Musings on creativity from Yorkshire's Gangliest Diabetic Buddhist Theatre Director

Month: April, 2018


Grayscale Photography of the Kelpies

Hannah is stood by some railings, looking over. SR is a ramp leading down towards the audience. She is sobbing gently. Sound of gentle water lapping.  

Harry walks past, swinging from a can. 

Notices Hannah.

HARRY            (Loud) Hey there, lovely lady! Why the tears?

Hannah wafts him away. 

HARRY            (Quieter.) Hey, no, seriously, babe. Why the crying? 

She turns away.

He sidles up and nudges her.

HARRY            Come on love? What’s up?

She looks down.

HARRY            I come here sometimes. When I need to get away from it all. Have a bit of a think. Not very often, obviously, cus thinking’s hard. I’m more of doer than a thinker! A lover not a fighter. But, yeah, it’s good down here. Watch the old Thames lapping up. And lapping down.

She looks up.

And sometimes (He throws the can over) it can take my troubles away with it.

Points after the can.

                        Bob. Bob. Bob. And now it’s gone.


                        What would be your problem, love? What do you want to throw away?

HANNAH         My boyfriend. He – Starts sobbing.

HARRY            Hey, hey, it’s alright.

HANNAH         No it’s not.

HARRY            Well, then, let’s make it alright. You got anything of his?

She rummages in her purse. Takes out a key ring with a fabric horse on it.

HANNAH         He gave me this.

HARRY            Well then. This is him. (Takes the keys off and hands them back to her.) This is him and all his shitty, not okay, behaviour. What do you want to say to him?

HANNAH         I want to say. . .

HARRY            Go on.

HANNAH         Fuck off Gary!

HARRY            Go on.

HANNAH         You’re a stupid twat, Garry, I can’t believe you’d go with her and I wish you’d fuck off and die.

HARRY            Yeah, that’s it!

HANNAH         And you were rubbish in bed, you’ve got a tiny cock and pimples on your arse and I fucking hate you Garry Spence!

HARRY            Yeah, alright, that’s done it. Now throw it away.

HANNAH grabs it from him and chucks it into the water. They both watch it bob away. She seems lighter.


HARRY            I know a story about a horse. (She looks at him. Pause.) N’ah it’s silly

HANNAH         Aww, go on.

HARRY            N’ah, you wouldn’t like it. It’s one of them fairy stories. Kid’s stuff.

HANNAH         Tell me.

HARRY            N’ah.

HANNAH         Pleeease.

HARRY            Alright, well in olden times, there was this magical horse, right?

HANNAH         Like a unicorn?

HARRY            Like a unicorn. But less horny.

HANNAH         Right.

HARRY            It’s this beautiful horse right. Fit and lively. And women, when they see the horse, they just can’t help themselves, they just want to get their leg over it.

HANNAH giggles.

HARRY            It’s not funny! They take one look at this horse with it’s flowing – what they call it? Yeah, mane – it’s got this flowing mane (Tosses his head) and these women see it and they just want to go for a ride.

HANNAH         Yeah?

HARRY            Look, I’ll show you. Bends slightly. Get on!

HANNAH         What?

HARRY            Hop on, I’ll show you! Piggy back! Well, horsey back!

HANNAH         You’re mad, you!

HARRY            Come on, let’s go for a ride.


HANNAH         Alright!

She jumps on.

HARRY            And then this horse goes for a ride, right! And it’s the most amazing ride these women have ever had. I mean this horse can keep it going for hours (running round the stage.) Up and down, up and down, it’s got stamina. (He jolts her up and down. She squeals.) And they fucking love it! Time of their lives! And the horse keeps on going until, eventually – (he stops at the top of the ramp.)

HANNAH         Yeah?

HARRY            Yeah what?

HANNAH         What happens then?

HARRY            When?

She play slaps him.

HANNAH         Once they’ve gone for this looong ride. Then what happens?

HARRY            What do you think happens?

HANNAH         Well, if this horse is like any boys I know after he’s had his ride he dumps them of his back and runs off.

HARRY            Oh no! Not this horse!

HANNAH         No?

HARRY            Oh no! He sticks with them, the women who ride him, till the ends of their lives!

HANNAH         Aww!

HARRY            He takes them to a river. And they look out at it.

HANNAH         Awww!

He starts to walk down the ramp.

HANNAH         Then what happens?

HARRY            Hey?

HANNAH         What happens when he gets to the river?

HARRY            Oh! Then –

He is nearing the bottom of the ramp.

HANNAH         (Squealing with delight.) Look, out you nutter! You’re getting your shoes all wet!

HARRY            Then – he goes right up to the river.

HANNAH         (Laughing!) Careful! Don’t slip!

HARRY            Then he takes them right down to the water’s edge.

