Monday, 2 November 2015

My inner architect (could use some training)


How are you? I hope everyone transitioned into November without too much hassle.

I've been doing some drawing lately. (But you're supposed to be writing! I hear nobody scream ...) It's okay because it's part of the writing. I find it very helpful to to know my characters' surroundings. If they're in a flat, what's the floor plan like? Where would they go? How would they move? Not only do I draw the space that would actually be visible on stage, but all the other spaces too. It helps me visualize the story better and therefore (hopefully) make it more detailed and grounded. I also enjoy it. I'm not very good, nothing is to scale, Kevin McCloud from Grand Designs would take one look at my work and tell the camera team to go home, but then that's not the point.
2-bed, open planned. If only it was as easy to build ... 
Studio flat. Might come with a crazy landlord.
I'm not trying to do the set designer's job. I'm only using the drawings to support the writing process. If the plays ever get produced I'm certain someone much more qualified can look at the texts and come up with several great ways to stage them. It's always exciting when innovative set design can give a production that extra layer. But in my head, right now, this is what it looks like. Or at least, this is what it looks like when I tried to draw what's in my head ...

I hope you all have a great week!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Crazy colours and the everyday


How are you?

A few people have now asked why the blog's been so quiet lately, so I thought I'd pop in and let you know I'm fine and well. I'm just busy with things that aren't that interesting to read or write about. I have a new part-time job I'm learning the ropes for and my playwriting is in a phase where I'm just trying to reach a first draft. And then we'll see if it goes beyond that or not. (Oh the mystery of theatre.)

The most exciting thing I can show you (which for most of you isn't exciting at all) is a very colourful, double sided pot holder I finished the other day. As many of you know, I get a little bit yarn-crazed this time of year. What I actually wanted to make was a blanket that's also a mermaid's fin, but my yarn budget doesn't really stretch to that so I worked with some left over yarns instead. I originally bought these to make crazy socks for a friend. Like I mentioned before, the knit has two layers to avoid nasty burns and to give the slightly colour-shy users a less "in your face" option as well.
Not my best work, but it was fun. And I now have some free space in my yarn bag. 
That's it for now! I will return, I promise, I'm just struggling to know what might interest you and the internet. Call it a blog-crisis if you like. But considering all the other crisis one can have, it's pretty lightweight ...

Have a great week!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

A Writer's Date

Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing "Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to makes speeches. Just believing is usually enough."

King is right, writing can be lonely but I am extremely lucky to have friends who also write and with whom I can work. Lotta and I used to have plenty of writing dates when I first moved to London, we'd just meet up in a coffee shop or at each other's houses and write (and drink cups of tea and gossip). At some point we both became quite busy daytime and we couldn't meet up as often but today we put everything else aside and got back to business!
One half each means double the goodness. 
No, not just eating cake. Although cake can be important. We spent a good chunk of time quietly working on our own pieces before spending an equal amount of time brain storming a new project which popped up somewhat out of the blue and slowly began to take form. Why do new projects always feel so much more exciting than the ones you're already working on? I don't know if it will ever see the light of day, but it was still fun to shoot ideas back and forth and to do it with an actual person! (Not just inside my own head.) 

So that was the main part of my Saturday, being social while still getting work done. I hope you've had a great day too!


Sunday, 13 September 2015

Dozens of carcasses in my bath


How are you?

Living in an all Finnish flat means the occasional odd tradition, like the autumnal crayfish party. I'd never actually been to one before but my flatmates are fans and decided it was time to introduce local friends to this Nordic crayfish and schnaps fueled dinner. The critters (the crayfish not my flatmates) spent a few hours defrosting in the bath ...
... Before ending up on the expertly decorated tables. There were also printouts of traditional songs that are sung throughout the dinner followed by sips of schnaps. The songs in Swedish were slightly less expertly translated to English by google translate. Who knew a bad translation could be so funny?
 I was a moderately rubbish participant since I'm not a big drinker and I don't eat crayfish but it was still good fun. The non-Finnish guests really got into the singing and learned several more or less appropriate words in the process. And it's always a major plus when you can leave a party and just walk up the stairs to your own bed. (When's teleporting actually going to be a thing?)
So that was my Saturday evening, a new experience which includes plenty of cracking, twisting and sucking. I hope you had a good one too!


Saturday, 5 September 2015

Three Year Anniversary


How are you?

