Outrage of an angel

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It was kind of a crazy coincidence that I saw her at all. Daytime tv is something of a mystery to me most of the time, but the night before I had taken a hard tumble at a softball game and my ankle was swollen and angry. The Doc had said to keep it elevated and use cold packs from time to time, and I had told my boss (who happened to be waiting for his turn to bat) that I wouldn’t be in the next day.

I’d made a comfortable nest on my couch with drinks and snacks within reach, but that meant I wasn’t in a hurry to get up when the dvd I’d been watching came to an end. I switched off the dvd player and the tv leapt back into life with some moronic mid-morning talk show.

The hostess was a plasticated Barbie Doll who had to keep saying “That’s sad” or “That’s so funny” because her botoxed features couldn’t form the relevant expressions. She rounded off her chat with a comedienne who was promoting her latest movie and turned to the camera. She lowered her tone to indicate this was a serious segment.

“We’ve all experienced them.” She said, her painted eyes solemn and unmoving. “Those moments of desperation and despair when we feel we simply CANNOT go on. Those are the times when we cry out to a higher power for help, and sometimes…”

The camera cut to the audience, entranced and a little fearful, then back to the host.

“Sometimes… those prayers are answered in a truly physical way!”

I snorted and began to root around under the debris of chip packets and candy wrappers to find the tv remote so I could change channels.

“For our next guest, her moment of despair came during a dark and snowy winter’s night on the I-99. Her car had died, and she and her baby daughter had no phone with them. They were miles from the nearest house, and neither of them had clothing that would keep out the bitter cold.”

Now, I drive the I-99 every day. I would have been driving it that day too, if not for my ankle. The truth is that you’re never more than a mile from a house the whole length of the road, but I did remember it getting pretty snowy last winter. I stopped searching for the remote and watched the host introduce her guest. The slight blonde woman looked nervous, in sharp contrast to the comedienne who had been on earlier. The host established that the baby girl was safe at home that day, and then invited the mother to explain the course of events as they unfolded in the snow.

“The car was toast.” said the woman, “The engine shut off and there was smoke coming out under the front there. Casey and I were warm enough inside, but without the engine running I knew it would get cold pretty fast. I put the emergency flashers on and the other cars were just driving past me.”

“No one stopped?” asked the host, trying to twist face into a mask of concern.

“No one stopped. And I had no phone because it had run out of charge. I was feeling pretty desperate.”

The host nodded sympathetically.

“That must have been so scary. And what happened next?”

“Yeah,” I asked the tv, “What happened next? Did you die of exposure?”

The woman had taken a moment to compose herself, but her eyes were glittering when she looked up again.

“I just looked out the windscreen and I saw this figure walking towards me. They didn’t seem bothered by the wind or the snow and they were carrying something.”

“Were you scared?” asked the host.

“I don’t think so.” said the woman, “I mean, I had been scared, but I think I started to calm down almost as soon as I saw him coming.”

The camera cut to the audience again, some of them smiling, some nodding encouragement. Back to the host.

“Just seeing him brought you a feeling of calm, of security?”

The woman was nodding herself.

“And he just came straight up to the front of my truck and waved at me to pop the hood. I don’t know what he did, but in no time at all he slammed the hood down and I could start the engine again!”

The host leaned forward again.

“You said the mysterious figure seemed to be carrying something. Was it a toolbox? A bag of wrenches?”

The woman shook her head.

“No it was something smaller, like a flask or a bottle.”

The host turned to face the audience.

“So he fixed a dead engine with no tools. He appeared just when you needed help, even though you didn’t call anyone. And when he had fixed the truck? What happened then?”

The woman shrugged.

“I was just so relieved, I started crying. With the engine going again I made sure Casey was safe in her car seat, and I put my seat belt back on too. Then I looked out of the windscreen again, and he was gone.”

“He disappeared?” the host whispered.

“Like he’d never been there. Except my truck was running and Casey and I were home safe ten minutes later.”

The host probably said something, but I missed it. There was a hollow roaring in my ears, and I was struggling to close my mouth. It had been hanging open for the last five minutes, from the moment I recognised the woman’s story. While I struggled to get control of my head, the host set up the line that finished me off.

“So, tell us, do you know who the mysterious stranger was who helped you that night?”

The woman nodded and faced the audience for the first time.

“I believe I do. I think he was an angel. He answered my prayers, and he saved my life and the life of my baby!”

This bizarre pronouncement was met with whoops and cheers and a storm of applause. It was also met with rustling and curses as I finally unearthed the remote and snapped off the tv. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life. Some of them were complimentary too. But I’ve never been called an angel.

I’d been driving home slowly, cursing the snow that was making a regular journey into a slow motion epic, when I passed a truck in the inside lane, flashers on and steam still erupting from under the hood. I didn’t need all the time I spent working on my uncle’s old truck to know that the radiator had blown its cap. I had a big water bottle on the passenger side, relic of a rained off softball game. There wasn’t space on the shoulder until I’d crested the hill and the truck was out of sight. I parked up and grabbed the bottle of water, then pushed out into the night.

