Hazel McHaffie

New Year

My annual foray into the world of scriptwriting

Ahhh, my last blog of 2015. Hard to believe another whole year has gone by since I was too ill to write.

Uppermost in my mind this week is the annual story/play which I write for my grandchildren (and direct and scene-set and costume-make and cater for – yep, definitely master of none but nobody’s caring). We held it yesterday (Wednesday 30th) giving us time to change the house from a family Christmas venue to a Community Hall on the remote island of Moorphunlesshasslepleez, somewhere in the ocean between the outer Hebrides and the USA. The plot revolved around the supreme ruler, His Excellency Elijah Balahoulie, deciding his time had come to give way to a new leader. I won’t bore you with the detail which is littered with in-house jokes and allusions. A few pictures might best capture the tone and spirit of the event.

Stars of the show were of course the grandchildren themselves who were citizens of this strange island where everyone wears a kind of uniform ‘habit’:Four citizens of the island of Moorphunlesshasslepleez They were summonsed by the island’s town crier to hear a proclamation asking for nominations to head up a new era.A proclamation by the town crierApplicants included: a schoolteacher cum precious gem prospector,A schoolteachera glamorous seamstress,

A glamorous seamstress

an internationally famous ballerina,An internationally famous ballerinawho was also a brilliant teacher of all the citizens,Teaching the citizens to dance

a couple of virtuosos on wind instruments playing their very own medley of tunes,The wind instrumentalists

a recycling fanatic,A recycling fanaticand a young mum of a baby born on Christmas Day. A new mum

Some serious cooking and eating were involved too.Baking pizzas

The adults rose nobly to the occasion and doubled as a farmer, a baker, a dotty old lady, and a banker cum magician who showed a quite remarkable sleight of hand with a pack of cards.The conjurorEveryone had to score each applicant on ten different parameters and the assessment certainly concentrated attention, although some of the scores seemed decidedly suspect!

As usual the main players entered into the spirit of the event with huge enthusiasm – it helps that they don’t know anything about the storyline until they arrive – and every minute spent sewing and constructing props and costumes, every footsore hour spent hunting down elusive objects, reaped rich dividends.

Naturally enough there’s a strange feeling of anti-climax today after months and months of thinking and preparation, and the frenzied last minute scene setting, and all the anxieties about precise timings and locations, but the next phase is to turn the play into a book illustrated with photos taken during the performance – of which there are 565 to choose from!

Thoughts can then turn to a new year, new opportunities, the latest novel. So it only remains for me to wish all my visitors and friends health and happiness, peace and prosperity in 2016. Thank you for sharing my world.

,

Comments

Kurukulla: The Wise Guru

Christmas week! Time methinks for a holiday from all serious debate and difficult issues and deep and meaningful reading. Light relief is called for.

Apparently some of my readers were disappointed not to get some hints as to the Christmas story I was writing for my grandchildren. A deliberate decision on my part because family members (adult) object if I spoil the surprise by giving sneaky previews.

But, after the event, I can now reveal all, and share a glimpse into Christmas Day chez nous. (Apologies for the variable quality of the pictures – still tinkering with settings, but reluctant to spend all of Boxing Day pfaffing with something so tedious, and technical support limited during the holiday period.)

The story centred around four cousins who time-travelled from Scotland in the 21st century, walking backwards up a winding staircase …21st century quartetback in time to the home of a wise guru, Kurukulla, which in Tibetan means dances the rhythms of wisdom.meeting the guru The Wise One gradually transforms them into mini disciples and puts them through a series of initiation ceremonies …initiation ceremonytasting ceremony

learning to be a followerthe guru's suitcaseand as they acquire knowledge and wisdom she adds jewels to their faces … jewelled face 1jewelled face 2jewelled face 3jewelled face 4Magical creatures add surprise elements …magical creatureand a banquet wins the hearts of chocoholics…banquetThe end result: four beaming grandchildren.four happy actorsIt only remains for me to rid the soft furnishings of the smell of sandalwood and musk, and wish you all a peaceful and prosperous 2013 – contentment and gratitude in the good times; strength and wisdom if troubles come your way.

, , , , ,

Comments

A dramatic start to 2012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x91rBzNKvlc

A friend sent me this – beautiful photography, excellent sentiments – and I thought I’d share it with you in this first post of 2012. It says what I’d like to say so much better than I could say it (spelling mistakes excepted). A wish for world peace, wisdom, courage, happiness; what more could we ask for? And the idea of that spotless tract of snow that will show every mark we make, fairly strengthens the resolve to do better, doesn’t it?

As for me, well, it’s back to work with a vengeance this week. One of my tasks has been preparing a resumé of the dramatic appeal of my books ready for an approach to filmmakers. And because my mind has been running along that track I’ve been acutely conscious of the number of films from books shown on TV over the festive period.

Dickens’ Great Expectations made the biggest splash, of course, with its millions of viewers at prime time.

Now, I confess I studied Great Expectations at school for O-level English, but I’m hanged if I remembered much about it decades later. What I do know, though,  is that seeing this adaptation was a hundred times more enjoyable – and I’m a self-confessed book addict. From the moment when Magwitch emerges from the eerie slime, to the point where Miss Havisham dons her bridal veil and sets fire to her lover’s letters and herself, I was gripped. The only jarring bits for me were the good-looking stars. Surely Miss Havisham was more crumbly and wrinkled than Gillian Anderson made her; and Pip was certainly not as prettily perfect a screen idol as Douglas Booth  – eclipsing Estelle, in fact. But I could easily overlook those anomalies, and concede that they together probably brought in far more viewers than ordinary everyday faces would have done.

Also on offer were repeats of the oldies – Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, Dorian Gray, Little Women, Heidi, Mansfield Park, Emma, The Chronicles of Narnia … to name but a few on the main channels.

Now, usually I’m averse to watching a film of a book I’ve read. I like to retain the characters of my imagination unsullied by the interpretations of others. But I’m increasingly coming round to thinking that drama can bring these remote tales of bygone times to life for far more people. Some of whom will then go to the book with a headstart in understanding the rather dreary 19th century prose. Why, just today I saw a shelf full of paperback versions of Great Expectations curiously labelled ‘Vintage Dickens’ – with scratchy black and white covers too, not even a photograph of the TV stars in the Christmas version! So there must be a market for the book now amongst the folk of 2012 who buy ready-made cakes and polyester clothes and giant plasma screen TVs. Besides which, you can download the classics on your Kindle absolutely free of charge.

So, all power to the elbow of those who labour to resurrect the classics for the 21st century, say I. Andrew Davies screenplay of Little Dorrit was for me a masterclass in bringing fusty prose to life. Davies, you’ll remember, was the genius who created a Mr Darcy who cooled his ardour in the pond and emerged with his wet shirt and breeches clinging to his manly form in front of his lady love in Pride and Prejudice. A brilliant screenwriter.

One day I’m hoping to persuade some playwright and film director somewhere to do something similar for me! That’s what’s galvanising me this week. I used to worry about my stories being distorted, but Dickens has been dragged into accessibility and modern times by clever adaptation, so why not me?

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments