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For NEXT year though, I have been having THORTS. We've done three of these two-man shows now, so I'd quite like to have a go at doing something with a slightly larger cast. I'd also like to do something that people would want to come to see REGARDLESS of whether they've heard of us. That was part of the early thinking with Total Hero Team, "People LOVE Superheroes these days," I thought, "so let's do a show about THAT!" This never worked: every time I said "It's about Superheroes!" people ALWAYS replied "Which ones?"
I also couldn't help noticing at Edinburgh last year that there were LOADS of shows about Doctor Who, and they were ALL getting huge audiences of people going JUST because they were Doctor Who fans. On days when our audiences were TIDDLY I would look COVETOUSLY at these audiences and think, "I want some of that!" I don't mean I want to CA$H IN on Doctor Who, rather that I felt SAD that we lost out on audiences for our GRATE show simply because it didn't have a big enough HOOK.
THUS i have been on the lookout for something WITH a sufficient hook that I could use as the theme for the next show. I've thought about this before and EVERY time I do I think "Jane Austen!" but alas I really cannot be bothered to go through the books trying to work out how to make them into a musical, and even if i COULD I have visions of Steve in a BONNET and have to then go and have a bit of a sit down in a well-lit room.
I've been through all SORTS of ideas for things that I could adapt - I'm after something that i LOVE (because I'd be spending a year doing it!), that other people would be interested in, that would suit my "style" of writing, and that would suit a CAST that would probably be mostly Middle Aged Blokes Titting About.
Then one day I had an idea SO UTTERLY OBVIOUS that I cursed myself - OF COURSE! Molesworth!. It's such a perfect fit that I couldn't understand how on EARTH i hadn't thought of it before. I got out my tattered copy of the complete set of books (i also have individual copies that I bought as a TINY from the Puffin book club, but they are KNACKERED) and flicked through, chuckling at the idea of doing it LIVE and MARVELLING at how much of it is ALREADY in play form. It was ideal - i LOVE it, other people do too, we could do a GRATE version with Middle Aged Blokes Titting About, and i think MAYBE i could bend my writing style to fit it hem hem hem. I gave Steve the book to read for HOMEWORK!
Before getting started, however, I thought it might be wise to check that i COULD do it. It turns out that Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle's estates are run by the same company, so I emailed them to politely ask if the rights might be available. The only adaptations of Molesworth I know of are when people have tried to UPDATE them with an adult Nigel, so I wondered if maybe there was some reason that nobody had ever tried to do the books themselves.
ALAS my answer came a week or so later - the rights to the books are OPTIONED, which means that the likes of me cannot get at them. CURSES! Thus is the world DENIED the chance to see ME as the Gorilla of 2b, or Steve in a blonde wig skipping around saying helo birds helo sky. CURSES AGANE!
Still, from the ashes doth grow fertile new ideas, and as I was complaining about this situation over tea to The Pupils In My Form the other night I was suddenly struck by a NEW IDEA, so GRATE and so ALSO OBVIOUS that MY VERY CUTLERY SHOOK! I have yet to discuss this with my colleague yet, so will save the full details for another time, but I think it may work. And may require the display of our KNEES!
posted 13/2/2014 by MJ Hibbett
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