Interview: Jadé Fadojutimi

Interview: Jadé Fadojutimi

Jadé Fadojutimi’s The Numbing Vibrancy of Characters in Play is the painter’s first solo exhibition in a UK public institution. AJ Dehany asked her about the show, which includes new large-scale works created specifically for the space at PEER.

The Numbing Vibrancy of Characters in Play is your first UK solo exhibition in a public gallery. What does this title mean, with its oxymoron in “numbing vibrancy”?

The title of the show has many layers to it. It references the appearance of characters in my work and my reluctance to accept their existence. I felt like my work was leaning more towards figuration, and although other people may not see the characters that I see, they were becoming recognisable and familiar to me. While trying to fight their existence, I realised that I couldn’t reject the natural progression of my work. I decided to embrace these characters and give them centre stage. The show at PEER was an exploration of these new ideas. I prefer not to over-analyse the specific wording of my titles because the language can become suffocated. Words are a choice and are as open and fluid as the work: they have many ingredients. The titles came about through natural association with the paintings in the show, but I don’t like to decide the title of a painting before it’s made. This phrase, however, has been stuck on the wall of my studio for months. It made sense that it referenced the experience of the body of work and was more suited to an exhibition title.

Installation Image Jadé Fadojutimi – Turmoil, 2019, Photo Stephen White
Installation Image Jadé Fadojutimi – Turmoil, 2019, Photo Stephen White

You say that your paintings fluctuate between abstraction and formal motifs. How hard is it to maintain that balance? Is this related to the notion of ‘Familiar unfamiliarity’?

The work sits transiently between figuration and abstraction, with each painting at its own point on the spectrum. They waver between the two, dipping in and out of recognition, into the pool of familiarity and then retreating back to something almost unrecognisable, becoming a new entity in its own right.

These are new large-scale works — what is it about working at scale that was important to you in creating them at this time?

I’ve always worked on a large scale because I see the works as environments: places, worlds and spaces that can be entered, inviting me in as they are built. The scale orientates the work towards its destination. If I make a smaller work, it almost feels like a photograph of a place. That’s not to say I don’t make small works. I believe the best painters can do both and so I continue to play with scale and explore what the function of a smaller work has for me and its own potential. I enjoy the challenge.

Installation Image Jadé Fadojutimi – Left She's buried to the chin, 2019, Right Without our heads, we prevail, 2018, Photo Stephen White
Installation Image Jadé Fadojutimi – Left She’s buried to the chin, 2019, Right Without our heads, we prevail, 2018, Photo Stephen White

Writing plays a large part in your creative process — and the word “character” has many meanings signifying people, their personalities, and letters on a page — what’s the relationship between words and images in your mind?

I see the writings as extensions of my works, comparable to when I’m making a painting and I instinctively decide the next mark or colour or form. The writings are reactions themselves. They take place as I paint, becoming an extension of the works consciousness itself. They are thoughts. The same way the brushstroke is a thought, question, processing and exploration in excitement.

Your painting and writing often happens in tandem, and usually late into the night, in extended bursts of activity accompanied by music: a multisensory phantasmagoria—what energies does that release?

I work to the soundtracks of animations, videogames and dramas that excite me. These allow me to return to those moments of curiosity I experience when watching or playing them. In these moments I am led on journey where I revel in the depths of my own being whose existence I am unaware of.

Completely taken by a revelation I can’t quite comprehend, I hope to understand their significance through painting. My work often pulls together things that steal my gaze spontaneously. They merge with each other to reveal the final image in a painting. Afterwards, I continue to ponder them. I am always taken by the narrative power of these images, even when I do not fully understand their origin.

Their power to reveal and reflect myself remains an eternal curiosity. Why do I indulge in them the same way I indulge in painting? From the beginning, I’ve wanted to share these experiences through painting.

Installation Shot Jadé Fadojutimi – The Numbing Vibrancy of Characters in Play, Photo Stephen White
Installation Shot Jadé Fadojutimi – The Numbing Vibrancy of Characters in Play, Photo Stephen White

There are influences cited from significant women abstract artists such as, Amy silman, Charline Von Hyle, Laura Owens, Varda Caivano, Nicola Tyson, and Phoebe Unwin. What is your relationship to these practices, especially in how it might affect these works?

