Pippa Roberts: Playwright and Poet

Pippa writes for all ages. She has published short stories and poems, in magazines such as Aquila Children’s MagazineCadenza and Quality Women’s Fiction . Her stories and poems also appear in a number of anthologies from publishers, including Poems for my Best Friend, from Oxford University Press.

She has published journalism under the name of Eleanor Theyer, in the Gloucestershire Echo and Western Daily Press – and in several magazines, including Evergreen andWriters’ Forum Magazine, under her own name. (See journalism page for more information).

Pippa is now writing scripts and novels for a project combining science and literature for children, at Hull University, is a member of Cheltenham Everyman‘s Writers’ Lab, and has just taken part in the Skylines project at Theatre Centre, London.

Links to Pippa:

Click the links to read  Pippa’s blog,  or to find Pippa on Twitter (@Stargleam).

To contact Pippa directly phone: (mob) 07899401808.

For books featuring Pippa’s work, click here.

References (please click on the links to read the full references):

FROM: Laura Fleming, Programme Co-ordinator, Under The Edge Arts

Pippa has a gentle and encouraging approach to children, and her own poems seemed to delight both teachers and pupils. She manages to combine a personal passion for the written word with an ability to inspire and teach others.

Read more…

FROM: Dr Mike Craddock, Head of English and Drama, The King’s School, Gloucester.

I have known Pippa Roberts for a number of years and the first thing to say about her is that she is a very good thing indeed.

Read more…

Find Pippa on Facebook.

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Mr Bean’s Ode to Joy – the ‘European Anthem’ and Thoughts about Europe.

Hi everyone,

I had to share this. Someone who read my post last week sent me the link to Mr Bean doing the ‘Ode to Joy’, or European Anthem. My father and Mr Bean obviously had a lot in common. 😀

I think my Dad actually got there first, but the Mr Bean clip is refusing to allow me to write anything else underneath it… OK, Mr Bean, you win. My Dad was funny, but not that funny!

Now I want to write wise thoughts about Europe, which is kind of fitting when it comes to the European Anthem. I’m going to content myself with linking to this excellent, up-to- the-minute, summary from We Are European.

http://www.weareeuropean.eu/2017/08/is-brexit-lose-lose.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WeAreEuropean+%28We+Are+European+%29

And now I’ll leave you with Mr Bean, and the hope that we get over our insular British nonsense! (How long does it take for people to wake up?) Incidentally, I understand the European Anthem symbolises not only the European Union, but also Europe in a wider sense.  A beautiful thing that we have been privileged to be part of… and that I sincerely hope we can be fully part of again.

Enjoy!

Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – Pippa Roberts, Playwright and Journalist… Cheltenham.

Hi everyone,

If you’re following this blog you may think I’m not doing much at present, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The trouble with writing is that it just goes silently on in the background, and there’s not often much to report.

The only things worth putting here are the articles and reviews I do, and I’ve been doing less than usual, because I’m focusing on bigger projects.

If you’re not tired of my pieces in the Guardian (which are becoming a bit of a habit!) I had another one in yesterday, about Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. You can see it here, underneath the piece about the teddy 😀 :

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/12/family-life-my-teddy-that-fell-into-the-panama-canal-beethovens-ode-to-joy-and-honeymoon-prawns

I’ve also written a couple of letters, including one that has just gone into Writers’ Forum magazine, and I’m doing an article for the same magazine at present. It’s been commissioned, but I’m not sure which edition it will go into.

And for the rest… silence for now!

See you all again soon,

Pippa x

 

Cotswold Plants and Trees – Blog by Pippa Roberts, Cheltenham

Hi everyone,

This post is a bit different from usual, because I want to write about something I do more or less as a hobby. I love walking, and even when I’m not really well I try and get out into the hills, as that is what makes me feel better.  I’m no expert on the things I see, but I was taught quite a bit in childhood, as my mother used to record for the Wild Flower Society, and we used to go on expeditions to see what we could find.

