I’m not sure what type of writing I prefer but if I can probably narrow it down to two – they are writing novels and writing film or TV scripts.
I think it’s because each of those forms allow you to write proper ‘stories’ with plots and characters. For example it’s exciting to throw a random plot twist at the characters and see how they react; then follow them to the end to see how everything gets resolved.
There’s time to get to know the characters a bit, time to chill with these new and interesting people. It’s also a bit like that with painting, especially painting portraits, where you don’t know where that first mark on the canvas is going to lead, who is going to emerge from that mess of form and colour.
I suppose that it’s a bit like that for all art-forms – the creation of something out of nothing but an idea. But then, isn’t it a bit like that for science and engineering too? Isn’t it a bit like that for every facet of human existence, from making a cup of tea to designing a spaceship?
There’s nothing special about writers and artists.
Anyway, my work-in-progress includes adapting two of my books into television scripts.
It’s going great so far, in fact both books seem to lend themselves to the visual style of a television script. The books are Bums and Boys from the Backfields and each story is being developed into a six part TV drama. Both books are set in the industrial/post-industrial town of Elchurch on the South Wales coast but they are very different books in other respects.
NOTE: This blog post is meant primarily as a personal record of something I did and the context in which I did it. It’s no more than that.
In the late sixties, when I was a teenager I used to sit in cafés and watch people. I don’t mean in a creepy way, I was just a casual observer. At seventeen I spent some time based in Paddington and worked as a Lugger – a Roadie’s assistant, carrying speakers and amps in through the back entrances,up the steep stairs, and along the narrow passages of nightclubs all over the UK. I grafted for several bands including Jon Hiseman’s Coliseum and Jimmy James and the Vagabonds. I shared a flat with other roadies who between them worked for some of the biggest names of that period.
So, it looks like Tafftown is becoming a reality – when I say reality, of course I mean it’s not real, but it’s a drama of the sort that’s commonly known as a soap-opera – a term originally coined to mean a programme that depended on advertising revenues from soap (or washing powder) companies, or as Wikipedia says (although I’ve never heard the term ‘soapie’, it sounds Australian?):
“A soap opera, soapie, or soap is a serial drama on television or radio which features related story lines about the lives of many characters. The stories usually focus on emotional relationships to the point of melodrama. The term soap opera originated from such dramas being typically sponsored by soap manufacturers in the past.”
So that’s what Tafftown is, and it’s based on an idea of mine, influenced by several factors, including the fact that I have lived in an area similar to the one depicted in Tafftown for the last ten years and for a period in my twenties. I’ve been thinking about such a television series for a long time, and it finally came to a head a few days ago when after a meeting with my co-writer Dafydd Wyn Roberts and consultations with the other as yet unnamed people involved, we decided to announce it to the world.
So there it is it’s a reality.
The first episodes will be short – ten minutes or so – and will be broadcast online only.
Scripts and characters are in development and several parts have already been cast.
I wrote a play a long time ago called ‘Tossers’. Looking for a tag to describe what sort of play it was, I dubbed it ‘a surreal pointless play’. There’s no point me trying to describe it because it actually is a surreal pointless play. It was performed as part of the On the Edge series at Chapter Arts Centre around ten years ago and it went down well. You can read it by clicking here.
So, why doesn’t it matter in the end, or indeed at any other time? Well, the truth is that it doesn’t matter because whatever it is, it is so tiny and insignificant that it has no effect, so doesn’t matter. On the always present other hand, it, whatever it is, is all that matters. Trouble is it’s quite impossible for me to convey the meaning of what I’m trying to say by describing it in this way, so like many who are trying to describe the indescribable I turn to some form of art – in this case words, put together in the form of a stage play.
I wrote another play with a similar idea behind it called ‘it doesn’t matter’. That play has yet to be produced but you can read it by clicking here.
The point is that there is no point, but, that doesn’t matter either. And there’s no point me going on trying to explain it – what I’m saying might be, and probably is, a load of bollocks anyway.
Another way of thinking about it is that . . . . oh who am I kidding, I can’t describe it, so let’s just sit back, breathe deeply and enjoy the view.
And it carries on anyway, whether you’re in the game or not, whether it even is a game or not.
Do you think the universe is dissolving into a kind of smear? Maybe smear is too dirty a word – perhaps kaleidoscope is better? Except the word kaleidoscope implies patterns and all I can see is a randomness. something like the image below.
That’s one way of looking at it I suppose.
And with that, a week of writing a blog post every day comes to an end. It was an experiment. I don’t know if it will carry on.
Oh! Except here is a picture of a lovely door/gate – there’s something behind it!!!!
While working on my next novel ‘Bums’ which will be published in the Spring of 2015, I have been distracting myself by putting together a volume of other bits and pieces, called for the Time Being.
It’s going to end up as a 200 page paperback book and will be published in late October or early November 2014.
For the Time Being is a bringing together of short stories, plays, poems, snippets and other fragments of my writing. Some of it is brand new, other pieces have been lurking in drawers for decades. Some of the work has been exhaustively edited while some is still red raw. Some of the work has already been published on this blog in one form or another, some of it emerged as I was putting the book together.
I don’t know if the book has any commercial viability – probably not, but I don’t really care – it’s primary purpose is as a distraction for me and something for me to read in my dotage – the pure essence of self-publishing if you like.
There will be more information about the book on Opening Chapter’s website when it’s available.
TAPS – Television Arts Performance Showcase were an organisation whose aim was to discover and develop scriptwriters for television. They did pretty good for a long time then, I believe, the recession put paid to them in 2009.
I was involved in a number of their schemes and wrote a short drama with them in 2006. The drama “Bumps in the Night” never quite made it to production. Anyway I thought I’d put the script up here in the faint hope that someone will be interested in it, or at least to give an example of a tv drama script, the length of an episode of a soap opera on ITV.
The nostalgic mood continues. Here are the first two episodes of a soap-opera / drama thing I started writing specifically for publication on the Internet in its early days – 1996. The idea was that it would be published online in short sharp episodes using only text in a visual style, though there were always plans to add pictures and possibly videos when the technology got fast enough to make that viable. Maybe it’s time to do that now?
Tossers is a surreal pointless play first presented by Michael Kelligan as part of the On the Edge series of script held performances at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. The play includes three poems one of which is included in the extract below. Continue reading “Tossers”
Betty, a woman of about 60, is browsing for books in the local branch library. A group of youngsters, led by a scruffy 14 year old come in and harangue her and the library assistant Vicky, a woman in her thirties.
Betty is distressed, but despite the intervention of the library assistant, the youths continue to behave in a threatening way.
An older woman, Mair, appears from behind a bookshelf and watches the melee.
This is a script developed with TAPS with a view to getting it produced by ITV for the It’s My Shout scheme. In the end it didn’t make the final cut but got as far as a reading and development at the BBC studios in Cardiff.