HANNAH         You’re crazy you!

HARRY            And then he jumps in. With them on his back. And he drowns them. And he eats them.


HANNAH         Oh.

He jumps forward. Blackout.


WARNING: I did almost no research on this one; that’s what happens if you write a play in a day – research and drafting fall by the way-side. But I think the idea holds true, even if the details are sketchy.

Also – swears


KELLY, white, early 40s, is clearing up her breakfast in a family kitchen.

KELLY               Laura! You’ll be late for netball!

SIMON, a black man in his early 40s comes in, sifting post. Sits. Pours himself some sugary cereal and munches as he sifts. 

KELLY               Anything exciting?

SIMON            Bil, bill, circular, pizza menu, bill – ooh!

KELLY               ‘Ooh?’

SIMON            It’s come!

KELLY               What’s has?

SIMON            Our future! The deepest secrets hidden in our lives!

KELLY               Sounds awful. What are you talking about?

SIMON            You remember last month when I got you to do those mouth swabs?

KELLY               Yes?

SIMON            Well the results are in! The secrets of our DNA!

KELLY               Simon, darling, this will come as a shocking surprise to you but I wasn’t really listening when we did the swabs – I just went along with it to shut you up.

SIMON            I’d never have guessed!

KELLY               So, do you want to take it from the top?

SIMON            From the saliva sample I sent they can analyse your genetic make up – they map your whole genome and run it against they’re database and they tell you things about yourself.

KELLY               Such as?

SIMON            Well. . . gene 7912 mine says that genetically my heart is likely to be strong. I have 2413 a slight tendency towards weight gain.

Kelly reaches over the table and slides his cereal bowl away from him.

                        Ha, ha. (Pause) Oh. Oh no.

KELLY               What?

SIMON            Oh God.

KELLY               What?!

SIMON            Oh my –

KELLY               WHAT IS IT YOU ARSE?!

SIMON            5028. I have a mild intolerance for coffee. I think my life is over.

KELLY              Mild intolerance versus never being awake? Tough call!

SIMON            I will find a way to soldier on.

KELLY               Alright, then Professor, let’s see mine.

SIMON            Well, it says here that genetically you are beautiful but very annoying.

KELLY snatches it from him.

KELLY               7823. Relatively tall. Nailed it. 3103 slight hypertension – (Pushes her own coffee away from her.) 5067 green eyes. You paid how much for this?

SIMON            Doesn’t it say ‘green eyes, exceptionally beautiful.’

KELLY               Creep. Well, according to this I am genetically average in every conceivable way. How dull.

SIMON            Not to me you’re not!

KELLY               Thank you!

SIMON            You are definitely never dull.

She thumps him playfully.

Let’s see what Laura’s says.

KELLY               You did Laura?

SIMON            Yes.

KELLY               Without asking her?

SIMON            Well, she said yes to a swab.

KELLY               But did you explain what it was for?

SIMON            No, wanted it to be a surprise.

KELLY               Shouldn’t we wait till she comes down.

SIMON            C’mon, just a peak. Don’t you want scientific confirmation that our daughter is extraordinary?

KELLY               I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me that.

SIMON            C’mon. Let’s have a look!

KELLY               Alright, fine – get on with it.

SIMON            7823 – relatively tall.

KELLY               Boom! That’s down to me.

SIMON            5067 – green eyes.

KELLY               Double boom! Told you she took after me. Mama’s got strong genes.

SIMON            Oh god, this is a long one. 8291. ‘The protein encoded by this gene belongs to the ferlin family and is a skeletal muscle protein found associated with the sarcolemma. It is involved in muscle contraction and contains C2 domains that play a role in calcium-mediated membrane fusion events, suggesting that it may be involved in membrane regeneration and repair. In addition, the protein encoded by this gene binds caveolin-3, a skeletal muscle membrane protein which is important in the formation of caveolae. Specific mutations in this gene have been shown to cause autosomal recessive limb girdle muscular dystrophy type 2B.’

KELLY               What the fuck?

SIMON            Erm. . .

KELLY               No, seriously, what the fuck does that mean?

SIMON            Mutation in 8291 causes autosomal recessive limb girdle muscular dystrophy type 2B.


KELLY               What the fuck is that!

SIMON            Hang on! (Rifles through the papers.) Here it is! Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, type 2B is one of many forms of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, a group of disorders that affect the voluntary muscles of the hips and shoulders. LGMD2B is characterized by early weakness and wasting (atrophy) of the pelvic and shoulder girdle muscles in adolescence or young adulthood. The age of onset typically ranges from 15 to 35 years, and legs are usually affected first. Symptoms include the inability to tiptoe and difficulty walking and running.  Cardiac (heart) and respiratory involvement is uncommon. It is usually slowly progressive, with need of a wheelchair 10 to 20 years after onset.