Today, three years ago, I chucked my bags on a British Airways flight and moved to London. It's been three years! How did that happen?
One of the first photos I took in London, not far from where I live now. 
It's been pretty great. A lot of things have happened. I started my MA, I finished my MA. I've had several different jobs, sometimes doing the most bizarre things. I've met lots of incredible people and made some great friends. I've fallen in love with London, been sick and tired of London (when can I buy that countryside cottage?), and then found my way back again. There have been moments of pure elation and moments when everything's felt just a little bit ... meh. But I've never regretted the move. I've written a lot (and could still have done more). I've had my first full-length play produced at a proper theatre. I've been pretty lucky!
London as I rarely see it. 
It's still unclear what my 4th year is going to look like, but I hope it will continue to move things forward, however slowly, and offer new challenges and exciting things. And if I have any say in the matter, it will be spent in London.

Big thanks to all of you who have read the blog for the past three years or have supported me in any other way. I hope you're all having a great weekend!


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Starting Again


It's raining outside and I don't really mind. I can sit indoors with a good conscience while deciding what to do next. My next project. My next play. I have an idea. Sometimes it sits firmly in my hand but then it suddenly dissolves and escapes between my fingers. I have to remind myself that this is okay. Platitudes like Rome wasn't built in a day comes to mind, although I'm hardly building an ancient city. I just want to do the themes and the characters justice. I want to give something to the audience. I want to feel like I've learnt something from previous experiences. I want to write.
It's easy to get overwhelmed but then you just have to figure out one thing at a time. Art by Alina and Jeff Bliumis. 
I re-watched Elizabeth Gilbert's Ted-talk about creativity. I've had nowhere near her success or felt the pressure she's under (except maybe from myself) but the fear is still the same. A fear that can be crippling if it's given too much power. That's why I appreciate her message: work. Just work. Sit down and do your bit and at least you've accomplished something. Not everything you write will be golden, but you're giving it a go and that's good.
I received some wonderful flowers to the theatre last week and they still make me smile whenever I enter my living room. A spot of summer in this rainy weather!
I also keep reminding myself of something I might've written about last year. The words on the page are just that, words on a page. Nothing is sacred. They do not have some magical power over me. I have the power and everything can be changed. The only thing that can't change is something that hasn't been written yet. So I better get cracking. Here's to a first draft that might not be brilliant but can always get better!

Thanks for popping by! I hope you don't mind the rain too much,

Sunday, 23 August 2015

And finally ...


I'm going to keep this brief. I just wanted to share a few production shots from the past week's show. I feel incredibly lucky that so many of my friends and family came and saw the play, and also very grateful to those who don't have a clue who I am but still decided to give the show a chance. It wasn't ideal timing for everyone though, so this will hopefully give you some idea of what it looked like. All the photos were once again taken by the magnificent Mathew Foster.   
It's been an intense couple of months since we found out we'd been chosen to do the play at Theatre503 and the past few weeks have been incredible and terrifying in so many ways. We've had some lovely feedback from audience members and reviewers alike, and I'm proud of the work everyone's done. I've learnt a lot and hopefully that will help me with future projects, because the only way I get to do this again is if I write something worth showing.

Thank you so much to all of you who came to see the play or supported us in some other way. And thank you to the cast and crew who put Victory on stage! You're all brilliant. 

I hope you've had a great weekend!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Saying Goodbye

... to your characters.

There was a time this month when I felt an irrational jealousy. For almost two years these characters had been playing in my head, I'd been their best friend (and worst enemy) and most of the time we got along. And then suddenly, without much warning, they left. My characters went off to play with new people and have some fun without me.
This might or might not have something to do with the play ... 
Like I said, an irrational jealousy. Because like the famous Disney film I still haven't seen due to all the hype and non stop playing songs says, you have to let go. You have to say your goodbyes and allow them to explore the world on their own. And when you do meet again, they will have grown so much. I know mine had when I joined the rehearsals this week. No longer just mine, the characters felt familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. They'd become living breathing people and all of a sudden I was very happy to share them with others. That's what makes playwriting so special, that you get to work together with other people. Sure, it can be scary sometimes. And sometimes you have to give your own ego a good talking to, but when you're surrounded by so much talent and ambition you quickly learn to trust, it's such a great experience.

If you'd like to share at least part of that experience with me, do come along and see my play next week. It's going to be fun! Tickets can be found HERE and I'll be there for most shows so do say hi as well!

I hope you're looking forward to the weekend!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Creative People


How are you?

A lot of the updates and info about Victory (the play I wrote) is on our Facebook page and Twitter page, but for those of you who are a bit social media shy I thought I'd introduce the cast and creative team here on my blog too! Actor/photographer Mathew Foster joined us during a couple of rehearsals and took some lovely photos of everyone in action. Now, the actors might look a bit serious in most of the pics, but I'm telling myself it's because they're concentrating and getting into character, and not because they're sick and tired of the play ... So without further ado!

