Unheard Voices ‘Inspi-writing’ (week 2)

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14 June 2012

This week we got on to Sherlock. There is understandably some upset about East Asian representation on both screen and stage. Martial artist / Kung Fu master, takeaway owner / waiter, Triad gangster, incomprehensible foreigner, factory worker, scientific geek/genius but you barely see any in leads. By this I mean as girlfriends or boyfriends, best friends, reporters, you know regular every day folk. But then: do you see any ethnic minorities represented this way in the UK. It’s definitely better but there’s still a long way to go.

Now, I’m sure my fellow writers will disagree with me here but this episode of Sherlock wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Perhaps it’s because I know that not all East Asians are acrobatic ninjas – which is incorrect considering these  people were supposed to be Chinese – but what upset me the most was that it was poorly scripted. (I’ve since been told that writers are paid in advance of writing the episode, regardless of whether the product is absolute shite or not. Nice work if you can get it.) That and also Sherlock pronounced ‘Zhou’ wrong (it’s as in ‘Joe’) which was something I didn’t think Sherlock would do. Get something wrong that is.

But there is definitely something in the misrepresentation of East Asians. Why is it that in the UK casting tends to ignore minorities for leads. It’s something that the US doesn’t seem to do. And we are losing a lot of our actors to the States. It seems a shame.  East Asians still don’t have a theatrical (or screen) voice. So is that what the Royal Court are trying to do here? This is the second year that they’ve run the course and although they are commissioning work from writers from the first group, will they be dealing with East Asian topics or are they just good writers?

In class however, we started with inspiration. Where does inspiration come from? There was a fantastic variety and, in no particular order:

  • visual art
  • senses: sight; sound; visual; touch; taste
  • emotion
  • autobiography
  • overheard conversations
  • found objects
  • news and history
  • social and political issues
  • places
  • alternative realities
  • language play
  • other people’s stuff: music; plays; poems; films; novels; characters
  • ideologies (philosophical and constructs)
  • within theatrical limitations, particular venues

Then, for ourselves, we went on to write down 1. what makes you angry? 2. what frightens you? 3. what gives you hope? and 4. what do you think but would never say out loud?

Having brought in an object, picture or something else that inspires us, we swapped. And then wrote a monologue.

This week’s homework: read Mogadishu and write from a source of inspiration you don’t normally use.

For more information on Sherlock, check out BBC wesbite.


Author: littlemissmandu

Polymath. Writer. Eurasian Daisy Steiner. Best Cheerleader '93.

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