Finishing touches and final licks of paint are being applied to the all new website for my play Now is the Hour. This is a site aimed at professional, amateur and student theatre companies, so they can find out a little more about the play, download the script, and hopefully make plans to put on a production of their own, following the great success we had at the Maddermarket last year. If you’re interested, please get in touch via production@nowisthehour.co.uk.

Here she is: www.nowisthehour.co.uk

Click to view the site

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A review of the Maddermarket’s current production of Now Is The Hour in the Eastern Daily Press, by Roger Haywood.

EDP review by Roger Haywood

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Now Is The Hour music

I noticed this up on SoundCloud today. I think our producer is just using it to send the music over from Farnham, Surrey to Norwich, where the play is taking shape I expect. (I’m out of the loop, but never mind.) Still, if you’re interested, here is all the incidental music to the play Now Is The Hour, soon to be arriving at the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich from 19th – 28th September.

The original tracks are by Spesh Maloney, with a few in there by George Lewis and Charlie Haden’s Quartet West.

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Lots of stuff happening

Lots of stuff is happening this year, me-wise, so I thought an update here was well overdue.

The highlights at the moment are:

  • 3rd August, 2pm, Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone – The first public rehearsed reading of my play North of the Sunset will take place, with Julian Joseph playing the part of Thelonious Monk, both acting and playing piano. Send me an email if you’d like to come to this one.
  • 19th–28th September, Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich – The new full-length version of Now Is The Hour is getting a two-week run at the Maddermarket in Norwich. To be directed by Stu Dennison, if he makes it back from Istanbul.
  • TBA, TBA – We have recruited a director for Horses in the Rain and will be agressively pitching it to theatres very soon. Watch this space…

I had an idea yesterday that goes like this: get a designer to create a set, giving them more or less free rein. Install it somewhere and then commission writers to come along and view it, then create plays that would use the set, and put them on as a short festival. They could end up being incredibly diverse. As well as being an interesting artistic exercise – I personally love having this sort of arbitrary creative stimulus – it’s also very economical: the productions save a whole lot of money on design, construction, get-in/get-out etc. Anyone think it’s an idea worth pursuing? Or know if this has been tried anywhere before?

I sketched out some lyrics to this minor Miles Davis funk classic yesterday.

They’re sweet and light and definitely old school – a little bit “Tisket A Tasket”, but then so is Miles’ tune – but at least nobody dies in them. (I took that verse out.) An acheivement. Enjoy.

Old man, Jean-Pierre,
I like the way you comb your hair,
I like your eyes, I like your smile,
I like the way you drive me…

Wild man, Jean Pierre,
I’ve heard you dance like Fred Astaire.
How ’bout a kiss? Something like this?
Maybe one day you’ll show me…

How you live your life.
I think I’d like to be your wife.
One cup of yours, two cups of mine.
We’ll grow old like finest Burgundy wine.

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Misterioso video

Here’s a short video from the 2009 production at Riverside Studios of Misterioso, on which I did some work. The words at the start – Cleveland Watkiss playing Thelonious Monk – are those of Stefano Benni, translated from the Italian by the show’s director Filomena Campus. The words at the end are (mostly) mine – Tamsin Shasha playing Nica de Koenigswarter – adapted and extended from Filomena’s original text.

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Yesterday we had a workshop to run through a new script that I’ve been working on for the best part of a year. It called Horses in the Rain after a song by Django Bates and Sidsel Endresen (on YouTube here), a title that represents loneliness and the search for inner strength, which is kind of what the play is about, but not quite so exactly. It’s about two friends who drift apart but keep clinging on for one reason or another – and in that respect it may be a more universal theme than I first realised. Everyone afterwards had a story about a friendship in their lives that somehow paralleled the story.

Pictured are Beth Munro, directing, and Angela Koo and Emma Perry acting.

Here are some more photos:

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For no reason in particular, I recently decided to put some lyrics to the Ornette Coleman tune “Lonely Woman”. Of all of Ornette’s compositions, it’s the most naturally singable (though you’ll need quite a large range and a sympathetic key), and I wasn’t aware of any existing sung versions. (I believe there is a fairly obscure one out there, but I’ve refrained from listening to it.)

