Nobody Knows Nothin’

blog3-1

There is a philosophical exercise that asks the student to contemplate the principle that if you lock three monkeys in a room, each with a typewriter and endless paper, and given an infinitesimal amount of time they would produce the complete works of Shakespeare. This is a concept more about epochs and infinity than monkeys or Shakespeare but it is often cited as an introduction to the endless opportunities of limitless time. A couple of decades ago there was a critique of Bridges of Madison County insinuating that if you put three monkeys in a room and gave them a fortnight they would come up with ‘Bridges’.  Just a tongue-in-cheek put-on by some jealous critic perhaps – particularly as the book became an overnight worldwide best-seller.

blog3-2

Now a successful Broadway musical

 

Despite the almost unacceptable criticism – ‘trite;’ ‘sentimental slush;’ ‘contrived, unrealistic dialogue;’ Bridges was adapted for the big screen, starring Meryl Steep, and heralded as co-star and director Clint Eastwood’s best ever film. They’ve even turned Bridges into a successful Broadway musical. So – how does a book that was pilloried, scorned and ridiculed become such a successful movie?  Well in the words of multi-Oscar winner William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Marathon Man; The Princess Bride, etc.!!):

Nobody knows nothin’

Which might lead us onto the question though – which was better the book or the movie? Can you ever adapt a book into movie form?  Should a movie screenplay just offer the flavour or essence of the original book or should it be an accurate rendering of every chapter?

Some films have been acclaimed for being ‘better’ than the original book – For example, A Tale of Two Cities, Bridge Over the River Kwai, the aforementioned Princess Bride.

 

blog3-3

Nobody knows nothin’!

Other famous movies have enhanced the sales and reputation of the original novel. Harry Potter, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Gone With the Wind.

 

We all have our opinions of course but what is increasingly true is the way that the literary/cinema photography structure is changing. We’re in a digital age now and it is easier to get our book published thanks to the emergence of self-publishing houses.  It’s also easier to make a movie. Yes! ‘make’! – film and editing equipment is relatively cheap and there are lots of would-be Tarantinos out there able and willing to do a professional job.  Change is afoot! – Ask Amazon or Netflix.

The alternatives to self-publishing/production, as an author, centre on eternally writing to publishing houses begging them to ask one of their fresh, fledgling Cambridge undergraduates to take a quick imperious glance at your manuscript. And anyone who has summited a film script knows that getting anyone of note to read it is asking for a minor miracle.

Perhaps the first step to making that movie is to have the script published – that is, a script that is perfectly polished, edited, formatted – and then published.

We could help with that. At least your work will be ‘out there!’ instead of collecting dust. And you may be able to send these decision-making units a hard copy – that will stand out amongst the thousands of manuscripts that are tossed carelessly across overflowing desks. We can’t promise anything – but we’ll help!

Advertisements

Where do you write?

Some years ago, at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival during a Q and A session at the end of one of the many Talking with the Authors sessions, some twenty something hopeful posed the question ‘Where do you do your writing?’ Well actually, the answers were as diverse as the number of plays/novels/articles that the Festival focussed on.

I write at home – in bed, first thing of a morning. If I stay in bed until the afternoon then I’ve had a successfully creative morning. My friends just think I’m a lazy ne’er do well who needs to get a proper nine till five job. But I know lots and lots of writers who work in bed. Sometimes of an evening – often last thing before they go to sleep.

blog2-3

“Need to get a proper job.”

 

The most popular answers at the LA Times Festival though were:

  • AT HOME ON THE COUCH – often in front of the TV.
  • IN MY HOME OFFICE – at my unbelievable untidy desk. [an untidy desk being a pre-requisite for a writer].
  • ON TRAINS – AMTRAK or THE UNDERGROUND or THE SUBWAY. Commuting somewhere.
  • SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN MY POKY APARTMENT – a favourite café perhaps.

What no mysterious cavern or fortress of solitude? What doesn’t seem to bother our authors is the lack of peace and quiet – somewhere to hear the muse without all the distraction.

 

blog2-2

Euripedes had his own writing sanctuary.

