Plays by Deborah Freeman

I have completed `Remedies,` a play about M E.  Background research...

Writing Groups

I am setting up a new writing group in East Finchley, to be held in the atmospheric location of an East Finchley...

Novels by Deborah Freeman

 A few years back. I answered an ad on the Radio 3 website, from the conceptual art company, Blast Theory...

Poems by Deborah Freeman

These appeared in the journal Jewish Renaissance, 2008.  `Fish.` `Fasting.` `Open a Gate for Us. ` `After the...

Under the Palm Tree Blog

  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/deborah/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 895.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/deborah/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 895.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/deborah/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 895.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/deborah/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 895.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/deborah/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 895.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/deborah/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 895.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/deborah/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 895.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_page::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_page.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of image_attach_views_handler_field_attached_images::pre_render() should be compatible with views_handler_field::pre_render($values) in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/image/contrib/image_attach/image_attach_views_handler_field_attached_images.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/deborah/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/deborah/public_html/includes/unicode.inc on line 345.
2 years 34 weeks ago

Rather late in the day - ie my first time, I`m going to Hay today.

Saw Oppenheimer the day before yesterday. 

Reading a great book - been lucky with books recently.

Seem to be writing poems again. 

Joining a group called Player-Playwrights - went to first meeting on Monday. Heard a readthrough of a new play filled with the writer`s fluency and urge to write, and the actors` talents - but was reminded just how hard it can be to put the component parts together...

Will take notes in Hay, if I remember.

This seems to be a very brief blog....

 

 

2 years 35 weeks ago

I finished H is for Hawk with the same sense of awe and respect for the writing that I had last blog - at which time I was half way through it. But the story of T H White didn`t only inform and illuminate Helen Macdonald`s book. It also, at times, got in the way of it (for me.) 

So out of curiosity  I have now ordered The Goshawk.

Two things please me. One. This is a second `book package` I have discovered, whereby if you want to get someone a reading present, you put together more than one book.  My packages now are:  One: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, with the biography Daphne, by Margaret Forster, and the icing on the cake - Rebecca`s Tale, by Sally Beauman.  That`s a three-book package. The new package, a two-book, (for those people thinking about it in mid-May a nourishing Christmas present:)  H is for Hawk, combined with The Goshawk.

The quintessential Englishness of both the hawk books of course makes me stop and think about my own heritage, and for the first time since she died almost two years ago, I have started writing about my mother. 

A committed Zionist, she and my father moved to Israel after he retired from his academic post in Bristol in 1968. They settled in Jerusalem after two years in Australia and San Francisco, and remained there. My father died in 1994, and my mother in 2013. 

In the last years of her life my mother spoke frequently about her commitment to the Jewish state of Israel. At the same time, she remained an avid reader in English, and her love for English poetry  grew only stronger as she slowly grew weaker. To get herself through CT scans and unpleasant treatments, she would recite Wordsworth`s The Daffodils, Kipling`s If, and Longfellow. 

So much food for so many thoughts out of two books, one of which I haven`t yet read but only experienced through the selective lens of Helen Macdonald. 

2 years 37 weeks ago

Been away for two weeks. Most of the time - at sea. Before leaving I called in to Waterstones for a book or two. Came away with A Secret History, Donna Tartt, and H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald.

Two completely contrasting books, with style and scholarship in common. I`d never read Tartt. Now plan to read more. So often a book that is well-crafted, and a page turner, seems (to me,) to fizzle out towards the end. But this book`s closure (or lack of - same thing I think,) impressed me so much that I reread one particular half page several times. 

As for H is for Hawk - never having had any contact with either hawks or falcons, I was intrigued and impressed. To my taste, of course, a book that tries to talk about emotions without actually talking much about emotions - can occasionally be annoying. Not because the writing isn`t brilliant - in this case it certainly is - but just because to my mind there is nothing like telling it as it is. I read an interview with Miriam Toews yesterday, and was reminded of this. 

 

2 years 40 weeks ago

Getting busier. New play, Not Me, now moves speedily into scene four, and I`m delighted with how it`s going. A long time since I`ve felt this pleased about a scene. This afternoon I`m off to Actors` Centre, Covent Garden, to post `Playwright WLTM Director` notice. 

As for The Scapegoat, I have hesitated to `source` the producer that this play needs, apart from a probably ill-advised ad I put in The Jewish Chronicle. 

