Blowing My Own Strumpet
The title of this piece probably needs some explanation.
Someone at the Irish Writers Centre made a plea for help recently, saying that a very old Dublin Drama Group had fallen on hard times in terms of membership and asking us to come along to a meeting to see what they could do to revive themselves. Since she mentioned that they need writers some of us said yes, and although I have no interest whatsoever in acting I have since found myself at fortnightly workshops where I have facially expressed quizzicality, bodily expressed happiness and internally suppressed wind.
But the writing part has arrived, though not in the way I’d expected.
Each year Dublin has “One City, One Book”, in which a famous book connected with Dublin is chosen as, effectively, our Book of the Year. In the past it has been The Picture of Dorian Grey, this year it’s James Joyce’s Dubliners.
And apparently each year this Drama Group of which I’m definitely not a member stage something based around that year’s book.
Next year’s book is Strumpet City, by James Plunkett, and in March the group are going to put on an adaptation of it, an adaptation that myself and two of the girls from our Writers Group have somehow found ourselves promising to write.
There are one or two problems.
None of us have ever turned a book into a play before.
None of us have ever collaborated with another writer on anything before.
None of us lives even vaguely near either of the others.
The play is planned for March, which means that the actors probably won’t want to be handed the script on, say, the 26th of February. In other words, we’ve only a couple of months, with Christmas in the middle of them.
Because its linked to “One City, One Book” the Group get funding from Dublin City Council, so this is a serious venture.
I have one further problem, and perhaps I should have mentioned this one sooner. I have never read Strumpet City.
I gather though that it’s exactly the kind of writing that I don’t do. The book’s popularity derives from its realism and its naturalistic presentation of traumatic historical events. There are no made up words like “austeritised”, no intentional anachronisms and no character who is the re-incarnation of Cleopatra.
I didn’t write the sentence before last, I stole it off the back cover of the book. Since I’m planning to steal the whole of what’s inside the cover then I might as well get in practice.