Life is busy at Penny towers with much planning – and worrying – going on since I heard I had been successful with my Grant for the Arts. Of course I am excited and bouncing off the walls too. But where to start? Who to work with?
I’m developing a one-woman cabaret called Adventures in the Dark and Light. Please feel free to join my Facebook page of that name if you’re interested in my work. I try to keep it up to date – latest gigs, activities and news in general.
My BPD has been causing me some distress. I hate the word mood swing. What the fuck is that? It sounds almost Victorian but not as exquisite. Like melancholia. I am experiencing fast cycles of highs and low; exhausting, and then I go into a strange gaga distraction for some days. I'm knackered and sometimes scarcely functional. I scare my friends and family... Still, I have done a lot of creative work on the back of it.
But back to ‘Adventures’. I’m looking for a musician to work with me and my cello player Jo Cox. If you are an experienced keyboard player and/or violinist, do get in touch. This is a professional role and will be paid, though some in-kind support would be appreciated. Have a look at my websites. My work is influenced by folk music, punk, the world, blues… all sorts.
I’m also looking for an actor. Male, 28+, able to play a non-disabled GP, Dr ‘Nazi’. It’s for a short I’m doing with Sophie Partridge, called Doing It.
Meanwhile, I did a film, a youtube video blog, of my day on the TUC March for the Alternative. An eventful and uplifting day. It’s annoying that the media concentrate only on the ‘trouble makers’, out of proportion to their numbers. I may be idealistic, but I felt the day did have an effect. It was good for US if nothing else, to join in, to be there and be counted. Please have a look at the film and comment – bearing in mind that PAs who often have to hold the camera are not necessarily very skilled at it. Oh, to have my own crew….
Now I must get on. I’m driven to produce lots of creative things right now.
Did I mention the CD of my Spoken Word? Oh, next time then.
The sun licks across my window and lures the blossom to bloom. At last! I’m bouncing off the walls, full of seesaw moods, happy-sad, melancholy-joyful, and dripping with creative sap. Mustn’t fall off the tightrope mind you. But isn’t it lovely to see some sunshine?
The last week or so has been a cram of activity. A new story ‘Nippy Days’, only written about 4 weeks ago, was selected to be read at ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ - a story telling event run by White Rabbit Theatre
The theme for stories was sex, and I hadn’t touched the subject for some years. How could I resist? The venue was Tonybee Studios, in the hip East End of London, very near to lively Brick Lane. The event offers free chip butties and ice-cream. Definitely a happy Jackanory time for grown ups.
I had a great posse of peeps to support me, including DAO blogger and all round superstar Sophie P. The venue was packed to overflowing and us wheelies edged in, causing happy chaos in the café. The actress who read my story did a great job and selected writers had the opportunity to send the stories to Ether Books, who publish to mobiles. I await their response with the usual mix of nerves and excitement.
A few days after this, I was performing at the cabaret event ‘Sunday Service’, at Carnivale, opposite Brick Lane (again!) This place has atmosphere, a hint of tatty grandeur and a suitable seedy edged cabaret charm. Access through the rear, passing by mysterious collections of grave stones, there was an accessible loo (rarity) but alas not to the stage.
With Jo Cox giving me her usual wonderful support on cello, staking a space on the floor, we opened each half of the sets and the audience seemed to lap it up. I will never forget the crowd urging me on to do the ‘Protest Song’, throwing in their own ad-libs and drumming on the tables. Maybe with a little help from our dear editor I can supply an audio file as I recorded most of the set?!
Pausing for a brief breath, next I’m preparing for my poetry and spoken word drop-in workshops for Shape. Technology did rather mess up my grand plans to play Youtube examples of different poets and styles, including Ian Dury doing ‘Bus Driver’s Prayer’, but I hope I made up for it by encouraging the group to experiment with personification, which is one of my favourite ways of stimulating the imagination for a poem.
In this case, giving inanimate objects human characteristics and taking that forward with a narrative or emotion. My prompt of ‘being’ President Roosevelt’s wheelchair resulted in some strong and interesting pieces from new and experience poets. I can’t wait for next week and hope more people will come along. (Roosevelt was a wheelchair user, a fact kept hidden from the public at the time). The workshops run every Tuesday 2-4pm until April 12th.