The play is about some of the ideas of William Holman Hunt, who became an early Christian Zionist. Such is the antagonism to the very word Zionism, these days - some high profile theatre people are happy to endorse a cultural and artistic boycott of Israeli theatre, which is actually one of the most liberal strands of the progressive world within Israel.  

I had one reply to the ad from an enthusiastic young man who assured me of his interest. We spoke for an hour. When he failed to call (I`ll call you tomorrow...) I picked up to him, because I no longer let matters like that slide. He told me it was his birthday and he would absolutely call on the morrow. He didn`t. Very young - it was his 28th brithday.  

Fact is, The Scapegoat illuminates the work of one of the most unconventional Pre-Raphaelites, and the deep thread of Christian belief that supported many thinkers who favoured the idea of a Jewish Homeland in the nineteenth century. Not to mention the Christian right in the USA today. 

The play is colourful, carefully put together, and I`m beginning to feel I owe it a producer. 

 This evening we`re off to see Bad Jews. I`ve read it`s good. 

2 years 42 weeks ago

Interesting weekend. Yesterday I saw Stevie. By Hugh Whitemore, at Hampstead Theatre. Zoe Wanamaker, Lynda Baron, Chris Larkin, were directed by Christopher Morahan. He e must have done a good job because overall nothing in the show jarred for me . The fourth character was the required suburban set.

I found Act One not quite deep or quirky enough.  It did not have quite the `gathering of clouds` sense that even slow Act Ones often have. However, Act Two, for me, was a meaningful and thought-provoking theatrical experience. Respect to Hugh Whitemore for making a play that was not really (when you come to think of it,) a play. It was a portrait through time and verse. The poems recited were beautiful.

Not to compare myself with the great Stevie Smith, I nevertheless identified with the issue of suburban living. Can you really count as a great poet (or in my case as any kind of `real` playwright, however narrowly known,)  if you have never lived anywhere but suburbia?

On the way home I wracked my brains and remembered with some relief that for six months in 1967, I inhabited a corrugated tin hut on a flat roof at Number 23 Street of the Prophets in Jerusalem. I sat down daily at a rickety table with my  Olivetti Portable to write stories. The house was an old Arab house with a paved courtyard. On the ground floor lived the landlady, who name I don`t remember, but I remember her German or Russian accent, and her granddaughter collecting her in a taxi. I remember watching from my attic window the tall Israeli teenager holding the arm of the elderly woman whose high heels kept tripping her on the cobbles. 

On the middle floor lived two girls, or young women, about my age (22) and one of them, I think a Swiss girl, had an abortion or a heavy period in the big old bath that we shared. I recall there being blood in the bath. On the ground floor lived an Englishman called Paul or Ian, who read the news on Israel radio. I remember sitting on the windowsill in his room talking about his philosophy and the meaning of life. I think he was a 1960`s Bhuddist, and I identified him at the time as a mystic. He didn`t believe in material possessions, but I do recall he had a pan in which he could boil an egg.

During these months I got a job in a bookshop in Jerusalem. Steimatzky`s. But it came about that I lost that job, because at the back of the shop was a wonderul storeroom, and I used to climb a ladder placed there, it seemed, for my convenience, sit at the top of it and read. I remember the two books I was reading when somehow my time for working there began to draw to a close. The Diary of Nijinski. And Pirandello`s play Henry the Fourth.

Rembering how unsuburban I was for those few months cheered me up!

To be continued....

 

2 years 43 weeks ago

Getting back to work and into circulation again after several weeks of unpleasant post-viral diminution in stamina.  The good thing to come out of this is that the new play Not Me, is going well again. 

For reading I have loved The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt - her previous book What I Loved also had me riveted. Not to mention her non-fiction book The Shaking Woman. I seem to be a real fan. While gorging myself on The Blazing World I was aware of many reasons why I ought not to be enjoying it as much as I was. But my reading self entered a mode of denial and said to me - keep going, because you love this way of writing, and thinking. Like What I Loved, it made me want (simultaneously) to take up residence in New York, and never to set foot in the city again.  But as ambivalence as a state of being seems to be prevalent in this author`s work, my split reaction seemed appropriate. 

3 years 1 week ago

I`ve been intensely occupied with my oldnew play, still with working title Not Me. What with family, friends and the festive season, I`ve hardly read a book or seen a play. 