First up, we have Aspen Reiss who is playing Victory, clearly an important character since the play was named after her ...
Second we have Samuel Lawrence playing Matthew.
Arthur McBain playing Frank.
And finally Jenny Wills as Lorna.
None of it would come together without our director Claire Mullane (who you might remember from previous projects).
And Brian Fenton who's our producer and makes sure some of the "boring" but very important things happen.
And then there's me, who you should know by now. Ta daa!
And I should also mention that Claire Petzal will be performing live the original music that Solfa Carlile has composed for the play. Very exciting! Opening night is not far away now. Tuesday, August 18th, we will be at Theatre503, ready to put on a show, and hopefully you will too. If you haven't picked up a ticket yet, you can do it here!

Thank you so much for all of your support these past couple of months! It's certainly a magical experience. Hope you're looking forward to a nice weekend!


Saturday, 25 July 2015

Welcome to my offices

Dearly beloved,

I hope your Saturday got up on the right side of the bed and you're enjoying the weekend! Great news first, the Kickstarter campaign I was banging on about in the previous entry has reached its goal! Yes! This means we'll receive all the backing you so generously have donated to The Nightingale Collective for the production of my play Victory at Theatre503 in August. We couldn't be happier! Thank you! Thank you! And don't be sad if you were planning on donating but hadn't gotten around to it yet, we still have several days left to raise money on the campaign website, so do feel free to push us as far over the goal as you like. Everything helps!
An amazing raspberry muffin ton start the day.
Now what? Well, having spent much of spring and summer working on the script together with my lovely director Claire, it has now reached the actors and the rehearsal room. I can't wait to join them soon, but until then, I'm keeping myself busy (and shooing off the nerves) by diving into new projects. Never stop writing!
A tad empty Park Theatre café after the false fire alarm. Nice space though.
By the look of the photos you'd think I was writing coffee shop reviews, but they're actually pics of my "offices". I'm quite happy to edit and "transcribe" (from long hand) at home, but when it comes to the original writing, those very first bits that come from your heart or your gut, I need to get out of the house at the moment. It's incredible how it all just starts flowing as soon as I step outside the door.
It's not a library so I do have to buy something ... (I tell myself as I tuck in.)
I'm also reading a lot. I want to know as much as I can. It makes me feel more confident when I write. When you don't have to worry about the facts anymore, you can focus on the emotions. (And gosh does the research get emotional at times. Yes, I confess, I'm that nutter in the café corner who's silently crying into her latte. Don't mind me.)

Anywho, I'm hoping to share slightly more exciting photos with you soon, once I'm back in Victory-land. Until then, I'm wishing you all a lovely weekend and if you are crying into your latte, I hope they're happy tears!


Sunday, 12 July 2015

A message from the air (almost)

Hello everyone!

Greetings from Helsinki-Vantaa Airport where you need a mortgage to get a cup of tea but otherwise it's quite nice. I'm on my way home after a couple of lovely days with family and friends. As always it felt too short but at least this time I could focus fully on enjoying myself. Last summer I spent a hot week emptying my Helsinki flat and it was both physically and emotionally tough. I couldn't have done it without my brother and sister-in-law!
We found just enough sunshine to eat outdoors. 
But now it's time to go back to work! And speaking of work, things are fast moving forward on the play front. We have a talented cast! We have lovely artwork! I keep hearing exciting things from the director ... I feel blessed to be surrounded by people who are so dedicated. Unfortunately doing ambitious work can cost a lot of money and we are exploring all kinds of funding, including crowd funding where art loving people like you and me can back projects we think deserve some extra financial support.
Leaving a place and then coming back always makes you re-see things, like some of the lovely Helsinki buildings.
We recently published our Kickstarter page and it would be wonderful if you could visit the page, watch the video and maybe consider backing us (and/or coming to the play!). Just click HERE. And like I said with the charity run, I know money is short for many of us and there are many who need help, so even if 5 pounds is all you can spare, it means the world to us. Thank you!

Anywho, I need to get this published to I can then dash to my gate! (If the tea is expensive, the free wifi does make up for it somewhat.)

Have a lovely evening and I'll see you soon!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

A dream coming true

Hello all!

How are you?

