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fionn_a_bhair [userpic]

Shakespeare and Funerals

June 9th, 2007 (12:53 am)
current location: London



I hate funerals.  That's not a particularly new observation, but it's still a true one.  I spent all day yesterday at my friend's funeral, and I am fagged and exhausted after it.  It doesn't even really feel like a funeral to me, because I didn't see her.  I'm used to seeing the body - every other funeral I've been at has been open casket, and while it isn't pleasant, seeing the body is the best way to realise that the person is truly gone, that wherever they are is not here, that their body, in the end, is just a shell.  I wish I could have seen her one last time.

I have to give the priest credit though, for admitting that there seems to be very little justice, or kindness, or God's love, in the death of a twenty-two year old girl with everything still to do and experience.  Pretending that it is no worse than any other death - the death of an old, sick woman or man - is simply facile, and offensive.  He did tell us though, that we'd meet again in heaven.

It would be nice to believe in heaven.

I know, of course, what heaven would be like.   Heaven is a beautiful city on the sea, full of book shops and art galleries and theatres and wonderful restaurants and people dancing and talking and imagining; heaven hums with thought and ideas and life.  And should I ever get there, I know that I would meet Aerin on the street, and we'd walk to the beach and sit, with a bottle of wine.  And the wine would never run out, and nor would her cigarettes, and we would talk all night, and never get tired, and she'd tell me all of her adventures, and I'd tell her about my life, and at the end we'd watch the sunrise together.  That's all I know about heaven.

I wish I could believe in it.  It would be amazingly comforting to think that she wasn't lost - to think that somehow I would see her again.  I want to believe it - to feel sure that at least this is not forever would ease my pain so much - but I can't.  There's a huge part of me that thinks God is what we made so we could survive in a universe that leaves us so completely insignificant and alone: "for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil."  That isn't to say I'm an atheist - I've always thought atheism was a terribly boring explanation for the universe - but at a time like this, heaven feels like a fairy story,

And now, for my own amusement, some more rambling about Shakespeare.

fionn_a_bhair [userpic]

Something wrong with the universe

May 30th, 2007 (12:25 am)
shocked

current location: London
current mood: shocked

One of my best friends is dead.

Just...like that.  She apparently suffered a brain haemohrage yesterday evening, and she was declared clinically braindead thisafternoon.  They're going to pull the plug tomorrow morning, and she's going to be an organ donor.  It's what she would have wanted.

I don't even know why I'm posting this.  I spent most of this evening with other friends, shell-shocked, crying and laughing and telling stories abut her.  The really scary part is that I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning and realize that this isn't some horrible nightmare, that my friend, who was only twenty-two, and who had a hell of a lot more to do in this world, is actually dead.  She'll never read the last Harry Potter book - never see the film of His Dark Materials - never see another play, or have one of her plays performed, or...and these are the things that I can just about stand to think about. 

I've never had to do this for someone who wasn't old before. 

Waking up tomorrow morning is going to be the hardest thing.  My brother offered to let me stay at his house, rather than come all the way back here, but if I'm going to break down in some horrible way, then at the least I want it to be in the privacy of my own room.   It's times like this I wish I believed  in God,  in Great, Benevolent, Universal Whatever,  I don't.  I'm not an atheist - I've never been sure what exactly I believed (or didn't believe) - but I have no certainty in the ordering of the universe.  My friend was an atheist. 

I feel very cold right now.

fionn_a_bhair [userpic]

(no subject)

May 18th, 2007 (01:50 pm)
cheerful

current location: London
current mood: cheerful

Wow, I almost feel like a BNF!  Within about three days I got two requests for translations of my fic - A Terrible Fate can now be read in Polish, and there's a Spanish translation of Naming Pig in the works.  I've also been nominated at Quill to Parchment (which you can find here) for my fic That Within Which Passeth Show (not all that surprisingly, the category is Best Angst).  I'm afraid I just have to put my lovely new button-thingy up:



I wonder if I can get a free laptop out of this.*

I've also finally finished my play (whether it's any good or not is another matter entirely) and I have a few days of precious, precious freedom before I have to get back to work on the final chapter of my thesis.  (Ugh)  I also managed to knock out the next chapter of Left Behind, which has recieved a few interesting response - everyone seems to agree that Lupin had a point, but...  Hopefully, when I get my laptop back from the shop (where it's been languishing for a week) I'll be able to respond to their reviews properly - I've been so busy lately that I've really let that slip.





Anyway, I should also mention that I've recently discovered huge love for Ugly Betty, and it just so happens that samirant on my flist has written some really great UB ficlets, so if you like the show head over there and read them (This is my first ever rec, I feel so proud).

