Author Archives: daphnemoran

Building a Script – June 15

Dave Armstrong

Dave Armstrong

Award-winning playwright and satirist Dave Armstrong has a great night planned for the script workshop. It includes some exciting on the spot exercises which will be great fun to watch and participate in.

Dave says, ‘I’m really looking forward to workshopping in front of an audience. ‘BATS Theatre was where I learned my craft as a playwright in the early 1990s, so it’s nice to be helping others back in the place I first started. One of the exercises I’m doing will involve the entire audience so I’m particularly looking forward to that.’

Dave’s joined by four students from the MA scriptwriting stream. Here’s a bit about them:

Dave and Jacob Buellens

Dave and Jacob Buellens

Jacob Beullens

I’m 21. I’ve spent the last few years in and out of acting, directing, studying and writing before finally deciding to focus (for now) on writing! I was in London on an acting scholarship, which was cool but I quickly realized I’d rather do the yelling than be yelled at. In turn, I spent the last year at the New Zealand Film School which really molded my desire to write/direct. I’m an obsessive Arsenal fan and a keen tennis player. I look forward to meeting everyone and getting a few pages written!

Beanie Jane Hamish

Maryse (Beanie) Ridler, Jane Fletcher, Hamish Parkinson

Maryse (Beanie) Ridler

I am Maryse, more often known as Beanie thanks to my parents deciding I had a bean-shaped head when I was born. I sometimes feel like I am going to explode with my want to be creative. This year I hope to learn more about how to successfully, and safely, channel that feeling out onto the page.

My favourite things are reading and food. My Dad tells me that food itself cannot be a hobby but I eat to differ, food is ultimate.

When I read a novel, script, or watch a film I am often astounded by the ideas and stories people have come up with and the different ways in which they have expressed them. I want to one day, hopefully, astound people with my ideas and stories.

After a few misguided years at Otago, some time off and one great year at Vic, I feel I have finally found my way in studying and learning. I am excited and ready to learn as much as I can from Ken and fellow writers.

Jane Fletcher

Born and raised in Christchurch, I studied Law and Classics at Canterbury before realising I was destined for a much more sensible career in film. I worked in law and civil service for a few years, taking media studies papers through Massey and working for free on shorts in my spare time. I left New Zealand in March 2008, spending time travelling in the States and Europe before working as an au pair in Spain for the summer of 2008. Subsequently I moved to London and worked in financial services for three years.

Finally, after writing and directing a short, and working on a friend’s horror feature, I decided to switch to a full-time media career in 2011.

Much to my surprise, I ended up moving to Belfast to take up a traineeship with the BBC and Northern Ireland Screen. Most of my placements have focussed on post-production but I’ve also done some research/development work, and worked in the camera department of HBO’s Game of Thrones. I’m currently offline editor at 360 Production in Derry/Londonderry for HeadSqueeze, a new science and technology YouTube channel featuring James May.

In my spare time while in Belfast, I made ten mini-documentaries for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, did a few music videos, wrote a short film which was funded by Northern Ireland Screen, did some gig photography, and made another short film. You can find me here for videos and over-long blog entries.

I’m looking forward to an intense year of writing, especially the chance to finally get a feature film script finished!

Hamish Parkinson

I’ve been writing scripts since my time at high school where I made films with my friends and created short play scripts that I have thankfully lost. I continued to make films and theatre during my time at the Ilam Fine Arts School. During this period I devised shows with the Court Jesters along with other companies. Recently I’ve taken a script I co-wrote with Eli Matthewson to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival after it won Best Production in Comedy at the Auckland Fringe Festival and shortlisted for Playmarket’s B425 award. We will be performing our next script ‘Velcro City’ at the Auckland Fringe Festival just before I start this masters program.

Building a Script
June 15, 8pm at BATS Theatre
Tickets $10/$5


Jumping the Tracks – Prose Workshop, June 14

The live prose workshop Jumping the Tracks kicks off at 8pm on Thursday June 13 at BATS. Tickets are $10 or $5 with a concession.

