Friday, 31 May 2013

Seconf bash at poster & Ligeia rehearsal

Going to post here latest draft of poster - plus I DID IT! A complete run through of LIGEIA - THIS IS (NOT) A LOVE SONG... very rough around edges, needing a whole world of polishing, but I got through it from one end to another - and, fundamentally, I think it works. Now achieved at least a rough working version of all three stories, giving myself a whole two months to refine and polish (except that FALLING FOR THE USHERS & TELL TALE HEART premiere on stage in a month and half's time at the Solo Festival in London, July 13th & 14th). The old Scots storytellers said all you needed was a good sense of the story's outline and all the images running in your head in the right order, like a silent movie... and the rest could be worked out in performance. Well, I've got that far already. Phew!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

21st Century Poe press release

TheVault@Paradise Green 5 – 11 August 17.45

Marty Ross (BBC Radio horror; Doctor Who audio) drags Edgar Allan kicking & screaming into our era in a trilogy of storytelling performances!

"True! - nervous - very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?"
In virtually all the greatest chillers of Edgar Allan Poe, the same note is struck straightaway: an isolated, tormented narrator wants – needs! – to tell us of the strange and terrible experiences he has undergone. They are ideally suited, therefore, to contemporary theatre’s great comeback kid: live storytelling.
As a live theatrical storyteller with a flair for the gothic and macabre - an interest reflected in his parallel career as playwright for the likes of BBC radio’s “Marvellously chilling” (Guardian) Darker Side Of The Border, Ghost Zone & Catch My Breath, as well as Doctor Who and Dark Shadows audio drama - Marty Ross has seized upon the dramatic, theatrical potential of Poe’s tales. But as a storytelling ‘modernist’ keen to shift this resurgent art form away from traditionalist once-upon-a-time-in-a-land-far-away ‘folkiness’, he has no intention of presenting the Poe stories as period pieces: rather he has radically updated them to our times, reshaping them for that new context.
Therefore, FALLING FOR THE USHERS (5th, 8th, 10th August) shifts Poe’s incestuous siblings from their misty gothic manor to the world of Damien Hirst / Chapman Bros.– type contemporary art. HEART SHAPED HOLE (6th, 9th Aug.) sets Poe’s Tell Tale Heart beating amid Glasgow tower block drug dealing. And in LIGEIA – THIS IS (NOT) A LOVE SONG (7th. 11th  Aug.), Poe’s revenant heroine becomes an 80s post-punk diva haunting an old band mate and a young female fan. Perverse passions, substance abuse, macabre humour, extreme violence… shift Poe from his olde worlde settings to our times and one is close to the world of David Lynch, William Burroughs, even Irvine Welsh.
These three hour-long stories alternate in ‘repertory’ between 5 – 11 August, all at 17.45 at The Vault @ Paradise Green, Market Street, Edinburgh – in performances far removed from the comfy-chair raconteur-ing of  too many people’s clich├ęs of live storytelling. Ross’s performance style is in-your-face, expressionist, intensely physical… more Theatre of Cruelty than Jackanory. He has already enjoyed success as a storyteller onstage at last year’s London Horror Festival and regularly performs in and around Nottingham, where he currently lives. Now it’s time to bring his unique, intensely theatrical style of performance home to his native Scotland.

LIGEIA Working Notes

Been like sculpting lava this last couple of days, but finally a real structure!

Opening - conducting Quincunx - Lutyens. Rowena is singing (Rowena - Sabena - Jocasta).

Afterwards, gives Rowena a lift. Dr. Terror's House Of Horrors & The Earth Dies Screaming playing (Lutyens again...)

She holds his hands. Back to his place. Make love. Then the question: Weren't you in a band? Weren't you a Bleeding Heart? Then - Ligeia, Ligeia... whenever anyone wants to know about his musical past.

Censored version of the story. Punk - revolution reaches Glasgow suburbs. Touring Germany in Trabant - Hamburg, not popular with squaddies; double A side - IRA R SO EROTIC & ON YER KNEES, QUEEN MUM... chased down Reeperbahn. Into bar, hiding. Then the voice, cutting to the marrow.

"There's a note rarely heard nowadays, strict copyright of the female of the species, of ancient Greek Maenads, of keening women in the Balkans, Iraq and the West of Ireland... a note women themselves tend to spurn nowadays... it's insufficiently cute, won't charm the lads or shift units in HMV but occasionally, stubbornly, it insists on resurfacing - and that was the note I heard struck, then and there, from the rickety stage at the far end of that club..."

