A New Era

On the 31st March 2016 I left my 3 day a week job at Writers’ Centre, Norwich after nine great years – so I no longer have a salaried position, or any excuses for not updating my website. This is really a holding post – I shall polish something up – very soon I promise. And pictures.

It’s been a busy year, developing the new show Doctor Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine with the help of several brilliant people and money and time from Arts Council England, Writers’ Centre Norwich, Norfolk County Council and Norwich Arts Centre. It was my plan to do a less personal show than Whistle, which I finished performing at the end of 2014 after 5 years and 60 performances.

In July 2015 I met up with the extraordinary Ross Sutherland to begin the torturous business of turning my ragbag of poems and wide ranging ideas into a coherent show. Ross saw the potential in the personal story, persisted and persisted until I realised he was right, and he was very right indeed. This meant the script was a long time in showing itself, consuming every spare minute I had and keeping everyone else waiting. Producer Melanie Abrahams at kept a cool head.

In the meantime, a Catastrophe Machine needed to be built – it turned out my ideas defied the laws of physics and defeated two machine builders. Who’d have thought a catastrophe machine could be problematic? The laws of physics mean nothing to Paul Finlay though, and with: a looted washing machine, an old bicycle, two windscreen wiper engines, some electronic wizardry, brass handles, plywood, varnish, paint and a luminous moon – a catastrophe machine was born!

Andre Barreau and Karen Hall, the visual team from Whistle, set about the visuals with about 3 weeks to spare and worked literally day and night to get some magic onto the screen. Tom Clutterbuck, tech wizard remained the Duke of Calm as I randomly wandered about the stage for the first time on 7th May at Wells Next the Sea. I have since wandered about at The London Roundhouse and a sold out Norwich Arts Centre as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Pasco and his team at Norwich Arts Centre have been great throughout the whole project.

We’ve one or two more regional showcases to do and then we’re going to ask for more money, develop some of the ideas further and take the show on the road.

The book is a different thing to the show, and was published by the marvellous Cinnamon Press in March

And Shed with Gatehouse Press and beautifully illustrated by Natty Peterkin is due to arrive any day now.