It was cold, and the wind pushed the snow right into my face and down the back of my neck. It took at least five minutes to reach the truck, and I waved at the woman to pop the hood without wasting time going to her window to talk to her. I mean, I knew what was wrong, knew I could help, so why waste time yakking? She’d probably feel more threatened by a stranger approaching her window anyway. Besides, I was already half-frozen, so I wanted to get this over with.

The hood was still hot to the touch from the gout of boiling water that had hit it, but the radiator cap hadn’t fallen out of the engine compartment. Huddling in under the hood kept the worst of the wind and snow at bay, and I was able to absorb some of the heat streaming off the engine. I dumped the contents of the bottle into the radiator, and the fact that there was only a minimal hiss told me that things had cooled off sufficiently. With a couple of minutes to get the whole bottle in and re-seat the cap, I figured the engine would be good to go. I slammed the hood and made twisting motions with my wrist. She got the idea and the engine started up. The water I’d put in should hold long enough to get her wherever she was going, and if she had any sense she’d get the damn truck checked over by a mechanic ASAP. Now the cold was getting to me again, so I didn’t hang around for tea and medals, just ran back over the hill to the warm sanctuary of my car. I was home inside ten minutes too.

Having a duff ankle meant I couldn’t stomp around my living room, kicking the furniture, but that was certainly what I wanted to do. I picked up the phone, determined to call the studios, get through to the stupid host and tell the truth about what happened that night, but I stopped, and not just because I didn’t know the number.

What did it matter? Well, to me, it shouldn’t matter at all. Had I not seen the stupid show, I would have gone on my merry way, neither knowing nor caring that someone viewed my amateur mechanic moment as heavenly intervention. Did it matter to that woman? Since I’d shut off the program, I couldn’t be sure. What I hoped was that this experience had encouraged her to do a basic car maintenance course, to prepare better for inclement weather, maybe even just check the damn weather forecast once in a while. But I think what was making me angry was that she probably wouldn’t. My miraculous appearance was confirmation that the helpless have a divine protector, and they never need to take care of themselves. Well, I would have been sorry to hear that little miss meek there had frozen to death in her truck that night, but her kid… For god’s sake, she had her kid with her. Casey ought to grow up knowing her parent can stand up for her, not expect them to stand by and hope for rescue.

In the end, I put the phone down. Call me a cynic, but I had more than a little suspicion that if I had got through to the host herself, she would have assured me that, yes, I was the one who helped, but my decision to stop and help was prompted by another angel, one I couldn’t see. And little miss meek would go on believing that the universe will care for her regardless.

I limped into the kitchen. I needed a cold pack for my ankle, and you know what? No one was going to appear mysteriously and bring it through to me. I sat back down, the cold seeping into my ankle and bringing a measure of calm with the reduction in pain. Maybe I would just print up some cards for the next time I rescue a damsel in distress:

“This aid has been brought to you by an entirely earthly entity, unbidden by any ethereal figures, visible or invisible.”

This is Blue Monday?

The Terry Fox statue at Simon Fraser University BC. When you think you're struggling with an overwhelming task, read about Terry Fox and find a little perspective there. (The scarf and hat are later additions to the statue, but I like to think they show people care.)

The Terry Fox statue at Simon Fraser University BC. When you think you’re struggling with an overwhelming task, read about Terry Fox and find a little perspective there.
(The scarf and hat are later additions to the statue, but I like to think they show people care.)

My wife told me about Blue Monday a few years ago after hearing about it on the radio. It’s generally reckoned as the third Monday in January, the point where people’s resolutions have flagged and the Christmas euphoria has passed, and the Winter seems to have set in forever. The bright lights of Christmas are behind, the bright days of Spring are too far ahead, and your soul is buried in work, and gloom and misery.

This is what I told myself when I realised how cynical and negative I felt about this coming week. It’s the last week of January, and this month has been quite a success. I completed a long-standing play, dashed off a sketch, planned at least one more one act and finally started the re-write of my part of the new panto script for TLC. The kids have turned around their issues at school (for the most part) and we’ve begun the internal remodelling of the house with a truly Herculean effort that needed a rental van to get all the raw materials back from Home Depot. I’m even helping to clear space by digitising our old scrapbooks and photo albums, for Pete’s sake. All of this I know, and yet I was whining to myself about the need to achieve things and how impossible it seemed.

So here’s your positive message for the day : forget affirming energy flowing from the spirit of the universe, forget orienting your chakras to absorb the Chi flowing from your crystals. Just close your eyes for a second and say “This too shall pass.” It’s Blue Monday, it’s a blip on the calendar and better days are on their way.

Flash Fantasy No 4: Non-Epic tales of other lands

Jepeth's people believed that dressing in bright colours prevented a dragon noticing you. Jepeth's people fared badly in matters of common sense. And they had never won a pub quiz.

