Friday, 26 June 2020

Monologue from the Backroom 103: Jules Horne

Part 3 of our Border Trilogy, and our first dramatic monologue. Jules Horne, as the briefest glance at her biography shows, is omni-talented and has a great track record in a variety of forms, predominantly as a playwright. She lives in Yetholm, four miles from the border, solidly and dangerously in the Debatable Lands. She has a few connections with my side of Scotland, however: like me she’s worked with that busy genius Suzanne Parry John, and she was Writer in Residence in Dumfries from 2005-8.  She’s also written about Daft Pate, Kirkpatrick MacMillan, the inventor of the bicycle if you don’t count all the others.

Jules has written plays, poems and fiction in English and Scots. She’s written for the Traverse, Nutshell and Paines Plough and worked as Associate Playwright for Playwrights’ Studio Scotland in the Borders. She is currently on a writing attachment to National Theatre of Scotland and teaches creative writing part-time with the Open University in Scotland. Her first full-length play, 'Gorgeous Avatar', was performed by the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh in 2006, and in Japanese at AI Hall, Itami, Osaka in 2007, and by Heidelberg University's Schauspielgruppe Anglistik in 2008. She has had squillions of plays broadcast on Radio 4 over a number of years and won a Scotsman fringe first in 2011. She also won a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship in 2002. With her dodgy cello she performs on the Spoken Word circuits as 'Rebel Cello'. 

Here she is reading 'Lyceum Letters':

Daft Pate, hurtling about here:

Scottish Chamber Orchestra commission, Three Border Songs, with Suzanne Parry John, can be heard here:

The 'Uncanny Bodies' biomedical project at Edinburgh University here:

Lyceum Letters

Upper Circle Row A Seat 14.

[Character: an audience member from the Borders]

Dear Lyceum,
I was fair sorry to hear aboot yer travails. So I’d thought a’d drop ee a line.
Ee must be guy scunnert. Ah ken a wud be. Sitting aboot, aw din up, aw your ruby, blue, and braw gold getup. Raring for the pairty.

And naebdee turns up.
No a single sowel.

Well, maybe the odd yin gaun aboot. Yon boay wi the beard eer sic guid freens wi. Am wondering how he’s daein. Must be guy scunnert.

Cos it’s his pairty ana. An no just his. The hale building’s pairty. The hale toon’s pairty. Aabody’s pairty. The hale country’s inviteet. Even foke in the Borders getting the train up.

Aw thae invitations oot. Aw yon work ahint the scenes. Aw thae foke cleared their diaries.

Some wee sleekit teeny nano CLARTY PARTICLE wi health and safety issues gauns an gazumps the hale shebang.

So I’m thinking, what div ee dae?
Show must gaun on. Make the pairty happen.
Well, a’ve been thinking, Lyceum.

Deh gaun there.
Ee cah mak a pairty happen on yer lane.
Ah’ve been there. Oh aye.
A no-show pairty. Big-time.
There was a clash wi a rugby international. My donnert.
Oo’d a hoose full o pizza fingers, wineboxes (reid, white, pink), guacamole, tapenade, soor cream. Caramelised onion humous. Aa the dips.

Pu’d oot aw the stops.
Ma hair doon. Ma Spanx up. Ma teeth wi a top-up whiten.
An ma ruby and blue frock. Ruby an aqua. Teal. Kingfisher. I’m an autumn. That’s ma colours.
An ma gold chain an a slaister o glitter in ma hair.

Be the winebox.

Ee cah mak a pairty happen wi naebody there.
Aye, of course, ee can hae a boogie on yer lane. “Yes, sir, I can boogie, but I need a certain …” [tails off]

Mind, kennin yow, Lyceum, eev probably geen it a go.
Louping ower the sates. Boglin in the wings. Doon in the bar, a wee bit explore ahint the coonter.
I ken a wad.
I’d gie ma right airm tae sei ahint the scenes. Hae the pliss tae masel. Just for a day. Jist an hoor. What’s it like in an empty theatre?
Am getting excitit just thinking aboot it. Aw the space. Aw the possibility.

Then, a realised.
Heck, Lyceum, yer no on yer lane at aw.
The pliss is hotchin.
Hotchin tae the gunnels wi bogles.

Aye, a ken every theatre has a bogle.
The yin that blows the candle and sends shivers doon the banes o lone workers.
But ah deh mean yon.
Yon’s a pare lanely sowel. Ee hetta gie him his fun.

But aw the ithers, Lyceum.
Ee must have bogles o aw shapes and ages, coming at ee.

An a deh mean jist the Hamlet bogles, the Christmas Carol bogles.
The Touching the Void bogles! Climmin up the balcony. Clinging be their nails tae the cliff.
The Twelfth Night bogles! Singing and sashaying and creeping up the stairs like a wee ball o tinsel.
The Cyrano bogles, the Man of Lamancha bogles! Clashing swords and fighting tae the daith.
The Solaris bogles! Bending space and time and messing wi Edinburgh heids.
And the bogles ahint and ablow and aboon them. Makin aw the cosmoses.

And thon’s jist the stert. What aboot the audience bogles?
The bars’ fu o them.
Bogles from way back, crossing ways, clinking glesses, waving hello and neb-tae-neb at the tables. Bridget’s there. And Mike and Crabbie, an mei.
And the foyer: hotchin wi bogles, up and doon the stairs, wee bogles, big bogles, auld and young bogles, Embra bogles, Border bogles, Fife bogles, Festival bogles, aa year and aa-age bogles since ee began, Lyceum.
Bogles in the stalls, in the shelves, the side-pods, aw the way up tae the rafters. Nae doot swinging on the chandeliers, thanks to their weight advantage.

Lyceum. Eer no on yer lane. Am glad tae ken that.
But rest ashared, the real foke are coming back.
Aw the sweaty traivelers. Off the street and bus and train. Showered and skooshed. Shaking off oor Fridays and dying for a Shiraz.
Clutching oor tickets, shutting oor phones, poring ower oor programmes wi oor specs liftit, guzzling ice-cream afore it’s ower derk tae sei. Blethering, whispering, settling, still.

Yon’s a muckle curtain, Lyceum.
Am wondering what’ll be ahint it.
What kind o pairty, with the clarty particle gone.
Yer pairties are legend. Nae pressure.
Yow take care o yersel.
Gie the nod when it’s time.

Aw the best,
Upper Circle Row A Seat 14.


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