|About the play||Pitch||The Real Story||But why Chandler?||The Research||Review|
|Diary||Cast||Stills from the show||Real characters portrayed or alluded to|
About the play
I was talking to myself again. Madness or vocal expression of unseen written words of an undervalued writer? Another possibility meandered through the stream of thoughts that currently sought to keep their heads above the gin-soaked gutters of my inner brain. Had I written a play inspired by Raymond Chandler?
The tooth fairy suddenly stepped out into the clear light of reality, bringing with her a signed affidavit attesting to the existence of Santa Claus.
Nobody learns to be a writer. They are born, often at an advanced age, fully formed and house-trained. Of course there's a price, there's always a price. I know, because it was happening to me, and now I was being asked to pay. top
FULL-LENGTH FANTASY/HISTORICAL DRAMA FOR 5 -8 ACTORS; (3-5 (m), 2-3 (f)
First performances Izard County, Arkansas (April - May 2005), director Tommy Hancock. Postponed/abandoned.
Reading by professional actors at ScriptTank, May 2006
London performances at The White Bear, July 2006, director Valerie Lucas.
Script-in-hand reading at The Hideaway, June 2009, director Simon Nuckley.
Doesn't becoming a great writer take more than a combination of alcoholism, philandering and getting the boot? Can success in any art be that simple? As Chandler would have put it, "it had the austere simplicity of fiction rather than the tangled woof of fact". What really happened in 1932? top
But why Chandler?
The discovery that Raymond Chandler had been included on GCSE and A Level syllabuses and noting the contrast with the dryer reading lists when I was at school made me wonder if school teachers would now treat The Big Sleep with the same uninspirational combination of high reverence and low enthusiasm that they gave to Shakespeare or Marlowe. And, of course, I am a great admirer or Marlowe; Marlowe the playwright, Marlowe the LA knight errant, Marlowe The Singing Detective of Dennis Potter. top
This was an interesting chore, in which I read biographies and plays and sought coincidences to justify the inner logic of the plot that was already my starting point. I found enough to convince me that, were I not confident that it was all superstitious nonsense, I might have believed it all, predestination and Faustian pact included, to be true.
The other task was to assimilate enough of Chandler's writing to convey the sense that he may have written it, to find his voice. This was largely accomplished through revisiting the old movies, the same medium by which the majority of my audience would then recognise the literary homage. top
|Mid-June 2004||Decision to write the play. Main theme set.|
|June/July||Ideas process, research. I had some difficulty in getting help from Dulwich College, my "naked" mail address being mistaken for porn.|
|August||First act completed.|
|September||Last scene completed.|
|October||Tidy up. First draft completed. Completion recorded on the website.|
|November||Got an opinion. This is the most true and passionate homage to writing I have ever read! Most stunning and very fascinating! Passion against obsession. I hardly ever saw the price for being a writer exposed in such a painful and sensitive way! This is theatre! To be captured already by just reading a play! Scene4 Magazine.|
|January 2005||A production request. In Arkansas?!? This is me letting you know we want to confirm intention to perform. We are interested in doing 'THE OPPOSITE OF SHOW BUSINESS' in Feb/March and doing performances in three different locations in our county to maximize fundraising possibilities...is this possible? Remember, this is our inaugural performance and with the proceeds going to our chosen charity, our funding is limited, but we will make every effort to put together what it takes to do this show. Stumbled at the early rehearsal stages; they lost their Cissy actor and could not find any other suitable mature, female artist to replace her. End result - NOT in Arkansas!|
|November||Contacted Dr Valerie Kaneko Lucas; drama theorist, choreographer, designer and all-round complement to any of my weak points, and my habitual first choice of director. The trouble was she was working, somewhat reluctantly, back in the land of her birth. Agreed to put on the show when on vacation from OSU. Request from a fellow writer in Connecticut to team up to run her new play and mine on both sides of Atlantic. Contact with The White Bear Theatre to discuss dates.|
|December||Met director at National Theatre lobby for breakfast meeting. Some suggested changes. The White Bear suggests February, giving no time for casting or rehearsal and at a time when director back in Ohio. Declined as unsuitable for any parties other than theatre.|
|February||Director requests end of July as best time to fit in with her other commitments. Contact The White Bear to pencil in booking. Informal reading to fellow writers. Edit and improve script.|
|May||Actors' reading of revised version to Script Tank. Well received by audience, but some useful suggestions for more improvement. Several of the reading actors registered an interest for casting for the stage run. Eventual confirmation of date for theatre booking. "Clever, witty dialogue". "Great Chandleresque atmosphere". "The scene change was a wonderful surprise". "Totally confusing - The structure is all over the place". NPA Script Tank|
|mid-June||Valerie back in the country. Invite original and other capable Script Tank cast for a meeting. Some disappointments; unable to contact some actors, some others unavailable for proposed dates. Of those who attend meeting, only one eventually cast.|
|July||Casting nightmares in first week. Only Cissy, Ned and Kate/Helena confirmed and Ray drops out. Recall some earlier "unavailable" first choices and take recommendations. Last minute lucky breaks. Rehearsals and........... show business!|
|August||Post mortem on the production ( body still warm). It was a nightmare putting this together; the organisation was patchy, not least because I had other problems that diverted my energies from production. The miracle was that, given my emotional absence, it went on at all. Even more unbelievable, the acting (after Tuesday) was truly wonderful and the look and smell of the design and direction had the quality of the bubbles from vintage Dom Perignon.