* Note: This is a joke, of course.  I would never ask anyone to buy me a laptop - that would just be silly. 

fionn_a_bhair [userpic]

Joy

May 11th, 2007 (02:03 am)
accomplished
Tags:

current location: London
current mood: accomplished

I've finished the second chapter of my thesis!

Not finished properly, not finished as in forever, but finished in the for now sense.

This has been hanging over my head for about two weeks now, and it's a relief to have it over and done with.  Of course tomorrow I have to get up early and go to rehersals, and then get back to work on the third draft of my play (not the play I was talking about a while back either.)

That won't be fun.

For some reason I've really lost faith in that particular play, and it's incredibly hard to make myself continue.  I find it hard to believe I can male anything really good and dramatic out of it.  I'm not sure if that's correct, it's just very hard to motivate myself to finish it.  I'll just have to get my arse in gear I suppose.

Especially as once I've finished the draft I can take a break from academic work (for a little while) and do some proper work on Left Behind.  I'm in an odd position with Left Behind at the moment where I've written all the build-up, and all the chapters from here on out are very dramatic and swashbuckling and full of plotty-goodness - the scenes in the next few chapters are the ones I've been planning in my head for months - but I've yet to do anything about it.  I've laid out all the threads, and it's about time for the tying up - which is the fun part, for me at least - to start. 

It's essential to lay out build-up properly if you want your moments of plotty-goodness to have any real resonance or meaning for the reader, but I've always hated writing it, partly I think because I already know the good stuff that's coming, and thus the build-up sections seem incredibly dull, when I'm writing them.

fionn_a_bhair [userpic]

(no subject)

May 3rd, 2007 (07:16 pm)
cranky

current mood: cranky

No laptop till Tuesday!

I feel bound to inform anyone who's awaiting any update on any of my fics that it will probably be at least a week till I get anything posted.   And there has been much wailing and weeping and gnashing of teeth on my part about that sad little fact.  

I'm having to use the college computers to get any work done, and they're old and they don't have Firefox or any of my music stored on them and...It does not make me happy.  It does not make me happy at all.

On the brighter side, the UVF have actually decommissioned.  Who knew they had it in them?  I'd cheer, but I'm a little scared to be that optimistic.

fionn_a_bhair [userpic]

(no subject)

April 30th, 2007 (03:47 am)
current location: London

Oh dear.

My laptop is trying to kill me.  Or send me into a frustration induced coma.  Possibly both.  I've said for a long time that my computer was my abusive lover, and today has just proved it to be true.

On the plus side, I've started working on a new play this weekend, and it's gone rather well (the old one, which I do have to finish, was driving me somewhat insane).  Interestingly, it could perhaps, be considered a piece of fanfiction, as it's an adaptation of a Katherine Mansfield short story Bliss.  It's a very, very free adaptation mind you (with the addition of an several plotlines that are entirely absent from the original) but I can see how it could be considered a kind of fanfiction.

Writing this play is involving me in a number of rather complex issues that I've been thinking about for a while, and which I have no really firm thoughts on.  For a number of reasons, recently I've become really interested in exploring gay female relationships (I even have an AU to The Best Ship of All in which Hermione and Ginny end up together, that I really, really want to write, but I don't have the time just yet).  Part of the reason I'm interested is that romantic female relationships are still comparatively unexplored, and so there's the chance to produce something that's at least a little original.  On the other hand, I do feel that I owe it to all the wonderful gay women I know (my aunt and my other aunt, and many of my friends) to treat the issue seriously and responsibly and not just because I can, but I keep tying myself in mental knots trying to figure out an empowering way of approaching the topic.  Now, frankly, that's my job, and if I want to keep working as a writer/playwright well then I'll just have to work out whatever problems I have and stop whining, but...

Well for instance, in this play I'm depicting a woman who is in love (unrequited) love with another woman.  That seems, to my mind, to fit, as this woman, Bertha, doesn't know thing one about her own sexuality, doesn't even have a language in which to think about it (though she thinks she's very modern), and so an actual relationship with another woman would probably cause her to have some kind of breakdown.  I think it's a sensible depiction, given the time in which she lived (1919), when lesbian relationships were certainly not talked about, though they were probably more common than we think.  On the other hand, I'm well aware that are very, very few depictions of gay women in happy, successful relationships (especially in theatre) and perhaps I ought to be socially forward, and let Bertha get her girl, even though it rings false, for the character, to my mind,

Incidentally, as a fan of His Dark Materials, (can't wait to see the film) this is the coolest thing I've seen in ages, and it's possible to get one of your own!




