Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Singing, writing, and ballet

It’s raining again.  It occurs to me that I’ve probably been rained on, either coming in to, or going home from, work (or both) about 40% of this year.  That is way too much rain.  My brother Steve, down in Bath, has seen the river Avon flood his garden three times in as many days this month.  It’s cold and wet and it seems to be dark all the time, and it depresses me.

We had another choir rehearsal today for Kew's Christmas carol Service; Nigel has rejoined the choir and is alternately playing the piano and booming away richly from the back, while a chap called Tim with Burne-Jones hair, has taken over the conducting.  I am now in my regular annual state of nerves regarding my singing, coupled this year with a vague desire to throw something at John Rutter.  He cannot leave a tune alone!  Why can’t we all just sing parts and harmonise in a normal way?  I have enough trouble with that, after all.  But no, Mr Rutter wants us altos to do a syncopated descant with massive intervals and lots of sharps and flats.  I know it isn’t in the Christmas spirit of me at all, but drat the man! 

I’ve been looking at my notes for “Gold Hawk; the nameless sequel” and trying to be realistic about them; there are some fun ideas there, but it isn’t cooked yet and it’s silly to pretend it is.  I want to spend more time with Thorn and Anna, but I’ll lose them if I try to force them into a story they’re not ready for.  So my next projects, when I get back from my week in Cyprus (can’t wait can’t wait), will be a) start typing “Gold Hawk” up, and revising as I go, and b) go back to either “Midnight in the Café Tana” or “Fortitude” and finish one or both of them.  Probably starting with “Café Tana”, since that’s the most coherent.  I’ve left Mel, David and Yaz in rather a ticklish situation, and things are due to get worse before they get better.

I sent “Gabriel Yeats” to the last agent on the initial shortlist 2 months ago, and have heard nothing back.  Sigh.  I wish I were getting somewhere with this agent business.  The idea of dispensing with one altogether and trying to do my own thing lurks in the back of my mind, tempting me.  My relative lack of computer skills holds me back (I have never figured out how to drive eBay, after all, so the idea of me producing a properly formatted e-book is frankly asinine).  And I know that for 99.9% of electronic publishing, this is the quickest way to sink your work without trace.  The odds are worse than the odds for keeping going as an artist (apparently an average 96% of Fine Art graduates – that’s me, folks - give up practising as artists within two years of leaving art school). 

The first thing, the foremost thing, the thing that drives me, is the writing itself.  If I can keep going with that, then at least I am generating new work.  Hopefully the more I write the more fluent I get as a writer; hopefully...  Meanwhile I guess I need to find another agent to try.

What else is going on?  I had an evening at the ballet last week; a triple bill, and the second cast, so a chance to see several young hopefuls in action.  Much though I love Marianela Nuñez, in “Concerto” she gets partnered by that sweet-faced blank Rupert Pennefather, and I find his gently void expression distracting (at least in the second movement of “Concerto” the chap is meant to be blank).  Besides, when Melissa Hamilton is on stage my eyes always slide towards her; she is completely electrifying whenever and wherever she turns up.  The final movement brought another bright spark in Claire Calvert, one of those dancers who make everything look easy.  I am quite certain it isn’t! – but there is a casualness in her grace that conveys almost luxurious confidence.  

The second item on the bill was “Las Hermanas”, featuring plenty of MacMillan’s signature ballet sex-and-violence.  It’s based on “La casa de Bernada Alba”.  Mysteriously the sisters have lost their names  - Angustias, Martirio and Adela have become simply The Eldest Sister, The Jealous sister and The Youngest Sister, which feels odd when you know the play – I kept thinking of them as Angustias etc.  No matter; it was still a striking distillation, though the introduction of Pepe as an on-stage figure weakens the sense of bottled-up tension Lorca creates.  But of course, one couldn’t have the aforesaid signature sex/violence without a male character on stage, and Thomas Whitehead overcame his very unpleasant wig to make a striking icon of machismo.  It’s lovely to see Alina Cojocaru get to sink her teeth into something dramatic occasionally – she embraced Angustias’ repression and agony with poignant force. 

The final item was “Requiem”, heart-breakingly sad with its dying Everyman and floating consoling angels, led by the luminous Yuhui Choe.  Not much one can say about “Requiem”; at the risk of sounding facetious, it does what you’d expect.  And at the risk of sounding kinky, it’s always great to see Edward Watson suffering (blimey, yes, that does sound kinky; oh dear, what a pity, never mind).

I haven’t much else to report.  Off to “Carmen” tonight; possibly to a talk tomorrow night; probably to another talk Thursday night; packing Friday night; off to Cyprus at crack of dawn Saturday.

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