When looking at these painter’s work, they allow me to realise what I want from my own work. They aren’t necessarily a direct visual influence, but a way to extract my own work’s purpose. I often question what it is specifically in someone’s works that I enjoy and what makes that painter special. In exploring these aspects, whether it being colour, energy, form or movement, etc. I understand myself and my paintings more. It is equally important in that sense to look at work I don’t necessarily enjoy. All these painters have a complexity in the their painting language with a great tension that is personally inviting to me.

Installation Image Jadé Fadojutimi – Left Hibernation, 2018, Right I’m pirouetting the night away, 2019, Photo Stephen White
Installation Image Jadé Fadojutimi – Left Hibernation, 2018, Right I’m pirouetting the night away, 2019, Photo Stephen White

How has your practice been affected by your recent exchange in Japan?

My time in Japan allowed me to come to terms with myself, flaws and all, and embrace them. In accepting and understanding myself, I was able to understand how I like to work. I have always had a fascination with the country and it’s subculture due to my obsession with Japanese animation from early teenage years, influencing my work. Hence, it became important for me to go there and make work, which I had the opportunity to do through the RCA. My excitement to finally make work there however, created a struggle with my frustration in myself. I found it difficult to make work and enjoy my time there to which I saw no excuse due to having been before and having an understanding of the language. I found myself relying on material goods to feel comfortable and wallowing instead.

Eventually I hit rock bottom and at that point instead of questioning my shortcomings, I began to question why I was questioning them in the first place. A realisation that my perception of how I should behave and feel was derived from a societal expectation instead, created a frustration in society rather than myself, liberating the work and myself. No longer perceiving my impatience and lack of focus as a flaw, I began to work faster and jump onto new ideas quickly. I began to delve into the complexity of a place that I yearned for and its rejection of my being, through into a limbo of wanting to be there, knowing that my personality was shackled to London.

Installation Image Jadé Fadojutimi – Left I Present Your Royal Highness, 2018, Right Turmoil, 2019, Photo Stephen White
Installation Image Jadé Fadojutimi – Left I Present Your Royal Highness, 2018, Right Turmoil, 2019, Photo Stephen White

How did you get involved with arts organisation PEER who are presenting this show?

I started working with Pippy Houldsworth Gallery soon after graduating from the Royal College of Art. The director of PEER, Ingrid Swenson, saw my work in their viewing room during Frieze and realised she had also seen my painting at the RCA degree show in 2017. Here the conversation began and after my solo show, ‘Heliophobia’ at Pippy Houldsworth, she proposed an exhibition.

What are you working on at the moment and what happens next?

I’m currently exploring my work’s potential for growth after much experimentation in both my shows, at PEER and at Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne. When a new thought process begins, I tend to go to Japan. I am going there for a month at the end of April to understand how my complicated relationship with the place and my work has changed. I tend to write and draw whilst there. Upon my return this summer, I’m excited to explore new ideas with a new body of work: a new step forward in the work’s growth and my own, which is integral to my practice.

The Numbing Vibrancy of Characters at Play, Jadé Fadojutimi. 31 January to 23 March 2019. PEER, 97/99 Hoxton Street, London N1 6QL. Opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12:00pm – 6:00pm. Free admission. Telephone 020 7739 8080.

AJ Dehany is based in London and writes independently about music, art and stuff.


INTERVIEW: John Metcalfe – Absence

INTERVIEW: John Metcalfe – Absence

Composer, producer, arranger, viola player and multi-instrumentalist, former member of Durutti Column, co-founder of Factory Classical, John Metcalfe is classically trained but steeped in club culture. His fifth album Absence is shaped by the presence of vocalist Rosie Doonan, bassist Ali Friend (Red Snapper) and drummer Daisy Palmer (Mesadorm), but also presents a very personal expression. AJ Dehany met up with him to talk about life, love and loss.