Japeth’s people believed that dressing in bright colours prevented a dragon noticing you. Japeth’s people fared badly in matters of common sense. And they had never won a pub quiz.

The whole of the Mynrii Valley stretched out before Japeth, a child’s patchwork blanket, rumpled but still scattered with toy farms and houses. At the North end of the valley grew the foothills of the Gormir mountains, twin ranges to the edifices that Japeth was resting on. The difference was that the Gormir mountains held the Dragonryder academy, and the bustling trade and government centre that flourished thanks to the ease of transport a-dragonback. Messages or cargo could be flown across the land faster than the fleetest vessel on the seas, and they could reach a mountain stronghold as easily as a lowland farm.

Japeth tore his gaze away and turned back to the goat-track that he had been following for the last three hours. It was easier to find now the sun was above the horizon, but that meant he had less time to achieve his goal. He must reach the caves before noon. The urgency wasn’t just down to his impatience. There was no academy on these mountains, the grim and forbidding Hagomir Peaks. No government centre would be built here, for this range held the breeding colonies for the giant beasts themselves. Breeding dragons in captivity had never succeeded, so each year a group of specially trained boys would leave the academy and make the hazardous climb up the Hagomir peaks. If they had studied hard and proved themselves worthy, they would join with a young dragon and begin a new life as dragonryders. If they failed…Well, then they would be missed by their mothers, Japeth supposed. His own mother hadn’t even noticed he was gone, he was certain. Mareth had seven children, with Japeth buried in the middle so firmly that they had three times missed his birthday, and once given his prized hide jacket to a cousin, believing it to belong to an older brother who had outgrown it.

“They’ll see,” muttered Japeth, as his second-hand boots clung to the goat-trail and his hands grabbed at craw-grass to aid his uphill climb, “they’ll remember my name when I fly down out of the sun on my own dragon and burn the damn barn to cinders!”

Brindmir, Japeth’s younger sister, had learned of his plan and tried to talk him out of it. Though he loved her best of all his siblings, Japeth had become enraged when Brindmir would not accept that he stood a chance of taming a wild dragon.

“It’s my destiny!” he had shouted, and heard the echo rebound from the mountains beyond their farm. Surely that was a sign? Brindmir had crossed her arms and wrinkled her nose in a pose that looked so much like their mother he had felt momentarily ashamed of himself. She sniffed and he scowled.

“What do they learn, those boys up at the academy? What’s the first thing they learn when they arrive at that place?”

Japeth shrugged.

“Well, I dunno, do I? Never been.”

“So there you have it Japeth! You don’t know THE FIRST THING about taming a dragon. It’s foolishness.”

And she had flounced away. Maybe if she had called him stupid, he might have reconsidered. But “foolishness” was a word their mother used all too often in connection with the things that Japeth loved, and to hear it from his sister goaded him beyond reason. He had gone straight to the kitchen and packed some provisions for his climb, then begun the ascent in the darkness before dawn, trusting his uncanny night vision to keep from tumbling down the mountainside to his doom.

Drenched in sweat, he reached the first of the den-caves when the sun was still around an hour from its zenith. He plunged without hesitation into the nearest den, barely noticing the cooling of his damp shirt as he stepped out of the sunshine. He closed his eyes and counted to ten, restoring the night vision he would need because he hadn’t thought to bring a light with him.

The cave was narrow near the opening, though still reaching to more than twice his height. The edges of the opening had been scoured smooth by generations of dragonhide pushing past. Tiny bones clicked and cracked under Japeth’s feet, regurgitated remains of meals long past. The air was cooler than outside, but there was a warmth to it that put Japeth in mind of the stables at home – the air had already been breathed once or twice by larger lungs than his. A dry rustling sounded from ahead, just around a curve in the cave wall, and Japeth hurried forward eagerly. His destiny was so close now! The final answer to all those indignities and injustices! He would show them all!

The dragon was still sitting in the remains of its egg, though it looked to have hatched several months ago. Already ten feet from nose to tail, the scales had hardened enough to scrape sparks from the floor when it lurched forward towards Japeth. He stopped as if running into a wall, and the dragon pulled up too. It cocked its head quizzically at him, as if trying to understand why he was there, and who he was.

For the first time, Japeth began to appreciate the scale of a dragon. Not the hide, but the size in relation to himself. He had seen dozens, but always wheeling and circling overhead. He’d never actually seen one up close. This one was huge, each tooth the length of his hands, and with a jaw wide enough to fit in his whole head! The nostrils flared and contracted, and Japeth felt the air around him drawn in to the mighty head. It was sniffing him!

He couldn’t help feeling a flicker of hope. This was it! This was the moment when the dragon would recognise him, when it and he would join together for life… Wasn’t it? Japeth was suddenly acutely aware that he didn’t actually, when you got right down to it, know how that actually happened. Was it really a mystical thing, or was it more like old Barker at home, training the dogs to obey by feeding them treats at the right time? Should he, perhaps, have brought some kind of treat for the dragon?

