I guess for marketing reasons if nothing else, it’s time to start writing about the big writing project ‘going down’ in Messingham Town. It's a long blog 'cos it's the first one.
There have been rumours and now I can confirm: yes, I am putting on a comedy musical play inspired by the great Brit-shit Joan Collins movie The Stud. Funny, passionate and, yes, just a little bit naughty.
We’re called Disco Bianco and we’ll be previewing in May at the Brighton Fringe at the Komedia before moving on to a more regular home at a wonderful real disco called Funky Fish.
We’ve got a beautiful sexy cast, great dancing and some brand new original, but perhaps nonetheless rather familiar sounding disco tunes composed by the wonderful Perrier award winning Waen Shepherd himself.
So here’s the blog about what it’s all about. Cinzano Bianco all round – just don’t spill it down her blouse!
I’m not going to bang on about The Stud. It was a naughty film back in the 1978, and I remember as a vile little boy reading through the novelisation in my local bookshop. I say reading; basically staring at the photos stuck in the middle. The Stud seemed to me the epitome of sexy glamour (and in a weird way, still does). I am ill.
Anyway, The Stud, which I’m not going to bang on about. When I finally got to see the movie a few years ago, I had a mixed reaction. On the one hand I could tell it was dreadful. It was also utterly unsexy.
On the other hand, as a fan of William Friedkin films, I genuinely had the impression there was talent here; that somehow the film-makers were making the ultimate alienating 70s movie. I mean: surely mere ineptitude can’t explain why you open on a starkly lit midriff shot of a woman awkwardly pulling on her pants… Can’t explain why the soundtrack is so loud (with such giants of the dancefloor as Biddu, Leo Sayer and Hot Chocolate) you can catch only fragments of dialogue. Can’t explain why Joan Collins looks so tired and there’s no third act.
A little bit of me thinks they meant this, that they were making a statement about the sin of glamour by presenting it in such an unflattering way. Enough already. I was hooked: either The Stud is brilliantly awful or it’s a brilliant piece of Hogarthian satire. I don’t see why it can’t be both. And if you want to see a genuine piece of shit, watch the sequel: ‘The Bitch’ and compare the two.
And in fact, the story is absolutely sound. Except there’s no third act. It’s Faust, it’s Pygmalion – with a boy who’s plucked from the gutter, makes a deal with the devil (or Joan Collins) given everything he wants and finds out he doesn’t want it. Falls in love and is brutally betrayed; ending up by walking out into a new life. There’s an archetype there if you want it. And I want it. In all its grubby cheap glitzy glory I want it. And I wrote the third act.
I originally wrote Disco Bianco – then called The Disco – as a four part TV series with input from my friend Mr. Alex Kirk. The BBC sort of liked it but didn’t like what they saw as a lack of likeable characters. I tried putting likeable characters in but they were so boring. I preferred empathetic characters… and I’ll stop there about technical writing stuff.
In March I won the Live Ammunition! Pitch festival (well, runner-up, same thing) and got a batch of books about how to make no-budget films. Disco was perfect.
At the time I was trying to get a short film together: one woman in a room; nice and cheap and easy. Only in July I was cast by my friend Christopher Regan in his no-budget movie. This was so wildly, ridiculously ambitious I immediately junked my boring one-woman-in-a-flat short and decided on Disco, which I then rewrote the thing as a low-budget movie.
Only something was bugging me. Back in the summer (seems so long ago now, boo hoo) – I’d bumped into a producer friend and her writing partner who told me about this play they had written. A play designed to sell to Bill Kenwright or somebody rich; which could go on tour and make some money. Really commercial, really fun. And I guess that idea stayed with me.
So, I rewrote the thing as a play. I didn’t (and still don’t) think I could lose: rewrites always help. Okay, putting a play on of this size was unfamiliar territory but I could get round the frustrating and pointless task of trying to get film companies to read scripts by having something to show them. I could also market the idea and see what it looked like.
Funnily enough, although I originally planned to follow my producer friends show; she’s now producing Disco Bianco – I think to see how we do it; if we do it; and steal all the good bits. Say hello: Ann Feloy!
LET’S PUT ON A SHOW
And that’s where we are now. Except that was four months ago and since then I’ve been casting and rehearsing and sorting and convincing people to give up their time to get involved.
There’s lots of stuff to discuss: managing to get the brilliant Waen Shepherd to agree to write some great cheesy songs that sound like disco songs from 1978 you know but aren’t – (you should hear La La Lenin. You really should. Boney M did cut that single, I swear it).
This week I’ve locked down a cast – my word they’re talented AND good-looking. Bastards. And we’re about to start the publicity machine. Our dates are booked for the Brighton Fringe and we’re definitely committed.
It’s going to be scary. I don’t know if we’ll succeed. There’s lots to talk about. Lots to blog about. Stay with me. Please. I need you. Really I do. Right now.
So come on down to Disco Bianco. Where The Stud and The Bitch collide.
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