John Metcalfe’s fifth album Absence is concerned with themes of loss and survival that resonate beyond personal expression into an empowering connection with human empathy and dignity. He has previously described it as being about “how we go through the process of losing people, the imagined conversations we have with those people once they’re gone.” As a body of work it has some of the characteristics of a song cycle, or even, dare we say, a concept album. Is it a concept album? “No,” he laughs, “but it looks alarmingly like one doesn’t it?”

The album has a wide range sonically and emotionally. At its heart you could call it expansive chamber pop with bigger beats, a kind of ‘chamber dance music’ with contemporary classical resonances. The ancient sound of long strokes of the viola contrasts with electronic processing on the vocals that give them a strange otherness, which has the additional effect of embedding them so the lyrics aren’t foregrounded as they are in most vocal-led music. Sparkling textures combine electronic dance rhythms and layered arrangements to evoke an ethereal atmosphere—glitteringly glacial, and just a little bit heroic. It’s moving but never morbid or maudlin, with a steely dignity to its treatment of themes of death and survival. It is shaped by Metcalfe’s own experiences, including the early death of his father and the suicide of a close friend in 2014—which, he maintains, you don’t need to know about to appreciate the album.

“In some ways I think it’s essentially because I’m deeply uncomfortable talking about this kind of thing. It can come out as moaning or mawkish or self-indulgent. If it’s open enough people can attach their own narrative to it, which is why I have really tried to be careful with the lyrics. I’ve always been a bigger fan of instrumental music. If someone is expressing something about their life and wants to do with poetry mixed with music, that’s fine. Most of the time I just wanna be kind of left alone to respond to the music. I saw a Brian Eno quote: in some ways, not always, lyrics can debase the mystery of what the music is doing. I agree with that to some extent.”

For Metcalfe, being situated at an intersection between classical, pop, dance and electronica is creatively empowering but hard for some audiences and critics to situate. He benefits from an understanding relationship with the Neue Meister label. He says “I have forever shot myself in the foot because lots of people have said ‘John, lose the fucking drums! Do that thing that you do well and then people will get it.’ But I love drums. I used to play drums in a shit band at school and I just love them. I love dancing, not so much now but I used to go out clubbing a lot. And if i meet a good drummer like Daisy Palmer and they bring it I’m not gonna put my hand up to that.”

He was born in New Zealand, the son of an Englishman he describes as a “Ten Pound Pom” who became one of Godzone’s leading tenor singers, which led to the family moving to England. After his father’s untimely death, John went off the rails but got into music college in Manchester. There, he joined Vini Reilly’s Durutti Column and got involved with Factory Records. He initiated the Factory Classical sub-label, with a distinctively punk attitude to selecting challenging repertoire and presenting it using in-your-face production techniques.

“This was always intended to be a hard-core statement of ‘Fuck off, this is classical music. These are young British classical musicians who are really good at what they do and care about it, and they’re not making excuses for the music. It’s gonna be challenging. We’re not gonna patronise you; it’s gonna be a bit of a hard listen in places.’ Thankfully, because it was on Factory and because Peter Saville did the design I know a lot of the Factory cataloguers will have bought it. Tony Wilson was great taking it on. He saw an angry young man and thought ‘I’ll let him have a bit of a leash on this’ and I think to a degree it worked. It changed, went a little bit strange, but then of course the whole thing went bankrupt anyway…”

Much of his bread and butter today comes from his string arrangement work, with artists including Blur, Morrissey, and Bat For Lashes. This grew out of working with Vini Reilly and Durutti Column in Manchester, but almost by accident. “I did a little bit of arranging on Without Mercy but didn’t play on it, and then guitar on Other machines—but in a way that was never arranging: I’d just turn up. Vin would say ‘Right, here’s the tune’ and I’d do a couple of takes and they were kind of improvised and he’d go ‘That’s great!’”

The album Absence has another notable absence: of the guitar. Its presence on the previous album The Appearance of Colour showed more obviously the strong influence on him of Vini Reilly. He says, “Vini’s never far away. That record was a kind of acknowledging of the huge influence that Vini’s had on me.”