A silvery tongue was flickering in and out of the huge mouth now, weaving amongst the fangs like a sentient thing. One clawed foot rose, wavered, and came down again, closer to Japeth. A second rose…The thing was coming towards him! This was, clearly, a very, very bad idea…..But Japeth could not bring himself to turn his back on the dragon. He tried to take a hesitant step backwards, but his feet would not move.

Then, miraculously, the dragon ahead of him stopped moving forward! It lowered its head, laying one cheek on the floor. This was a sign of submission! Japeth was elated, his dreams were coming true at last. The dragon was submitting to him as its master. But his cowardly feet would no more move forward than they would retreat before. And there was a new sound, he realised. A heavy, crunching sound that…was…coming…from…behind…him.

He didn’t need to turn. The great head of the mother dragon slid silently across the roof of the cave above him. It was to this presence that the young dragon had been submitting. The mother made a deep booming noise in her throat and the young dragon gave a surprisingly light chirrup in response, rolling back to its feet and reaching up its long neck to caress the huge jawbone of the mother with its own headcrest. When the crashing noise of their greeting was done, both heads swung to look at Japeth.

“That moment,” he thought, “just then when they were looking at each other. That was when I should have made a dash for the way out.” The heads slid towards him as if on rails and his terror finally communicated itself to his feet who moved at last but too slowly…

The mother watched her child feeding with pride. It wasn’t often that food delivered itself to the mountain. She couldn’t help feeling there was something special about this one.

The Flash Fantasy Project 3: non-epic tales of other lands

mega castle part two

Brin stepped out into the light at last. Here, in the one area of the hall where sunlight fell, no one could miss him. His mane of golden hair seemed to blaze in the last rays of daylight and he towered over the nearest goblins.

They shrank back, hissing, as they recognised their master’s mortal foe. Grimnok himself, however, seemed unsurprised by Brin’s appearance.

“Ah, Brin. The Chosen One himself honours us with his presence.”

Grimnok’s eyes flickered over the dark corners of his hall, and the cowering ranks of goblins.

“If we’d known you were coming, we might have made more of an effort.”

Brin stood tall in the face of the dark one’s sarcasm.

“You don’t scare me anymore, Grimnok. I’ve read the prophecy, and I know what it means. You can’t kill me, and if you can’t kill me then this war is over. No one else needs to die. I’ve come here to prevent any more bloodshed. It’s over. Get out, and leave Nimeria in peace!”

Grimnok stroked his thin beard as he looked at Brin. The boy had grown in his time with the Wizards of Nimeria, there was no denying it. And he had found out the truth of the prophecy. It was possible that this changed things, that his plan to crush the Nimerian resistance forever was, in fact, doomed to fail.

“Well Brin, I’m glad you read the prophecy. Reading is good for you, it broadens the mind. And it’s true, the Sage did foresee that the Wizard’s meddling spells would prevent me from killing you.”

Everyone in the hall saw Brin’s shoulders drop a little, as if he had let out a breath he had been holding. But surely even a great hero like the Chosen One would not come into the hall of his greatest enemy while uncertain of his own protection? Grimnok smiled and gave a carefree wave of his hand.

“Certainly, it’s possible that you have me at a disadvantage. Not being able to kill you myself DOES put a crimp in my plans. However, if you’ll indulge me, there is a little something I’d like to try before surrendering.”

This time he waved his other hand and a third of the goblin horde drew bows from under their tattered cloaks and fired.

For a second, Brin resembled a rearing hedgehog, but then his knees gave way and he crashed to the floor, a human pincushion.

“Thought so.” muttered Grimnok. “Arkleblog? Begin the invasion, would you? I’ll be in my study.”

 

The LazyBee Scripts newsletter for January 2015

I don’t have any scripts mentioned in this newsletter, because the new writing is still underway, but there are some great plays, sketches and musical pieces to be found here.

From LazyBee Scripts:

As ever, almost everything from this newsletter (and much more) can be found via the Lazy Bee Scripts web site.

This time, because I’ve been promising them for a while, I’ll start with the new murder mysteries…

Murder Mysteries

Murder Mysteries – the interactive ones, where the audience has to work out whodunnit – are responsible for one of the complexities of the web site.  Because some groups run these competitively, with prizes for the best solution from the audience, we don’t display the scripts on-line (we have tasters instead), and they have their own section of the site.  We’ve recently added:-

  • Murder in Hollywood by Giles Black, a scripted scene (on a film set), leading to a murder, followed by audience interrogation of the suspects, plus a smattering of written clues.
  • Let Sleeping Frogs Die, a fully-scripted murder mystery by Patricia G., which still challenges the audience to work out who killed the wealthy victim, Monsieur le Comte d’Avignon.
  • Following the same pattern, Roger Lee’s Death at the Shangri-La is fully scripted.  (It has a core cast of 9 plus three optional roles, with multiple versions of the script to accommodate the different cast sizes.)
  • After the scripted section of Joanne Mercer’s Murder at Rancho Mucho Denaros the audience have the opportunity to interrogate the suspects, and the murder mystery pack even includes a special currency to allow the audience to bribe the cast into revealing additional information!