I'm rather annoyed that the Irish election has been called for May 24, as I probably won't be able to go home to vote, and I don't have access to a postal vote, which is angrifying.  Aside from the fact that I've always been very conscientious about voting, there's a chance, (just a chance) that the Progressive Democrats could lose more than half their seats (Progressive Democrats = evil Free Market rules all Thatcherite conservatives) and Labour/Green Party might get in to government.  I want to be a part of that godamn it!

fionn_a_bhair [userpic]

Freedom

April 21st, 2007 (03:41 am)

I'm free!  I'm free!  I'm free, free, free as a bird.  The evil essay of doom is complete, and I am able to eat cheese again.  Plus, I saw this picture at Mugglenet, and, well, wow:



This is an OotP that actually makes me want to see the film.  Check out Ron and Hermione looking like fabulous, and Neville right up near the front (and I thought Neville never got any respect) and my girl Ginny...  Well played, film marketing dept-thingy, well played indeed.

fionn_a_bhair [userpic]

Whining

April 15th, 2007 (02:48 am)
stressed

current location: Dublin
current mood: stressed
current song: Pink Floyd

I'm going to scream and scream and scream.

I'm home for the holidays.  I'm supposed to be meeting up with friends and getting drunk and reading new and non-academic books(!) and writing chapters of Left Behind and The Best Ship, plus, you know, by goddamn, no good, slowly sucking my soul out through my left earlobe (which stings a lot more than you'd expect) Play... (which I need a new title for, heaven help me.)

I do not want to write this essay on violence.  Which is kicking my ass by the way.  I wish I could say the opposite, but the truth is, this essay is killing me.  Am broken woman.

I'm onyl halfway through, and I need to write four hundred words tonight, and I can't think of a thing to say - and I've to write a chapter of my thesis while I'm back (which I am not going to think about, as I may lose my mind.)

So anyway, I hope everyone had a nice Easter.  My parents were away, so I got Indian takeaway and watched Mean Girls with my sister, and ate my egg.  'Twas pretty good!  (But then the essay started and I lost all will to live, or eat cheese).

fionn_a_bhair [userpic]

Fic: Tips for the Hero's Own True Love

April 8th, 2007 (03:13 am)
artistic
Tags:

current location: Dublin
current mood: artistic

Title: Tips for the Hero's Own True Love
Summary: Ginny Weasley takes some friendly advice on how to be a hero's one true love.
Genre: Comedy/Parody

ETA: I have no idea why two lj-cuts are showing up, but they both lead to the same thing, so it doesn't matter.


Tips for the Hero's One True LoveCollapse )

fionn_a_bhair [userpic]

Equus

April 5th, 2007 (12:59 am)
artistic
Tags: ,

current location: London
current mood: artistic
current song: The Cranberries

Now what we all want - hardcore nudity!  (Cookies for whoever recognises the quotation)

Equus by Peter Shaffer
Gielgud Theatre

So, Equus is a slightly strange play.  The depiction of violence and the implied bestiality are as up-front and blatant as anything in recent theatre, and the treatment of an 'insane' psyche is certainly a rather modern preoccupation (a recent play, Blue Orange covered somewhat similar territoty - rather more effectively in my opinion.)  On the other hand, there are certain parts of the lay that seem rather dated now.  How many hardcore Marxists are there really left any more?   (To clarify here - I consider myself to be a socialist, or as good as, but there are some rather obvious holes in Marxist ideology these days.)

Alan Strang worships horses, and his worship ultimately results in an act of sickening violence.  His worship is a tangled mixture of underdeveloped sexuality and religious fear (Equus = Jesus = phallus, or at least that seems to be the suggestion of the play.)  Daniel Radcliffe plays the part pf Strang, and I can tell you that yes, he can act.  His performance is here is highly competent, though somehow I doubt this is the 'definitive' Alan Strang.

There are a couple of reasons for this, neither of which, ultimately is Radcliffe's fault: he is still a very young actor.  It's a cliche, but something of a true one, that a film actor's primary tool is their face.  A stage actor's primary tool is their voice.  The greatest stage actors can use their voice to convey incredible varieties of tone and shades of meaning - and, incidentally, can fill very large theatres so well that the people in the cheap seats up in the Gods can hear them perfectly.  I suspect Radcliffe can do both of these things - however, I'm not sure he's able to do both simultaneously.  Yet.  Don't mistake me - I could always hear him - but the comparison between Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths is not always to the former's advantage.  He's not helped in this I suspect by the direction, which seems to push Alan into two poles of behaviour - completely taciturn or exuberantly mad - rather than a variey of tones.

