Tag Archives: Activism & Politics

De Facto De-Funding at Creative Scotland?

From Joyce McMillan’s blog:

“Creative Scotland have instead decided to withdraw their entire middle range of funding, known as flexible funding, which offered basic income security on a two or three year cycle to small- and medium- scale arts organisations with a strong creative record. The result is to throw some 49 Scottish arts organisations from a condition of modest security, into a condition of complete insecurity, in which they have to bargain from project to project for their continuing right to exist.”

It was when I read the names of some of the 49 companies now in jeopardy that I felt my mental jaw drop: Vanishing Point Theatre Company, Grid-Iron, and the CCA in Glasgow (their equivilent of New York City’s MoMA) were included on the list. For the record, Vanishing Point’s Lost Ones, which I reviewed seven years ago during the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, has stuck with me like few other productions over the years.

Why I’m Opening My Big Mouth

I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, for four years, from 2003-2007. During that time, I attended Queen Margaret University College’s MFA program in Dramatic Writing; at the time, the theater department was run by Maggie Kinloch – who has since moved to RSAMD.

I dove headfirst into the arts scene. Edinburgh was where I started reviewing for The British Theatre Guide. It’s where my plays PLAYING IT COOL, STUCK UP A TREE, and MOUSEWINGS had their world premiers. I made numerous short films there, applied for and received funding for arts projects from my university, organized script development workshops and was an active member in the Traverse Theater’s Young Writer’s Group (I was lucky enough to have two plays workshopped as part of the program), plus traveled to INTERPLAY – EUROPE as one of their delegates. I’ve stayed in touch with many of you since leaving Edinburgh, and this this fall, my one-act play MILLENNIAL EX will be featured in a collection of short plays from around the world on the subject of marriage equality at a festival in Glasgow.

So I have something of an interest in what goes on within the Scottish theater scene, but rarely have the time to indulge that interest, and so was not aware of the current funding debate taking place until this morning. @MarkFisher was kind enough to point me towards information on the current debate, and that’s why I missed this morning’s sunshine and will now be spending the remainder of the afternoon inside as rain thunders down in Manhattan.

Theater Funding in Scotland vs. America – Where the Money Comes From

There are some things about arts funding in the UK, and in Scotland, which may be unfamiliar to some of my American readers. The main one, I think is:

In the UK, public funding bodies exist, geared toward distributing funding for (and thereby encouraging the development of) artistic forms of expression within a specific mission statement. They have the mission and responsibility to enrich citizens’ cultural lives and develop resources that showcase and develop both the country’s heritage and its future.

(My feeling is that in America, there is not a similar or analogous organization that answers to and is responsible for the funding of such a wide range of theaters and types of theatrical projects as is Creative Scotland. But that’s another discussion, and one I’m happy to have in the comments.)

These funding bodies and their missions, and the ways in which these obligations to fund are interpreted and fulfilled, are a point of contention between organization and practitioner. (Pardon the stealth edit as I try to make my point clearer.)

What the What?

Okay. Let’s say you have a theatre company in Scotland and want to apply for funding for this really fantastic idea you have. You go to Creative Scotland and fill out an application form. You pick the kind of funding that fits your project.

In the past, Creative Scotland had a category which funded on a project-only basis. Technically, these were grants that a theater company would receive, once per cycle (clarification stealth edit). They weren’t meant as funding that would keep the company running year round, but practically…

The Best-Laid Plans of Mice & Men…

…that doesn’t seem to be what happened. A number of companies, including, I would assume, those McMillan names in the above excerpt, have received grants from Creative Scotland to a degree where their project-to-project funding is sustaining their organization and where the loss of that funding puts those companies in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, it seems from the reading I’ve done this morning that Creative Scotland’s response is: we’re not defunding you, we’re just cancelling this form of funding. You shouldn’t have been depending on these funds in the first place.

Pardon the analogy, but to me that reads a bit like a drug dealer saying, “Well, it’s not withdrawal, because you weren’t supposed to get addicted to heroin in the first place.”

I’ll be interested to see how this situation develops.

For those who are interested, some additional reading
http://stramasharts.wordpress.com 
http://annebonnar.wordpress.com 
http://joycemcmillan.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/three-deadly-sins-of-creative-scotlands-bad-funding-review-column-25-5-12/

 

Awesome Awesome Amazeballs Awesome

The thing you always forget about performing is how quickly it happens. There’s an interminable amount of stuff that has to take place before a production, whether we’re talking a short film, a play, or a reading involving five performers converging on an old-time prestige venue like the Cornelia St Cafe.

That third one is a little specific, isn’t it.

Yesterday we had a live reading of Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change here in New York City. And by “we,” I mean everybody, with the exception of RJ, who wrote to us from New Zealand. Before about 4pm, the day is a blur. Literally a blur. I remember the gist of what I did: mostly sleep, since the night before was a rush of adrenaline and preparation and as with all these things, there never seems to be enough time. (Note “seems” – this is significant.)