So here is my stab at it. I’ve interpreted the title fairly literally, with an anonymous, single female protagonist. Where the two horns play lines in harmony on the original recording, I’ve put this in a narrator’s voice. Where the sax plays solo or takes the lead, I’ve switched to direct speech, which felt like a natural interpretation of the music to me. There’s an improvised break at the end of the bridge, where I’ve let the singer improvise their own fill on the syllable “oh”.

I’ve fallen into the old habit of writing in a slight Southern States period dialect, and setting the song in that world by implication, but I hope it doesn’t come across as hackneyed as a result. I hope the lyrics contain as much truth, is what I mean, as if I’d written about my own world.

Here is Ornette playing the original piece, with Don Cherry (cornet), Charlie Haden (bass) and Billy Higgins (drums), from the album The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959):

Listen to Lonely Woman

Here is a transcription, so you can play along at home.

And here are my lyrics. Enjoy.

On her way to church one morning
She hears her mother’s song
Rising like heat from the ground:
“Little honey bee,
Seize ev’ry sweet day softly
And hurry back to heaven.”

In that tender voice, unfolding,
Fresh as the summer corn,
Dark as the sleek nevermore,
“When they buried me,
Nobody cried like you babe,
Oh nobody looked so frail,

Thinking of your life,
With all of your bright lights,
And all of your blue nights.
Oh, oh, oh…”

In the greasy heat of evening,
Up from the earth below,
Devilment tightens her jaw.
“Who will walk with me?
No one to hold my cold hands.
Oh nobody to save me.”

The words are copyright obviously, but don’t let that stop you. If you’re a singer or a student and you want to have a go at these, be my guest, and please send me a link or let me know how you get on. I’d love to hear the results. My friend Aisling is going to have a try as well, I think. Results will be posted here soon, maybe.

If you want to record or release them commercially though, then sure, let’s talk. And good luck to you.

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I was helping out a friend today by researching some of the UK-friendly crowdfunding sites, with a view to getting funding for a non-fiction book, hence these details are tailored towards that end. Having done the legwork, I thought I’d share the results here in case anyone else is in the same position. All data represents the state of the sites as they appeared today. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

I hope this is useful and relevant to somebody else. I’ve basically cut and pasted this from what I sent to my friend today:

Choosing a crowdfunding site

Kickstarter requires the project funder to have a US bank account, so it actually would rule you out. There are a number of UK-friendly alternatives, including:

  • Crowdfunder.co.uk
  • Pozible.com
  • Sponsume.co.uk
  • WeFund.co.uk
  • PleaseFund.Us

Analysis of publishing projects on these sites

Specifically comparing publishing projects on the above sites (all Davids to Kickstarter’s Goliath). These generally include magazines as well as books in their publishing category. I am also including Kickstarter itself by way of comparison.

site no. of live projects highest current total FB fans commission[1]
Crowdfunder

6

£285

n/a

5%

Pozible

48[2]

£3,708[3]

7,836

7.5%

Sponsume

5

£1,315

2,682

4%

Wefund

0

(£5057)[4]

6,562

5%

Pleasefund.us

10

£15,325

19,140

5%

Kickstarter

119[5]

£12,087[6]

227,897

5%

Methodology

I’m comparing the highest total currently raised, whether that project is likely to be successful or not, as it is a clearer indicator of spending than either the success rate (which is hard to establish in most cases, and dependent on the targets) or the targets themselves (which might be unrealistic in some cases).

Facebook fan numbers are there as a broad comparison of the sites’ popularity.

The number of live projects is self-explanatory, though it’s worth noting that the categories used differ on the different services. Some bundle book writing alongside theatre, others bundle it with journalism, or keep it separate.

Commission is generally taken off your total when you receive the funds.

Recommendations: Pozible vs. Pleasefund.us

Having ruled out Kickstarter, there are two clear winners in the analysis: Pozible and Pleasefund.us.

Of the two, Pozible is probably the better, with the sole and possibly fatal disadvantage that it’s based in Australia and all funds are in $AU. There are plenty of foreign (and even foreign-language) projects there, but they’re a minority.

Pleasefund.us is equally impressive as a site, as well as featuring the highest-funded project of all those sampled: an activity cookbook for children. It’s just a bit smaller in reach.



[1] does not include PayPal fees (an extra 3% or so)

[2] includes theatre projects

[3] converted from $AU

[4] not current; this finished almost a year ago

[5] non-fiction books alone. Total books many times greater. Total “publishing”, greater still.

[6] converted from $US

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