Tag Archives: Family

Franca Rame/Dario Fo Monologues: Review

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Franca Rame/Dario Fo Monologues: Review

Two actresses, two monologues, two stories, two outcomes, one struggle.

Last night Maggi Green and Mikyla Jane Durkan of Burjesta Theatre, Liverpool performed two very different monologues on the theme of the struggle of women in society.  Grotesque comedies from Italian dramatists Dario Fo and Franca Rame Rise and Shine and A Woman Alone invite you into the personal lives of two women: both obedient to their husbands, both comforting babies and both so tired and sick of everything.

Rise and Shine was skillfully performed by Maggie Green.  A stressed out mother wakes up from one nightmare straight into another one.  Relieved to find her fingers still on her hands, those hands become full as soon as her feet touch the floor.  The baby in one hand, her handbag in another and the key, where is the key?  Squeezing her way around imaginary furniture, with very few props and an invisible baby, keeping up the mime of struggling to search the small cramped house for keys while narrating her life, her husband’s life and talking to baby was done beautifully.  We never see the husband but the change in stance and expression when his dialogue was recited brought to life the domestic struggles this woman is going through.  The clock is ticking, the panic is growing, no-one is coming to help, baby’s filled his nappy, again, and the key is nowhere to be found.  The panic in this claustrophobic house with nothing in the right place was tangible.

The atmosphere grew thicker again during Mikyla Jane Durkan’s accomplished portrayal of A Woman Alone.  The stage now filled with props (this lady’s husband buys her everything) a wife has been locked up in her flat after indulging in an affair with her young Italian teacher.  She is caring for her brother-in-law, who is in a (almost) full body cast in another room with just one hand and that free for groping around and her baby who is crying of often.  Music plays in every room to stop her feeling alone, the phone constantly rings – nuisance calls, checks up from her husband and begging from her young lover – and then the banging on the door starts.  There’s so much noise!  What can you do when all you want is a quiet conversation with the new neighbour?  You need to stay calm.  Very very calm.  Bright welcoming smiles and laughter gave way to wide eyed desperation dissolving into an eerie sense of calm as a woman alone welcomed everyone back into the house and tried to regain control.

Where are the keys?  The men have them.

Burjesta Theatre are a fringe theatre company based at The Casa, Hope Street, Liverpool.  Further information can be found on their Facebook page.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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Against all Odds

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Against all Odds

This is a flash fiction based on an exercise in writing group where we wrote stories based on song titles.  I chose a song I actually don’t like very much, just because I think the title transfers over to creating a story well!

Just a word of warning, the story contains content that some people may find distressing.

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Against all Odds

Early menopause. The words had echoed in her head every day since they’d been said. She’d been 32 years old. They’d been trying for a baby for six long unsuccessful years. Early menopause were the words that shattered the last of her splintered spirit. She gave up then. Curled under the blankets naked and shivering she had nothing left in her to produce tears. He couldn’t let it go. There were still options. They could still try. He stroked her hair trying to reach her but she was gone. Robotically she began injecting herself daily. They were still trying. The injections made her sick. Every morning kneeling on the bathroom floor. For years she had longed to be sick every morning. It worked. The doctor’s smile was wide when he told them. It worked. Two months later the same doctor held her hand after the miscarriage. He was so sorry. There are still options. You can still try. She gave up hope. There are still options. We can still try. Her husband’s hand felt strong in hers. Tears were streaming from her tired eyes. The doctor said it was a boy and placed her slick crying baby on her chest. It worked. She was 34 years old. They’d been trying for a baby for eight long years but it worked. It worked.

Copyright D M Day, 2017

GloPoWriMo: Day 25

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GloPoWriMo: Day 25

The Day 25 prompt was to write a poem inspired by Gaston Bachelard’s 1958 book, The Poetics of Space, about the emotional relationship that people have with particular kinds of spaces – the insides of sea shells, drawers, nooks, and all the various parts of houses. The poem should explore a small, defined space – it could be your my childhood bedroom, or the box where I keep old photos, the inside of a coin purse or the recesses of an umbrella stand.  Any space would do – so long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to me.  I have written a poem dedicated to my Nanna and her love of collecting trinkets and knick-knacks which has left many tiny, but not very many large, spaces all around her house.