Nontheless, I truly enjoyed Radcliffe's performance.  It's possible for Strang to come across as simply insane, and thus beyond help, but Radcliffe gives him rather more depth.  The play helps him a little in this regard - from the very beginning we are encourgaed to think of Strang's sexuality.  Not because he is a robust young man in the first flowering of his desires - but rather because he is not.   Strang's sexuality is an unknown quantity - he himself does not know who or what he desires, and he seems incapable of subduing or moderating his desires - where normal people will tend to downlay their sexuality in ordinary interactions, Strang's sexual presence is always present.  Young enough that he still seems uncomfortable in his body, as though it has only just filled in, Strang, in Radcliffe's hands becomes rather uncomfortable to watch.  Not only because he is only seventeen (jailbait!  Don't look - don't look!) but because he seems perfectly capable of turning his sexuality on anyone at any time.

In addition to this, Radcliffe gives the part a rather pitiful vulnerability.  It's not just that he spends lare parts of the play semi-nude or nude,leaving his body open to the view (voyeurisim?) of the audience, though this helps.  It's also that even at his most obnoxious, Radcliffe's Strang is more lost than cruel - more innocent than he ought to be, given what he has done. His fascination with horses seems to spring more for a desire to control and understand the world around him, which is horribly confusing, full of mixed messages, than from a straightforward sexual desire.  His Strang is so open, so easily confused and hurt by the world he lives in, that it's not at all hard to see why he elicits sympathy and affection from those around him.

Chief among whom is Richard Griffiths as the psychiatrist, Dysart.  If you've ever listened to the Pink Floyd album 'Dark Side of the Moon,' you'll have heard the line 'quiet desperation is the English way,' and Dysart seems to suffer from exactly this.  He loathes his 'little concrete stained suburb' and is, in a way, envious of Alan's passion, his capacity for 'worship.'   Which, unfortunately, is where the character lost me. I rather love Richard Griffiths - he was wonderful in The History Boys and he's equally wonderful here - but the psychiatrists inability or refusal to see that Alan's 'passion more ferocious' springs from a place of utter confusion and pain and fear (at least so it seemed in this production) seems rather obtuse.  Griffiths won me over to the character, partly because his performance is so good and he has great chemistry with Radcliffe

In the end I think the play is just a little uneven - not quiet a period piece, but approaching it.  I would still recommend it to anyone (over fourteen) - it is beautifully, beautifully staged and boasts some fine performances, but I suspect that the play raises questions which it does not, in the end, truly answer.

(Incidentally, one of the first things I saw when I left the theatre - just across the road in fact - was a pubg called The White Horse.  I may have looked a little like a crazy person, laughing at that as hard as I did.  I wonder if the cast goes there for drinks?)

I saw this poetry meme going round (thanks sowritesauds) and had to give it a go: April is National Poetry Month, so when you see this, post a poem you like on your LJ. 

In the end, it was too difficult to choose just one, and so I've posted three poems, all of which I love.  The first is The Second Coming by WB Yeats.  While I can't abide Yeats' plays, I must admit that I think him a truly wonderful poet, and this poem in particular, seems to sum up the 'zeitgesit.'  Or rather, reading this poem, I get the feeling that Years understood exactly how it felt to live in a world as confused and horrific as violent as ours, and he gives that sense of disillusionment and yearning wonderful expression here.



The second is by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias.  I must admit that I've never been especially fond of the Romantics.  In fact, with the single exception of Coleridge, I've tended to loathe them.  I'm not saying they're bad - which is a fairly loaded statement to make at any time - but I've tended to find them rather boring (especially Wordsworth and Keats, aside from To Autumn).  Coleridge is marvellous - I love The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, and I especially love that he was out of his head on laudanum when he wrote the latter.  However, Ozymandias is probably my favourite of any of the Romantic poems - there's something so powerful in it's evocation of bleakness and despair and the futility of human life...it's almost Beckettian!



The last poem is Mirage by Christina Rossetti.  Christina Rossetti is probably my favourite poet of all, and it's very hard for me to get outside that and explain why.  It's partly, I think, the sense of solitude and loss and disappointed hopes in her poetry, which resonates very powerfully for me, but it's also her incredibly playful and weird sexuality, her rollicking joy.  There are so many Rossetti poems that I love - Goblin Market, LEL whose heart is breaking for a little love, the Prince's Progress etc - but ultimately I chose Mirage because the first verse seems to capture the feeling of despair more perfectly and completely than I have ever managed in my whole life.  I also love the second verse for the Ophelia imagery that shines through - one of my favourite paintings is The Drowned Ophelia after all, and I've often thought that if there was one Shakespeare character I could play, Ophelia would be her.