I’ve been a fan of Pinterest for a while. As many of you will know I had head injuries about 25 years ago, and they affected my visual recognition. (I couldn’t recognise my own children for a long time.) I play on Pinterest quite compulsively; in theory collecting pictures as background to stories, but in practise, just enjoying the saturation of beautiful images. My boards are constantly being reorganised and refined, and this morning I decided to branch off my usual ‘Plants and Trees’ board, and create one uniquely for the plants and trees of the Cotswolds. I’d taken photos of three different orchids on Cleeve Hill yesterday, and many other things… though some, including two of the orchids are still waiting for definite identification. (Must take the flower book next time!)

This is the link to my boards, if anyone is interested. I just happen to have been saving some black and white images, but most of the pictures are in colour. You’ll see the Cotswold Plants and Trees board in the list.

 

 

I’ll look into creating a group board next, so that other people can post (or if you find a way to do it you can do it now.)

See you all soon,

Pippa x

All that Planning… Pippa Roberts

 

Hello again,

After writing that blog post yesterday evening I read most of the rest of the book, and found that it wouldn’t suit me at all. I’d be bored stiff working with the index card plans that the writer suggests.

What is excellent is the information about character building. You’re recommended to think of an incident in childhood which has started the character on their first world view, and then to build in three more incidents which reinforce that belief… before the actual story that will change it.

This is why we devour whole books… to find the little nuggets that matter.

My laptop battery is about to die, and I don’t want to get out of bed, so I’ll leave you here.

Thanks for visiting, and see you all again soon,

Pippa 🙂

Difficulties of Writing a Full-Length Play – Pippa Roberts, Cheltenham.

Hi everyone,

Here I am again, wanting to discuss the mechanics of full-length plays…

I know many of you came to see the 45 minute version of Chips (the robot play), but I have been trying to fill it out, to make a full-length play for some time now. I’m finding it quite frustrating that, in all the teaching I’ve had in writing for theatre, nobody ever discussed the problems of moving from writing short plays to writing full-length ones.

In desperation, a couple of years ago, I paid for some private tuition from David Lane, who I have huge admiration for. He gave me some very good guidance… told me that he could see immediately that I was more used to writing short plays, and said that the main thing I need to do is to put in a lot more work on character. He advised me to draw up a plan to show what each character thought they were giving to another character, and what the other character thought they were receiving.  I found this difficult, without knowing the history of my characters, and I decided that I needed to sketch out the lives they’d had before the play, if I wanted to present more fully developed characters.

Other work took over, and the play languished on the back burner. Then I noticed that David Lane was again offering individual help with plays, so I decided to send him my rewrite. That’s what I’m working on at the moment (prior to feedback).

The problem is that I have been bogged down in the character work. I didn’t know how much of it was necessary, and sometimes it felt as if I was making the characters up all over again. (The problem of having written something when you had inadequate knowledge!) I searched online for a book that might help me be more focused in my character work, and found ‘Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel’.

It is exactly the book I need… or pretty exactly… I might prefer it if it was about plays instead (at the moment)… though of course it will come in for future stories and novels too. I’d recommend it very highly to my fellow Everyman writers (that were) and to those who did the Skylines course with me, and to the Salisbury playwrights I worked with. I think most of us were having the same difficulty. I’ve finally discovered how I put the missing pieces in the jigsaw. It’s going to be a lot of work, but at last I know where I’m going…

Not sure how long David is going to be waiting for this draft though…

Pippa :/

 

Restaurant Reviews, Talk and Play – Pippa Roberts, Cheltenham.

Hi everyone,

I’m hoping I’ve managed to make the picture come back for you this time. It seemed to disappear last week.

Well, what have I been doing?… It’s been quite a busy period. I went to try out a new restaurant, for the Food and Drink Guide on Monday.  I never choose the places I review; they are, more or less, chosen for me. This one, the Maison Chaplais in Tivoli, Cheltenham, was a lovely surprise. I took a friend, and both of us were a bit puzzled as to what we’d find. We’d both walked past, and assumed it was just a deli, as this is what you see on the ground floor.