The section called ‘Jumping the Tracks’ in The Exercise Book contains exercises which help writers try new approaches in an attempt to break any writing habits or ruts they might have fallen into.

For the show, Lawrence Patchett selected an exercise from this section called Negotiating with the Dead. It was contributed to The Exercise Book by Kate Duignan. For those following along, it’s on page 94. Kate based her exercise on an exercise written by Margaret Atwood.

Negotiating with the Dead

‘The title of this chapter is “Negotiating with the Dead”, and its hypothesis is that not just some, but all writing of the narrative kind, and perhaps all writing, is motivated, deep down, by a fear of and fascination with mortality — by a desire to make the risky trip to the Underworld, and to bring something or someone back from the dead.

‘You may find the subject a little peculiar. It is a little peculiar. Writing itself is a little peculiar.’

– Margaret Atwood, Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing, Cambridge University Press 2002

Write a first person piece in which the dead are given voice. Have the piece include some form of audio technology; a phone, radio, computer, stereo. The piece may be fictional, partly fictional or entirely true.

Taking up the challenge of this exercise are:

Emma Martin who won the 2012 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the title story of her debut collection Two Girls in a Boat, which was published by Victoria University Press in May. Her work has also appeared in Granta online, The Manchester Review, the New Zealand Listener, Sport and Hue and Cry, and has been broadcast by Radio New Zealand. She lives in Wellington.

Matt Bialostocki is a Wellington based writer, bookseller and photographer. He works at Unity Books and in 2013 is tumbling an MA in Creative Writing at the IIML

Kerry Donovan-Brown who was the winner of the 2012 Adam Foundation Prize for best MA folio. His novella Lamplighter is about a village that sits at the edge of a vast wetland. ‘Granna’s Flat’, an excerpt from the novella was published in Turbine 12.

Rachel Kerr who has a Fine Arts degree in film from Canterbury University and a Masters in Library and Information Systems from Victoria University. This year she is working on a novel about a Ponzi schemer for her MA in Creative Writing at the IIML.

Jumping the Tracks – Prose WorkshopJune 14, 8pm at BATS Theatre
Tickets $10/$5

Starting the Engine – Poetry Workshop, June 13

Kirsten Le Harivel, Morgan Bach, Claire Orchard, Sarah Jane Barnett and Helen Heath

Kirsten Le Harivel, Morgan Bach, Claire Orchard, Sarah Jane Barnett and Helen Heath

We begin this exciting season of live workshops on June 13 with one dedicated to poetry and aptly named Starting the Engine.

As the name suggests the ‘Starting the Engine’ section of The Exercise Book is about beginning, kicking off, getting words on paper and it seems like the perfect place for us to begin The Exercise Book Live season.

Poet Helen Heath, has chosen an exercise by Marian Evans a screenwriter who completed her PhD Creative Writing at IIML in 2009. For those of you following in the book, it’s on pages 22-23.

Research and Experimentation

I learned a lot from art students’ research and experimentation, especially from one of the first exercises I gave them (which I wasn’t sure would help them learn).

I brought the class a box of everyday things like an egg, a ball of string, a piece of paper, divided the students into groups and gave each group an object from the box, to research and experiment with in as many different ways as possible. The students found many ways to play as they researched and experimented. And the playing was important because there’s no one way to access what research and experimentation have to offer. The students also found many ways to research and found that experimentation is a kind of research itself.

One young man decided to unravel the string to see how long it was, how far it would go. He took one end of it and gave the ball off string to a friend to hold. He started running across the sports ground. Halfway across, the string tangled, stopped unravelling briefly. Stretched beyond its capacity, it broke. The student kept running anyway. He returned fifteen minutes or so later still holding one end of the broken string, trailing along behind him., He’d found out that at least one bit of the string would travel as far as he chose to take it. Pointless research? Yes and no, depending on what you wanted to use the string for. It was a great performance, much enjoyed by us all.

The students could start with what they already knew, or thought they knew, and were sometimes surprised about the extent of the information they already had. They found it was useful to share their information with one another because that gave them more data to work from. They also found that it was useful to assign tasks among the group so they got greater coverage.