In between all this, I’ve finished a short film-poem, The Lover, a homage love letter to Leonard Cohen and almost finished an absurd little film about an item of disability ‘charity’ ephemera, which I connect.
My life is a crazy one on multiple levels. During all this wonderful activity I’ve also been a bit sickly, doing my pallid invalid impersonation, and been to court! Weird.
Never once, even when wobbling close to a dip-down or a fall, have I regretted a moment of being so immersed. I might be hyper but I’ll enjoy it if that’s OK.
It's a very strange place I find myself in this week. An uncertain placing in the world. They, the faceless, have given me hints of another diagnosis - borderline personality disorder. I've 'probably' had it all my life. Not sure what to think, but then that thinking stuff is all a bit scrambled right now anyhow.
My wise therapist of 12 years on and off (sadly not able to guide me officially now) is urging me to resist identifying deeply with any label, but using it if it helps with finding support. The GP meanwhile, infers I am a hopeless case anyhow and too fucked up physically and mentally for them to do little but cast me aside as an inconvenience who doesn't fit in a neat and comprehensible box.
I cried a lot, swore a lot and he told me not to use expletives.... fuck that. I think I'm deemed a vulnerable adult, as I have 24-7 PAs. Yet the shrink team shoved me around hither thither and use my PAs as a stop gap. I simply don't know what next.
Meanwhile out attempting to interface with life and my Kev. Did some filming in Hastings and am editing various films to be shown later this year. We recently went to see the Anthony Gormley installation, 'Critical Mass' on the roof of the very beautiful 30s masterpiece, the De La Warr Pavillion in Bexhill on Sea.
My PA Sally who is a visual artist about to return to Goldsmith's for her MA, told me about direct light. Viewing the statues, lumps of unforgiving darkness, I was struck by their male blandness and helpless uniformity. But against that light, the sighing sea and the big open sky it was certainly a memorable experience.
I was calm in the lovely rich light for awhile and I know one thing. I am still, even up against any intensity of beingness, glad I am me.
I've been away. Not sure where. Wandering inside my head I suppose. Best to save details of that for another day.
I'm trying to come to terms with 'major depressive illness'. That's the label now, more are coming. I want to pour it into creativity. I can't help myself......
My short film is being shown this Sunday June 27th at the Islington Film Festival, Holloway Odeon. Do come... it helps and it's appreciated. I know it's a good thing, though I feel a bit distant from it...
Who has some guidance? How to work and not crack into pieces, and keep yourself there somehow.
This is an attempt at a fast blog, haha. I can be pithy when I want. Poetry and film demand that especially. Tight precision I mean.
So right now I am fighting as per, and feeling like Drowning not Waving (see Stevie Smith poem) but we have to pootle on, don't we? I fear there'll be more Prozac soon, but sometimes it helps. I'm all over the place and it gets messy, so we'll see.
A performance next Weds, more on that soon. I'm booked for a featured slot, hurray!
I am working on the film for a competition but scheduling is tough when I can't think straight.
I desperately need a male actor, who can at least pass as non-disabled (it's needed for the context of the piece).
You'd play Dr Nazy, a right wing horror of a GP. It's short and it's dark comedy. Come on, get in touch. Reasonable travel expenses paid and you get a DVD. Also to appear alongside Sophie Partridge who is a FAB actor.
Ok back to work and battle. I think I'd look good in armour, don't you?
At last I've written a film script and I'd really like to get some good actors for this 5 min short, which is for a competition.
Naturally, this is an EXTREME micro, micro budget. It's me doing everything on my Sony DV Cam. I can feed and water actors and pay very basic travel out of my own pocket as a thanks. And give a DVD at the end.
The short film 'Diary for Lawrence' was chosen for a showing by Shape at an event in Wimbledon recently. I also made it to the shortlist of the She Writes women script writers scheme.
I need to film it within the next 2-3 weeks hopefully, but I will be scheduling it quite tightly, so wouldn't really need anyone for more than an hour or so.
If disabled actors play the Drs they have to be able to 'pass' as non-disabled - but happy to use non-disabled actors in this context. Will do very brief auditions if I get a lot of offers.
Sophie Partridge will play Jackie.
Please email me via email address: pennylion[at]hotmail.co.uk
Thanks for your help Penny P.