According to tradition, Euripides wrote his tragedies in a sanctuary, known as The Cave of Euripides, on Salamis Island, just off the coast from Piraeus. No one is entirely sure what the ‘Cave’ was or whether it was isolated and distant enough from society to influence his reticence to adhere to the strict protocols of the Athens Dionysia Festival and refusing to cater to the fancies of the judges. In fact, it was not until 441 BCE that he won first prize, and over the course of his lifetime, he claimed just four victories, many of his plays being considered too controversial and non-traditional for the Greek audiences of the day.

 

i-Witness’ adaptation of MEDEA is now available in paperback and is a new twenty-first century twist on Euripides’ most shocking of tragedies.

 

blog2-1

Fleet Prison – demolished in 1846.

John Cleland – author of FANNY HILL – MEMOIRS OF A WOMAN OF PLEASURE wrote his famous bawdy novel in Fleet Prison. Cleland (1709-1789) was sent to this notorious debtors London in 1746; the novel was first published in 1748 and was the earliest example of pornography in novel form. Fleet Prison was a notorious London Prison at the side of a stream (River Fleet). Mainly used for debtors and bankrupts, Fleet contained some 300 prisoners and their families many of whom had to beg from their cells, that overlooked the street, in order to pay for their keep.

 

Our adaptation of Fanny Hill, in play form, will be available in hard copy next week.

Resistant Families

There has sadly been a lot of child abuse cases in the news recently. The way some parents treat their children with remarkable cruelty. Starving them.  Burning them.  Locking them up in dark rooms and recently in LA putting them in a microwave.

When a child is seriously injured or killed there is usually, in England and North America some form of review [Serious Case Review) to try to understand why the agencies involved could not do more to safeguard the wellbeing of the child(ren).  The big problem that social workers, the police and health professionals have is that families are ‘resistant’ That is they refuse to cooperate with enquiries from /safeguarding agencies. They tell lies. They disguise compliance. They get threatening and aggressive and generally take steps to avoid their children being ‘assessed’ by professionals.

The ‘resistant families’ are particularly hard to deal with for child protection professionals – especially when the authorities have little or no statutory or legal platform on which to base their enquiries.

EYEWITNESS THEATRE COMPANY is the theatrical component of I-WITNESS PUBLICATIONS and has performed many of the plays that I-WITNESS has published.  EYEWITNESS spent last week in the Kingston and Richmond areas of London with specially scripted scenarios and theatre workshops that got to the heart of how professionals might manage ‘resistant families’ who kill or seriously injure their offspring.  It looks likely that there will be a whole bunch of these very successful and stimulating modules (You can contact us for more details).

odbOUR DAILY BREAD has been a big EYEWITNESS stalwart for over 30 years. Having won an Edinburgh Fringe First in the mid-eighties, the play concerns a young single mum who burns her son with a cigarette. As the drama unfolds the secrets, hopes, wishes and tragedies of the two protagonists. Sharon, the mum, and her social worker Janice are laid bare in a fascinating two-hander.

Perhaps the biggest ever child abuse in history was the actions of MEDEA who slaughtered her children merely to exact5 revenge on her husband Jason (he of the Argonauts fame). EYEWITNESS produced their own version of Euripides famous Greek /tragedy and it won award after award. The BBC called it ‘Unique! On a different level’; and in Orlando where it won the Festival, The Sentinel hailed it as ‘Theatre that spins!’. Take a look it really is on a different level.iwitness-logo

If you have work relating to social issues that you are wanting published, i-Witness would love to hear from you. Contact us to tell us more about your work and how we can help you become self-published.

 

James Bond and James Joyce

What is good and what is not good, Socrates, need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

PLATO

Have a quick read of the two passages below:

 

jamesbond

James Bond

Bond knew that sound. He leapt up the last steps and ran towards the figure lying spread-eagled on its back in the bright moonlight. He stopped and knelt slowly down, aghast. The horror of the strangled face was bad enough, but it was not Mr. Krest’s tongue that protruded from his gaping mouth. It was the tail of a fish. The colours were pink and black. It was the Hildebrand Rarity! The man was dead – horribly dead. When the fish had been crammed into his mouth, he must have reached up and desperately tried to tug it out. But the spines of the dorsal and anal fins had caught inside the cheeks and some of the spiny tips now protruded through the blood-flecked skin round the obscene mouth. Bond shuddered. Death must have come inside a minute. But what a minute!

