"I don't have very much going on in February," I said. "Why not sign up for the madness that is the 28 Plays Later challenge." I managed to somehow completely miss the signup deadline (which bodes well for a challenge that relies on precision in following instructions) and signed up on the 31st of January. 10pm that night my first brief came through...and I wrote a short play....and it was rubbish.
I've been reminded of how much writing can feel like wringing your soul out, especially when you're working with someone else's deadlines and not the organic rush of a creative baby that is urging you to birth it.
Still, I'm so bloody proud of myself. Here is the list of all the prompts and plays I've written so far...I hope it make it to twenty-eight (coz I really can't afford to not to get the completers' prize money).
1. Prompt: The Sea. My Play: God of the C, in which a teacher and a class of students use obscure metaphors about Neptune to teach one of their cohort a lesson about toxic masculinity (I told you it wasn't very good).
2. Prompt: TLC. My Play: Tender, a lovely little short that sees a new mum shouting at her baby about how much breastfeeding hurts. I like this one and would like to take it further. This was some nice imagination work for my full-length play in development, We Never Get Off at Sloane Square.
3. Prompt: Rhyming Iambic Pentameter. This is how I learned that Sunday prompts are the hardest. My Play: Clara, by Her Dad's Deathbed in RHYMING IAMBIC PENTAMETER SPOKEN IN RHYTHM TO AN EKG MACHINE. (Can you tell I'm proud of it?)
4. Prompt: Choose a number, then write play about the traditional wedding gift associated with that anniversary. I chose whatever number Glass is, then wrote a cute little sketch about The Glass Delusion.
5. Prompt: Chinese New Year. My Play: The Creation of Earth, in which a Londoner who's gone home to Malaysia for Chinese New Year (yep, my friend Jon Chew was totally the inspiration) and his mother tells him a Chinese creation myth.
6. Prompt: Bjork. My Play: The Creation of Bjork (not the only time two titles ended up being really similar), in which a room of music execs cook up the bizarrest ideas they can think of and end up with...Bjork.
7. Prompt: Backwards. My Play: You've Got It All Backwards, which is a palindromic fight between a couple with palindromic names. Another one I'm very proud of just for technical points.
8. Prompt: Stream-of-Consciousness Monologue, as yourself. This one is a bit too personal to talk about online :)
9. Prompt: Mediaeval Morality Plays, based on Everyman. I wrote Ye Gods, in which God attempts to follow the plot of Everyman but Death upbraids him for being such a killjoy.
10. Prompt: No Logic, No Method, No Uta Hagen. Another Sunday bastard: a play in which interest and structure does not come from psychological cause and effect. I wrote (and also notated) Symphony, a spoken verse situation where interest comes from rhythm and not meaning.
11. Prompt: Origin Story. I decided to take the origin story of one of our best-loved characters and wrote Before Christ (after surviving a second Sunday I was really beginning to feel like there was nothing I couldn't do, including write for bloody Jesus Christ himself).
12. Prompt: Body Positivity. My Play: My Body, a True Story. This was another very vulnerable monologue for me that I'm proud of. Around about this point the rhythm of writing every day began to mean I was really pleasantly surprised by some of the stuff that was coming out.
13. Prompt: Digital Clothing. My Play: an immersive theatrical advertisement for an invented digital clothing company called Everything You Ever Wanted (and It Fits).
14. Prompt: Fake News. My Play: Fake News. (Yes, Donald Trump makes an appearance.)
15. Prompt: Silent Pantomime. I had fun writing for children with The Glass Slipper (there's a feminist twist at the ending, too).
16. Prompt: a video by Guerrilla Girls about activist art. I wrote my second immersive theatrical piece, this time a protest about disability rights called The Walkout.
17. Prompt: there were ten arbitrary horrible rules to follow (inc, three characters in each act, played by the same actors but swapping gender, somebody plays the trumpet, a character can't speak the first letter of their name which also has to be symbolic) and I FOLLOWED THEM ALL in The House of Death.
18. Prompt: we were given an absurd first and last line. I took all the strange words in these lines to be codenames and had fun writing a scene from a spy drama called Falafel Is Burning.
19. Prompt: write for the BBC Radio 1 or 2 audience. I wrote a lovely two-hander Aussie road-trip drama called Take You to Task for the Radio 2 audience. I may extend it to a full play eventually.
20. Prompt: write for the BBC Radio 3 or 4 audience. I wrote an artist-interview-style two-hander for the Radio 3 audience called This Is Getting Harder. The title is no coincidence for how this challenge is beginning to feel.
21. Prompt: write for the BBC Radio 5 or 6 audience. I wrote And That's the News for Today for the Radio 5 audience, which involved way too much googling about terrorism for me to feel comfortable, and in which Donald Trump makes his second appearance in my writing this month.
22. Prompt: Cultural Appropriation. My Play: Black and White, in which a dozen clowns sit in various boxes and try to educate each other.
And while I've been writing this, prompt 23 has just come in....it's to complete or flesh out a previously unfinished idea. Better keep cracking!