Anita MacCallum’s blog | Write to Play year 6

By Anita MacCallum, May, 16 2019

Time in the dark

Since we last met up, each writer has been given a mentor and told to write a monologue.

This is basically what’s been going on inside my head:

‘I don’t have a voice. I don’t have a voice. I don’t have a voice. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. No-one cares. Everything I do is shit.’

Read that to yourself for 24 hours while trying to look after children and go to work and you might have a PG version of the background noise in my brain. After an intense few weeks of intrusive thoughts, I made the superhuman effort of using this time in the dark as research for a character. I decided, as I came up for air, that I might as well put some words on a page. I emailed my mentor, Toby Hulse, with an idea, fully expecting him to contact Graeae and tell them I really needed to be admitted to hospital before never speaking to me again. That didn’t happen. I wrote a monologue. I didn’t die.

‘Possibly, then, writing has to do with darkness, and a desire or perhaps a compulsion to enter it, and, with luck, to illuminate it, and to bring something back out to the light.’­­— Margaret Atwood

I’ve just come back from seeing all the monologues being performed at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton. All the writers are still alive.

The five monologues, embodied and performed by actors Chloe Clark, Siobhan Ashwall and Milton Lopes, were completely different from each other. It was clear to me who wrote what, and the strength and individuality of voice from each writer were powerful. It felt to me each monologue had a commitment to challenging the standard cultural narrative.

‘If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.’Aude Lorde

It reminded me that no matter what I have to say and write about, it will be unique. A unique voice that creates a mirror for someone else in the world who spends time living in the dark.

Duologues next.