The Winterfood Diaries

The Winterfood Diaries

Thursday, 19 January 1989

Brokering a Deal

‘Living In China’ – Men Without Hats



The writing of THE CHINESE PLAY was finally completed one afternoon in a lot less time than it really ought to have taken.  Discipline is a vital thing and it really has sink in that we must all use the time we have at our disposal to get work done.  I say this because I ought to adopt that philosophy myself, given that the writing of the play has been, to all intents + purposes, a bit of a ‘rush job’.


The script will develop further though, once I start working with the actors.



Flash, age 17, is a ‘normal’ youngster; true, he’s obsessed with cult TV such as the 1960s show The Prisoner and the long-running Doctor Who, and he’s also a little shaky when it comes to so-called ‘real life, but otherwise he’s just fine, thank you.


He lives with his mother, Geraldine, in West Yorkshire and goes to college close by.  His best friend, Richard, lives over 100 miles away in East Anglia, but he often visits.  His local friends include: Jon (who obtains vintage Doctor Who videos for him); Amanda (Flash’s goth girlfriend); Eddie (an obnoxious lying sort who fancies Amanda).  And because Amanda gets picked on for being slightly weird, so does Flash – by a gang of ‘hards’ led by Jo Stenton.


Most importantly, every Friday night, Flash goes to Lola’s Chinese Take-Away for his and his Geraldine’s tea.


The play opens in November 1988, with Flash having a regular kind of day full of infuriating nosebleeds and Jon ringing every ten minutes.  Then Geraldine tells him to order a Chinese meal.  Flash rings Lola’s and orders a meal to be collected in 15 minutes.  A quarter of an hour later in the shop, he is told that his order has already been collected – by someone else – and this unsettles him quite severely, and the subsequent paranoia and intrigue leads Flash into a great deal of trouble both in reality and within his mind.


The play will be performed using naturalistic acting, alienation techniques, choreography, dream sequences, music, flashbacks and some mime.  It will also draw on imagery from 60s cult TV, most notably Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner.



Now I’ve written it, THE CHINESE PLAY seems like too much of a ‘statement’ to me.  It’s too late to change it, but it really does look a bit too much like Ritcherd J. Winterfood saying: ‘This is me!  I’m writing a play!  Look!’  I would rather it were something else now.  This is not to say that I absolutely hate it, because that’s not so; the script actually has an endearing, charming quality.  And though it’s not strictly a comedy, it is quite funny.  Equally, as a biography of an un-famous person it is probably a unique entity.  But I would have preferred to have the ability and experience to have produced something deeper and more beautiful; something that dealt with raw and passionate emotions.  I am almost tempted to use a pseudonym.  We’ll see.



It’s already clear I have taken too much on at once, being writer, director, producer and actor.  It looks like Donna Davidson also feels she’s taken too much on.  But I have jumped in with both feet – and arms – even if it is my first such project, and this is necessary as I feel unable to surrender the work to those who have no interest in my ultimate vision for it.



It is ten minutes past eight.



‘When Love Walks In’ – Mick Karn


Dear diary: yet another day.  This one started with me writing the publicity blurb for THE CHINESE PLAY to present to the Guildhall/Fermoy Centre’s Damaris Grenfell.  This was followed by a rather co-operative rehearsal of Scene Two.  Jonny and Jamie responded well to direction + Donna was very useful as an objective voice.


Oh.  Elisabeth Sladen’s on THE BILL right now.  Looks a bit skeletal.


At lunchtime, Donna and I took tea with Mrs Grenfell in the offices of the Guildhall + discussed our forthcoming presentation of The Chinese Play:  50% box office split; college to provide posters, fliers + programmes; theatre to provide ticketing + Front of House; rehearsal space (one day) will be provided by the theatre free of charge; performances to take place on May 9th + 10th (with support of TS2). 


The show dates required a little bit of wheeling and dealing from myself.  Mrs Grenfell wanted us to do matinees, but I think evening shows will look more attractive to the public.  I prefer the idea of evening shows myself and there’s actually a scene of nudity in it if that makes any difference.  Not that we’ll necessary use it in the end, but you never know.


It has also been agreed that even though there will be another drama department play beforehand, THE CHINESE PLAY will headline, getting full and prominent billing and both shows will be presented by ‘the Situation Theatre Company’ so as to avoid it looking like an amateur college double-bill.


Progress is made.  Here comes THE CHINESE PLAY.


‘Two Hearts’ – Phil Collins


Oh god, I was walking by the college Sports Centre with Donna when, suddenly, the glass door – that Donna and I were about two feet away from – was thrust back by an emerging patron.  As it swung, it bent, alarmingly, and then exploded into shattering fragments that blew all around us.  It did us no physical harm, but we were dead stunned.


This afternoon, singing lessons went well; my voice was the best it’s been so far.  Unfortunately, due to CHINESE PLAY commitments, I have no singing role in BLOOD WEDDING.  I have been given the post of Publicity Officer and am not pleased (as if that will be somehow less time-consuming?!).  Apparently we’re also going to be producing a production of ROCKY HORROR or GREASE at Easter, I’m not sure which, or even if I’ll be involved in any way.


I have made more progress in Singing.




Ritcherd xxx 



[Images subject to control of individual Copyright Holders including works originated by Elton Townend Jones, but excluding any images or design attributed to ‘The Situation’ which are copyright of The Situation (see specific acknowledgements in the ‘Thanks to…’section below) / ‘Berwin Groomstool’ is an iteration of the Situation character ‘William Whicker’ and falls under joint copyright of Elton Townend Jones and Waen Shepherd / Based on true events and designed as a study of parochial British cultural and emotional life in the late 20th century, this blog is a work of fiction – cultural icons excluded, all characters and incidents featured are entirely fictional / This blog is non-profit; all video clips are used for illustrative purposes and always come from YouTube / No copyright infringement is intended – just trying to get things into context. Never forget: no man is an island. If you think anything I’ve used is damaging you in any way, please comment and immediate action will be taken to minimise offence / This notice was amended on 1 July 2012 and is intended to cover this and all posts on that precede it]


Next time: ‘Four to Doomsday…’

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