 

Musicals, Musical Plays and Plays with Music

  • The Wicked Witch & The Magic Shop by William Arnold Ashbrook is a large-cast family show with original songs and opportunities for audience participation (therefore occupying a theatrical space close to British Pantomime).
  • We already have several treatments of Aesop stories on our books, but we felt that Peter Nuttall’s Aesop’s Famous Fables and Twisted Tales was sufficiently different.  It’s intended for performance by children or by adults to an audience of children, and ends with an audience participation song, which should be tremendous fun for small children.
  • Nicholas Richards is a teacher (of languages, I think, but specialising in classics).  He was looking for a treatment of The Labours Of Heracles and couldn’t find one, so wrote his own as a comedy play with four (optional) songs.  Intended for school productions from Year 6 (US Grade 5) upwards.
  • Martin R.  Collin manages to tell a sentimental story about an inspirational and much-loved teacher without straying into mawkishness.  I Love You When It’s Raining, Roy G Biv is a one-act play with suggestions for a couple of public domain songs.
  • It may be a little late to say It’s Christmas Time!, but Sharon Stace-Smith’s musical nativity play (with scores for 9 songs and 8 pieces of incidental music) will still be available at the end of the year.

 

Plays for Schools and Youth Theatre

  • We start with a light comedy for kids in the form of Anything You Say, Your Majesty by Geoff Bamber, in which a queen wishes to be featured in a celebrity gossip magazine, and the queen’s word is law…
  • Sarah Brown gives a knowing treatment of a school class trying to get to grips with the English and Drama syllabus in Shakespeare – It’s All Greek To Me!
  • Opening Doors by Keith Badham is an ensemble piece for a youth theatre company (28 roles played by a minimum of 10 actors).  It’s intended for a aimple set with just one prop: a free-standing doorway.
  • The award-winning Call To Duty by Nettie Baskcomb Brown is an even more multi-layered piece, taking the characters through drama rehearsals and console games into a recreation of the trenches of the First World War.

 

Pantomimes

  • We’ve published two new pantomimes by Luke Reilly, both on themes that are not so common in the pantomime canon.  There’s The Princess and the Pea, built around the Hans Christian Andersen story and Hickory Dickory Dock, a completely original story, created around some familiar nursery rhyme characters and a wicked spider.  A good choice for companies who have already worked through the usual pantomime stories.
  • Peter Pan occupies a unique position in British copyright law, so that we pay half the author’s royalties to Great Ormond Street Hospital on all our derivatives of J M Barrie’s story.  The latest one is Peter Pan – A Pantomime by Stephen and Rachel Humphreys – the usual lost boys, pirates and mermaids, but given a pantomime twist with Smee becoming Mrs Smee, Captain Hook’s Nanny.
  • Bob Tucker’s outlaw story is not the usual family show.  Robin Hood – An Investigation Into His Life And Times is a short, risqué sort of British panto, something of a parody of the genre, rather than a straight retelling of the story.

 

Full-Length Plays

  • Geoff Bamber has a long (and, he assures me, distinguished) history as a member of a pub quiz team.  Some of this experience has been brought into Quizzers, a farce set in the study where Keith Smedley is trying to prepare for just such a quiz.  (4M, 4F)
  • As you might expect from the title, The Prisoners’ Dilemma by Matthew Lynch is set in a cell where a group of strangers are incarcerated for reasons they cannot comprehend…  (3M, 3F, 4 either)
  • Maverick Cop by Paul John Matthews is a comedy caper in which the police force, baffled by a series of murders, decide to recall a rule-breaking detective.  His individual approach is somewhat reminiscent of Inspector Clouseau.  (6M, 5F)
  • Ethan Bortman’s thriller Obvious Guilt opens in a living room where there is plenty of evidence of a crime, but no body…  (A minimum of 4M, 2F)
  • Michael Baulch has created a full-length play from Jane Austen’s Emma.  A well-thought-out staging has three locations created by redressing a single interior set.  (5M, 6F)
  • The Horrific Case Of Mr Valdemar is a story by Edgar Allen Poe, brought to the stage in suitably melodramatic fashion by Richard Layton.  (2M, 1F)

 