This afternoon that changed. At one o`clock I called The Bush to hear that yes there may be returns for the matinee of Visitors, provided we queue for them in person. But we`re not on the tube yet, I cried! Can`t you write our names on your list, and keep them for us...

Thank you, Kind Young Man at Box Office. You must have known we would be exceptionally appreciative of this play. A gem. So old-fashioned, done with minimal simple set, in a naturalistic style, the only slightly non-naturalistic element being Edie`s delivery of an almost spiritual poem at the end.

Edie, played by Linda Bassett, was a woman suffering from early stage dementia. Arthur  - Robin Soans, was her farmer husband, and Stephen - Simon Muller, their insurance agent son. A disppointment to them and to himself, it seemed. Kate - Eleanor Wyld - came on board as a lodger/helper, and we had all we needed to convince us that life is strange, difficult, sometimes tragic, and ends in death, but that being invited to observe at close hand, in careful emotional detail, the colours and shapes of some of its saddest journeys, can feel indescribably rewarding. This is the magic of live theatre, that no internet, film, television, medium can equal.

I am currently arguing with myself (and my characters) just how far I can let the themes and issues of Not Me play out through nothing more than `conversation` between the characters. Visitors strengethened my  resolve to keep going with it. 

We sat next to an American woman. She belonged to a group based in Florida of almost fifty people who come to London each January, with a brief to see fourteen plays in fourteen days. Then they go back, and meet to discuss them all! 

3 years 5 weeks ago

Saw Great Britain by Richard Bean last night, and, along with my three companions, was disappointed by it. In fact you could say we were fiercely critical and unable to comprehend the rave reviews which had impelled these Manchester friends, visiting London, to choose this play.

However, on the tube on the way to N12, as we talked loudly about it an elegant woman sitting next to me asked which play we were talking about. Turned out she was a journalist, had worked in print, and now was at the BBC. She assured us her friends and colleagues, who had all seen the play at The National with Billy Piper, found it superb. Entertaining, witty, of the moment.

Can a great play be both of the moment and timeless? I was reminded of a workshop to which I was once invited, at which 3 younger writers and I all produced twenty minutes of script on a certain topic. My script consisted of a scene in which two sisters talked. The other three writers produced terse, tight, lines, never longer than 5 or 6 words, in which `fuck` `shit` and the rest figured consistently. 

Have I blogged this tale before? Maybe. Eventually, possibly embarrased by the differences in writing styles, the oldest member the company mused as follows: well, he said, there are plays, of course in which people just come onto the stage and start talking. Take, for example someone like Chekhov. He did that.

 

3 years 7 weeks ago

Yes yes yes. I`m getting  further into play - scene four coming up. Following the current fashion so it will be an hour and twenty five minutes with no interval. Where did such a fashion spring from? Still no title for it, and given that it is a splicing of two earlier plays, Not Me, and Remedies, still some uncertainty.  Particularly as the play is about uncertainty. 

Last night saw Wildefire at Hampstead Theatre. My ears suffered for it. I have never met an actor or director who hasn`t insisted that shouting is not the way to convey passion, violence, anything really on stage. And Wildefire by Roy Williams is written with great conviction. And some of what failed to please me was simply - differences in taste of what you like to see on a stage. I was once invited to a workshop with a small company, and the three other writers produced openings in which every third word was fuck and no line longer than six words. My style stood out a mile - until someone there, the oldest actor in this company, said soothingly, as if to comfort me: well, of course there are plays in which people just come on and start talking. He added, thoughtfully: like, say, plays by Chekhov....

But back to the shouting question. The passionate voice of the playwright Roy Williams, telling us all is not well in London, was blunted, for me, by the noise which almost never abated. 

And why was the brilliant Lorraine Stanley not on the cover of the programme? Nothing against the pretty young policewoman who was..But. 

3 years 7 weeks ago

I`m returning to my blog and website after a break. It`s been a period of great activity, actually, but the reporting instinct seemed to have left me for a while.

The other day we saw Electra at the Old Vic, and loved it. Intense, exhausting.  

I`m happy to have returned to work on an old/new play, whose previous two versions were called Not Me and Remedies respectively. New characters, but same theme/s. This time it is going well, but has no title. 

One thing I have finally learned to do in London is: read on the tube while ignoring everyone else. Currently reading Unexploded by Alison Macleod. Set in Brighton it reminds me of the fact that we keep planning to revisit the place. 

 

Copyright © 2010 Deborah Freeman
Designed by BOSSco