 

The first is an extract of a short story – THE HILDEBRAND RARITY by Ian Fleming.

This second one is an extract from ULYSSES by James Joyce – heralded as the greatest novel ever written.

Ineluctable modality of the visible at least that if more thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am seen to read; sea spawn and sea wrack the nearing tide the rusty boot snotgreen blue silver rust coloured signs. Limits of the diaphane. But he adds in bodies then he was aware of them bodies them coloured. How by knocking his sconce against them sure. And he was and a millionaire maestro di color che sanno. Limit of the diaphane in. Why in? Diaphance adiaphenae if you can put your five fingers through it if it is not a door. Shut your eyes and see.

JamesJoyce

James Joyce

 

The Times Literary Supplement called the James Bond stories ‘glossy trash!’ – whatever that means. What do you think? And if you’re struggling to understand the extract from Ulysses you’re not alone. Joyce was aware he was going blind when he wrote it and ‘invented’ the word ‘ineluctable’ because for him the world was not getting any lighter. As for the rest of the passage – well, I’m not sure, even though I studied Joyce at University. So why is Joyce considered to be such a prestigious author and Ian Fleming ‘trashy’? And who tells us these things and what’s it got to do with Brexit? Well the answer may lie in the ebbing of the ‘snotgreen tide’. Times are changing folks as Donald Trump keeps reminding us – and maybe we voted for Brexit because like Peter Finch in ‘Network’ – we’re all angry and we’re not gonna take it anymore!

The world of writing is changing. No one is listening anymore to the literary snobs from the Times Literary Supplement. Readers are making up their own mind. We can read digital versions of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY or for that matter JAMES BOND without feeling guilt-ridden. To get your book published nowadays you don’t have to get interviewed by pock-marked Cambridge University undergraduates who’ve been engineered to quote from Ulysses even though they don’t understand it.

We customers will make up our own mind, thank you very much and authors are now enjoying the freedom this ‘book publishing revolution’  offers.

iwitness-logoWelcome to i-Witness Publications – A brand new publication house that will focus on social issues  – not just novels and short stories but stage plays, radio drama, screenplays and poetry. writing, in essence, that reflects the anomalies, glitches and variances of the world, past and present. In short any literature that has social and moral ‘issues’ underpinning its theme – everything from ‘cross-dressing’ to 17th Century prostitution.

The upswing of digital publishing has unfastened a wide range of opportunities for the writer and publisher and our keyword is creativity – at any level. Creativity – visions, imagination, innovation, originality – ingenuity. without the constraints limitations, bias, prejudices and favouritism of the ‘professional’ publishing houses.

Medea

Our version of EURIPIDES’ Medea was first performed in Winnipeg at the Manitoba Theatre Centre in July 2002 before touring Canada, USA and the UK, winning BBC Best Play at the 2008 Manchester Festival.

We wonder what Euripides himself would have thought of it. What would he have made of the famous National Theatre version or Passolini’s contentious film starring Maria Callas? The i-Witness Publications version was adapted to make it accessible for modern audiences – and as such the structure of the play was changed. Why do that?

 

MariaCallas

Maria Callas as Medea

Well…! There is no deus ex-machina to rescue Medea at the end of the play and wing her off to a celestial place of safety. Euripides never punished Medea for her awful crimes – but, indeed, perhaps by omission he was asking – What possible punishment can be exacted on a mother who slays her children?  In our award-winning adaptation, Medea is sentenced to suffer the torment and inescapable consequences of her murder by performing her tragedy over and over in diverse times and in different lands.

 

At the start of our adaptation, the only two characters, CHORUS and MEDEA find themselves in a modern theatre and start preparing to perform the tragedy of MEDEA so that the ‘modern’ audience can be tutored in what is good and what is evil. Medea is reluctant to prepare for her part – she is bored and lacking in motivation. Why can’t they play comedy for once? Or something by Orpheus or Sappho?