The album Absence is an album for people rather than about specific figures. He says, “We all carry shit with us, some really hardcore fears about life, particularly death, so when it happens to us—ask anybody in this room, they would rather it would not have happened. How we respond is how you go about surviving and getting up in the morning. How you overcome those things from a musical point of view, it’s like, if somebody said to me ‘Go away and write a collection of songs about that,’ how on earth would you set about doing it? The reason why I’ve had the temerity to attach those big things to this stuff is because it just seems to happen.” He concludes with a laugh: “At the end of the day it’s always about a musical process: does it sound good?”

AJ Dehany is based in London and writes independently about music, art and stuff.

Absence is available on Neue Meister:

The album is launched at the Playground Theatre on 7 February:

Video from previous album “The Appearance of Colour”:


Jekyll & Hyde (Old Vic Theatre)

Jekyll & Hyde (Old Vic Theatre)

I wrote this for The Stage’s Critic Search: a review of Drew McOnie’s dance production Jekyll & Hyde at the Old Vic Theatre.

Everybody knows the plot of Jekyll and Hyde. Jekyll is Hyde. In adapting Stevenson’s fable for a wordless dance production, choreographer/director Drew McOnie has found a way to breathe new life into the old story.

The drama is vividly drawn using Matthew Bourne’s technique of double casting to explore aspects of character. Daniel Collins dances Jekyll with goofy lightness dissolving into tremulous fear, while Tim Hodges’s Hyde oozes menace.

The florally festooned pas de deuxes between Collins’s Jekyll and Rachel Muldoon’s sparkling Dahlia give way to gore and terror as Hyde starts to overcome Jekyll and the bodies pile up. It’s not for the squeamish. Swan Lake it is not, unless someone was strangling all the swans.

Grant Olding’s eclectic score emphasises the splits in personality, with scintillating jazz for Jekyll and heavy electric guitar music for Hyde. Soutra Gilmour’s set design evokes a creaky 1950s Waterloo where evil deeds dissolve into the smog.

Jekyll & Hyde is the McOnie Company’s first collaboration with the Old Vic under the new Artistic Direction of Matthew Warchus. It’s an ambitious and commanding entrée that has drawn new audiences to dance theatre in its too-short run. McOnie says “I want people to walk away feeling terrified, thrilled and a little bit horny.”

The show’s powerful physical effect on the audience – gasps, intakes of breath, a standing ovation – suggests he’s succeeded in at least some of these aims. It should transfer immediately to terrify, thrill and arouse a wider, perhaps unsuspecting, audience.

29 Plays Later – The Lot

29 Plays Later – The Lot

This is the complete linked list of twenty-nine plays what I wrote during February 2016 for the Space theatre’s 29 Plays Later Challenge. Some of these are in the process of being brought to performance standard.

Day 1 – Sweet Chariotblog / pdf text – fertility melodrama
Day 2 – My New Sampo Tattoo – blog / pdf text – tragi-sitcom
Day 3 – Google’s Choice – blog / pdf text – monologue
Day 4 – Piccioni Rosa – blog / pdf text – math rock mockumentary
Day 5 – Worst. Movie. Ever – blog / pdf text – best movie ever
Day 6 – Percy and Rose – blog / pdf text / playlist of songs – WW1 musical
Day 7 – ATLAS ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ED – blog / pdf text – Ayn Rand’s emoji musical
Day 8 – The Truth About Margarine – blog / pdf text – black comedy farce
Day 9 – Parakeets – blog / pdf text – monologue
Day 10 – Spiral Jetty – blog / pdf text / scene performance video – historical drama about medical science
Day 11 – Dirrty Pantalons – blog / pdf text – nasty satire
Day 12 – The Dream Song – blog / pdf text – expressionist dream play
Day 13 – The Melody for Destiny – blog / pdf text – moral fable for kids
Day 14 – The Massacre on Valentine’s Day – blog / pdf text – high school drama
Day 15 – The Persecution and Inspiration of George Frideric Handel as Performed by the Entourage of Jimi Hendrix under the Direction of Psychedelic Drugs (Handel/Hendrix) – blog / pdf text – surreal historical comedy
Day 16 – Immortal Beloved – blog / pdf text – historical drama about Beethoven
Day 17 – Dramatis Personae – blog / pdf text – a play shorter than a millisecond
Day 18 – The Second ‘i’ in Liaison – blog / pdf text – comedy farce
Day 19 – The Obedience of Kolya S – blog / pdf text – historical drama
Day 20 – 1996: The Year In Revue  – blog / pdf text – satirical sketches, songs, stand-up & skits
Day 21 – Nuestro Pueblo – blog / pdf text – historical piece (art & civil rights)
Day 22 – Meursault – blog / pdf text – existential new wave caper comedy
Day 23 – Ein Vereinigtes Königreich (A United Kingdom) – blog / pdf text – what-if history
Day 24 – The Antic Notion – blog / pdf text – supernatural memory play
Day 25 – Google’s Choice: A Reconstruction of the Black Box Recording – blog / pdf text
Day 26 – Hundreds of Sparrows – blog / pdf text – black comedy with a talking dog (second version from 15 March following casting readings)
Day 27 – Nazi Pirates of the Caribbean… With Zombies (and a Chainsaw) – blog / pdf text – surrealist anti-play
Day 28 – The Complete and Utter History of the Universe – blog / pdf text – science & wonders
Day 29 – A Talking Bonobo Chimp Called ‘Smiles’  – blog / pdf text – black comedy with a talking bonobo (second version from 1 April for performance at The Space. It bombed)