I think it was well received, the audiences at the tail end being very appreciative. All the same, the conclusion of the hottest July on record was a bad week to put on a show in a small, air-tight black box. Audiences, even if they liked the play, stayed away in droves and could be forgiven for not being able to recommend the overall experience; not so much a drama, more like a side show in a sauna bath. All the same, one kind soul gave this flatteringly enigmatic comment, "As if Tom Stoppard had written for The Two Ronnies". Review
NORTH LONDON ACTORS, script-in hand reading, June 2009, The Hideaway.
| Alistair Findlay
| Lavinia Keely
|director Simon Nuckley||Sound - Michael Murray||Thanks to Gareth Pilkington for organising the performance, rehearsal facilities and for everything else.|
JON CAMPLING (Ray)
Mr Campling`s theatrical reflexitude embraces the gamut of human emotion, from the Pavlovian suffering of Little Alex (A Clockwork Orange) to the Unhinged flummery of Capt. Beverly Houghton-Twist (Of Good Report), whilst his filmic cavortations as The Sadist (Penetration Angst), and The Guard (Monad) brought the wincing clarity of a cold vinegar purge to our otherwise opaque lives.
For further ponditudary visit www.cvandphoto.com.
BELINDA BLANCHARD (Cissy)
Belinda started her career being in nearly every show during five years as a member of the Royal Court Youth Theatre, working with the likes of Danny Boyle and Declan Donnellan. She then did seven years of stand up comedy and poetry, and as an actress has worked in films, television, theatre and radio and was also a rock station DJ before getting fired for playing XTC all day. She has never been in The Bill or Casualty. In 2000 she was part of the first intake of writers to gain an MA in Television Scriptwriting at de Montfort University, Leicester, and has had a play produced at Battersea Arts Centre. Just open the link www.belindablanchard.com: it's all there.
RYAN WILSON (Memphis)
Ryan was a practicing musician for ten years (also doing theatre during that time) before deciding last year to focus exclusively on acting.
He is about to undertake a diploma in performance this September at the City Literary Institute.
He thinks that this is the third Play by Jim Grover (including Glass Hero in Edinburgh and The White Bear, Provenance Helpline at RA) which he has appeared in but he is discalculaic; so take that figure with a pinch of salt. If you wish to know more, buy Ryan a beer and he'll tell you what you want to know. (and a fair few things that you probably don't)
RALF COLLIE (Doctor/ Marlowe)
Theatre includes Cloning Adam (Baron's Court Theatre), The Parable of the Blind (Brixton Shaw Theatre), Small Talk (International 3 Manchester) and numerous Shakespearian roles.
Screen credits include Getting Even! (Paramount TV), Shot at Dawn (Carlton TV), Absolute Cobblers! (Challenge TV), How to be a Little S*d (BBC), and the acclaimed British feature film Sexy Beast.
Audio includes Fred's Cafe (BBC Arts) and Dr. Faustus-The Complete Text (LSM)
Ralf is a founder member and co-director of acclaimed production company Lord Strange's Men, with whom he has played Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Greenwich Park) and the title role in Dr. Faustus (Rosemary Branch Theatre). The company has recently recorded a full-cast production of Dr. Faustus due for release as an audio CD shortly, in which Ralf plays the role of Wagner. For details visit www.lordstrangesmen.com.
CLAIRE-LOUISE ENGLISH (Helena/Kate)
Clare-Louise trained at LAMDA. Theatre credits include, Trinculo in The Tempest (Brockley Jack Theatre), Kim in the two-hander Essex Girls, Juliet in Measure For Measure (Theatro Technis) and Nashif in The Fig Tree (Soho Theatre).
She has appeared in many short films and recently worked on the feature "Confetti". Clare also played the lead in the BBC Radio 4 play The Dead House at Para.
Clare-Louise has recently taken over the running of Stand Up Drama, London Bites.
NEILL HOSKINS (Ned)
Originally from Dorset Neill came to London to attend the Bridge Theatre training Company. Recent work includes The Prodigal End at the Pleasance studio, and Creative Prisons, a drama documentary.