No Space Left

A young couple
In all their finery
Gaze at each other
Ready to dance

A kangaroo
Lays relaxing
While a bemused Friar Tuck
Looks on

Clowns grin
The cavalier laughs
Family members smile
In wedding dresses and
School uniforms

While my Nanna desperately
Empties her overflowing handbag
Onto a tiny empty space on the floor

It has to be somewhere
She put it somewhere safe
Everything has to be somewhere
Somewhere in its own tiny little space

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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GloPoWriMo: Day 10

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GloPoWriMo: Day 10

The Day 10 prompt was to write a poem that is a portrait of someone important to you inspired by I Knew a Woman by Theodore Roethke.  It didn’t need to focus so much on what a person looks (or looked) like, but what they are or were. This poem is about my Grandad.  Things he has said, things others have said about him and memories I have heard over the years.

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For Grandad, With Love

Outspoken
Typical Yorkshire
They said

Never apologised
Never regretted?

Everything you’ve done
Puts you where you are today
Nothing of what you have now
Would exist without yesterday

Swimming during summer
In rivers
Digging up buttercups
With a teaspoon
Putting apple pie
In a stew

Everything
No matter how small
Puts you where you are now

Outspoken?
Maybe
But true

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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GloPoWriMo: Day 7

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GloPoWriMo: Day 7

The Day 7 prompt was to write a poem about luck and fortuitousness.  Inspiration included Charles Simic’s “The Betrothal” and Stephen Dunn’s “The Arm”. First of all I needed to create the following lists:

1. List 1 – 3 random objects. (Smaller tends to be better.)
2. List 1 – 3 random but specific locations. (Think in the cookie jar, or under my seat…)
3. List 1 – 2 objects you’ve lost and a few notes on their back-story.
4. List 1- 2 objects you’ve found and few notes on their back-story.

Then I needed to choose an object from List 1, a location from List 2, and connect them in a poem with ideas from Lists 3 & 4.  Here are my lists:

Random objects:
1.   Teacup
2.   Penny
3.   Candle

Random locations:
1.   In front of the kitchen sink
2.   In the wardrobe
3.   The fireplace

Things I’ve lost:
1.  Stories I wrote as a child – I’ve been writing almost as long as I can remember and wish I had those first scribblings
2.   Books – So many people have borrowed my books and not returned them, I don’t lend them out any more

Things I’ve found:
1.   A colleague’s wedding ring – I noticed a glint on the office floor.  It was his wedding ring and it had been squashed flat!
2.   A stranger’s bank card on the bus – She was on her way to buy her kids’ school uniforms so was very grateful I saw it

And somehow out of these lists came this little story, which is sort of about good luck!

 

The Teacup in the Fireplace

The teacup in the fireplace
In my great aunt’s house
Is almost hidden from view
By books
My great aunt’s house is full of books
So many books
My house
It’s my house now
She left it to me
Much to the disgust of everyone
I love books
I’ve written my own stories since I was a small child
I wish I had those first scribblings
I wish I had finished something
Maybe even had it published
Had a book
With my own name on
To put amongst the many books
In my great aunt’s house
She told me once that so many people
Had borrowed her books
And never returned them
That she didn’t lend them out any more
She didn’t let anyone in any more
To be here
With her
And her books
She just stayed alone
Drinking tea out of
The teacup in the fireplace
I see a glint on the floor
It’s my great aunt’s wedding ring
It must have fallen off
When she left
That last time
It has been squashed flat
Broken
Ruined
Like my great aunt
I walk over to the fireplace
The teacup in the fireplace
Is chipped
And coated in fine cracks
Like my great aunt
I hold the delicate china
And let it drop
It’s bad luck to hold onto negativity
And that cup was filled with it
I turn away from the fireplace
And throw the windows and door open
Letting the world come in
Letting the sunlight wander
Amongst the many books
In my great aunt’s house

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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Refugee – Review

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Refugee – Review

Last night I saw Potentially Brilliant Productions’ second show Refugee at The Casa, Liverpool.  It was a collaborative play devised over 12 weeks of drama workshops.  The show was based on the group’s own experiences and viewpoints and made use of elements found in Greek theatre such as the Chorus and the Messenger as Storyteller.  The material developed in the workshops was amended, fleshed out and put together by talented director and facilitator, Mikyla Jane Durkan.

