Boys. It was full of life and humour but the play disappeared without trace because so few people knew how good it was.

I was saying how sad this was to the former deputy editor of Coventry Telegraph, where I used to work.  He promptly challenged me to start a website specifically dedicated to all our local theatres, both amateur and professional.

A month later, our site, Elementary What’s On, was born after much beating of heads against laptops and a good deal of arguing amongst what became a core group of four.

The most rewarding aspect so far has been the enthusiastic response we’ve received from all the theatres we aim to visit.

They are well aware that today they get nothing like the support they once did. As a result few people know what’s available to see locally or just how good a play might be.

Of course not all reviews will be good. Nor can we review everything ourselves. But between us we have enough theatre-loving friends who are willing to contribute 300 words or so in exchange for complimentary tickets for a play which they hope will be great but they’ll take a chance on it being boring, or a mixture of the two.

In one of my recent reviews I talked about sitting in an audience of 850 people and seeming to be the only one not laughing.  It was farce. And that carries its own cult following.

Right now I’m looking forward to La Strada at the Belgrade, a play that stands a good chance of touring nationally before winding up in the West End.

It won’t be an altogether happy tale – I know that already. But Les Miserables seems to be still doing rather well.

… Other stuff:

Since leaving full-time work as a reporter I’ve been able to write a couple of novels which were printed with the help of Chipmunka Publishing, a charity that’s happy to work with any author who tries to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

In my case I tried to inject some humour into the serious business of schizophrenia, a condition that  affects one in 100 of us at some stage in our lives, including my much-loved late sister.

People only see the shock-horror headlines about this condition which are far from reality for most sufferers, a third of whom do recover. I knew my sister was delusional, but  I also knew she would never hurt anyone, except herself.

At the moment I am trying, not too successfully, to write a play about all we have lost in the regional press and the inevitable consequences of fake news feeding on itself via the internet. I will persist.

My tips for other writers are simply stick at it – have a look at how many rejection slips most of today’s top authors receive – and really study the agents’ section of the Writers and Artists’ Yearbook.  If you can convince an agent with an example of your work then you stand a far better chance of being published.

Having said that, if you really need closure on a piece of writing you believe in, then consider self-publishing. It’s very therapeutic and lets you move on to the next book.”

Links: The website is   www.elementarywhatson.com

Barbara’s novels are:  Knock Knock, Who’s There? and Knocking on Haven’s Door. Both are available from Amazon Books.

 

Happy Everybody Reads YA

Hello and welcome to this week’s ‘Happy Everybody reads YA’ #SundayBlogShare.

This week I’m sharing an extract from my short story, A Midsummer Day’s Dream, part of the Shakespeare’s women project.

Student Mia is rehearsing a scene in the woods from A Midsummer Night’s Dream with her boyfriend and two other friends. But she finds that sun, drink, and drama don’t mix!

Excerpt:

a midsummer day's dream       Everybody poured themselves a fresh drink, and Mia, knowing that it was far from wise (not with her head for drink, not in this heat, not on a nearly empty stomach— but what the hell, suddenly it didn’t seem the day could get any worse) drank most of her glass down in one gulp. Lenny then called them to order.

In the distance, but in reality only a few feet from her, Lenny was marshalling the others into action. Mia felt thick-headed and slightly sick. If I just sit down for a minute I might feel better, she thought, and lowered herself gingerly onto the ground. As Lenny passed near her, attempting once more to persuade Helen over something or other—Mia was fast getting beyond caring—a sheet of paper fell from his trouser pocket. Mia leant forward and picked it up.  She knew at once what it was.

Links for A Midsummer Day’s Dream

myBook.to/MidsummerDaysDream

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01I0CB1WU

Or, if you want to read other stories in the Shakespeare’s women project (suitable for YA, new adult, and adult readers), try my Amazon Author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

 

 

Happy Everybody Reads YA Sunday.

Welcome to another ‘Happy Everybody Reads YA’ #SundayBlogShare.

Today I’m sharing an excerpt from s short story called Sleeping Beauty. I will be re-reading it myself over the next few weeks as I am going to have a go at turning it into a screenplay. I’ve just been to a workshop on writing film scripts, and think this has some of the basic elements for a first attempt. We’ll see how it works out in the New Year.

sleeping beautyExcerpt:

“Get out, get out! You little bitch!” my stepmother had screamed. Sukie wasn’t technically my stepmother, not having properly married my Dad. She’d just drifted into our lives a year or so after Mum died, stayed over one night, and never moved out. I thought Dad was a bit scared of her, to be honest. Sukie was beautiful, with long blond hair (dyed, of course) and if she laughed when she and Dad had visitors it was like wind chimes tinkling in a gentle breeze. Everybody thought she was charming, and beautiful, and Dad was so lucky to have met her, him being a widower with a small kid (me) in tow. What a help she must be to him, now he was no longer lonely, and had a mother figure again for his little girl. I think Dad thought that too, at least at first.

Blurb:

Dawn has been in a coma for a year and is visited in hospital every day by her devoted father, occasionally by the ghost of her dead mother, and once by her vicious stepmother. Unable to move a muscle she monitors their coming and going and relives the events that lead to her accident. She yearns to wake up and live like a teenager again, but nothing so far has been able to rouse her from her deep, deep sleep. Then, on her fourteenth birthday she is visited by a mysterious delivery boy with a strange package.

Links: MyBook.to/TheSleepingBeauty

Sleeping Beauty is available as a single story download from the above link. It also appears in the anthology, First Love, published by Solstice.

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01BH43NXS

 

Remembering war-time in Coventry

cov-blitz

Coventry city centre after the Blitz

Dusk on the 14th November 1940 in Coventry UK was just like any other chilly evening during the early stages of the Second World War. Then came the air-raids. Hitler had decided to blitz Coventry with bombs. He hoped to devastate the city and in doing so, break the morale of the British people. He devastated the city all right, but he soon found the Brits then were made of sterner stuff.

cov-blitz-2

The bombed cathedral

 

My short play Not Tiggerty Boo Tonight commemorates the Coventry Blitz through the eyes of a teenage girl who set off for the cinema that night, only for the cinema to be bombed. The play is being read at one of the theatres in Coventry on Friday 11th November (Armistice Day).

Also being read is a short play, Dancing Cheek to Cheek, which gives a picture of the life of ordinary people in 1939. They were still feeling the effects the First World War whilst harbouring a growing expectation of another war.

So, if you’re in Coventry, and have the time, why not pop along to the Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon, Coventry? The plays start at 7.30pm, with the bar open from 7pm. Free admission.

If you can’t make it, but would like a copy of either script, you are welcome to send me a personal message, giving your email address, via Facebook: 

facebook.com/pages/Margaret-Egrot/1374506486178952

Brief details of these two plays, and others, appear on another page on this blog, as does information about my published stories and novels.                                                                                   Look out for bargains! The anthology Festive Treats which contains a story I wrote (Mary’s Christmas) is currently free. The YA novel, Girl Friends, will be free to download on the 15th and 16th of November, and the YA novel, And Alex Still Has Acne, will be free to download on the 6th and 7th of December. All excellent virtual stocking fillers!!!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO