2020 was a crazy year for most people. I don't think I know anyone who hasn't felt the mental and emotional impact of lockdown.
In the summer of 2020, a mini human joined our family.
And so as well as trying to navigate life through a pandemic, I found myself also trying to find my feet in my own new normal.
A first time mum. In lockdown. In our little one bedroom flat.
Normally at times of extreme pressure or stress I would write.
But the only time I had, the only quiet I had, was an hour or two (or three… or four….) when the baby woke hungry.
I would feed her and write down my thoughts.
Tiny, short, babbly, sleep deprived thoughts.
They helped me make sense of my new world.
I’ve never thought of myself as a poet,
but I wrote some things
on the back of these middle of the night thoughts.
I think they might be poems.
They’re pretty rough. A bit like me at the moment.
A bit like the world at the moment.
The one in the video below is my favourite. (And the longest!)
If you like it, there are more on twitter at @4amSessions
Maybe I'll see you over there.
Hello in advance!
And thank you!
And sorry about the punctuation.
It really was (is!) the middle of the frickin' night.
'Dawn' by Jennifer Adam
Voiceover by Vivien Reid
Sound Studio: Kenny Blyth
Filming/Cinematographer: Steven Cook
as part of Play Pie Pint's Pint Sized Plays Programme
*Please note this play contains some strong language.
Award Winners Julie Tsang, Catriona Duggan, Philip Rainford, Vivien Jones and Jennifer Adam
From Cumbernauld Theatre
May 17th, 2017
Cumbernauld Theatre is pleased to announce the five new plays – and five new playwrights – that have been awarded the increasingly coveted Scotland Short Play Award for 2017.
Song of Bernadette by Catriona Duggan
Walk A Mile by Jennifer Adam
Lilyburgh Lane by Julie Tsang
Something Bothering You by Vivien Jones
I’ll Be There by Philip Rainford
Walk A Mile written by Jennifer Adam
"Mother sits next to me.
Her eyes were shifting between those by the shore.
“Fourteen men.” She said.
I recalled the headcount as we were ushered into the rubber boat on the other side of the water. Nineteen men were on the boat when we left."
Walk a Mile is a powerful drama about a chance meeting between a Syrian girl and a Glaswegian boy.
Jennifer has written a number of short plays, including a short radio play for BBC Scotland Radio Drama. She is one of the Playwright’s Studio Scotland’s 2017 Mentored Playwrights. Her recent credits include Kiss, Cuddle, Torture and Warrior, both featured at the Edinburgh Fringe. She aspires to travel around the Scottish Highlands in a small white caravan.
‘I am absolutely delighted to be one of the winning writers selected for the Cumbernauld Theatre Short Play Award. I’m really looking forward to attending development sessions and working with a cast and director to bring the piece together.’ – Jennifer Adam
The 5 short-plays have been commissioned and developed through Cumbernauld Theatre’s National Scotland Short Play Award 2017
The Scotland Short Play Award is a national playwriting development project encouraging first time writers to engage and experiment with dramatic writing specifically through the creatively challenging 15 minute ‘micro-play’ format.
There is a successful tradition of film makers making shorts for festivals and screenings as part of preparation for creating larger scale films and projects. The Scotland Short Play Award aims to borrow from that success and encourage and enable future playwrights to engage with dramatic writing first in the short format, which may lead later to further development in the longer format.
Following on from the inaugural awards in 2015, the awards in 2017 have appointed five bursaries to five new plays by five new Scotland based writers.
If we’re told that politics and religion are not appropriate dinner table conversation, then sectarianism is probably also out.
This proves an issue for me as the entire point of my play Warrior focusses on the need to talk about sectarianism in Scotland, particularly if you don’t think it’s an issue that concerns you or the area you live in.
I’ll also assume then that your reaction to Warrior due to be performed at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow next month probably wasn’t;
“A piece of theatre that shows how blind ignorance to sectarianism in Scotland can cause the breakdown of an everyday unsuspecting family and the wider community?? - Sign. Me. Up.”
But when the Scottish Government passed emergency legislation in 2012, the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act highlighted a need to increase discussion, education and awareness of sectarianism as a way of combating the issue.
This means engaging with community groups, focus groups, charities, organisations and arts groups. It also means reaching out and connecting with audiences (that’s you to be clear) in the form of a number of post show discussions, to listen to each other’s stories and experiences on the issue - however little you feel it currently affects you.
From Des Dillon’s play Singin’ I’m No a Billy, He’s a Tim to Joan Lingard’s Across the Barricades - there is a wide selection of novels, plays, poems, sketches and even a musical highlighting the issue of sectarianism in Scotland, often written by those who had experienced it and could write about the issue first hand.
Like Evan, Warrior’s central character, I come from an area of Scotland not normally associated with sectarian behaviour. I don’t come from a religious family and I can honestly say I have never sat through an Old Firm football match.