29 Plays Later – Day 28 & Day 29

29 Plays Later – Day 28 & Day 29

The 29 Plays Later Challenge is over, finally over. 190 people began and 116 completed a new play each day in February (that’s 61%). We’ve exasperated our loved ones, toiled on our birthdays, and embarrassed ourselves on the radio. I’ve personally written a total of 86,364 words, plus 6109 on this blog (including this).

Day 28 – The Complete and Utter History of the Universe – Day 17’s challenge was to “write a play that is shorter than a millisecond or longer than a millennia.” I researched a play for the long challenge but then chucked it out and did the former: Dramatis Personae, in which the story takes place through an exhaustive list of character descriptions.  For Day 28 we had to revisit one of the previous challenges, so it made sense to complete the super long play, which is longer than the universe, longer even than a really super long meeting. Cosmic! It’s shit though.


Day 29 – A Talking Bonobo Chimp Called ‘Smiles’ – After teasing us with the possibility of an agglomerate challenge of all the previous challenges, the challenge was simple. Clothes. But it was hard to start. Two people didn’t submit their last play (aaargh!), and I thought I’d be one of them. (Five people didn’t submit their first play, what?). Thank goodness for Gordon’s gin. Following my play about a talking dog, I seem to be obsessed with sentient animals. Here is the heroic, instructive and tragic life of a bonobo.

29_-_A_TALKING_BONOBO_CHIMP_CALLED_SMILES_-_AJ_DEHANY (pdf, 11pp, 4 actors – version 1 April for performance at The Space)

Following the hashtag #29playslater, everyone seems tired but broadly happy, with a pervading sense of ‘what now?’ for which I have no answer. If you’ve enjoyed any of the plays, then that’s my job done. Exit stage left.


29 Plays Later – Day 25. Day 26. Day 27.

29 Plays Later – Day 25. Day 26. Day 27.

As we near the end of the 29 Plays Later challenge to write a complete new play every single day in February 2016, I find myself exhausted, with a constant headache the size of Canterbury. One could turn in monologues, or the “two-page dialogues that aren’t exciting” our quizmaster Sebastian Rex has criticized – but what would be the point? What is the point anyway?  Seriously? But this is no time to get philosophical, we’ve got plays to write!

Day 3 – Google’s Choice – It seems so long ago! This monologue was shortlisted for the Space Theatre’s monodrama festival, One. I intend to redraft it and record it.

03_-_GOOGLES_CHOICE_-_AJ_DEHANY (pdf, 4pp, 1 actor)

Day 25 – Google’s Choice: A Reconstruction of the Black Box Recording – The challenge was to rewrite one of your own plays from memory. Portraying doing this for “Google’s Choice” as different iterations of a data extraction exercise from a damaged black box recording added new layers of meaning and mischief.


