All posts by George Bailey

LPW Online Book Club: Girls by Theresa Ikoko

The LPW Online Book Club is just one of the things you can access if you become a member! Not a member yet? Well, if you want a jump start for your writing for the price of a cup of coffee, what are you waiting for? Sign up here today! (Want more reasons to join and a bit more info? Read this).

As a result of your feedback, we’ve changed the way we do book club, find out more here.

This month’s pick

For our December selection, we’re going to be reading Girls by Theresa Ikoko.

Why did we pick this?

Girls is a powerful play which won both the George Devine award and Alfred Fagon award in 2015. It received its world premiere in 2016 as part of HighTide’s annual festival, in a co-production between HighTide, Soho Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company.

The play follows three characters who have been kidnapped, and explores the impact of friendship, growing up and the stories that live behind the news headlines we see everyday. Girls delves into human nature, relationships and world circumstances in both a comical and deeply realistic way. We’re really excited about discussing the play with as many of you as possible.

Here’s a bit more information about the play: 

Tisana, Ruhab, and Haleema are three normal girls. They have a lot to say about family, faith, the world, growing up, their bodies, other people’s bodies, and much more. They’ve got plenty of time to talk. They’ve been kidnapped.

Girls explores enduring friendship, girlhood and the stories behind the headlines that quickly become yesterday’s news.

How it works

All you need to do is read the play then head on over to our Members Facebook Group from the 15th of the month to join the discussion! Book club threads will be marked with the hashtag #bookclub, so it will be easy to find the discussion. Feel free to comment on existing threads or even start your own, the more discussion, the better!

Once the discussion is open  on our Facebook Group, it will stay there, so you can dip in and out throughout the rest of the month as much or as little as you like, whenever is convenient for you.

(Please note, to avoid spoilers for those who haven’t finished the play yet, any comments posted on our Facebook Group prior to 15th of each month will be deleted). 

Need a copy?

If you need to buy a copy, you can do so at the link below. (And if you buy through this Amazon Affiliate link, a small portion of the sale will go towards supporting LPW – at NO extra charge to you!)

Girls by Theresa Ikoko

Find out more and sign up to become a member here!

Image by Soho Theatre

LPB Members’ Monologue Competition: Full Winning Entries

In the summer, we ran an online course for our members on How to Write a Monologue. We then invited participants to submit their monologues to us and promised to publish our favourite ones on the blog!

We received some fantastic entries which encapsulated  some vibrant characters with unique voices, so it was a difficult task to choose the ones we wanted to showcase. However, we managed to make our selection and here are the four winning entries:

Blessed be the Peacemakers by Alison Rayner

The Wrong Leg by Rupert Mallin

Daddy by Nicole Zandi

A Dark Place by Jane Walker

If reading this gets you in the monologue writing mood, you can still access the course on our members’ site here. If you’re not a member yet, sign up here!

 

LPB Members’ Monologue Competition: Winning Entries Week 3

In the summer, we ran an online course for our members on How to Write a Monologue. We then invited participants to submit their monologues to us and promised to publish our favourite ones on the blog!

We received some fantastic entries which encapsulated  some vibrant characters with unique voices, so it was a difficult task to choose the ones we wanted to showcase. However, we managed to make our selection and we’ve published them over the last 3 weeks, with this being the final winning entry…

This week’s selection: A Dark Place by Jane Walker

Jane’s short plays have been performed on the London Fringe, and ‘King of Hearts’ was voted second favourite in a Valentine-themed evening of short plays by Spontaneous Productions. Her one act plays have reached the longlists for the Funny Women Comedy Writing Award and the Windsor Fringe Award for New Drama Writing. 

Introduction:

I was inspired by LPW’s online course to write this monologue, which is loosely based on a relative. I changed the setting and the story developed from there.

A Dark Place

By Jane Walker

1922, Whitehaven, Cumbria.

Night. A tired-looking working class woman in her forties, wearing an apron, is cleaning a railway carriage.

