Posts Tagged ‘magic’

I am back from lovely Northumberland – it was too short a break really, but we squeezed it in between various things and were lucky to get any time away, to be honest.

I said I’d tell you about my theatre trip when I got back so here goes…

The Royal Shakespeare Company have been touring the UK with a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and we got tickets for 23 April, which was the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.   The performance has used local theatre groups to fill certain roles around the country, and the performance we went to see was no different.

Except that it was: for the first time ever recorded, a woman played the part of Bottom.  Not only was this historically significant but the part was brilliantly performed by an amateur, not a member of the RSC cast.

The local performers were great – I wasn’t sure when I heard about it how well it would work but for our performance they were brilliant, and had the audience in stitches.  Interesting phrase that, by the way: current usage is relatively modern but an earlier version was used by Shakespeare in Twelfth Night, so it seems appropriate!

The staging was completely different from any other version of Midsummer I’ve seen – no trees, forests, flowers but what looked like a bombed out building.  Reading the programme I understood why but it did give the performance a different feel from normal.

So there you have it, in a nutshell.

I find myself reflecting on elements of a performance long after the play has finished.  There is generally one scene or image that floats in my mind and settles into the memory bank more strongly than others.  Sometimes it is obvious why – Idina Menzel rising over the stage singing ‘Defying Gravity‘ was a pretty theatrical image! – but sometimes it is a simple gesture that tugs at my emotions in a powerful way.  The intimate nature of those moments only works in a theatre for me: even when we’ve been in the cheap seats I have felt connected to the scene before me.

One of my earliest live performance memories was seeing the ballet Swan Lake performed.  It was at a beautiful moated castle and although I was probably only about five I can still close my eyes and see (or imagine I see) the shadows of those dancers pirouetting across the stone walls.  It was magical and dreamlike, and it’s the feeling I am searching for every time I see a play, ballet or show.  I think it’s why certain images stay with me too – they reflect that first memory.

We are all inspired by, or brought joy by, different things – be it music, dance, football, golf, films, gardens.  What is the same is that it makes our lives richer.  We can be transported to another place and we can be genuinely removed from the trials and tribulations of day to day life.  We can be inspired to try things ourselves: I am sure my am dram life is related to my love of the theatre.  We can expand our horizons.

All that from a couple of hours is a pretty good return on investment, don’t you think?

Happy writing,




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Welcome to the first of my new Thoughts on a Thursday, which replace my old inspiration posts.  Some will be more different from those posts than others!

This week is about fairytales.  You probably think of them, if you think of them at all, as children’s stories.  They begin with the words ‘Once upon a time’, those words are like a doorway into a far off magical land, a long time ago.

I love the freedom of ‘once upon a time’; it allows the writer to right the wrongs of society, which you can’t do in realist books.   This may explain my enjoyment of the fantasy and magical realism genres too, both of which allow the reader to suspend their disbelief very admirably!

But there is a huge amount of material within those stories that goes well beyond the happy ever after of some fairytales.   There is danger, violence, cruelty, beauty, goodness, salvation.  There are life and death struggles, persecution and freedom.

And there are outcomes too: fairytales are a form of morality tale, when actions and inaction have consequences.

For example, in the non-Disney Cinderella we see Cinderella abused and mistreated; her step-sisters in their turn were crippled (cutting part of their feet off to fit the golden shoe) and then blinded.

from Childhood’s Favorites and Fairy Stories; Project Gutenberg etext

Of course, not every fairytale is like that, but it is true that they are often quite bleak in tone.  There are blindings, poisonings, immolation, stabbings, imprisonment and many other horrible things – and although most of the time the ‘baddies’ pay for their mistreatment of the ‘goodies’, before this happens the ‘goodies’ suffer greatly.

The book I’ve been reading talks about updating these ideas in paranormal tales, but actually I’m more interested in bringing the morality concepts into realist writing.  The Mysteries of the Greek Detective novels do this really well (well the three that I’ve read so far, anyway!); there is often no legal remedy but there is almost always punishment.

I’ve said before that I like a sense of justice in books and maybe that’s a side-effect of reading The Brothers Grimm as a child!

All in all, there’s a lot of ideas, themes and motifs in fairytales that are worth investigating from a variety of angles – find the right one and your writing ‘once upon a time’ might be much sooner, and much closer, than you think!


I have decided to refer to my reading challenge on separate posts from now on, as they make these posts far too long – I was at about 1000 words with this week’s books covered as well, which is double my intended maximum!

Look out for ‘Challenge Tuesdays’ instead, where I’ll tell you what I’ve read and what I thought of it, and hopefully you can suggest some more things for me to try.

So, until Tuesday, happy writing!



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Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.

This quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe courtesy of Write Attitude

Have a good writing weekend and keep going!



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