We’ve had an exceptionally busy week at Casa Libertà.
Joanna had serious train travel and a full diary, while still reluctantly convalescent. Sophie had much writing – blogging, a magazine article and catching up with belated Amazon reviews of recently-read books – together with a trip to see Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance.
Above all, we were running up to part two of our Sparkle editing workshop, otherwise known as Bling it Up. So we spent Friday on a full day’s dress rehearsal before Saturday when the curtain went up.
We’ve been thinking about Bling It Up for months, even before we held our first Hook and Hold workshop on editing the start of a ms. We had plenty of material from our experience with different books. Maybe we had too many points?
So we marshalled our thoughts and restructured the day. Several times. Friday was supposed to be the final run-through.
We’d scattered practical tips all over the place. They were getting lost. We added a session on techniques and tips.
And did another run-through.
Joanna left exhausted. I fell into bed without doing the washing-up.
Busy Oscar Wilde
Now, anyone who wants to add sparkle to their writing, especially dialogue, has a vested interest in Oscar Wilde.
I promised myself I wasn’t going to let A Woman of No Importance push me into changing my bits of the presentation. We already had a reference to “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” That was surely enough.
Reinforcement is Always Welcome…
As it turned out, the programme, the performances and the play itself reinforced points the workshop already contained. Yay!
“Oscar was a fervent revisionist of his own work,” Sarah Joyce writes in the programme. Maybe too much so. I picked up some of my favourite aphorisms – “Fox-hunting is the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable” – but witty Lord Illingworth stayed, if not cardboard, at most veneered particleboard. And that was in spite of a delicious performance by Dominic Rowan.
(Character is part of world building: tick)
Wilde offers a large cast of female characters more wilful, independent and self-aware than his men. BUT they make a lot of long speeches.
Eve Best, staking a claim to maternal ownership that made my teeth bleed, nevertheless convinced me. BUT it took a great director and actors to bring those big speeches alive.
(Novelists beware! Long speeches need actors: tick)
I shall treasure Anne Reid’s hostess with a (just about under control) hangover delivering an impassioned version of The Gypsy’s Warning for a long time.
(Some of a story’s most memorable moments are a) off the wall and b) funny: check.)
Incidentally, I must say a word in praise of Eleanor Bron’s Lady Caroline. Initially I saw her as a bossy complacent snob. But in the second act, when her inarticulate husband disappears – off in the conservatory with one of the witty ladies, if you ask me – she wanders about looking for him, like a little anxious ghost. You see real vulnerability under the massive social armour.
And you realise – much-married Lady Caroline needs a man beside her to sustain that monstrous confidence.
(The unsaid is powerful and the audience/reader is alert to it. Use the space between the words: check.)
The workshop took place yesterday. After all the preparation it seemed to go in the blink of an eye.
It felt like a fabulous whirlwind. The wonderful participants really entered into the spirit of the thing. I had a ball. Thank you, guys.
And yes, I went to bed for the second night running without doing the day’s washing up.
It was worth it.