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The write stuff

Jonathan Kaufman 4 June 2019

I teach writing. And I’m frequently asked by my students where I get my ideas from. And what’s the secret to getting something finished? Both very difficult questions to answer – but my usual responses are ‘from the world around me’ and ‘give yourself a deadline.

So let me elaborate…the world is full of stories, current affairs, personal anecdotes, other people’s stories…the trick is to find the one that really engages you as a writer. We all have an urge to tell stories, turning them into something concrete is another matter altogether.

As a theatre producer/director, what works for me is setting myself an opening date, by which a script not only has to be finished, but rehearsed! I then work backwards from there…writing a script for our regular theatre shows usually takes me a few weeks. In most cases, I’m adapting a well-known fairy tale – in which case I like to make notes on the key story elements, and consider how best to stage the story with a small cast. And I enjoy collaboration – previously I worked with brother Julian on Jack and the Beanstalk, composer Paul Tornbohm on Goldilocks and The Little Mermaid, with sister Lucy on Cinderella, and with Blue Mountain Theatre Company’s Lavern Archer on Anansi the Spider.

Valeria Iacampo

After my forthcoming Alice in Wonderland (which is just about finished, and starts rehearsing first week of July), is my new adaptation of Pinocchio. For this one I’m teaming up with Italian dancer and performer Valeria Iacampo – who will be playing the wooden puppet who wanted to be a real boy in September.

At the moment, we’re thinking about staging the show as a ballet, with plenty of puppetry, music, songs and comic routines of course! Based faithfully on Carlo Collodi’s original novel, we’ll be whisking the audience to 19th century Florence – so expect a really authentic Italian flavour to the show!

Now, better get on with that script…