Any link to sectarianism I witnessed as a young person was all talk - words I didn’t really understand spoken by children younger than me, who were also most likely oblivious to the venom and violence behind their language.
Given that many Scottish people see sectarianism as a West of Scotland issue or one that’s mainly linked to football - and I’d be honest enough to put myself in that category prior to starting this project - It made sense to me then to challenge that opinion, to focus Warrior on the issue of blind ignorance to sectarianism as opposed to bigoted ignorance. If the piece was to be aimed at young people in an attempt to combat learned behaviour, then it seemed appropriate to set the piece around the Threatening Communications aspect of the legislation, to create awareness of the dangers when we post online.
In terms of the play’s structure, I chose to present the play with a mix of monologues and duologues to physically ostracise each character, to highlight their isolation and to show a lack of communication and unity where it ought to be strongest. And seeing as the purpose of all this is to get people talking, it was important for the actors to appear to be singling you out. Telling you their story as if you are the only one listening, the only one who can spread the word. Encouraging (I hope) an audience to consider their own views on the issue.
One of our reviews from our Fringe run stated, “Warrior doesn’t give answers, but sends an audience away with the knowledge that one simple act, or word, or phrase can cause devastation.”
I don’t personally believe it’s a playwright’s job to offer answers. Instead, we try to ask questions, encourage debate.
I’d like to know if people were aware specifically of the Threatening Communications side to the legislation.
I’d like to know if they thought the maximum penalty of a five year prison sentence and an unlimited fine is fair or how they might choose to punish someone in Evan’s situation.
I’d like an audience to think about a time when they might have witnessed sectarianism in Scotland.
I’d like you to consider the parameters of free speech
And above all, I’d like to hear your stories. The inappropriate and awkward dinner table stories.
And if you do too, we’ll see you there.
Warrior at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow - 2016
Thursday, 10th March at 7.30pm
Friday, 11th March at 7.30pm
Saturday 12th March at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
I wake up to bright sunshine peeking through the bedroom blinds.
I wash, dress, eat. Its not early. I can’t do early.
I walk to Waverly Station and purchase a ticket.
The train journey takes around two and a half hours.
When I get there, I wave to the man in the control tower. He recognises me,
knows my face from years back. He smiles at me now as a child of thirty.
The air literally smells green.
One inhale of the leafy landscape and there is no denying I’m in the highlands.
Mountains cradle the little town, shielding it from the clouds with it’s strong back.
I move through the town, passing the old cobbled houses and the uniformed gravestones in the kirkyard.
I say hello to the residents, who seem younger with every visit.
I cross a small bridge and watch the water travelling towards the Watermilll, it’s paddles sprinkling passers by as the wheel thunders forwards.
I reach the large wooden entrance, the driveway, the kissing gate, the inevitable ducklings that follow me hoping for breadcrumbs.
My space is at the top of a small hill.
I walk passed the reception and onto the grass
passed the cafe, always populated by lovers of fried bacon
passed the park, emptyish now it’s lunchtime
and arrived at site 156, with the smallest white caravan perched on top,
challenged in size by the brown awning clinging to one side.
I unzip the tent-like structure and step inside.
The smell of wet canvass and old sleeping bags is instant.
I remove my boots, place them by the cool box and take out my key to the caravan door.
It opens as one,but you can leave it half closed if you like.
Its muggy inside, a dry heat hits the back of my throat.
I pull back the orange curtains and open the windows as far as they’ll stretch, clicking to let me know. The breeze instantly fills the small room, my notebooks fly open as the air dances around them.
I take out the largest mug I can find and pump the tap until water comes out.
I boil the kettle and I wait.
Sometimes I begrudge using my laptop here. As if it doesn’t belong. As if it wasn’t invented yet. I place it on the kitchen table and open it next to my notebooks.
The computer takes its time switching on. Warming up.
I pick up a pencil and write the five senses on a piece of paper.
I write about how they trigger memories.
Sometimes without even realising.
I write about the sounds of the River Tilt behind me.
And how it was so much colder than I could have possibly imagined
when I paddled in with eight-year-old feet.
I write about the taste of water that’s run straight off the mountains.
So cold it gives you brain freeze,
but it didn’t stop us sooking the rocks just to get at it.
I write about the way rain smells on a freshly cut lawn.
And about how much trouble we used to get into
trailing wet loose grass from our feet back into the caravan.
I write about the way the sleeping bag material feels as you settle in,
arms fused to your sides, that cold metal zip on your skin.
And how much it hurt when you rolled over and fell out of bed in one of those things.
I note down everything I see sitting here, everything I saw walking here.
And I write about how, rather than time, memories have a strong sense of place
I write about their stories
And about the significance of a writing space.
This caravan. This mild yet dreich day. This spot. These smells. That view.
And by that time, the laptop has woken up.