A personal exploration of writers' unexpected muses - place, people and memories. Dramatist Jeff Young considers the unusual array of muses that inform his and other writers' work.
Jeff Young is a dramatist for radio, screen and stage. He wrote the stand out Essay of Radio 3's In the Shadow of Kafka series 2015. His new Essay series reflects on aspects of the writer's craft - structure, imagination, character and so on - by sharing a deeply personal experience of the apocryphal muse, referencing other well known writers and artists and their relationship to their craft.
Jeff says: 'When I was seventeen I hitched to Paris in search of the muse. I didn't really know what the muse was apart from a vague notion that it had something to do with inspiration and probably sex. The fact that I was, at the age of seventeen, already a failed artist and a bad poet didn't deter me. I was in search of the muse - of my muse, and she, it was inevitably a she, was waiting for me. A few years ago I wrote a drama called 'Wormwood' for Radio 3 about my Paris misadventures with a drug dealer called Harry and his decaying girlfriend, the ex-prostitute, Mona. My muses turned out to be two low life hustlers who took me to the cleaners and left me penniless. But they fed into the mythology and ended up in stories and I've never forgotten the smell of their breath.'
An eclectic, erudite and engaging series that offers insight into the craft of writing.
Five: The Haunted Lullaby.
When Jeff was a child, he used to lie awake at night, listening to a dead woman whispering men's names. The woman floated outside the bedroom window, draped in veils and a tattered gown and she held her crooked fingers out, beckoning men to come to her and kiss her. She was breathtakingly beautiful and terrifying and it was only the closed curtains that kept Jeff safe from being dragged out to some kind of ecstatic doom. He was 8 years old, scared of her, but also somehow in love with her and she would haunt him all his life. The painting 'The Punishment of Luxury' by Segantini in Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery obsesses Jeff and he was in his 40s before he realised that the woman outside his bedroom window had come to him from Segantini's painting. He had magically brought her to life. This essay looks at Image and Imagination - the powerful, haunting Segantini painting infiltrated childhood imagination and created a powerful character to be found in many of Jeff's plays - Elsie Barmaid.
Jeff Young is an award winning dramatist, with over 30 BBC Radio Drama productions. He also works on collaborative projects in site specific performance, installation and spoken word. Recent work includes 'Bright Phoenix', the 50th anniversary production at Liverpool Everyman Theatre. Current research includes the history of Liverpool's London Road for an Everyman site specific production and Dada artist Kurt Schwitters's exile in the Lake District. He teaches playwriting at Liverpool John Moores University.
Producer - Polly Thomas
Executive producer - Eloise Whitmore
A Naked Production for BBC Radio 3.
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