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Upcoming Public Appearances & Signings

Public appearances are tricky for a writer. We’re naturally introverted folks, we like keeping ourselves to ourselves. Nonetheless, I’ve learned over the years that the ability to get in front of an audience and have a discussion about your work is an invaluable experience, both  in terms of public speaking ability and the role it plays in everyday life, and because it offers a chance for more personalized exposure than just an @reply on Twitter.

As an independent writer/artist, too, public appearances are practically a requirement. They help access new audiences and – equally important – get writers out of our garrets and into the real world.

All of which is my long way of announcing that the Cornelia Street Cafe, in New York City’s West Village, will be hosting a reading, discussion and signing for Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change on May 17th at 6pm.

Not only is this exciting for me because of – well, the obvious reasons, I suppose – but also because as a venue, the Cornelia Street Cafe has a long and illustrious history of supporting new writing.

We’ll have four of the five HOT MESS authors on hand, each giving a short reading from their work. After a short discussion with the audience about ways in which climate change is affecting us today, we’ll move onto a book signing.

Doors open at 5:45pm and reservations are encouraged – all the info is on the Cornelia Street Cafe website. If you’re available, please try to come – and make sure to say hi afterwards!

Free! Feminist! Robots! SASSY SINGULARITY is free-for-a-day on KDP

Last week was National Robot week, and I really meant to give you all something cool to read about robots. Luckily, I came home tonight to see a note from Sare Liz Gordy, letting me know a promo was about to start on a project we worked on several months ago.

In February, I took part in an anthology titled Sassy Singularity, about the strength of singledom. Most of the writers came from the romance genre; most of the stories reflect the conventions of that genre. All of the stories were written by women, and they cover multiple points of view and approaches to story.

My contribution to the anthology was a little…shall we say…quirky. Titled Sweetheart, and told from the perspective of a former Service Bot (I’ll let you read between the lines as far as what type of service), it’s about a future where a rogue hacker disrupts an artificial offshoot of the world’s oldest profession.

On Wednesday, 4/18,  Sassy Singularity will be on an Amazon Kindle Select promo for one day. If you’re interested in reading Sweetheart, it’s not currently available anywhere else, and you’ll get a handful of other romance stories along with it.

So if you have a Kindle and you feel like taking advantage of one of SASSY SINGULARITY‘s free promo days by downloading a copy of the book…do it.

FOR SCIENCE.

(And if you enjoy Sassy, check out my other Kindle work, including recent release Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate changetoo!)

THEATER REVIEW: “To Kill A Kelpie” by Matthew McVarish

First, to declare a bias – Matthew McVarish and I were at drama school together in Scotland, and I’ve previously reviewed his sold-out debut show, One man went to busk (it’s the second review on the page). In addition, he and I will be working on a project about marriage equality together later this year for Glasgay 2012.

That said, I’m pleased and lucky to be able to say that this new work, To Kill a Kelpie, offers an hour of drama both light and dark, and is a strong piece of theatrical art with a message. Co-produced by Poorboy Theater company Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse (where McVarish is also involved), and executive produced by Pamela Pine, the show is directed by Sandy Thomson.

The evening unfolds in two parts: first, McVarish’s hourlong drama about two brothers who finally break their own silence as regards something that was done to them both many years ago, then a guided discussion including representatives from various organizations that try to deal with ending sexual abuse.

As one might expect, there is heaviness to this drama. How could their not be, given the topic at hand? And yet McVarish’s script makes a conscious decision to take place in its own moment, as two brothers try to find a way of communicating through the silence that has plagued their adult relationship. As they try to understand what was done to them, the different coping mechanisms they ask themselves and the ways in which they parse the events that took place while they were children reveal two men who have each, in their own way, carried the scars of their abuse for years. Additionally, the quickness with which the two brothers reconnect lends itself well to lighter moments: this is not a play where the audience should be afraid to laugh from time to time.

The play asks uncomfortable questions: one brother reveals that he’s struggled to even recognize his own sexuality over the years, because he had tangled up the acts perpetrated upon him and his own desire to love other men. The other denies any feeling of having been affected, although it slowly becomes more obvious that, in fact, he has. Both brothers have found their relationships to others, particularly children, impossibly strained as they constantly try to sort through their own baggage.

Performers McVarish (as Fionnghall, the brother who seems, on the surface, to b e more of a loose canon) and Allan Lindsay (Dubhghal, who has returned from doing aid work among tsunami-afflicted natives somewhere quite far away) navigate the questions their characters ask themselves with honesty and frankness. Some parts of their conversation are uncomfortable: one admits he is afraid his sister doesn’t want him around her children, the other terrified he may have the potential to cause the same damage enacted upon him onto another. Forgiveness, revenge, therapy and repression are all tried as the characters range for coping mechanisms; in the end, it is conversation – speaking about their trauma, and about how each has begun the journey of unpacking that trauma – that offers the best hope for healing.