One-Act Plays

  • Richard Coleman has embarked on a series of comic verse plays that rearrange familiar stories.  The first of these is Scrooge’s Scruples which gives a major twist to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to show Scrooge as a determined do-gooder.  (A minimum cast of 16.)
  • It’s difficult to classify The Dial Conspiracy by Bob Tucker.  It’s a sort of comedy-farce-crime-caper, set in a remote hotel where weird and wonderful stratagems are used by a succession of unlikely characters vying with National Security officers.  (A cast of 12, of whom at least 4M, 2F)
  • Set on David’s birthday, Fifty! by Archie Wilson is more definitely a farce.  A surprise birthday party thrown by the wife and daughter and interrupted by the mistress.  (5M, 6F)
  • The Pagan Priests by Jim Pinnock is a farce for a cast of 7 (5M, 2F), set, unusually, in a church sacristy where the Bishop’s attempts to overhaul the management of a parish go drastically off the rails.
  • We’ve published two new one-act comedy plays by Cheryl Barrett, both developed from her own shorter plays.  A Matter Of Health and Safety (3M, 4F) is set at a village fete whilst You’ll Suit Just Fine (3M, 1F) is set in a small menswear shop, where Kevin, the new trainee, is trying to come to grips with customer service.
  • A couple with a history of neighbour disputes throw a dinner party in their new home.  What could possibly go wrong?  Find out as John Peel offers the chance to Meet The Neighbours (1M, 4F)
  • Robin Wilson’s Minutes By Air is a short light comedy for a cast of 2M, 3F, set in a meeting awaiting a crucial participant.
  • A different sort of meeting is the focus of Stephen Mercer’s comedy The Coven’s Convention, where the planning of a village fete is thrown off course by the enthusiasm of a new member.  (3M, 5F)
  • In Impatience and Improbability, Nic Dawson performs a neat comedic trick of intertwining 19th century manners with the present day.  It’s set in the gardens of a modern hotel which is running a Jane Austen-themed weekend.  (4M, 4F)
  • Moving from the comedy and on to the drama, Father’s Day by Allan Williams sees an old soldier visited by a young man investigating a gas leak.  Neither is entirely what the other expects.  (2M, 1F)
  • Guernica Goodbye, an award-winning play by William Campbell is a powerful drama in which Spanish refugees living in Chartres find themselves once again embroiled in conflict in the aftermath of the Second World War.  (2M, 1F)
  • Peter Appleton’s Sweet Dreams is a twisted psychological drama, verging on the melodramatic.  Anne has trouble telling reality from her dreams.  Is her fiancé alive or dead?  Is her father helping her, or holding her prisoner?  Can she even trust her oldest friend?  (3M, 2F)
  • All in the Past by Wendy Ash is a revenge drama in which Trevor renews his acquaintance with the men who bullied him years ago when they were all at school.  (3M, 1F)
  • Whilst there are two speaking roles, and a couple of silent dancers in Remember Scarborough by James Baynes, almost all the weight falls on the old man, waiting for his daughter on a park bench, poignantly reminiscing about the Second World War, his best friend and his wife.  (2M, 2F)
  • I saw the Sky Blue Theatre production of Frank Canino’s Nightwalking as part of the Cambridge Theatre Challenge winners’ showcase, and I was knocked-out by it.  A chamber theatre piece – black-box set, with a stepladder as the sole piece of furniture.  The actors communicate through interior monologues and movement.  (1M, 2F)
  • Jennifer Marie Sancho’s Politically Correct was the runner-up in the same competition.  Her drama is set in the ‘common room’ of an asylum where four inmates plan an escape.  And what a collection of rebels – Jane Austen, Margaret Thatcher, Emmeline Pankhurst and Florence Nightingale!  (1M, 4F)
  • The third of the Cambridge Theatre Challenge finalists (in our one act category – there are a couple more amongst the shorter plays) is A Darker Shade Of Closure by Richard Charles.  It’s a thriller set in an apartment where Tina is in a tight spot, blackmailed over her behaviour.  (1M, 2F)
  • Cold Blooded Killer by Geoff Rose-Michael is another award winner, this time of the new writing award from the 2013 Leatherhead Drama Festival.  A thriller that starts with a break-in at the home of the recently widowed Jack and leads to a shocking conclusion.  (Cast of three, of whom 1M, 1F)

 

Sketches, Skits and Short Plays

  • Continuing with the Cambridge Theatre Challenge finalists, we’ve published Brian Coyle’s The Proposition in which Alan has been picked up, but not for the purposes he first assumed.  Leo and Laila have something different in mind – it’s disturbing, but it’s all about art…  (2M, 1F)
  • The last of our CTC finalists (in this set) was Ashley Harris with Baking Bread, set on a park bench by a lake, where Bella is waiting to meet John.  (3M, 1F)
  • Croft & Barnett introduce us to Dr Death, a comedy sketch for 2M, set in the surgery of a doctor with a rather unusual approach to pain.
  • We’ve published a new pair of shorts from Jonathan Edgington.  The Slim Blonde Beauty is a romantic comedy inspired by a short personal ad in a free newspaper (2M, 4F).  She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (1M, 1F) is a surreal comedy in which a chap finds a strange woman in his bath.  (The sort of thing that might happen to anyone.)
  • Next in the multi-publications category, we have three comedy sketches from Robert Black.  The Also-Ran Club (3M, 1F) finds a group of unsuccessful inventors trying to form an organisation.  Message For Sophie will resonate – or possibly ring a bell – with those close to mobile phone addicts (1M, 1F).  Billy Loves Brenda (1M, 1F) finds the hero trying to explain-away a new tattoo.
  • Finally, we have two new comedies from Cheryl Barrett.  Bring Me Sunshine (4M, 2F) was inspired by a real incident – the damage to a statue on Morecambe sea front.  Around The Fridge In Eighty Calories is a monologue for a woman who is larger than she thinks she should be.

