more mixed pickles  

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Looking back

Creative Writing Seminar with Roger McGough and FAM

Chäseren September 2001

There were some good things about September 2001 as well, most notably the British Council creative writing seminar in Chäseren with Roger McGough and Franz. Swiss teachers got together in this lovely spot in the Appenzell hills, surrounded by the most stunning but – for the duration of the seminar – invisible countryside, and spent their time writing, listening to each others work and editing theirs on the basis of criticism from the group and the two moderators.

Working with Roger was extremely stimulating, a true whiz at work, both as far as his poetry readings are concerned as well as how he gets people to write. The three days were full of activities, partly moderated by Roger, partly by Franz. The activities explored such approaches to writing as riddles and the way in which they can free our minds from the predictability of everday thinking, to mining your memory as a way to bring to life a person or an episode from one’s experience.

There is a dossier of poems and texts which so far has gone to the participants. It is hoped, however that, workload in the next few weeks and, of course, the authors permitting these texts will go on-line, togehter with some haikus Roger wrote in Chäseren and a new poem of his which we discussed. Watch this space!

 

 

The title of the book behind which secret negotiations are going on (or as some more up-to-date usage has it ongoing), is The Creative Writer’s Craft, highly recommended, by the way.

 



Aladdin and the Magic Lamp

Instinctive Acts Panto Christmas 2001

This year’s Instinctive Acts panto was ‘Aladdin and the Magic Lamp’ , which, ‘apart from a custard pie and a pantomime horse contained everything the one could wish for ... and more’, according to B. Eastwood, HMA (we do get grand audiences, don’t we?). Another reaction of someone we wanted to remain anonymous was ‘this panto does for drama what Attila the Hun did for European-Asian relations’ .

Here’s the plot for those who don’t know it:

Aladdin is in love with the charming Princess Yasmin. However, in his penniless state he is unlikely to get into a position where he could inform the young lady of his affections. Princess Yasmin isn’t in love with anyone and would like to be her own girl, an ambition in which she is supported by her friend Baklava, less so by her mother Sultana Sunkist and clearly not by her father Sheik Italla Bout.

Things take a turn for the decidedly chaotic when Wendy Shoe fitz-Wearit, an evil developer, arrives on the scene with the intention of tapping the rich oil deposits of the Sultanate. She enlists the ever dastardly vizier Janataar and his no less palatable sidekick Nastimaan to plot against the Sheik in order to get her hands on the oil, which sounds like a pretty messy proposition. The vizier sees two ways of bringing this about: a) by getting his hands on a magic lamp which would give him infinite powers and may be quite a painful proposition, or, failing that, b) by getting the hand of the Princess in marriage, preferably attached to the rest of her body and thus securing a pole position in the succession to the throne. (too many hands dear Franz, too many hands. ed.) When Janataars plans are all foiled, the only option open is to abduct the more than reluctant Princess.

Will Aladdin and his trusty friend Buttons save the the island they call home from the oily clutches of Wendy Shoe fitz-Wearit? Will the magic lamp make the difference? Can they defeat Janataar and Nastimaan? Who’s going to keep Widow Twankey’s house in order? How many weddings are there going to be at the end of the panto? Will the audience be able to listen to the songs and live, or will the groan-provoking puns reap their toll first?

The script of ‘Aladdin and the Magic Lamp’ is available as a PDF file. It works as family entertainment (containing few naughty references and most of the topical ones that might offend the humourless and the political (same thing?) can removed easily. However, generally reat care was taken to avoid offense, but then those who want to be always succeed in being offended. Interested? Drop us a line.


‘Cara’, the Alive and Rocking CD

Summer 2001, December 2001

I’d like to take this opportunity to plug Alive and Rocking this thoroughly exiting music and minority languages project.Only marginally connected with the usual activities of this website, it is nevertheless an artitistic achievement in which I’m proud to have been involved, in the minor capacity of acting as a go-between and sort of creative writing midwife for lyrics where more than one language was used in a song and to contribute texts to the CD booklet as well as their website. This website will tell you what the whole thing is all about: you can read a blow-by-blow account on the project, which took groups of young musicians from the Celtic language groups in Scotland and Ireland as well as from the various Rumantsch areas in Switzerland first to the Scottish Isle of Skye and then to Laax in Switzerland for an original concert programme fusing musical styles and their respective languages. And the resulting live CD is just great. Listen in and you’ll see, or hear, rather.


Creative-writing.ch is affiliated with the Creative Writing Workshop at the English Department of the University Berne, Switzerland

Also check out the NAWE website.