Chorus reminds Medea of her duty, charged by the Muses and ordained by the Gods. She must perform MEDEA and explain how she used her sorcery to help Jason win the Golden Fleece and persuaded him to marry her. Jason has forsaken her for a young princess and Medea must exact revenge by killing their two children.

‘Why must I always be the one to commit such a base crime?’ pleads Medea who suggests that she and Chorus escape from the theatre, find a local tavern and some young barbarians. Chorus is insistent though and spurs Medea on to execute the most perfidious crime in history.

Chorus leads a weeping Medea off the stage, presumably to another space and time where they will perform MEDEA once more.

‘Do you think they learnt anything?’ asks Medea. ‘Will they still send their sons off to be slaughtered in war?’

‘That is for them to decide,’ answers Chorus. ‘We have done our duty. We must away.’

 

cnv00001

Medea by Eyewitness Theatre Company

 

We hope Euripides would like our adaptation – but one thing is clear! –  his message about the forces of good and evil are as relevant today as they were in 431 BCE when the play was first performed.

The i-Witness Publications version is soon to be available in hard copy. Take a look.

A Rooftop in Belfast

A rooftop in Belfast – during the Troubles.

A middle-aged couple wait for their champion racing pigeon to come home to roost and win the National Championship. The prize – a chance to rekindle the ashes of their extinct relationship and rescue their bleak wretched lives.

hometoroostblog

The Troubles

 

The pigeon is called Spartacus and it’s been carefully supplemented with a special serum extracted from the blood of the Peruvian Dragon Lizard. And he’s arrived very early. Very early indeed. In record time. So it looks like He could win the competition again. He was a regular winner when he was younger. And if He wins he knows his life will be resurrected. He will be re-born! So too will his wife. Their relationship has become bleak and cold since the death of their daughter. Their daily life is void of hope, warmth or even feeling. It is a life only of inertia. A day to day drone towards the inevitable.

But if Spartacus come home to roost this early then He is certain to win the National Championship and all their troubles will be vanquished. All He has to do is wait for Spartacus to fly down and enter the loft so that He can take the identity ring off its leg and register it in the time clock.

Except that Spartacus doesn’t seem to want to land. He’s just circling above the rooftops. circling and circling.

Do something – She says.

But what can he do? Except wait for the pigeon to stop circling and come down. We need patience.

She is all frustration. The minutes are ticking by. Spartacus is circling – And we do have the shotgun!

hometoroostblog2

Wait a moment…isn’t that Spartacus?

Spartacus, of course, is a metaphor for Peace. His coming home to roost a symbol for harmony and concord during the troubles in Northern Ireland. It is a missive against the processes of hate that have blighted life in this unhappy province. It is a metaphor too for the hope that their once happy love can be resuscitated.  A hope that they can learn to stop hating each other.

When – I mean on what day did we wake up and realise that we hated each other? When the first day without Florence dawned on us? A dull rainy day without a sun to shine on the emptiness that we call existence. (LOOKS DOWN) And those people down there. The Irish. Who taught them to hate?  Hate the Brits. Hate the Catholics. Hate the Protestants. Hate each other? Who teaches us to hate? To hate all the people our friends hate. Our parents hate. Who taught us to hate people who are different? Hate, hate. Hate and loathing. Hate and fear. It will kill us all yet.

Home to Roost was first performed by Eyewitness Theatre Company in 1998 at the SAK Theatre, Orlando, where it won the ORLANDO THEATRE FESTIVAL, before touring the USA and Canada, that same year, and Ireland in 1999.

In 2002 it toured Canada with Globus Theatre Company.

It’s the sort of play i-Witness loves to produce – full of wit, lyrical language and replete with social issues that asks questions about our daily lives.

HOME TO ROOST is also being re-born – and becoming increasingly relevant – if the BREXIT decision means the borders in Ireland are to be closed again the troubles are likely to flare up.

Soon to be published by i-Witness in hard copy HOME TO ROOST is an inspiration to all writers out there who might want to consider publication with us.