In fact it is a deli, with a very wide range of foods, but there is also an absolutely delightful cafe on the floor above, run by the same people. Everything is home-baked, and I honestly thought the bread was the best I’d ever tasted… in spite of doing restaurant reviews for twelve years. I’ve just picked up a Groupon voucher for a cream tea there, so will definitely be going back. (Vouchers are still available, so do check it out!) I intend to take my play, and work on it there, some time soon. If you see me please tiptoe by if I’m writing… 😀

On Wednesday I found myself in Witney. I was speaking to a Probus group at the Methodist Church, but the only way to be there in time was to catch a bus from Cheltenham at 7am. I treated myself to breakfast in ‘The Fleece’, in Witney (also a very good eating experience :D), and then sat outside, writing a play in the early morning sunlight.

I talked to the group about the social history in Effie M Roberts’s poems, and was delighted by the feedback at the end. One man told me that Effie’s poem about the lights coming on at the end of the war reminded him of that day, in his own life. He was a small child, and his parents took him out to look at the lights, sparkling across the town. He had never seen anything like it. His voice was still full of awe at the memory.

Here’s Effie’s poem, for those who don’t know it:

April 23rd, 1945

Mark it well, - tonight, tonight
We walk from darkness into light, -
A symbol of triumph, victory near,
Of a precious freedom we all hold dear. -
In suburban street and city square
Twinkling lights are everywhere,
No sirens feared, no terror, dread
Of approaching horrors overhead;
The fearful drone of death is gone,
Hurrah!  Hurray!  the lights are on!

That’s all for now. I’m still getting terribly tired; sleeping for a large part of every day,  and I have to spend an incredible amount of time on the phone to inefficient bureaucracies. (Npower three times this week, for about an hour a time… only to be sent emails afterwards, contradicting everything that had been arranged.)

Would Shakespeare have managed more than me?

Pippa :/

Quick news from Pippa Roberts, Cheltenham

Hi folks,

 

This is the link to the recipe for strawberry covered scones, and my memories.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/03/mum-dad-during-war-freedom-wham-mothers-scones

(You’ll have to scroll down a lot when you find it).

I don’t know why… perhaps it is because, in some part of my mind, I am still half expecting to die, but I am doing a lot of memory pieces at the moment. As many of you will know, I have done reviews for the ‘Food and Drink Guide’ for about 12 years. I love food, and want to be sure that the best recipes survive. There is a plethora of recipes that are not so good, but I promise you the ones I write about are superb! Of course you get the little family stories too, which I hope are a bonus.

Well… as I wrote before, I am, miraculously, getting better, after a close brush with death. At some stage I will start believing it! I’m writing a lot… working on a funny play, writing a new ending to Pride and Prejudice (for a competition), writing proposals for articles and books, and – of course – still writing my book about the cancer (although I think it is near completion).

Now… I overslept and missed breakfast, so I think I’d better find some…

Love to all,

Pippa x

Updates from Pippa Roberts

Hi everyone,

First of all I should say that – if you like strawberries, or maybe even if you don’t – you should watch out for my piece in the Guardian Family Section tomorrow. It includes a recipe for strawberry scones, which are a bit biscuity, and totally delicious.

Secondly I thought that all my writer friends might be interested in feedback I just had from Ebury Press, at Random House. I’d sent a proposal and outline for a non-fiction book a few weeks ago. It’s so long since I was working on books (having taken a few years doing other types of writing) that I didn’t know if it was still necessary to include a SAE. I didn’t, because I assumed they would answer by email.

