My name, for the purposes of this story – which is often why things are so – is Skylab.
I enjoy writing stories, poetry and other writing for children and for adults, which skew things a little, make us step back out into the world and scratch our heads.
Kids shouldn’t be spoken down to and we ‘grown-ups’ can learn a lot from stepping back and remembering what it’s like to see things afresh as young ‘uns do: so that’s what I like to try and do, too. Perhaps I chose Skylab as an image of orbit, exploration and experiment. My real name means ‘Dog’ in Hebrew – so perhaps I’m taking after Laika, the ill-fated Russian astro-dog…
I don’t think that technology is the enemy of storytelling and love to experiment using sound, music – anything which works for the tale. Collaboration and bespoke work is something I’m always keen to discuss: so if you think I could write something for your school/project/event – just give me a shout.
My work has been used in some online publications, print publications, performed in shops, made into animation, made into song, projected on walls, read aloud by me, read aloud by others and generally tinkered with: where else can it go?
Here’s a selection of synposis (synopsi? it’s a funny one, that) or descriptions of previous stories and work I’ve done – I can do it again, if you like – or email me to talk about what you’re up to and how we can work together on something new for it.
‘Moonslice’ – For adults and kids – A village of smugglers accidentally snag the moon’s reflection while fishing their contraband from the estuary. But what happens when the moon’s light – its breath – is lost?
‘Edgar And The Utility People’ – For kids – A mini-musical with me and my cello/voice. Edgar – a spy in the making – is told by his Mother that they will be receiving a visit from The Water Man while he is at school. Edgar’s runaway imagination sings songs to him about the Water Man, The Energy People and The Gas Lady, through which we see a different view of the boring world of utility bills.
‘Whale Fall, or The Deepest Sea Next Door’ – For adults and older kids – A young man enters a new city and the world of the Young Professional. As Jack is ensconced into the structured world of his new workplace, the woodlice passing his new basement flat door start to grow ever bigger. When his boss meets an unfortunate end, something draws Jack towards the dark blue next-door and the dark water seeping from beneath it.
‘Humming or, Pythagoras the Pylon’ – For kids – Pythagoras is a Pylon. He is fifty feet tall. He doesn’t know why he is called Pythagoras – perhaps because of the triangles he is made of, or perhaps because of his enquiring mind…
Pythagoras can see something on the horizon – but what is it, waving at him? Wires or not, he’s got to find out, so Pythagoras takes a walk – and makes some friedns on the way. Mixing looped sound recordings and live performance, a story of all the different songs which are being sung in the world, just at this moment…
‘The Bat in the Belfry or, Bats Are Ugley Angels’ – For kids – In the village of Ugley, which is actually very pretty, Father Dudley Bailey has bats in his belfry. Well, just one bat who, for the purposes of this story, we will call Bartholomew (although he doesn’t know this – he’s a bat). With the bell of St Bartholomew’s Church broken and silent, the villagers intend to hold a concert to replace its clanger. But what will happen to Bartholomew if they do? And can Father Bailey cope with the rustlings from up in the tower long enough to hold the concert at all?
From up above, Bartholomew has been watching Father Bailey and Mrs Delaney, with his ears. They are so sensitive that on a quiet night he can hear a ladybird polishing its shell for take-off, a moth taking a deep breath before it flaps its wings, a grasshopper thinking about jumping.
‘Human Waste’ – For adults – A young woman is trapped in her house – there is something out there, in that brown box. There must be: or what happened to the postman? Or was he just replaced and just how disposable are we?
Her head feels like it’s full of sand. She sees an arid landscape covered in a banquet of cream cakes, pavlova, gateaux and they all begin to turn fecund, sizzling in the sun and decaying at high speed. It’s like an M&S dessert desert.
Work in progress (if I put it on here, I might finish it quicker!):
‘Personal Devices’ – In an alternative world of travel-vacs, clockwork-sprung mobiles and elaborate techno-wigs – a sign of social status at the dancehall – what is happening to the acquaintances of our heroine? As her companions begin to vanish, leaving only their prize wigs on the ground where they stood, she sets out to track down a suspicious Mech-Milliner who might hold the answer.
‘Edging‘ – For adults and kids – Tom and Bob are widowers and next-door neighbours. They are polite, even though Bob knows there’s something going on in Tom’s shed. As the borders of their lawns fray, so do their suspicions and Bob’s idle imagination.
‘Rookery Lane‘ – For adults – A young woman commences a relationship with a m’ ysterious man who appears around the same time as the great rookery in the tree at the end of the road starts to collapse. The rooks try and keep it together, but there is panic in their eyes as more and more twigs fall and her narcotic relationship grows ever more fiery.
‘The Stitches in Time’ – tbc adults or kids! – A Victorian master costumier prepares an actor for his role in an experimental new play to mark the turning of the century. He is convinced the play, and the turning of the century, marks something monumental that mankind may never return from. But for Margaret, day to day life is a series of performances which create or erase mankind with the flourish of a needle and thread.
Other Work and Projects:
- Heads and Tales – Company Director. http://www.headsandtales.org.uk
- Story teller at Bristol Old Vic, Halloween 2008. ‘Moonslice’ also read on Soundart radio live community radio broadcast Jan 09: www.soundartradio.org.uk
- ‘Je M’aime’ – writing and animated-film collaboration with Crysse Morrison – a duet of self-love.
- Port Eliot Festival – as part of the House of Fairy Tales. Installation and story-telling.
- Published poetry in Helicon, Outburst, Blank Pages and Glass: A Journal of Poetry.
- Monologue ‘Units of Memory’ performed in Show of Strength Theatre Company’s ‘Trade It?’ project, Southville, Bristol Feb 09.
- Bristol University Falstaff (English) Society Creative Writing Rep – 2003 – 2005
- Poetry Can board of trustees 2006 – ongoing.
- We Haunt Artists and writers collaboration every full moon throughout 2008. See: www.greycontent.co.uk/wehaunt
- Featured artist at Tactile Bosch Gallery, Cardiff for ‘Track and Field’ with installed-poem ‘Vermin IV: An Exact Science’.
- For Clifton Down Explore Learning Discovery Centre: Children In Need Poetry Workshop (Nov 08), Storytelling and Workshops (Jan, Mar, Oct 09)
- Bath Poetry Café – regular performer and co-programmer, ‘The Love Café’, February 2009.
- Clifton College acting and improvisation workshop, Summer School, 2004.
- The Ministry of Love – performance collaboration with artist Michael Jones – 2006/7.