The play’s the thing

The shape of writing is changing. It’s not just full-length novels that budding authors are undertaking. There are lots of ways to get your ideas across. Plays and Poetry are exciting ways to transmit your message – not least because they offer the chance of having your work broadcast – performed on stage or read aloud in an atmospheric corner of a warm, welcome pub. Performance Poetry is decidedly on the increase and offers a unique and life changing experience to air your work in public and bask in the post-read afterglow. Having your poetry published means that you can refer your new fans in the direction of obtaining their own copy of the stuff they have just heard – to peruse and admire at their leisure.

 

blog1

Performance poetry – Decidedly on the increase

Getting a play produced is difficult but the process is given more clout if the work has been published professionally. Theatre Companies and Producers are more likely to sit up and take note if they have something appear on their laptop that looks expert and reliable.

 

i-Witness have recently published OUR DAILY BREAD which will soon be in hard copy and already the author PETER MCGARRY has received offers of further work on the back of this publication.

OUR DAILY BREAD is a one-act play that concerns an incident of ‘significant harm’ to baby Leo, age 18 months, when Social Worker, Janice, discovers, that young, single mum Sharon has, in frustration, burnt her son’s wrists and forearms with a cigarette. A Child Protection Order is taken out and a court case to obtain an Interim Care order is processed.

odb

During the portrayal of the maltreatment and the subsequent legal steps to ensure the safety of the child the script examines the life of the two disparate women thrust together by the uneasy circumstance of child abuse to become enmeshed in the labyrinth of a topic that has dominated the headlines for the past thirty years. A divorced unfulfilled Social Worker and a young volatile mother mirror each other’s lives and the reflections lay bare the bleak defects in their circumstances – money, sex, men and the desolate prospect of a bleak empty future. Lurking behind the witty dialogue and the raw angry humour lie the blemishes of Domestic Violence, Sexual Exploitation bureaucratic indifference, discrimination and social inequality.

OUR DAILY BREAD was first performed in 1986 by Eyewitness Theatre Company at the HALF MOON THEATRE in East London and has subsequently had over 1200 performances worldwide and been acclaimed with 8 international awards (including Edinburgh, New York and Hamburg) and was winner of the 1995 AMERICAN THEATRE  FESTIVAL in Orlando, Florida.

There’s a moral here – it’s never too late to think about polishing off those poems or dramatic dialogue and think about getting them published.

 

Sweet writers love the spring

It’s about this time of year that all those involved in publishing literary travails begin to get a little infected by the coming of Spring – and normally quote from a famous ode or sonnet to start their blog or marketing e-mail.

Well, we at i-Witness are going to be no exception so here’s a quote from the Bard (Sonnet 98, actually).

shakespeare

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April dress’d in all his trim
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
That heavy Saturn laugh’d and leap’d with him.

It often happens that Spring, and the coming of, is a time when the Muse may visit you more frequently and you set about tapping that cursor to produce something that you might hope to get published. If so you might consider sending us those words – especially if it’s poetry, because we don’t have enough poetry to consider. Not just poetry but, indeed any form of prose that stretches the definitions of writing – something that dares to be different.

Not just poetry of course. We have published quite a few plays. OUR DAILY BREAD isodb a play about child abuse that has had over 1200 performances worldwide but was never published. Recently updated, and still as fresh, passionate and relevant OUR DAILY BREAD provides an audacious exposé into the darker side of post- Brexit Britain. Pronounced by prominent press globally as ‘the perfect two-hander; poignant and powerful, funny and frightening’

OUR DAILY BREAD is still being performed thirty years after its premiere – and we are privileged to have been able to help get it published.

If you’re a writer or just starting out on that ‘long lonely journey’ you might consider contacting us, and we’ll send a free small guide on how to self-publish.

 

 

Who cares that you wrote something?

A screenwriter comes home to his burned down house. His sobbing, singed and smoking wife is crying outside.

“What the hell happened?” asks the screenwriter.

“Oh darling,” she sobs, “it was awful! I was baking brownies and the phone rang. It was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the oven had caught fire. The whole kitchen went up in half a minute. Everything is gone. I nearly didn’t make it out of the house. And our kitten – poor Felix is…is–”

“Wait, wait. Back up a minute,” The scriptwriter says. “My agent called?”

