Fresh Legs - Adventures in Splicing Genre.
I've always believed that in life we need to keep learning and keep challenging ourselves, my family have always been ones to delight in the new and to be excited by opportunity and I try and do this in my writing. I think its pretty important to not limit yourself in content or form (unless that is a deliberate exercise).
Writing horror then was a new experience for me. I don't like being scared, I don't relish the thrill of a fright or cowering behind sofas - my dreams are too vivid to welcome the violence and gore of the horror world into my brain. However the horror genre, like any, I can appreciate from a distance and it seemed like a fun thing to take on. Adapting a fairy tale into a contemporary horror story, why not?
'The Tinderbox' was were I first started and I just couldn't move with it. I was stuck with the form, the original story (which is bonkers and involves three dogs) and the genre wasn't speaking through a returned soldier haunted by war ghosts. It was turning out that because I didn't like horror - I didn't want to write it. I didn't want to frighten anyone.
Cue my housemate to the rescue with the Halloween episode of Community. It was fantastic. I cannot begin to describe just how amazing it is - it uses all the horror tropes, the plots, the characters, the nightmares and has the best time with it. And best of all it wasn't scary, it was funny. The blood, the zombies and the ever-diminishing survivors were there but it was so deftly done I didn't feel afraid.
Tone. People. It makes all the difference.
Goodbye depressed returned soldier with all your dogs and your tinderbox and hello new story.
We then sat on the sofa and hashed out my other smidge of a fairytale idea; 'The Little Mermaid' set in a high school with the lead character in a wheelchair. We set it at Halloween and it worked. It flowed and I wrote the play that evening, in probably less than two hours.
When your pitching into a world with rules you don't necessarily want to understand, it's a good idea to do so in a self aware way that uses what you know (fairy tales) to shape what you don't know (horror) using something everyone understands on some level (comedy).
And it was fun. I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson and Part of Your World on repeat and out came a modern day comedy/horror fairy-tale that lives in my head and doesn't give me bad dreams.
Fresh Legs is the easiest thing to pitch to people. "It's a comedy/horror reinterpretation of 'The Little Mermaid' set in a high school on Halloween." There's no grey areas and deep understanding but it speaks to our experience, plays with our expectations and enjoys it.
And you know something? People laugh.
You can book tickets to see Fresh Legs here and read more about the show details and rehearsal photos etc. here - blood, zombies and excellent dancing, it'll be thrilling!