I feel that the way we are making sense of the world is changing. The neat narrative arcs that have helped us make sense of life thus far, are making way to a more open ended stories.
My experience with technology tells me that narratives these days seem more like a computer game; where we are able to move off in multiple directions by a simple click.
These are the kind of stories that I like writing.
In the digital age, fragments of information rule, and I believe the role of modern theatre is to bring together these fragments into a space where we can examine them, sat together using in our collective humanity to help each other understand what the hell we are going through.
Below you will see the productions I have been able, with much support bring to the stage.
It is strange has this play has crept up and taken hold of my year. The 20th of July saw the World Premiere of 'Il Letto' at the Buxton Opera Festival. It went down a storm, with two curtain calls and only one elder caught napping! As always it was odd hearing the words that I wrote in the very early mornings coming out of people's mouths is very uncanny. The performers did so well. So close to you There were tears in people's eyes, and I think that I did the events some justice. I hope so. I wonder what Elvira thinks.
It is now going to be part of the Grimeborn Opera Festival. It all seems amazing to me. But before that to Copenhagen. Where I will be meeting my sister and family. 2017 is very unexpected.
Theatre 503 sent four writers into the community to come back with stories. I was lucky enough to be sent to St Georges and also the Wandsworth Food Bank. The story that came back - was Cassie and Corey. It was a play that because of my struggles with weight, I was uniquely in a position to write. Here is what it was about.
How are we changed by our experience of poverty? How are we changed by our experience of starvation? How it is that people can still starve to death when they are in fact surrounded by so much food? How is it that such poverty and such wealth can co-exist? How is it that no matter how many chicken wings you eat, you will never fly? These questions and more are asked in ‘Cassie and Corey’ the story of two teenagers brought together in a London eating disorder clinic.
It is the night before his gastric sleeve operation and Corey doesn’t want to go through with it. He is terrified. It doesn’t matter though, because Corey has a plan. He doesn’t need an operation, he needs his friend Cassie with whom he writes rhymes, to come with him to open auditions at the Brit School. If they get in, then he knows their lives will change for the better. He steals a mobility scooter, and surprises Cassie by arriving at her front door in the middle of the night. Reluctantly Cassie agrees to go with him, whilst all the time knowing that they have to go back to the hospital or Corey’s problems will only get worse. She has to sabotage the journey.
What follows is a picaresque journey through the streets of south London. A montage of fast food outlets, nail bars and booze shops. On their way to the Brit School, Cassie and Corey accidentally hold up a Tesco Express, destroy a teenager anti-loitering device that deafens young people, whilst at the same time, designing a new flag for Britain. ‘Cassie and Corey’ is a journey that pushes us from our predictable paths, and jolts us into a new understanding of the pressures facing our young people.
'The evening kicks off with Cassie and Corey by Christopher Hogg – an inventive and refreshing piece of theatre. From the ingenious location to the contrasting characters of Corey (Gabriel Akamo) and Cassie (Harriet Main) we never know where this play is going next. It’s a perfect mish mash of ideas and form with a stand out turn from Stanton Plummer-Cambridge as Jason a zero hours contract Tesco’s security guard. This is fantastic joyful writing about hard subject matter – and all the better for it.' Roz Wylie - TheatreLondon1
Flatmates V Zombies ran in the Summer of 2013. It was my first attempt at writing a musical, and for a first go it was good. Sometimes not knowing the rules is a very good thing. It means you create something different, and Flatmates V Zombies is very different. Nothing quite like a Korean K-pop Zombie Musical is there.
The musical is a collaboration between London and Seoul, and was deemed to be a 'highlight' of 'Camden Fringe in 2013. Since then, we are very grateful have received a research grant from the Arts Council, and will be going to Korea for workshops in July 2016. Flatmates V Zombies 2 will have rehearsed readings in London and Seoul in August 2016.
David Rathband's story is very important to me. I followed his story from afar, whilst I had my own troubles to deal with. I have spent nearly three years working on this play. It received an industry reading at the Arcola Theatre in January 2015. It was received very well. I continue to work on the final act, ahead of another industry reading in late 2016.
The play is about PC David Rathband, the Northumbrian police officer blinded when shot in the face by Raoul Moat, and the story of his wife Kath. The play spans the themes of blindness, mental health, love, ethics and philosophies around the use of social media. The play uses the vapour trail of digital fragments that PC Rathband left online to tell what happened in his last 20 months. It asks whether the trail of data we leave, becomes our blackbox flight recorder when we die.