Me and my band finished touring Burning Books in December last year and as soon as we did the last gig at Rich Mix in Bethanl Green I immediately knew I wasn't ready to put it on the shelf yet. I felt that there were still stories to tell, characters to be explored and possibly most importantly, battles and unfairnesses to keep fighting.
At the beginning of this year I started to put together an Arts Council application to fund the research and development for a stage play adaptation of Burning Books. I had slightly less support on this application than the last one (by my own choice - I wanted to see if I'd got the knack of ACE speak yet) so was very nervous about it but at the end of March I got the email to say that the application had been approved.
So this is what's happening...
I went on an Arvon Course at the Hurst in Shropshire last week which was brilliant. I would recommend them to everyone, if not just for the time and space to write. The Hurst is playwright, John Osborne's old house and it's in the middle of beautiful countryside - I had lambs galloping around outside my window and everything. I managed to write half of the first draft which felt like a big achievement and a momentum which I'm hoping to keep up this week - although looking out at my own back yard is mildly less inspiring than rolling Shropshire hills.
I'm really keen to hear from as many teachers and people who work in education as possible which is something I've been plugging on Twitter and Facebook the past couple of weeks. I've had responses from local people who are coming along to focus groups on the 3rd and 11th May at The Exchange on Rutland Street in Leicester and people from further afield (as far as Thailand!) who are going to be involved remotely. Anyone who's involved gets access to drafts as I'm writing them, a pdf copy of the final script and an invite to a scratch in October.
I'm hoping to get the first draft done over the next couple of weeks and have it tightened up for the workshopping process with my director and actors at the beginning of June.
From June until the end of September I'll be workshopping and redrafting ready for a scratch at the beginning of October at Curve Theatre.
If you work in a school and you'd like to be involved in the process please do get in touch either by email email@example.com or on Twitter @jessgreenpoet