Another week has taken off and I guess I could say I'm living the dream (sorry if that sounds terribly cliché)! Those of you who have read my blog for a while know I moved to London in 2012 to study playwriting and screenwriting at City University London. You also know I received my MA late last year and now scramble around in this thing called the real world.
The script moments before I handed it in as my final assignment at uni.
Becoming any kind of scriptwriter is hard. (Heck, calling yourself a writer at all can feel intimidating.) There are set backs and knock downs and (unintentionally) cruel comments that will haunt you (day and night) for the rest of your life. But if you keep at it, enjoy it and just stubbornly chip away, you do hopefully start to notice a change. One baby step at a time. And these steps are incredibly important because they show you you're making progress and at some point you might even sit back and think "Wow, I just reached a milestone".
The full poster will be revealed soon!
I've just reached a milestone, and it's important to me because it's my largest one so far in playwriting. In just over a month I'm going to have the great honor and pleasure of seeing my first full-length play, Victory, on stage at Theatre503, one of London's best known theatres for new writing. It's small, it's fringe but it packs a punch that makes people sit up and notice.
Without Theatre503 I wouldn't have seen my short play Nineteen on stage and I would never have met Claire. It just shows have one thing can lead to another ... 
And if that wasn't enough, I get to collaborate with people I truly care about and trust. We enjoy spending time together and staking out our own way of working. I'd be extremely surprised if The Nightingale Collective, Claire Mullane and Brian Fenton, didn't bring great theatre to the world for decades to come.

So, hurrah for dreams coming true! It's not always easy (I'm sure there will be plenty of challenges ahead) but I'm trying to learn from my characters' mistakes and not let fear stand in the way of happiness.

If you'd like to know more about the play, here are a few facts:
  • Its opening run will be August 18 - 22 (but hopefully it won't end there). 
  • It's a co-production between The Nightingale Collective and Theatre503 in London and you can buy tickets by clicking here
  • You can find out loads more about the production in the weeks to come by following us on Twitter @TheNightingaleC and liking us on Facebook The Nightingale Collective

Have I forgotten anything? Hope not! Let me know if I have. Until then, have a great week!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Ladies in Pink


How are you?

So yesterday I finally did the charity race I've been banging on about. It was a hot, hilly 5k and a lot of fun! A big big thank you to those of you who supported me and helped me reach my donation target. You are all great!
Nothing is small in London.
I didn't go at it alone, 1846 women ran, jogged and walked the course at Hampstead Heath and together we raised 180 000 pounds for cancer research. Hurrah! The atmosphere was really nice, the main goal was to make a difference, not trample everyone else to get to the finish line first. There were participants of all ages and fitness levels. The runners lined up at the front and then us joggers and walkers followed. (And although it doesn't really matter, I was quite happy with my result considering the weather and the terrain.)
Complimentary temporary tattoos. What do you think, is it me? Should I make it permanent? ;)
I'll definitely do it again! It was both a rewarding and at times emotional experience. And if the money we raised does any good at all then it was definitely worth it!

Right! Next week I'll be blogging about other exciting things (not related to running) and I'll also be heading off to Helsinki for the weekend so look out for a Finnish entry or two. I hope you're all having a lovely weekend and enjoying the scorching weather!


Thursday, 11 June 2015

Too cool for school


How are you?

I just received my super pink Race for Life laces and my running shoes are now even more neon than usual! They're also a bit grotty because I've been running in the rain a few times. I'm coming to the conclusion that I perform so much better in cool (bad) weather than in the summer sun. Maybe that's how my body works, or maybe I'm just not used to it yet, either way I'm hoping for a record cool July 4th!
While we're on the subject, does anyone have some great tips and tricks for blisters? (Sexy, I know.) I seem quite prone to them even though my shoes are fine, I have proper running socks and it's not like I run half a marathon each time. What can I do so I don't have to take breaks in between runs?

That's all for now. If you feel like supporting cancer research then you can still sponsor my charity run by clicking here. It's fast, easy, no amount is too small and it is very very much appreciated! Thank you. (I've written more about the race here.)

I hope you've had a good week so far and look forward to the weekend!

Friday, 5 June 2015

Bird babies!


As a Friday treat I wanted to share some cuteness. My local ponds are full of bird babies right now; ducks, geese and swans. I think H.C. Andersen was way off in writing that baby swans, (apparently called cygnets), are ugly. I think they are absolutely adorable!

The swan couple had seven cygnets in total and they were very protective of them. Apparently they didn't manage to get any babies last year so this time around they are extra careful. The black plastic things floating around aren't very pretty, but they help birds find a resting place and also get onto land where the edge is otherwise too high up.

I hope you have some cuteness in your life and look forward to a lovely weekend!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Please help me

Hello everyone!

