Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A cast of thousands

Cineplexes are no fun at all. The inventor of multiple screen cinemas has missed the point. People do not go to the cinema to see a moving film with sound and colour and to eat overpriced popcorn. They go to be with other humans in the dark and to listen to a story and see actors play the story out before them.

Once, our local cinema ran continuous programmes with no lights up in between for shuffling bodies to stumble out of or move in to the rows of seats.
You arrived with half a torn ticket stub, sat down to watch the end of the film, waited for it to start once more and pieced the story together on your way home with your date, who thought you very wise.
The fun part was when the cinema left out a reel to shorten the programme so the night could end before midnight. Then you filled in the story for yourself, your own bespoke movie with film stars in it under the direction of your mind.
The bad times were when the over-enthusiastic projectionist put the reels on in the wrong rotation, between pints. People were killed half way through in a spectacular gun-battle and then, undead, rode into town to parlay before the shooting began.
No point in complaining to management for you would be earmarked as a troublemaker from then on and watched by the usher with the torch in the dark, who really only wanted to go outside for a smoke.
Computerised ticketing with credit card booking and films done to death by focus groups before you ever see them is not the answer. Where now the "cast of thousands" when computer generated images abound?
Bring back anarchy and mayhem, I say. The story deserves no less.
Storytelling here
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I don't remember that

I tell a story at a funeral. Not the actual internment; but at the tea and sandwiches afterwards.
I wonder aloud, as they carry a smallish coffin in to the church, if they measured for a man with no legs or if it is a low-cost coffin that his estranged family has ordered?
His legs were amputated, one at a time, to halt a medical condition. It did not work.

To make amends for any offence caused, I tell a humorous story about a pair of neighbours of his. Dead Woman Haunts Ball Player is in my book. The stories therein are based on real people and real happenings. These people lived beside the recently deceased man with no legs and a small coffin.
At my table are Frank and his wife, two others, and a single man. All smile for they remember the woman with fondness.
The man says he does not remember. I wonder who he is and explain who the lady was and who the terrified boy was and still he shakes his head. Frank asks me to tell the story once more.
I tell how the woman threatens to haunt the boy if he does not stop bouncing a ball on the roof of her house. She dies that night and the terrified child screams for three nights until his mother takes a hand.
Still no reaction from the man. I ask what his interest in the exact memory of the story might be?
He says he was that boy and can remember none of it.
I fear the trauma of the story has wiped it from his memory. Anyway, he no longer looks like the boy he was then and I wonder how his legs are? Next time I will ask for names before I start to tell.
I need to stay away from negativity.
Storytelling here

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is that a true story?

I tell stories in a socially-deprived area which is another way of saying the cats travel in pairs around this place at night.
A warning bell should have gone off when I took a call on Monday asking if I was free on Wednesday?
I said let me check my diary, the one I cannot find for weeks on end; finally I say: yes I am.
On Wednesday I replace a puppeteer who doe not answer her phone after last week's visit to this summer camp.
None are aged more than 12 years chronologically but all are aeons old in street smarts.
Out go the cute stories; cosy romances pass them by, others follow until one says she wants to hear stories that are "gross"
This girl could wrestle a weightlifter to the ground and win.

So, I tell 'em the story of the boy who is called out at night in country-darkness to help carry a coffin.
Yes and he is to be the corpse.
I tell, they listen with intent; I wrap it up and tell a few more tiny stories that stand the test of time, mostly about fools besting wise men.
Finished, I prepare to leave when the wrestler sidles up, and without speaking tells me she wants to ask a question.
I say what? She asks in a low voice with eyes darting around for eavesdroppers, if that was a true story? I ask her what she thinks? She says she does not know; I say if she thinks it's true then maybe it's true for her?
I suggest she tells it to a few pals and see what happens. She says yes and walks away a storyteller.
I leave and wonder what happened to the puppet person?
Storytelling here

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Writing on walls

I am writing my sixth contracted book and realise that publication of the others was a mistake on the part of the publishers.
My preferred length is as short as possible; the three sentence story being long enough to say most things.
I love you. Marry me. Let's have children.
Which is how, somewhere in that marathon of writing a book, I hit the wall.
I used to think the wall was an affectation of runners who chase shadows to trump their personal best.
I am not a runner, preferring the sure determination of the long distance walker over the histrionics of road eaters.
I do have the wall of endurance in common with marathon runners, that point when sanity says give it up, have a smoke and a cup of tea, in a china cup.
But, so far I have written through it and submitted the manuscripts on time and the publishers were too busy to notice that it was the work of a chancer bent on admiration and a royalty cheque.
Then readers say they like the stuff. Try as I might I can never re-find that wall that bothered me so much that I took the dog for a walk instead of writing any more.
Maybe I'll take up painting and see if that's any easier, after I deliver this book, and the one after that which is also contracted by another foolish publisher.
I can write anywhere, mostly in my head, and painting requires you be somewhere, which is a bit too much bother.
Storytelling here