I promised in my last entry that if I had the opportunity, I would memorise one of my poems and perform it the following Friday. Speakerbox is a new event for writers and poets at Dundee University union. During a chat with the organiser, she told me she hopes to hold it every month. She has also been to the existing Hotchpotch meetings to share her material.
I was asked to read first, and I have some footage of how it went. The purple mood lighting made this stage look fabulous in person, although not so much through a camcorder.
That’s right, I fluffed my lines. However, I managed without any further cock-ups in, “Take two,” along with another piece from memory, and two others from notes. I like to use an e-reader to save paper. I was followed by several other acts, mainly poetry but interspersed with prose and music. There were innovations I hadn’t seen before: one man walked between two microphones while delivering a monologue, another gave out chocolate bars to whomever he dubbed, “awesome.”
I hope this event continues, as I plan to be back next month. During the week, I also had a much rarer opportunity to be in the audience at a recording of a Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas episode. Although the story is set in Ireland, it’s filmed in Glasgow.
In many respects, it’s a standard sitcom, except that many of their bloopers and ad-libs make it into the final programme. There were a number of these during the three hours we were in our seats. Many scenes were recorded twice in succession. I found I was watching the monitors rather than the action on the set, so I deliberately tried to keep my eyes away from them to catch the full experience.
Agnes Brown is played by Brendan O’Carroll who also writes much of the material, but it’s accessible scripting that doesn’t require the audience to understand any particularly Irish references, so it plays very well to a BBC1 viewership. It’s less well-known that he is also a novelist. In 1999, his book The Mammy was made into film called Agnes Browne, starring Anjelica Huston as the eponymous character. Unlike the sitcom, these take a sombre tone.
Also worth a look is What We Did On Our Holiday, starring David Tennant and Billy Connolly. It’s written by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins, the force behind Outnumbered, although I’ll always remember them primarily for satirical comedy Drop The Dead Donkey. The duo have found a particular niche in giving the child characters all the best lines, often relentlessly, while the adults fumble for an answer.
The coming week is a busy one for me. Not only is the aforementioned Hotchpotch happening tonight, the Dundee Literary Festival also begins on Wednesday and runs to Sunday. At the same time, I’m organising the first meeting of the local National Novel Writing Month group, finishing my library books, and still taking time out to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the cinema.