Reworking Venus

March 29, 2011

I’ll be performing the full version of ‘The Venus Papers’ on June the 3rd, at The Guildhall in Derby, and have been reworking the very first section in preparation.

We did a 30 minute extract in Leicester, last December because ‘Apples and Snakes’ (a London based poetry organisation) wanted to come and have a look…. In someways this was challenging, as at the time we were still in the process of putting the full length thing together.

In other ways though, it was quite helpful because it gave us – and me – the chance to see what worked, and what could do with a bit of development.

On the night we left out comments books and though the feedback was stupidly positive, I was aware that what the whole show – when inevitably precised for the stage – could do with a bit more of a heads up on the mythological background…ie: the story I discovered when researching into Venus…that she was basically the Eastenders style offspring of an unfortunate castration…

Gaia (Venus’ kind of mother) put Cronus (Gaia’s kind of youngest) up to castrating Uranus (Venus’ kind of father). From the blood of the deed came The Furies…and from the actual thing, came Venus.

Ah – mythology.

This is the new opening. The first bit will be in voiceover. The second bit will be the first thing I actually say on stage, standing in front of the 2 metre scallop shell, that is currently lounging on the single bed in my spare room…


What if Venus,
The Roman Goddess of Love and Beauty
washed up on a beach
in the 21st century?

Would she think of her mother,
Gaia, mamma mia
Would she think of her father
Uranus, the great.

Would she remember how Chronus
her brother had taken
the sickle from Gaia
and castrated their dad…

No pun intended:
castrated Uranus –
would she remember how she
had been born
from the cut?


When I leave this beach
will I walk past windows wide as liners,
hung with garments made in China,
with it’s tea chests of coral
and coastlines like scarves?

Will ballgowns fall down
from skies like oceans
negligees levitate
like mystical icons?
will I unfurl dresses,
clean as sails
black as sharks?

I’ve seen the pages
wash up on the tide
their beautiful faces
their tumbling smiles

I could almost forget the fate of my father
cut up and locked down under the seabed.
Mine was hardly an immaculate conception
but here I am, and everything’s beckoning.

Will ballgowns fall down
from skies like parasols?
Will negligees levitate
like wandering matadors?

Will I tie them
round my shell
make a home
from silk and veils
sleep each night –
like a princess
in a fairytale?


Back to me and out of poetry.

Much happier with this beginning, but will look at it more in the week. The whole show is trying to explore feminism in the 21st century …which I realise may sound a little worthy. However, the poems to follow include Venus walking into a bar, getting a job as a glamour model and spending time in Primark – so hopefully something for everyone 🙂

Later there’s a poem to Gaia, lamenting her (given the above) entirely predictable but dysfunctional parenting… and a poem to Uranus (of the name to double entendre, as mash is to sausages).

So, in all, hopefully, a logical beginning


How to Procrastinate

March 8, 2011

Day after tomorrow, I’ll be performing a short extract of ‘The Venus Papers’ in London, over at the Vibe Bar on Brick Lane. REALLY, I should be rehearsing, but lately I seem to be going through an odd patch with doing so.

Once I get going, I usually enjoy it. I get to hear all the poems I’ve written again, discover new things about them, and find new ways to perform them. For instance, recently I’ve been thinking about how to adapt the on stage costume changes, to a bar situation. I’ve been working on specific sequences of alteration and going over each one whilst focusing on different sentences. If that doesn’t sound too poncy.

The problem is though, if I know a set of poems really well, it doesn’t always feel as necessary as it would have if, er, I didn’t.

I worry about knocking the energy out of the pieces – becoming so familiar with the words that they won’t sound fresh and spontaneous when I perform them in front of an audience. I worry about becoming used to speaking and moving in a set way, rather than coming to them fresh each time. If the Stanislavski ideal is to ‘be in the moment’ – and communicate each word, as if for the first time, couldn’t too much rehearsing be a bad thing?

With this in mind I have, since coming home today, done the following 3 things:

1. Complained about the sauna not working in my gym. And the running machine. And the cross trainer..
2. Rung my bank (after opening ANOTHER letter offering me ANOTHER free loan) and requested that they REMOVE me from their mailing list.
3. Written several emails. Drunk several cups of tea. Had some Nutella on toast. Written half a blog post…

It does of course occur to me that all of this rationalisation around the perils of over rehearsing…complaining to the man, drinking of tea and writing online… might just signal a new high in my talent for procrastination…

For example, in addition to my earnest School of Stanislavski Methodology, other reasons for not rehearsing include:

I have toothache
I’m a bit cold
I’m a bit thirsty
Someone wants to talk to me online

Hm. Stil though. It’s all worth bearing in mind. And I DO think there is such a thing as over rehearsing.

Probably, when it comes to preparing for a performance, the ideal is some kind of happy medium between not rehearsing much, and rehearsing loads and loads.

Probably, it’s very important to spend a portion of your time on the phone, complaining to your bank. And tea and Nutella are good for most things.

And there is one good thing about procrastinating. After you’ve done it for a good length of time, a change is as good as a rest. And that’s when you know it’s time to do the thing you’ve been procrastinating over. And then, doing that thing feels like the perfect, perfect thing to do. And all that procrastination feels well and truly worth it. Almost moral.

So, where’s that Venus dress. I’ll just stick the kettle on while I look for it..