As the play draws to an ambiguous ending, the audience is invited to take a few moments to stretch before heading into a follow-up discussion. Led by Pamela Pine, the discussion first invites comments and questions from audience members before asking audience members if there’s anything they think they might do differently in their lives going forward. Aside from stressing the importance of parental and community involvement to determine when children might be at risk, the discussion also creates a space where audience members are invited to share their own stories of surviving abuse.

What was remarkable about this portion of the evening, to me, was the clarity with which one could see how To Kill a Kelpie had created a space where audience members, whose ages covered a large range, felt they could speak openly about experiences taking place around them. On opening night in New York City, audience members spoke – some at length – about how positive they found the play, and about how well it communicated emotions that echoed reactions they’d had to their own experiences.

For more information about Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse, you can visit their website at www.stopcsa.org. To Kill a Kelpie will run in NYC through April 15th, first in the East Village before heading uptown. More details are available on the production’s website.

Huge Writing Announcement: “Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change” – Kindle, Smashwords & Nook

Welcome to my 100th post for rlbrody.com.

I didn’t realize I’d have something significant to say when I hit this blogging milestone. Imagine how excited I was when I realized. (Actually, if you follow me on twitter, you probably don’t have to do much imagining.)

So here it is. Huge Writing Announcement.

A few months ago, I posted about an anthology I was putting together: short stories about global warming and climate change, and their effects on humankind.

Today that anthology – Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change – went live on Amazon.com.

Over the next 36 hours or so, it will populate to Amazon’s international sites. Over the next couple of weeks, Nook, Smashwords and CreateSpace (a print service – that’s right, actual books) will join the Kindle version of Hot Mess for sale.

But today, it’s just there for Kindle. If you’re a Kindle owner, or if you’ve downloaded one of their ten billion Kindle apps for your smartphone, iPhone, iPad, or desktop, you can click on this link right here and you will be able to download your very own copy of Hot Mess. And you should. Because not only is it a piece of work I’m over-the-moon proud of, but it’s work with a grassroots-level charity angle: each author has agreed to donate a portion of whatever earnings they have from Hot Mess to a charity or awareness-raising organization close to their heart,  involved in dealing with climate change.

So go buy Hot Mess. What will you be getting?

The anthology starts with She Says Goodbye Tomorrow by Eric Sipple, a story about wine and family and loss and memory.  From there, my super-short Haute Mess takes a whimsical, fashion-based look at how visual and physical climates interact. Miranda Doerfler gives us In Between the Dark and the Light, an action-filled tale about a father and his daughter, followed by Sare Liz Gordy‘s Traditionibus ne Copulate, which (I think, and I know she’ll correct me if I’m wrong) translates to “Don’t fuck with tradition.” Next, my piece Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. is a domestic coming-of-age tale about a boy, his mother, an industrial accident and the house computer. Finally, RJ Astruc brings the anthology’s central questions back to the forefront with her fictional travelogue, The World Gets Smaller, and Things Get Left Behind.

Hot Mess features hand-drawn illustrations by musician/ecologist Hannah Werdmuller as well as a fashionably modern – and eye-catching – cover design from Sarah Hartley. Mere Smith’s assistance with proofreading and Jason Derrick’s with formatting were (and continue to be) very much appreciated. This book wouldn’t be out today without your work. Thank you, so much, to each of you.

A little over seven months ago, I approached four writers and asked them if they were interested in writing a short story anthology about climate change. They were. The project started. Now it’s over.

Except it’s not. There’s still loads to do: more uploading, more formats, more reviews, more readers, more awareness. I will talk about all of that more later – in another blog entry. Earth Day is next month; I’ll definitely talk about it before then. I hope you will, too.

For now, please read Hot Mess.

Then start talking, posting, retweeting, and facebooking about it.

 

UPDATE (3/21): You may have noticed that some of the above links are now directing you to Smashwords! You can now buy the book directly there; in a few weeks it will have populated out to sites like Kobo, the iTunes store and more.

If you’re reading on Kindle, I would still recommend you purchase the Amazon version, as that has been optimized for your platform. Nook users, Smashwords does a lovely job of converting to a Nook-friendly format.

Click Here to Buy Hot Mess

 

UPDATE 2:  This morning, I got to send my dad a text: “Your daughter is currently outselling Isaac Asimov in her category.” (We’d just pulled ahead of “I, Robot”).  The book rose to just over 9K in the Amazon store rankings. Within our own category (sci-fi anthologies), “Hot Mess” shot to #20 on the top #100 list, climbed up another few spots before topping out at #15, and lingered there overnight. (EDIT: Hannah has just let me know she saw it at #14 at 2am! Not sure if that’s EST or PST, but either way!) Not bad for Upload Day, right?

Theater Review: “Eternal Equinox” by Joyce Sachs, 59E59

Playing through March 31st, Eternal Equinox compares politics in relationships both creative and sexual. Vanessa Bell (Hollis McCarthy) and Duncan Grant (Michael Gabriel Goodfriend), two painters from the Bloomsbury groupr, spend the bulk of this full-length play trying to understand and negotiate their relationships with one another – particularly when others become involved.
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