In fact I received a lovely letter, posted at their expense (which was slightly embarrassing!), advising me that most of their books come through literary agents, and that they recommend I look for representation. This is quite a significant shift in the way things are done. At one time many writers represented themselves (and I recognise that some still do). Maybe it is time to start looking for an agent though… It’s so difficult when you write in so many different mediums, because most agents exclude a lot of them. I remember, years ago, when I was young and green (even more than now :D), I got myself two agents, without realising that it wasn’t the way things worked. (I presumed that I’d get a contract when my first book was sold, and that the agent who’d sold it would become my agent at that point.) I do know now that you don’t do that, but still wonder if it would be permissible to have two… both for different kinds of writing. Nobody else ever seems to ask this, but I can’t be the only person to need it.

I’m trying to think very seriously about my career at present. When I believed I was going to die (which I did – and my doctor did – at one point) I felt really angry with myself. Even though I’ve consistently produced work that has been published or performed, I’ve also consistently produced work that has sat in a file, or on the computer, waiting for me to polish it up. Having returned to my life, and knowing that I could still have a few decades ahead, I know I must be less distractable. I’ll still do the odd talk and workshop, but they will be few and far between, as I have been putting far too much energy into them. (I just find it so hard to say no when a group needs what I can give them.)

An agent would be really helpful – and might stop me scattering my energies so widely. It is definitely time to start looking. That letter seemed like the right prompt at the right time…

See you all again soon!

Pippa

To Heaven and Back

Hi everyone,

Some of you will know that I’ve been ill with cancer. I’ve had an excellent response to my tablets (Anastrozole – which stops my body making oestrogen), and I am now looking at a life that should go on into middle age (no, of course I haven’t hit that yet! :D) … and old age. I am apparently in the best 5% of responses to the tablets, and – as long as I keep taking them, I should live for decades yet. (Even after decades, if the tablets stop working I’m told there will be other things to throw at it.)

I’ve been writing all through the illness…  I ought to come clean and say that I am a shaman. The gift developed before I even knew what a shaman was. The book I’ve been working on is about my shamanic experiences, as related to the cancer. I’m slightly worried people might start saying I healed myself. No… I followed the conventional route, but I do know that what is done on the spirit plane affects the physical plane, so it is possible that my results were as good as they were because of the work I’d done. I also have friends who may have helped – and people prayed for me in a multitude of religions. 😀

On a practical level I avoided foods with oestrogen in (ie. soya – but it was incredibly hard, as it is in just about everything) – and I bought organic milk, butter, cheese and meat. (A friend in the science world told me that many dairies give injections of oestrogen to cows, and that it is safer to drink organic milk if you have an oestrogen dependent cancer (which I have). The official justification is that it’s bovine oestrogen, but I wasn’t taking any chances. When it came to soya I had no doubt as to the effect it can have on hormones. I used it years ago to stop my periods altogether. (How I regret that now!)

So – that’s it for this week. I’m finishing a long children’s story, which may become a book, and I’m going to be working on a play (the one I meant to do this month). I must admit that my book about the cancer took over completely, but I’m glad it did, as it’s now near to completion. I thought it would almost certainly end with my death, but now it will end with this excellent news. I am so grateful to the people who developed these medicines, and to the doctors who know how to use them. Also to the GPs I have seen, – and a big thank you to Macmillan, who have provided advice and information all the way along.

It’s ironical when you’re told you’re massively better and you still feel a bit rubbish. Just off for another nap…

Pippa x

Single Parent Book

 

Hi everyone,

I am working on a book about the experience of single parents. I have a fair number of people to interview, but if anybody reads this and would be interested in contributing their experience please do contact me.

Otherwise the book about my recent experiences is growing fast, and I am writing a children’s story, which – like all of them – is threatening to turn into a book… 😀 Next month I will be putting the final touches to my play, Chips, before getting feedback…

I’m finding it really hard to keep a good work/life balance at present. I finish the work and then, at the weekend, look round for something fun to do, and find there is nothing. I’m a social animal, and must find myself something to do when I’m not working.

Perhaps that’s the next job…

Pippa 🙂