They used their senses – sight, smell, tough, taste, hearing (what does an egg sound like?) – their intuition and creativity, to imagine what might be possible with their object. They experimented with the object to see what it could be used for or made into. They drew it and photographed it and videoed it and learned from that. They put it with other objects and learned from the relationships between the objects (match and paper, egg and colour).

They asked other people for information and stories about their experience with their object. If it was paper, they asked people who use it and know about itm in the photocopy shop, a print-maker, a sculptor or book binder or writer or conservationist. They looked up dictionaries and reference books including the Bible, science books and poems. They searched the INternet. When they had more information they experimented again. At the end of three hours they had an extraordinary amount of information about one object, to use and to share, and a new way of getting information and applying it. They’d also had practice working with collaborators.

Once they understood this process, students were able to use it in their studio work, in their searches for a market for their art, or in their domestic lives. Now, I know that this exercise can work for writers too. For me, anyway. This morning I found an aqua plastic clothes peg down the back of the compost bin, knew it had meaning for one sequence in a draft, and played with the peg until I learned what to write.

– Marian Evans

A great group of writers have agreed to start their engines in this very public way.

Sarah Jane Barnett is a writer, reviewer, and tutor who lives in Wellington with her husband and son. Her work has appeared in a range of publications, including Landfall, Sport, NZ Listener, and Southerly (Australia). Three of her poems have been selected for Best New Zealand Poems (2007, 2010, 2012). In 2012 her debut collection, A Man Runs into a Woman, was published by Hue & Cry Press. She is currently completing a creative PhD in creative writing at Massey University. Sarah blogs at The Red Room.

Kirsten Le Harivel is currently completing an MA at the Institute of Modern Letters. She writes poetry and her work has been published in Penduline PressBlackmail Press and the 4th Floor Literary JournalShe is also a member of the Conversations Across Borders project.

Claire Orchard is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing at the IIML. She writes poetry and works part-time in a primary school as a Teacher Aide.  Her work has been published in Penduline Press.

Morgan Bach is originally from Wellington and despite other intentions never seems to stay away for long. She has a BA Hons in English Lit and a Diploma in Publishing and is happily embracing the life of an adult student as she undergoes a MA at the IIML this year, where she is wrangling words into poetry (she hopes).

Starting the Engine – Poetry Workshop
June 13, 8pm at BATS Theatre
Tickets $10/$5


Two Girls in a Boat Launches

Emma Martin, who is participating in our prose workshop JUMPING THE TRACKS, launches her debut short story collection Thursday, May 2 at Unity Books. Emily Perkins will launch the book. All welcome!


Coming soon!

June 13, 14, 15
Tickets $10/$5

BATS is partnering with the International Institute of Modern Letters to bring you three evenings of insight into the writers’ workshop. Join students and graduates of the IIML as they workshop writing generated by prompts from Victoria University Press’s THE EXERCISE BOOK live and unrehearsed. It’ll be fun; it could get interactive; and there’ll be plenty of stimulating talk about how to energise your prose, poetry and scripts.

June 13
Endings are elusive, middles are nowhere to be found, but worst of all is to begin, to begin, to begin. – Donald Barthelme

Poet Helen Heath (Graft, Victoria University Press) facilitates a workshop with current MA poets Morgan Bach, Kirsten Le Harivel, Claire Orchard and MA graduate and poet Sarah Jane Barnett (A Man Runs into a Woman, Hue and Cry Press).

June 14
One of the great things about being a writer is the extent to which it allows us to invent ourselves. It’s like being in the witness-protection program. – Paul Muldoon

Writer Lawrence Patchett (I Got His Blood On Me, Victoria University Press) facilitates a workshop with current MA prose writers Rachel Kerr and Matthew Bialostocki, Adam Prize 2012 winner Kerry Donovan-Brown (Lamplighter) and 2012 Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner Emma Martin (Two Girls in a Boat, Victoria University Press)

June 15
If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act. – Billy Wilder

Award-winning scriptwriter and satirist Dave Armstrong facilitates a workshop with MA script writers Jane Fletcher, Beanie (Maryse) Ridler, Hamish Parkinson and Jacob Beullens.