I look at my last blog and wonder if there's a conspiracy against me concerning time. It really is relative. Ok I don't know what that means exactly, but I have a twinge in my guts that it's related to um, what you are doing.
So, I suppose I must be happy that time is hurtling by because I've been very creative when not doing great impersonations of a Victorian In-valid with a porcelain sick bowl. Yeah, the bugs have been at me and in me, urgh, but I'm fighting the good fight.
I'm juggling the balls of about 5 creative projects even so.. A great deal of my time is taken up with my film making. It became tiring, writing scripts, writing treatments (tormenting things, they are) to face constant disappointment. So I bit the bullet to start making shorts on a decent Sony Handycam.
Here's my latest piece - 'Bonfire please please please view and rate for me as this is a competition! I hope you are all infected with the sense of fun. We had a ball, me and Janis, keeping ourselves in the main rowdy throng, though it's not for the faint hearted.
I would love you all to view and comment on my YouTube pieces too. There's a narrative short on there now Diary for Lawrence which was the first film I edited having had lessons from Katherine Araniello. I hope she's proud of me!
There's a few others on there so please have a peek. The first one was 'Toilet Trauma in Epping Town'. The power of the internet can be damn amazing. The film, done as a piece of fun on the spur of the moment, was picked up by a local newspaper, I was interviewed. The council was challenged, promises were made. I believe the Invalid sign has been painted out as a first step! Wow.
There's also been a flurry of activity on my spoken word, at least in terms of writing new material. You can see a clip on my Youtube page from 'Bums, Homes and Hell'' - which is from my BAC Scratch performance of last year. This version was filmed at Ada Street in May.
Which reminds me...
Recently I ventured into Peacocks. Yes, the clothing store. And then, lo....!
Jesus Saved Me in Peacocks
By the purple stiletto heels
A woman told me he loves me
That He understands how I feel
Maybe it’s true that in Peacocks
Many gods lurk in the clothes
The rumpled crumply undies
The dresses in disordered rows
....that's a taster, there's more and I hope to perform the rest in Brighton on Dec 3rd!
Meanwhile, yes, of course there's a meanwhile - I've been networking with Graeae in their fine new building, I've been up to Shape to see Tanya Raabe's incredible portraits, I've modelled for her (naked of course) in Wolverhampton, and been on Paul Darke's radio show.
Phew. Watch this space, all spaces and any new space that may appear where a Penny might fit some new tales to tell. Sod the sick bowl.
Oh how does time manage to do that thing of flying by so fast?
Is it really over a month since my last blog? I am naughty but my reasons are sound.
Since then, I've been to the Shape disability arts debate, organised by the lovely Michele Taylor, the BBC to yak about casting, and to the launch of Hibiscus Red at the BFI.
There's also been exciting developments with a new PC, though sadly I am now immersed in playing with a toy - Music Maker, which takes me back to my days as a singer songwriter, though I have to say this is mightily frustrating as you can't get the bastard to easily record voice and in a very 'pootery way, it wants to tell you HOW to make music. I have a strong detestation of anyone telling me HOW with anything.
The BBC was fun to visit and I felt briefly very important to be in parking space 1. Yes, 1, at TV centre. I chatted to Sarah about going in the directory of disabled actors, thinking back to my Graeae days when I was 'cast' as a period actor (as opposed to an urban one) and also a naughty housewife type by a mate (she know's she is, cow!) Period actor? The mind reels. I wouldn't say no to a mop cap in a Dickens though, if they give me a reasonable posh bath chair to look invalid-y in, Though bursting from a tight corset might be more to my taste... and no, not a surgical one.
Red Hibiscus is a very new, early stages organisation supporting disabled film makers and all interested in working in the industry. An interesting event, Julie Mac said some great salient comments and we all chipped in. Later, nice chat and catching up with mates to the point of being chucked out as the bar closed. Me, I only drink Pimms, these days.
And, Thursday, 26th June, Whitechapel Gallery - me, doing Open Mic spoken word on the Apples and Snakes event (http://www.applesandsnakes.org/events ) You'll love it. Do come if you can, it's so good to have friendly faces in the audiences, or even scowling ones if I at least know them.
Anyone out there know of Spoken Word venues on the south coast? Or anywhere really!
Off into the sunshine now, and hope you are too.