14th Tale Special - Scratch 1 Person Narrative Performance for The BAC. THE 14TH TALE - Hey folks, 'tis been bout three weeks since we spoke, but a hell of a month already. Every moment I get away from the computer, I spend it committing the 40 minute script of the 14th Tale to memory...
The script itself has been written, re written and thrown away exactly five time. The first narrative was to be based on the Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales and I created the character of a magical African story teller to deliver the story on stage. If this was a MARVEL film, the storyteller / narrator would be the HULK and I'd be the man who becomes the beast, Bruce Banner. But just as the American Military forces found, the beast is untameable and must be left alone.
Okay I exaggerate. I love the character and will definitely use him for future works, but I found no way to sustain an engaging, hour long narrative with his voice so though it hurt, desperately, I put him to the side and tried a different approach... to write about the man behind the beast, about Bruce Banner.... about myself.
For me, there has been nothing more difficult than this. I sat for long whiles staring at Virginia (my laptop), Virginia staring back with sympathy as I thought about my experiences, what could tie things together, searching for a beginning and end, moments poignant enough for poetry and for a story. By the 5th script, I considered throwing the towel in. My mentor swore at me saying 'you ain't throwing shit, get back to it...' so I faced the Virginia again thinking 'how did I get myself in this', and a seed was sown...
I thought about all the times that phrase had passed my lips 'how did I get myself in this?', about all the trouble I caused as boy. From the four year old who short-circuited the house with a silver spoon and a Betamax Video player, to throwing tantrums in Nigeria, halting an entire 700 student strong assembly, because I did not win an award and my twin sister did, to being chased through a jungle by a crazed French teacher called, I kid you not, Monsieur Bat Cock! I became obsessed with this, spent stupid hours laughing to myself till I began to take it seriously as a concept.
One evening, I sat with my father and asked him questions about myself growing up, and realised that he had been just as troublesome in his youth, and his father had been before him... I saw a pattern, saw a first line, scribbled it and the story begins thus:
“I'm from a long line of trouble makers, of ash skinned Africans, born with clenched fists and a natural thirst for battle, only quenched by breast milk. They’d suckle as if the white silk sliding between gums were liquid peace treaties written from mums. Their small thumbs would dimple the soft mounds of brown flesh, goose-pimple chests till the ceasefire of sleep would creep into eyes, they’d keep till the moon sets...”
At the BAC, I will be showing the first 35 - 40 minutes of the script. I hope it will be as entertaining for you as it has been for me to write. Please, Keep the 31st of July, 1st or 2nd of August free, come and check out where I'm from.
Date: 31 July, 1 & 2 August Time: 8pm Cost £5/£3 Venue: The BAC // Lavender Hill, Battersea, London, SW11 5TN Box Office : 02072232223 http://www.bac.org.uk
LONDON LITERATURE FEST P.s. I will be performing about 10 minutes of the story at the London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre. I will share a stage with Charlie Dark and Bries, legends of poetry. Date: 13th of July, 6pm, Purcell Rooms, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Talking Tongues
P.P.s Thanks so much for those who have bought the Limited Edition CDs. Out of the 50 handmade copies, 31 have been sold, 19 are left and they are going fast. To see how they are made, please go to http://tinyurl.com/3jeuhh. Thanks.
See you soon.