Day 26 – Hundreds of Sparrows – Written as a response to the ‘abstract theme’ of veganism. Bell is a mature depressed vegan woman who tries to strangle her dog, Toby. The dog remonstrates. Yes, it’s a talking dog, half Labrador retriever, half cockney Russell Crowe on a bender. “Dogs talk constantly. You people just never listen.” There is dognapping, warring vegans, and very dark humour. Finally Bell has to try to decide whose life is more important – hers or the dog’s…

Hundreds-of-sparrows-15-March-2016-AJ-Dehany (pdf, 20pp, 3 actors)

Day 27 – Nazi Pirates of the Caribbean… with Zombies (and a Chainsaw) – I will actually write the movie for this title, but this is not it. Instead I told the tale of L’Homme à tête de chou, who dreams of walking between the two towers. He falls in love with the shampoo girl, murders her, gets incarcerated in an asylum, and escapes to pursue his dream. This is interspersed with scenes documenting the nefarious activities of property developers, terrorists, and politicians. An exercise in sustained disrupture and continuous discontinuity.

27_-_NAZI_PIRATES_OF_THE_CARIBBEAN_-_AJ_DEHANY (pdf, 10pp, 4 actors)

A very honorable mensh to the mighty Sarah Mann who has basically won at 29 Plays Later with her peerless 29 Play Slater, in which twenty-nine famous actors all play Kat Slater out of Eastenders. “Not all models look like Brad Pitt. But none of them look like Homer Simpson.”

Two more to go!!


29 Plays Later – Day 24 – The Antic Notion

29 Plays Later – Day 24 – The Antic Notion

For Day 24 of 29 Plays Later we were challenged to write around themes of memory.

Tennessee Williams invented the term “memory play” to describe The Glass Menagerie and it has since been used to describe plays like Pinter’s Old Times and Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa. In such plays “the scene is memory and is therefore non-realistic” though the primary mode is realistic. I’d call Conor McPherson’s The Weir a memory play. It’s a ghost story. It’s several ghost stories, but it never leaves the pub. Spooky!

Day 24 – The Antic Notion – A densely nineteenth-century gothic ghost story with several narrative layers and a circular structure. The rich language is drawn from Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks, and the effect is reminiscent of Joyce in eyeliner or Ligotti‘s weird fiction.

24_-_THE_ANTIC_NOTION_-_AJ_DEHANY (pdf, 7pp, 2 actors)


POSTSCRIPT: This play has been adapted for film by experimental video artist Duncan Ward. Watch online:


29 Plays Later – Day 23 – Ein Vereinigtes Königreich (A United Kingdom)

29 Plays Later – Day 23 – Ein Vereinigtes Königreich (A United Kingdom)

The challenge for Day 23 of 29 Plays Later was to write a play in a different language (with a as bonus challenge to put in a surprise ending).

Now, I’ve seen how rabid fans of Game of Thrones get about spoilers, and someone recently let slip to me the bombshell about the new Star Wars film – THANKS, RICH (I can’t believe Jar Jar Binks is dead). So I’ll give you the link and then we’ll have an image of some soldiers and below that the spoiler text to read afterwards or instead.

Day 23 – Ein Vereinigtes Königreich (A United Kingdom) –  Complete text in German followed by English translation. For English language performance, possibly start in nonsense German and ‘fade’ into English.

23_-_EIN_VEREINIGTES_KOENIGREICH_-_AJ_DEHANY (pdf, 21pp, min 3 actors)



You got it! It’s a counterfactual history in which Germany won the First World War. The title refers to the German Empire rather than Great Britain. By all means ‘comment’ below and let me know at what point you figured it out. There’s kind of a punchline ending I’m not convinced would work on stage so I might need to add a fifth scene. My original idea for an ending was to have some big event that was the same in both timelines – both our timeline where the Allies won WW1 and the fictional timeline where the Central Powers won. There was still a Second World War but it was probably started by the depleted France and didn’t last very long. Possibly the fifth scene could be on 9/11. In fact, I might do that. Why didn’t I think of that sooner? Damn. Or, as we say in England: Ach, scheisse!

Day 23 – Ein Vereinigtes Königreich (A United Kingdom) – Complete text in German followed by English translation. For English language performance, possibly start in nonsense German and ‘fade’ into English.