 

 

That’s all for now, but, as noted at the start, there’s a cascade of new material coming through.

A Happy New Year to one and all,

Stuart Ardern
Lazy Bee Scripts

To read these scripts online, go to http://www.lazybeescripts.co.uk and use the “search title” function to bring up the script you’re looking for. Remember, these scripts are free to READ, not free to USE.

It’s a brand New Year…Again

My actual white board, now no longer actually white. "Omar Serif" and "They're taking the robots to Alderaan" are jokes I haven't gotten around to yet. Be relieved about that.

My actual white board, now no longer actually white. “Omar Serif” and “They’re taking the robots to Alderaan” are jokes I haven’t gotten around to yet. Be relieved about that.

It’s nearly the end of the first week of January, and this is the first post I’ve managed in 2015, which means I ought to be talking about Resolutions.

But, as you may know from last year, I don’t do so well with resolving to change. I need a list every day just to get through the things that keep the house running, so adding grand aspirations to that list has been somewhat problematic in the past.

However, last year, I decided to just write more stuff. This was a simple enough idea that I could keep it in mind, and even put it up on my white board above my desk. “Write more stuff” translates easily into whatever project I feel like doing, and as long as there is more stuff at the end of the year, then it’s working. That’s a measurable goal, that is.

And last year I produced more plays, a new ebook and a lot of sketches. I found that the break of fifteen minutes at work is just long enough to eat a sandwich and write a page and a half of sketch, resulting in a sketch every week. That’s a sketch each week written at work, plus the stuff I can write when I’m at home. Like every published writer is fond of saying, there IS time to write, you just have to choose to use it for writing.

Like last year, most of what I plan to complete and publish won’t reach the marketplace until the later half of the year, so I’m not going to list my projects here. I will post about them when they’re complete, and then put up reminders with links when they get published. I’m hoping the Appraisal Service continues to keep me busy, and that life at the Library remains as fulfilling and entertaining as it had proven so far.

What are the big projects for YOU this 2015? Are you going to write that novel or sequel? Are you going to try writing something that’s outside your comfort zone, like a romance, or a horror story, or a poem? Are you thinking of writing for the first time? Because I have a really good feeling about this year. I think it’s YOUR year. I mean, obviously that’s bad news for everyone else, but we’ll cope, honest. Don’t feel bad for us, you just go on and make the most of it.

We’ll be over here. In the corner. Maybe crying just a little bit.

Flash Fantasy Number 2: Non-Epic tales of other lands

Castle

Lomaeus lounged in the throne, using a fragment of ermine robe to clean the blood from Fangor, his serrated broadsword. The owner of both robe and blood had been dragged away several hours ago and handed over to a roaring crowd, who cheerfully dismembered the corpse. Lomaeus had no idea what happened to the pieces, nor any inclination to find out.

Sword clean, he heaved himself out of the throne to re-sheathe it, then strolled down the massive central aisle of the throne room until he reached a fireplace. He threw the bloodied rag into the flames. His stomach rumbled.

“DEEPS!” he roared. When no reply was forthcoming, he roared the name again, so loud that the echoes rolled for a full minute. Soon the scarred face of his second in command appeared at the entrance to the throne room. Lomaeus fumed during the five minutes it took the other man to stride the length of the room and meet him. Deeps bowed.

“My King.”

Lomaeus flapped a hand at him, secretly rather pleased.

“You don’t need to do that, Deeps. Unless there are people watching.”

Deeps straightened again.

“Of course. What was it you wanted?”

For a moment, Lomaeus thought how much better that question would have sounded if it ended in “Sire?”, but his stomach rumbled again.

“Food, Deeps. I’m famished! Think I missed lunch today… You know, when I was liberating a kingdom and dispatching a foul tyrant.”

Deeps nodded impassively.

“I remember, sir.”

Despite his hunger, Lomaeus couldn’t help but feel there was a note of reproof in his Lieutenant’s words. Well, he was king now, wasn’t he? Absolute ruler, at least. Liberator. That should be worth a cheese sandwich of anyone’s money…

“You couldn’t round up some decent scoff, could you Deeps?”

He was alarmed at the pleading tone in his voice, but decided that a correction would only draw attention to it.

Deeps shrugged.