The mess these passengers make. Mind you, found a pipe the other day. Exchanged it on the market for some cotton. I’ll run up some dresses for the girls with that, do as Christmas presents.  Every job has a little bonus.

She picks up a newspaper from one of the seats and looks at it.

They’re still talking about it. What happened, who’s to blame.

‘Firedamp’ they call it round here. Other people call it methane. Either way it caused an explosion. Thirty-nine gone, just like that. Everyone’s still reeling, two months on. What a Christmas.

Some of those men hadn’t even reached the age of twenty. I don’t know what to say to Evie, she lost her lad.

Looks up.

What can you say?

Puts the newspaper down.

He was a big man. Quiet at home. A presence – you could sense him. The children never spoke when he was at table. He never had to put up with their noise. Always the same announcement when he came home: “Breadwinner’s here.”

Tired, all the time, he was. And filthy, six nights a week. I had to make sure the bath was ready. Haul it up from the cellar, take it back down again later – he didn’t want to see it once he’d had his bath. Sometimes, when I was pouring the water, I’d think about what it must be like, working down there in the dark.

Pause

Out to sea on a fishing boat, or down the pit, that’s the choice round here for fellas.  And the pit pays better. Me Dad was a miner too. He was good to us. It was just Mam, me and me sister. Tight-knit we were. Wish our Isabel was here now, I’d talk to her. She’s trapped, frozen for ever at the age of eight. Was it Scarlet fever? I wasn’t well after they told me, can’t remember.

Wish I had a timepiece. Maybe I’ll find one. No, I’d have to hand it in. Only keep small things, that’s my rule. Could do with knowing the time though – I want to miss last orders, don’t want drunken oafs following me home.  Our Flo will want to get to bed. She’s got school tomorrow.  She likes school.

Your husband, they would say. The stories he tells. Has us in bits he does. I never heard them stories. He preferred the company of men. Liked working with them, laughing with them… fighting with them. Bare knuckle champion he was. I went along once, to one of the fights. I wasn’t sure, but people told me it was all good natured.

As soon as I arrived I wanted to leave. They were all standing round, no boxing ring, just a big crowd in a circle. You could taste the fear, sense the bloodlust. I wanted to leave, but someone spotted me and pulled me to the front. I looked down, ashamed. And I could see bloodstains from previous fights.  They said, “Your Tom’s on next!”. I was meant to be the proud wife.  Had to stand there as he belted the soul out of some poor lad, and when it was over and the lad was spitting blood, his eye swelling, they patted me on the shoulder as though I’d achieved something. I felt sick.

I’m a widow now, a Colliery Widow. Got me name in the paper. People have been sending money for widows and children. I’ll believe it when it’s in me hand. Need it though. Can’t make ends meet.

I stand and nod and accept their condolences, their sympathy for the children. Except while I’m listening I’m having sinful thoughts.

In my heart there’s a dark, secret place, coal black it is and cold, cold as the depths of the earth. And in that place I’m thankful, so thankful for that Firedamp, that pocket of gas which ignited and took him away.

If reading this gets you in the monologue writing mood, you can still access the course on our members’ site here. If you’re not a member yet, sign up here!

Catch last previously featured monologues here:  Week 1, Week 2.

LPB Members’ Monologue Competition: Winning Entries Week 2

In the summer, we ran an online course for our members on How to Write a Monologue. We then invited participants to submit their monologues to us and promised to publish our favourite ones on the blog!

We received some fantastic entries which encapsulated  some vibrant characters with unique voices, so it was a difficult task to choose the ones we wanted to showcase. However, we managed to make our selection and we’ll be publishing them over the next few weeks…

This week’s selection: The Wrong Leg by Rupert Mallin 

Rupert has variously worked in community arts and as a teacher. He has had much poetry published  from1970s to 1990s. Two plays on BBC Radio 4 1990s and various small theatre projects since then. From around 2005 he turned to visual arts and have my own city centre studio. Rupert is involved with ‘Creative Working Lives,’ a group of older people who have been squeezed out of working in public services. They put on exhibitions, small shows and make short films.