I have a favour to ask. In January I mentioned I'm going to take part in one of Cancer Research UK's charity races; Race for Life. The race is now 5 weeks away and to support the great research that is being done, us racers try and raise extra money that can go towards more life saving work.
It's a 5k race. For seasoned runners that might sound like a pitiful distance. But I'm not a seasoned runner so for me it's a reasonable challenge and the point of the race is not to win a medal or beat a clock, it's to raise awareness and allow any woman, no matter what her body is currently going through, to take part.
Most of us will have some personal connection to the dreaded disease. I will be racing for my mum, who died 5 years ago. I will also be running for anyone else who has suffered, as a patient or a loved one. And finally I'm going to race for myself, because one day I might be in need of life saving treatment and hopefully, through research, it will have been discovered by then.
I know most of us are strapped for cash and there are so many good causes out there that it's hard to help everyone. This is my first ever charity race so it does feel a bit strange to ask, but if you do have an extra pound/dollar/euro, then I would be eternally grateful for your donation.

The race is at Hampstead Heath (London) on July 4th, 11am, if you'd like to come along and cheers us on! More info and the online donation page can be found HERE.

Thank you so much and have a great week!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Was it something I said?


How are you?

Last Sunday was all about The Play, so today I've made sure to enjoy a rainy run (I prefer it rainy), lunch in good company and reading a new book about English accents. It's written by a father and son (linguist & actor) in a fun and interesting way, and I'm learning all about the history of certain accents, the attitudes towards them, why more and more people have "mixed" accents, and for example why lots of Hollywood villains are Brits speaking RP.
"And most importantly of all: what went wrong in Birmingham?"
I often get asked about my accent. I don't sound Swedish. I don't sound Finnish (listen to some Finnish F1 drivers if you want an example). On rare occasions I've passed for English (maybe from a slightly odd part of the country?). There are words and phrases I really used to struggle with, like bottle of water and thirty (which is inconvenient since that's my current age). I have been accused of sounding posh, because apparently I articulate very carefully. Of course it has nothing to do with being posh or not, I just have to concentrate when I speak. I'm using different vocal muscles than the ones I grew up with and if I get sloppy, if I'm tired or feeling nervous, my speech can easily turn into gobbledygook. It's a bit like sport, I need to launch myself into it with confidence and gusto or the results will be less than satisfactory.
A nutty lunch. 
I'm about halfway through the book now and it's all rather fascinating. So far I've realised that although I don't sound American, I do pronounce a lot of things the "American way", like address and advertisement and schedule and concrete. I shouldn't feel bad though, so do a lot of English people these days. Accents change with time and some of it can be "blamed" on TV and travel. Blame it on Friends!

Anywho, no matter what accent/s you speak, I hope you're having an excellent weekend!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Playing in the dark

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who came and saw my play yesterday, it was great having you! And an equally massive thank you to Claire, Lydia and Chris who took my pieces of paper and made it into a performance. I'm very happy with how it turned out, the play itself was set in almost complete darkness which encouraged you to really listen and sense what was going on. (It also made it nearly impossible to get any photos of the actual show.)
Warming up before tech. 
If you would like to know a little bit more about some of my writing, I've finally created a new page for the blog called "Writing and Productions". You can find it above the blog archive. It's very much a work in progress (just like my writing), and it won't win any web design competitions that's for sure, but you get the idea ...
Not a bad place to run lines in ...
When I wasn't inflating or deflating air mattresses, speed walking through the night or hoping the sun would set just a little bit faster, I spent quite a few pleasant hours in the beer garden below the theatre. Not a bad Bank Holiday Monday!

I hope you had a great weekend too!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

My writing puts actors to sleep


How are you? First off I'm going to blame the radio silence on a busy week with early mornings and changing plans. Today however, I had the great pleasure of hosting a full day rehearsal for tomorrow's performance of my short play Eruption.
The actors had prepared for this part of the play their entire lives ...
It really is amazing fun (and a little bit scary) to watch a piece of writing come to life. While the director and actors worked with incredible energy, my self-assigned task was mainly to sit in a corner and eat grapes. (Which I think I did rather well, at one point my tongue turned blue ...)
I really nailed that bowl of grapes, and I had a few satsumas too ...
The short is one of five plays performed tomorrow evening at TheatreN16 in Stoke Newington. Why not buy yourself a ticket and pop along? I promise the sleeping is scripted! (And there's also beer and food in the pub ...). And while I'd like to write something more, I think my brain just had a mind melt and that will have to be all for now.

Hope you've had a great week!