Voice - like a mutant mix of Nico, Marlene and Lotte Lenya, but less sweet and sugary, you understand?

She trusts him - he makes out he's buddies with the Clash and the Stranglers - a lie. She sacks her band, goes with him to Britain. Bleeding Hearts becomes Ligeia And The Bleeding Hearts. Just the right moment - all kinds of weird shit getting into the charts. Sign with Rough Trade.

BUT... her history. Hamburg, the war. Allied bombing. Her and her mother jumping in canal as city burned. Rats and flames followed them down. Holding her breath... could hold it longer than her Mum. Long enough. Death came close, she defeated it. That's all that's needed - the will to say no to death. Fascinated by death, Britain meant death, death meant a figure of fire coming to grasp her, wings of fire. RAF wings. Came to Britain because of that fascination,. get close to death and still defy it.

But the nightmares. Drugs to help her sleep. Heroin. Difficult second album. Insisting on 'The Conqueror Worm' as the single... never going to shift units in Woolworths.  Then she died. Drug racing to heart loosened shard of Hamburg ash in her bloodstream, it impaled her heart.

He wakes. 3am. Thinks he sees Ligeia foot of bed. Creak upstairs. Runs out. Loft ladder. Rowena upstairs, trying on wig, make-up, clothes, looking at herself in broken mirror. Says she thought she saw Ligeia leading her up there: is house haunted? ONE DOES NOT NEED TO BE A HOUSE TO BE HAUNTED. He's furious with her, grabs her. She kisses him like Ligeia, drawing blood. He bites back. Fucking on the floor amid the spill of Ligeia's clothes, all of it smelling of her, her perfume, the drugs, threads of her dark hair snaking around them.

He wakes. Rowena, naked but for black wig, lifting the syringe from trunk. He sizes it. You want this? Tells her uncensored story. How sick he got of road she was leading band down - drugs, unreleasable music, her occult obsessions. He wanted to be in a straight meat and potatoes boys own rockanroll band! The squat by Queen's Park - she wouldn't buy or rent on principle. Super hot heroin. Dealer says don't take straight. He's honest with her, but she can't resist challenge - once again, get close to death as you can and still survive. So she takes it. He watches her die.

It's a job and a half to watch your loved ones die. Doped, she tries to dance. Here's my new song - it's silence, exhaled silence. Collapses. Spasms. Look, she says, her tit leaking black milk. He drinks it. She menstruates a pool of Hamburg canal water. He gets away with it: another rock star overdose.

He's shocked at what he's told Rowena. She's more shocked, still. She becomes more like Ligeia, challenging him over what he did. He kills her, smothering her with Ligeia's dress, the fragrance of Ligeia thick in the air. Sits with her body a long time. Maybe if he just hides up there rest of his life, he'll get away with it. Senses her coming back to life: Ligeia! Whirls around, sees her, but... Of course. Ghosts don't haunt houses, what do they care about bricks and mortar? What are they - acquisitive yuppies on some home improvement show? No. It's among the bones and marrows of the living they'd do their haunting. She's been there all along, waiting her moment.

Final transformation: Ligeia, white face, black make-up. "And the play is the tragedy... Man - and its hero... hero.... heroine... heroine... heroine.... Ligeia."

Like this - more compact than my original idea. The concentration of classical tragedy, which is sort of the idea.

Rough draft poster

Rough draft of the proposed 21st Century Poe poster now posted!

Friday, 10 May 2013

21st Century Poe Tickets now on sale

Tickets for 21st Century Poe at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe are now on sale from the fringe box office. Going to be quite a show, I promise you - been working hard at Falling For The Ushers (Aug 5, 8, 10) and Heart Shaped Hole (Aug 6, 9) last few weeks and they're in good shape already - they should be with all the blood and sweat I've put into them....

21st Century Poe programme notes

"True! - nervous - very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?"

"During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher."

"I cannot, for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely where, I first became acquainted with the lady Ligeia."

The vast majority of Edgar Allan Poe's greatest stories share the same formal starting point: someone, usually very disturbed, quite often insane, needs - in the most immediate, emphatic terms - to tell us the story of his strange experiences. And all the drama which follows is filtered at every point through the troubled personality of that narrator. Which means, for one thing, that Poe's stories lend themselves to being dramatised in a live storytelling format: this, indeed, might more closely approximate Poe's unique tone than the 'third person' format of more conventional film/TV/theatre dramatisation.