23_-_EIN_VEREINIGTES_KOENIGREICH_-_AJ_DEHANY (pdf, 21pp, min 3 actors)

Tschüss, aj.

29 Plays Later – Day 22 – Meursault

29 Plays Later – Day 22 – Meursault

Our challenge for Day 22 of 29 Plays Later was to take a famous first line from literature and then go off somewhere else with it.

The opening of Albert Camus’s L’étranger goes like this: “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure.” The novel is normally translated as The Stranger these days, but the copy I first read was still The Outsider. I took The Outsider and mixed it up with the plot and characters of The Outsiders, Jean-Luc Godard’s 1964 new wave film Bande à part (usually translated as Band of Outsiders).

I dragged these two masterpieces into some kind of absurdist existential new wave caper movie for radio. There’s more plot than the whole movie, and I was filling in dialogue for the fifteen chapters until 2am, so it’s as rushed and hammy and confused as ever, but you get the gist, or as say in French, le gist.

22_-_MEURSAULT_-_AJ_DEHANY (pdf, 42pp, 4 actors)

Check out the other challengers at #29playslater and check my main Mann Sarah Mann. À bientôt!


29 Plays Later – Days 18-21

29 Plays Later – Days 18-21

The past four days of the 29 Plays Later challenge have brought me two satisfyingly fun pieces – a farce, and a revue – and two clear failures. Imagine me in a Travelodge in Leeds on my birthday, exhausted and trying to write about the Eastern Bloc for my nineteenth play of the month. Who made months so long anyway?

Day 18 – The Second ‘I’ in Liaison – I usually do titles last so the challenge was to begin with the title. Mine was kindly donated by the mighty Tom Elkins. I improvised a farce starting with a man triple-booking himself at a restaurant and trying to maintain three meals at once. Instantly painting myself into a corner, I just had to keep painting! Obeying its own absurd logic the farce built to a satisfyingly ridiculous conclusion.

18_-_THE_SECOND_I_IN_LIAISON_-_AJ_DEHANY (pdf, 25pp, 5 actors)

Day 19 – The Obedience of Kolya S – Write about what you don’t know. I do this every time anyway. I started with this East European film I saw over twenty years ago and can’t remember properly. I wish I could track it down. There was some kind of revolution or siege, and a final grainy tableau where they find the weird little guy they’re after in a pile of bodies in a big net. I got thinking about Václav Havel‘s mixture of politics and absurd theatre, and Heinrich Böll‘s stubborn and eccentric protagonists struggling to sustain personal life against a background of war and political upheaval. I failed to create a coherent play in the little time I had on my birthday. Nice first line though: “I found myself with a nun in a cupboard of bread. I said to myself “Whatever happens, I’ll be eating bread.””

19_-_THE_OBEDIENCE_OF_KOLYA_S_-_AJ_DEHANY (pdf, 10pp, 3 actors)

Day 20 – 1996: The Year in Revue – Write a play with twenty characters to celebrate the twentieth birthday of the Space Theatre. One challenger wrote a football match, another poured vitriol on the crappy challenges we’re being given. I created a revue, a mixture of surreal satirical sketches, songs, stand-up and skits telling the tale of 1996, the year of the mad cow, Dolly the sheep, GM Frankeinstein food, Take That and the Spice Girls, royal divorces, and tragedies on Everest, in Manchester and Dunblane.

20_-_1996_THE_YEAR_IN_REVUE_-_AJ_DEHANY (pdf, 15pp)

Day 21 – Nuestro Pueblo (Our Town/Our People) – We were sent a text about visionary/outsider art. I went to my well-thumbed copy of Colin Rhodes’s book and picked out Simon Rodia who between 1921 and 1954 constructed the so-called Watts Towers (pictured) using ad hoc materials in a rough area of LA that would later experience massive race riots. I poured in content and didn’t create any characters or a good narrative, but there’s a kernel of an idea about not submitting and building a future.

21_-_NUESTRO_PUEBLO_-_AJ_DEHANY (pdf, 12pp)

Speaking of which: eight more plays to go! Follow the hashtag #29playslater.