Actor and writer Ben Jewell muses on our theme ahead of his performance next week at our 3rd birthday party event, Third Time Lucky…
Happy birthday, First Draft.
I’m not quite a veteran of the full three years. I first popped in maybe two years ago. As an actor, I’ve always felt happier reading other people’s words. But, in this supportive space, for the first time, I stood up and read something that I had written, appropriately enough about finding my own voice. The night is always entertaining, and for me as a beginner, it’s an education seeing how others work their art.
The number three is marvellously beguiling. What is it about three that we keep coming back to? The witches on the heath, coins in a fountain, little pigs and suchlike. I’ve been a Neil Gaiman fanboy for a while now, and this seemed a good opportunity to have a muck about with a fairy tale, in his vein. I have also been busy magpie-pilfering more than a touch of many of the regulars at First Draft.
Having chosen traditional stories, I found myself at a ‘Twisted Tales‘ writing workshop run by the lovely folk at Stirred Poetry. Again, because it bears repeating, this is the kind of thing I simply would not have dreamt of doing a few years back. First Draft has helped me explore this world. (Dear me, this is all sounding a bit AA now, isn’t it..?) We spent a few hours putting a bit more female voice into the sometimes rather patriarchal world of fairytales. I was still thinking in threes. This is what I wrote.
The crone sits at the crossroads.
She gazes out at the barren, unchanging landscape. She sits and waits.
She idly checks her three feathers, the first as white as snow the second as red as blood the third as black as night
She sits and waits. Waits for the three men, the three brothers
So she can fulfil their narrative arc when they pass.
Bored of this.
She knows what will happen. The first will be arrogant, the second stupid, only the third will listen.
One in three is the going rate for men ready to change, apparently.
Always the transformational catalyst. Never the main character.
She burns the feathers, chooses a path, and leaves.