LAURA, mixed-race, 15, bounds on in her netball costume.

LAURA             Come on mum! We’ll be late!

Kisses Simon.

                        See you later Dad!

Grabs the car keys from a hook on the wall.

                        C’mon mum, I’ll be in the car!

She heads out. Kelly and Simon sit, unmoving.


Now that we’re at the end I can unpack some of my thinking on this – reading it back I wondered if it was ableist, making the diagnosis of a condition into a tragedy. The day nine year-old me became diabetic felt like a tragedy. But to 40 year old me it’s more of a constant low-level irritation. Although I’d definitely not swap my diabetes for the condition here, I am very sure that there are people with Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, type 2B who are living full and happy lives and making a difference in the world. I’m sure there are others with the condition who feel they could be living full and happy lives if society offered them better support. In short, I think the snap-shot here is true – a diagnosis like this feels like a bereavement, a loss which must be mourned. But it would be interesting to revisit our three characters over the following years and see if that feeling evolves into something else.

Boundary Issues

KIMMY is sitting on a JESSICA’s bed in student digs. JESS has put some effort into making her room feel at home – there’s study books but also posters, cushions, cuddly toys, maybe a pot plant. KIMMY is painting her nails.

JESS comes in, obviously having had a bad day, throws her bag down on the desk (which is line of sight from the door), then turns with a sigh – sees Kimmy, and jumps.

JESS:                Agh!

KIMMY:           Hey Jessie! Good day?

JESS:                You startled me!

KIMMY:           I came in to borrow your nail polish. That’s okay, right?

JESS:                Oh. That’s why I keep running out. Beat. Is that my t-shirt?

KIMMY:           Yeah, my stuff’s in the wash. Figured you wouldn’t mind.

JESS:                Right.

KIMMY:           So how was the meeting today?

JESS:                Yeah, the Prof was riding me a bit. About the last essay being late and all. Like, it’s fine, it’s just a bit. . . you know.

KIMMY:           Yeah. He’s a cock.

JESS:                I guess. I think it’s more about me getting my shit together.

KIMMY:           I suppose. But there’s no need for him to be mean about it.

JESS:                Yeah.


JESS:                I saw the groups for the practical module were up.

KIMMY:           Cool huh?

JESS:                Us being in a group together?

KIMMY:           Yeah!

JESS:                The other were saying that they were asked who they wanted to be in groups with.

KIMMY:           Yeah, it was that day you were all full of lurgy. So I signed us up together. Didn’t want to disturb you.

JESS:                Right.


KIMMY:           What are we doing tonight then?

JESS:                Beat. Well, I’ve been invited to a party.

KIMMY:           Oooh! Where is it?

JESS:                Over in Goldeney.

KIMMY:           Oooh – Goldeney. What should I wear?

JESS:                Huh?

KIMMY:           I mean all my stuff is in the wash. Ooh – can I borrow your red dress.

JESS:                I’m wearing my red dress.

KIMMY:           That’s fine. I like your blue one too. What time Is it?

JESS:                Err, sorry, Kim, like, I’m going to the party, not ‘we are going to the party.’

KIMMY:           Beat. Sorry?

JESS:                Mark asked me. To go. With him. Me and Mark.

KIMMY:           Oh. Beat. Oh. Beat. Well, that’s fine. I’ll come with you and then just hang out till your done.

JESS:                I don’t think that’s going to work Kimmy. I’m going to be with Mark the whole time.

KIMMY:           Well I’m sure you won’t be with him the whole time, you’ll need someone to hang with when he’s talking to his friends.

JESS:                I’m not sure he’s planning on talking with his friends.

KIMMY:           Yeah, that’s what boys are like. You’ll need me. I’ll be your wing woman.

JESS:                Errr, or you could find something else to do?

KIMMY:           Like what?

JESS:                You could go down the union.

KIMMY:           Nah, don’t like it.

JESS:                Or Watershed, I heard some of the gang from the department are heading down there.

KIMMY:           Nah, don’t like them.

JESS:                Or you could catch up on Netflix.

KIMMY:           Nah, it’s not as good without you. I’d sooner come with you. It will be cool.

JESS:                Look, err Kimmy. . .

Kimmy does pleading eyes.

JESS:                Err, okay, but don’t get all moody when I’m spending time with Mark.

KIMMY:           That’s okay. I’m sure you wouldn’t abandon me completely.


JESS:                Right, better go shower.

KIMMY:           Oh and Jess!

JESS:                Huh?

KIMMY:           You should wear your blue dress. Brings out your eyes.

JESS:                Okay.

JESS leaves for the shower.

KIMMY:           Painting her nails. And then I can wear your red one.