The cast who formed this play were all dressed in black clothing will slight variations in style, subtly alluding to the viewpoint that everyone involved the refugee crisis, whether they be refugees themselves, aid workers, politicians or whoever, slot into groups of people who are seen to be all the same, whilst also nodding to the reality of their actual differences.  As well as the usual sound effects use was made of the actors’ own voices to provide eerie surround sound leaving the audience surrounded by wind, rain and tears.

There were a number of monologues and performance poetry incorporated into the disjointed and often disorientating story of loss and hope against hope, with many of the actors remaining on stage forming various tableaus, with and without props, cleverly alluding to the fact that people are often asking, begging, shouting for help, but the people around them don’t hear, don’t move, don’t see – just stand there are carry on with their own lives.

The play explored happiness and what it is to be happy.  For some people being happy is having the latest iPhone in their hand and the most popular status on Facebook.  Other people only hope to have a life without pain and fear.  Fear for themselves, fear for their loved ones, fear for their children.  What it is to have, want, desire and not have, need, and crave was shown intelligently and sensitively.

As one of the actors was violently bullied on stage, after speaking happily with his British friends, I was reminded of the story of David Oluwale.  Almost half a century has passed since this man was hounded on the streets of Leeds and it seems that sadly very little has changed in that time.  Whether or not the level of hatred of people coming into this country has lessened or increased over time was something touched upon in the lively Q&A with the cast and director following the show.

Dehumanisation and desperation.  Hate and fate.  Brutality and compassion.  These were all explored with the intensity and understanding needed to show people with everything what it is to have nothing.  While each cast member contributed fully to the quality and emotion of the production, I do feel that special mention should be given to Helen Jackson, George Melling and Martin Zopa for being particularly memorable in a particularly memorable performance.

This was a story of individuals who are among millions of people.  By seeing the person in a problem which is seen by many as too big and too widely spread to do anything about, it becomes clear that we can all do just that one small thing today, and maybe things won’t be as bad tomorrow.  Because “everyone at least should have somewhere to go”.

Refugee was a one night only showing, however you can see a revised version at the inaugural Liverpool Fringe Festival on 22 June.  Potentially Brilliant’s next project will begin with a 12 week programme of workshops exploring mental illness through some of Shakespeare’s characters.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

GloPoWriMo: Day 6

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GloPoWriMo: Day 6

The Day 6 prompt was to write a poem inspired by Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” looking at the same thing from various points of view.  It didn’t need to have thirteen ways of looking at it though!  I’ve written my poem about something which is sadly a common sight on many British streets including Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and London.  The recent rapid increase in people sleeping on the streets is one of the saddest issues facing us right now and very little seems to be being done, and what is being done often seems to be ineffective in the long-term for whatever reason.  Everyone seems to have an opinion about homeless people.  The points of view expressed in this poem are all (at least loosely) based on stories and opinions I have heard expressed in real life.  It is dedicated to everyone who doesn’t have their own bed to sleep in tonight and I hope, as always, that rough sleeping will soon be relegated to the past.

“Every day 150 families in Britain become homeless.”  Shelter

 

Spare Change your Point of View

This street is lined with them
Begging continuously for money
For drugs, for drink
Their stink fills the air
Did you see the one with dirt under his nails?

Hello, yes honestly we’ve asked them
I walk around every night
And ask every single one
They don’t want to come to the shelter
Don’t you see we can’t make them do anything?

I gave one a crisp ten pound note on Christmas Eve
It was a little I guess, or a lot for that person
Perhaps, maybe, possibly, something
I wish I could do more and help them all
Did you see the one with blue tinged fingers?

Millennial snowflakes, that’s the problem mark my words
Think they’re entitled to everything without working for it
Think that we’re just supposed to do it for them
Throwing a tantrum, running away, sleeping outside
Did you see the one with the bump? Cheap tart

The government needs to do something about it
What can we do to fix it?
Nothing that’s what. You just have to ignore it
And walk on by, or spend a fortune daily
Did you see the one with Nike trainers? Really?

The rain came down hard earlier and filled my shoes
I can’t walk in them now, nowhere to go anyway
I have a story, of course I do
But you don’t want to hear it really, no-one does
Because after all, we’re all the same

Did you see me wake up with frost sparkling in my hair?
Did you see me at my most desperate? Begging for money, for help
Did you see me gulping down the coffee someone bought me?
Did you see me trying to get out the way when the drunk guy pissed on me?
Did you see me cry?

Did you see me?

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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