Tuesday 24 September 2019

New Sightings of Granny, by Saviour Pirotta

My July post about Granny's Exploding Toilet got a lot of hits and some really nice comments, so I thought I'd keep you all up to date with Granny Josephine's progress through Theatreland.  The play has now been cast and the actors contracted.  There's been a read-through of the script. The actors loved it and I only had to change a few words here and there (I wrote three versions of the script before I felt confident to show it to the SJT.) I also ditched some jokes that worked well on paper but didn't translate to the stage.

The number of songs in the play increased from three to seven to ten, which makes the show practically a musical. I'd never written a song before, so I wasn't sure I could do it, but Granny must be showering me with blessings from that great high-security jail in the sky. I enjoyed writing lyrics and the composer is setting them to music as we speak.

This morning I met Julia Wray, the set designer. I loved her maquette of Granny's Street, which reminded me of Staithes, the little fishing village outside Scarborough. I have spent some happy weekends there. The painter Dame Laura Knight lived there for a while as part of the Staithes Group. The local women used to ply her with tragic stories of their husbands' demise at sea and she, in turn, would ply them with expensive brandy to calm them down. I don't think she ever found out the stories where all made up. Those women were kindred spirits of my own granny who, I'm sure, would have hoodwinked Laura Knight out of her entire wine cellar.

The main set changes to show a haunted cinema, a disused pub, a prison laundry and a public loo where the climatic scene happens.  (yup, the title of the piece is literal; you have been warned.)

Writing a book is collaborative. The author works with the editor, the designer, the illustrator and finally with the people in the publisher's pr department. Writing for theatre takes collaboration to a whole new level, though. Once the director has set out her vision and the designers, lighting people, actors and musicians bring their own particular skills to the project, the work becomes very much an ensemble project. It's so exciting seeing it take on a life of its own, growing in ways I could never even envisage. The story of Grandma's Exploding Toilet remains mine, of course, mine and Nanna Josephine (Guzeppa in her native language). Let's hope she's not smoking in the loo up there. 

GRANNY'S EXPLODING TOILET premieres at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough on the 29th of October and runs till the 2nd November. Book your tickets here

Read my first post about Granny here.

Saviour's latest book, The Stolen Spear is out now. His The Golden Horsemen of Baghdad is nominated for the Lancashire Fabulous Book Awards 2019/2020 and shortlisted for the North Somerset Teachers' Book Award.

Follow Saviour on Twitter @spirotta.

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