Introduction:

‘The Wrong Leg’ is a monologue based off of something similar which happened to my best friend’s 89 year old mum in May. Unfortunately, her mum is still in hospital and is among the bravest, warmest people I’ve ever met.

The Wrong Leg

By Rupert Mallin

HOSPITAL WARD. MAUREEN SITS IN AN ARMCHAIR WITH HER LEGS UP, COVERED IN BLANKETS.

Aren’t the flowers lovely? Put them out of the way, Dear. That’s it. And thank you for the jigsaw…

I shouldn’t be here. Pops found me on the floor – middle of the night. I sleep on a chair at home – a fancy expanding chair. Press the button and you’re lying down, press the button again and you’re sitting up! Trouble was, I kept my finger on the button and I just kept going up! Was ejected without a parachute – crash I went on the floor.

We waited three hours for an ambulance. If it had been daylight though, I might have got a ride in a helicopter. Well, there you are. Took me to hospital along the A47. Very busy. Road. Hospital.

Pain in my leg. A rotten pain. They took me for an x-ray and, guess what? No fracture at all! Just bruising, they said.

Pops got up with a terrible start – steam coming out of his ears: “That’s an x-ray of her left leg. What about her right leg?”

“What about her right leg? She only complained about pain in her left!” said the nurse in charge.

Pops went apoplectic: “She’s paralysed in her right leg! Been paralysed in that leg for thirty-three years! She only feels pain in her left leg!”

Thought he was going to explode. Well, there you are. Apologies all round and then they took an x-ray of my right leg: clean break high across my thigh bone! And I didn’t feel a thing – in that leg!

PAUSE

Six more weeks in here before I get out. Could be more. Got a thigh to toe plaster and they’ve put some kind of bolt in my leg – some sort of hinge. Of course, I won’t be able to use the leg but I need to stand on it, so Pops can hoist me up properly. On his own. And swing me about in the harness.

But with a lump of metal in my leg, will I be magnetised?  I don’t want to find myself stuck to the fridge door. Or worse, Pops can’t get me out of the wheel chair because of me magnetisation.

PAUSE

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t speak at all.” We were brought up on that round here. If you can’t say nice, zip it. Well, there you are.

It’s a bit quiet on this ward though. We don’t say a lot to each other. Just “You’re awake now then?” And “It’s raining again.” And things like that to pass the time. Mostly we dose. And if we’re not dosing we’re asleep. Sometimes, I have a funny old dream…

LIGHTS FADE TO BLACKOUT. SPOTLIGHT UP ON MAUREEN WHO THROWS OFF BLANKETS AND FAST UP ON HER FEET – DANCING

All washing’s been done and dried in the drum

I’ve polished and dusted and cleaned out the bin

Kids have been fed and are tucked up in bed

Dinner’s been eaten and Pop’s in the shed

Finally it’s my time to let go and relax

Away from the chores and polishing wax

Me and my radio, volume on max

Oh no, not this one – it’s Jumpin Jack Flash!

 SPOT TO BLACKOUT. LIGHTS UP ON MAUREEN SLUMPED IN THE ARMCHAIR WITH HER FEET UP COVERED IN BLANKETS AS BEFORE

Glad Pops noticed it was the wrong leg. You hear all sorts about people coming in to hospital and having the wrong limb taken off. Doesn’t happen all the time, does it? Take jockeys, they’re breaking bones all the time. If they took the wrong limbs off, well. You can’t have legless little men riding horses at the races, can you?

But if you’re able I suppose you can do anything, even if you can’t hang on properly. Wind surfing, wing walking. I wouldn’t want to. I prefer jigsaws. Slowly, piece by piece, you put the picture together – and what a picture it is – country scenes, Winter, penguins, dogs, people, boats, The Broads – five hundred, a thousand piece jigsaws – all in living colour. Magic how you can put it all together… Well, there you are.

If reading this gets you in the monologue writing mood, you can still access the course on our members’ site here. If you’re not a member yet, sign up here!

Catch last week’s featured monologue here.