Here’s another one.pizza

What’s the difference between a large pizza and an author?

The pizza can feed a whole family.

Yes, we know. It really is difficult being a writer. Especially if you’re a budding writer.

How do I get published?

How do I market my stuff?

How good is my writing?

But don’t worry – there’s lots of advice out there. Most of it designed to take money from you – one way or another. Of course, there is always, initially, going to be some expense you’re going to have to shell out. But what on? And how much? Who to? When?

Should I concentrate solely on my novel? – or should I start finding help with marketing the moment I put finger to cursor.

Should I employ a professional editor to help me express my words and feeling better?

When do I use exclamation marks? Words – ending in “-ing”.

What about direct/indirect speech? Quotes?

What do I know about formatting issues?

We asked Peter McGarry, author of RED DRESS REVOLUTION.

Peter has been a playwright for thirty years and has won awards world-wide and more importantly, has made a more than decent living from writing. RED DRESS REVOLUTION was his first novel.

41mim9dl9l-_sy346_

“It started out as a screen-play that the BBC were sniffing at. Soon, it was far too long and I felt that a novel would be more appropriate for the way the story was starting to pan out.

I started writing – using the structure from the initial screenplay draft. Wrote and re-wrote the book several times before I submitted it. Looking back, I think I should have had some ongoing editing process while writing the novel – rather than wait till I had completed it. Having someone edit is as I was writing it – at the end of every chapter, say, would have meant having dialogue with someone about the quality of stuff I was producing.

I felt that no-one cared that I was writing a novel. Why should they, of course?  But ongoing editing with someone who knew what they were doing would probably have made me feel more confident and capable.”

i-Witness is always looking for new authors who are wanting to self-publish. If this is you, please get in touch.

The Cost of Domestic Abuse

Eyewitness Theatre Company is the performing arm of i-Witness Publications and performs regularly across the globe with mainstream productions – HOME TO ROOST, LYSISTRATA and OUR DAILY BREAD are fine examples – but also with training and awareness modules to Health and Social Care professionals

Last week Eyewitness was invited to Harrow Arts Centre to perform A JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE at the Annual Conference on Domestic Abuse. This was a multi-agency event and as well as Eyewitness, national and local keynote speakers provided thought-provoking workshops which covered a multitude of issues related to domestic violence within the whole family – from pre-birth to young children; from young people to vulnerable adults and elders. Discussions and workshops, around the impact and ramifications of domestic violence, were stimulating and lots of good practice was shared.

 

conf

Domestic Violence Conference

 

In the UK Domestic Violence is still a serious issue and:

  • Will affect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime
  • Leads to, on average, two women being murdered each week and 30 men per year
  • Accounts for 16% of all violent crime (Source: Crime in England and Wales 04/05 report), and yet it is still the violent crime least likely to be reported to the police
  • Has more repeat victims than any other crime (on average there will have been 35 assaults before a victim calls the police)
  • Is the single most quoted reason for becoming homeless (Shelter, 2002)
  • In 2010 the Forced Marriage Unit responded to 1735 reports of possible Forced Marriages.

In addition, approximately 400 people commit suicide each year who have attended hospital for domestic abuse injuries in the previous six months. Two hundred of these attend hospital on the day they go on to commit suicide.

 

barbie

One in four women suffer domestic abuse.

 

The cost of domestic abuse

It has been estimated that domestic abuse costs the public £23 billion per annum.  This includes the cost to the criminal justice system, to the health service, to social care and to housing.  It is widely accepted however that this figure is an under-estimate as there are so many costs that cannot be measured.

The Home Office estimates that each domestic abuse murder costs the country just over £1 million and totals £112 million per annum.

The event was organised by Harrow Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.

Training and awareness modules for Health and Social Care professionals is the sort of stuff Eyewitness do so successfully and their award-winning script-writing is of the highest quality.

We at i-Witness would be happy to hear from authors who have scripts on all aspect of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.

Contact us here or e-mail iwitnesspublications@gmail.com

iwitness-logo