Neill is delighted to be playing Ned Alleyn and looking forward to some bear-baiting after the show.
VALERIE KANEKO LUCAS (director)
Valerie trained at the Sherman Theatre Cardiff, and has designed and directed new writing in the USA, U.K. and Europe. She is currently Director of Outreach and Assistant Professor of Acting and Directing at the Theatre Department of the Ohio State University. She directed JimGrover's Oil Paint Does Not Wash Out and Provenance Helpline at the Etcetera Theatre London.
JIM GROVER (playwright).
He is just a writer who trained as a musician. He pioneered the "write-on-line" technique on www.nakedtheatre.co.uk and has formerly enjoyed audiences up to 50,000 per week through the on-line Haiku Headlines.
His performed works include Provenance Helpline and Oil Paint Does Not Wash Out (both directed by Dr Valerie Kaneko Lucas) and Glass Hero (Edinburgh and The White Bear). Provenance Helpline was revived at the request of RA for their Rembrandt's Women exhibition and Jim appeared prominently in the ITV London's Scariest Mysteries episode featuring the historical "cash for honours" characters from Glass Hero. His other works have played in London fringe theatres and the shorts Angel Hair and Pictures in Babcia's Head have been used by students in England and Wales for their practical finals pieces.
STILLS FROM THE SHOW top
Real characters portrayed or alluded to
Raymond Chandler (character and co-writer) was born in Chicago, 1888 and when his parents' marriage broke up in 1895 his mother brought him to England. He attended Dulwich College (Marlowe House), where he was a brilliant scholar and near contemporary of PG Wodehouse.
His writing career commenced in 1932, the first story being published by Black Mask. He wrote for 24 years and attempted suicide on the death of Cissy, his wife of 30 years, in the 1950's.
( Pearl Eugenie Hurlburt (Cissy) was born in 1870. There is not a great deal of information on record, but she was certainly strong willed and had been unconventional in her youth - some have suggested that the combination of nude photographic modelling and opiates enjoyed by Carmen Sternwood (The Big Sleep) was modelled on Cissy's own New York exploits. Chandler was her third husband and, in a twist on Oedipus, they did not actually marry until after the death of Raymond's mother. She was diagnosed with brittle asthma in 1932.
Edgar Wallace. Deptford born author and writer of over 40 screenplays, died in 1932.
available Christopher Marlowe (character and co-writer) was born in Canterbury (in common with the author of this play, from a long line of bootmakers) in 1564 and was a brilliant scholar at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. His life and death are open to controversy with rumours, and supporting interpretations of his plays, that he was homosexual and an atheist. In addition to being the foremost playwright of his age he was recruited by spymaster Walsingham and posted abroad, although his loyalty was questioned through his arrest (and release) by the Privy Council in May 1593.
The inquest on his death, discovered only in 1925 and claiming that he died of knife wounds from a pub brawl in Deptford, is openly disputed by many Marlovian scholars.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford upon Avon in 1564. Assuming that the Bard of Avon was actually the author of the plays that bear his name, his career lasted some 24 years. There are many alternative theories, not least the Marlovian Conspiracy, that suggests (among other things) that Marlowe escaped after his initial arrest to Italy and either wrote or co-authored Shakespeare's plays.
Edward Alleyn, born in 1566, was the principle actor in Lord Strange's Men, the company set up by Ferdinado Stanley to sponsor Marlowe's plays. His most famous role was that of Doctor Faustus.
Around the time of Marlowe's death or disappearance, Ned married and went into partnership with his father-in-law. The business assets included the Southwark Rose and Fortune theatres , bear and cock pits, pleasure gardens, bars and brothels.
He founded the College of God's Gift at Dulwich (Dulwich College) in 1619.
Dr Johann Georg Faust really existed. He was born in Wurttemburg in (approx) 1480, studied at Krakow and was known to Martin Luthor. His rumoured practice of magic and the supposed Faustian contract have inspired writers from Marlowe to Goethe and up to the present day.
Stage play, THE OPPOSITE OF SHOW BUSINESS, © 2004
On line programme dedicated to Edinburgh International Internet Festival
PICTURES IN YOUR DREAMS
BOOKS UNWRITTEN - REVIEWS PUBLISHED
The Real StoryRaymond Chandler was dismissed from his oil company executive job in 1932 due to recurring bad behaviour. Then he became a famous pulp-fiction writer, introduced the most moral and complex detective character of page and screen and went on to write scripts for Hitchcock and pen some of the most memorable movies of the film noir genre. Ray Chandler,plagued by depression, attempts suicide following his wife's death. During his recovery in a sanatorium he confesses to his doctor that the attempt on his life was due to guilt, remorse that Cissy's illness and his writing career were inextricably linked.