“The kitchen staff have run off. They were slaves, and you announced that the death of the tyrant had freed all slaves. They all left right then.”

He looked up at Deeps.

“I don’t suppose you could…?”

Deeps raised an eyebrow that was bisected by an old sword cut.

“I’m supervising the burial troops, sir. And the distribution of the treasure. There was a good deal of looting and fighting until I stepped in there.”

“Well, good, that was the right… Sorry, hang on, DISTRIBUTION of the treasure? The treasure of the palace, as such?”

Deeps looked surprised.

“Well, yes sir, as per your orders sir.”

Lomaeus frowned, trying to remember giving any such order.

“I told you to hand out the fabulous treasure of the tyrant?”

“Not me directly sir. But you have said a number of times during the campaign that when the palace walls were broken down, the slaves would be freed and the wealth of the palace returned to the citizens, sir. They were being a bit zealous and undemocratic in their attempts to follow your orders, as it were, so I regulated things a bit. Made sure no one hogged all the good stuff.”

Lomaeus trudged back towards the throne, urgently feeling the need to sit down. Of course the treasure belonged to the citizens, that was obvious. And yes, he had said about freeing the slaves, because that was what you did, wasn’t it? But it would have been really, really nice to have freed the slaves and still had dinner, and maybe a chance to wallow in the treasure rooms for a while. He had seen the distribution of the wealth as more, you know, something he did himself. Magnanimously. Bit by bit. Endowing new buildings and things. Maybe the odd statue of…of…well, alright, of himself. But he was the liberator, wasn’t he? It was thanks to him that the bloody peasants were free of their shackles and able to bugger off home with armfulls of his bloody treasure, while he had to make his own bloody sandwiches.

“Will that be all, sir?”

Deeps’ voice echoed through the hall, as he hadn’t followed Lomaeus back to the throne. Would that be all? It was quite enough, Lomaeus thought. He waved the man away, then noticed another figure strutting down the aisle of the throne room. This bloody place is too big. I want a nice room with a door I can shut, thought Lomaeus. And a kitchen just off to one side.

The messenger huffed to a halt and threw himself flat on the floor in front of the throne.

“I bear tidings for the Great King Lomaeus, Liberator of Slaves and Giver of Wealth.”

Lomaeus grinned, frowned and growled at the messenger’s words.

“Get up, get up, man! What tidings?”

The messenger struggled to his feet and spoke, still averting his eyes.

“Sire, the peasants are flooding into the city from the surrounding countryside. Your army burned the fields around the capital to starve out the Tyrant, and now there is no food for the people. They are choking every gate, and there is panic in the centre of the city as people try to hoard the remaining food. Stores have been ransacked, Sire.”

Before the man had finished speaking, a second messenger was prostrate on the floor in front of Lomaeus. This man didn’t even get through his greeting before Lomaeus prompted him for his message.

“Sire, the Archmages of Westermount present their greetings and congratulations on your victory. They are concerned, however, that the slave trade between the city and their Magedom will be threatened by your determination to free the slaves here. They seek assurances that this is not the case, and to that end have dispatched a wing of Winter Dragyns to the South Wall.”

When the messenger had finished, the only sound in the immense room was the grinding of Lomaeus’ teeth and the slapping footfalls of a third messenger. Seeing the look on the Liberator’s face, and the way his fingers worked at the grip of his mighty sword, the new messenger gulped, skipped the formal greetings and ploughed straight into his message.

“Sire, several of the escaping…I mean, the liberated slaves took revenge upon their former masters. Fighting has broken out in some areas of the city between former slaves and masters, as well as treasure looters and food hoarders. Some of the former slaves that were leaving by the South Gate were eaten by Winter Dragyns, but then the starving peasants from the outer kingdom attacked the Dragyns, killing one and wounding two. The others retreated and the peasants are roasting the beast outside the walls. A goodly number of the food hoarders are said to be heading that way now. Also, a second wing of Winter Dragyns has been seen approaching from the West.”

All three messengers cowered in fear of Lomaeus’ response. He struck a kingly pose upon the throne, apparently deep in thought, then held out a gracious hand.

“Friends, give me leave to think on this. I shall send for you directly with orders that will set all arights. This day has seen a mighty victory, it shall not also see the dissolution of this mighty city. Be brave, my friends, and give me your patience.”

They exited with many bows and profuse thanks and blessings. Lomaeus smiled wisely and kindly until his cheeks hurt. Once the hall was empty again, he stood and walked behind the throne. Just before he had been run through, the Tyrant had been scrabbling back….here! There was a concealed lever behind the throne, opening a secret door. Whistling a merry tune, Lomaeus entered the dark tunnel. He didn’t know what was beyond the doorway, but the Tyrant had thought it a better option than facing a well-armed opponent, and Lomaeus was willing to bet he’d find a neat escape route, maybe some treasure and, possibly, some decent food.

The closing of the secret door made no sound in the suddenly empty throne room.