Irvine Welsh is celebrating a noisy addition to the list of interest groups offended by his literary oeuvre. A month shy of its European premier, disabled rights groups have launched an unlikely campaign against the Scottish author’s play Babylon Heights.
The show, which opens in Dublin, portrays the backstage “debauchery” of four of the “dwarfs” who played Munchkins in the film The Wizard of Oz. It has caused offence on two fronts. Disability groups reckon the script is disrespectful, citing PR bumf that describes: “wild Munchkin sex orgies, drunken behaviour and general dwarf debauchery”. [The Independent]
The Bookseller trade magazine has an in depth interview with Welsh that focuses on his next novel, The Bedroom Secrets Of The Master Chefs, which is due out on 3rd August. The interview gives a pretty big summary of the plot of Master Chefs, so beware spoilers.
From The Herald:
Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting, is to make a move into television with a new series based around four drug addicts in Edinburgh.
Wedding Belles, written by Welsh, is to be produced for Channel Four. It is based around the lives of four women in Edinburgh who are addicted to drugs, “but not in a Trainspotting kind of way”, said a source close to the project.
It follows four female friends who have known each other since childhood and their escapades over one weekend.
One of the actresses in the show, playing a character called Rhona, is Shauna Macdonald, who currently appears in the series Spooks. She said: “Irvine Welsh has written the show and it’s quite like Trainspotting, but not as dark and really funny. Rhona is a crack-cocaine-smoking ex-model.”
The series is expected to begin shooting in Edinburgh this year, and Channel Four are to release more details next week.
There’s a similar news piece in The Scotsman as well, which claims Wedding Belles is based on Trainspotting – surely that’s not right?
Guardian: “JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie, Irvine Welsh and Jacqueline Wilson are among 150 authors who have pledged to help galvanize support for public libraries and combat their growing image problem.
The Love Libraries campaign published details today of all the authors and celebrities who have agreed to support the initiative by appearing in libraries or speaking about the contribution libraries make to public life.”
Stray Cat Theatre are currently staging the play version of Trainspotting, with a particularly unpleasant promo poster and a lot of gossip about actress Kerry McCue going topless on stage.
Welsh has made his directorial debut with a video for the Keane song “Atlantic”, which comes from their forthcoming album Under The Iron Sea.
According to Gigwise, “The three piece approached fan Welsh to direct the video despite the fact that the writer has never directed a promo before.
Tom Chaplin said of the project: “It’s a claustrophobic, foreboding song that takes you straight into the eerie world of our new album.”
“We met up with Irvine in the studio as ‘Atlantic’ was coming together. We talked and felt he was the ideal person to put our song into pictures. He in turn felt that Atlantic could prove the perfect soundscape for his directorial debut. The result is a dark artistic statement that adds a new dimension to the song.”
“We wanted everyone to have something special from the album before it comes out, something that sets people up for the mood of ‘Under The Iron Sea’, so we chose to make this a video download.””
Tim Bell has been running highly successful Trainspotting walking tours for the last few years, taking fans of the book and film on a tour around Leith, where much of the action is set. (You can read more details about Trainspotting Tours on Tim’s own site LeithWalks. On the back of that, he’s also written a great essay about the history of Leith and the impact of Trainspotting’s success on the area for the book A Sense Of Place.
Here’s a quick extract from Tim’s essay:
It is difficult now to find any excuse for those vast badly planned and badly built schemes, under the ownership of the local authority which had the task of acting as landlord thrust upon it without any clear rationale or policy. Many families, including Mr and Mrs Welsh and their son Irvine, had left a town with its centuries-old structures, institutions and middle-class, for these places that were supposed to answer the needs of a single socio-economic group. The open spaces quickly became unattractive and even unsafe with broken glass and dog shit. The planners had no intention of letting shops and pubs start a business where there was demand. That sort of thing was grouped around shopping centres. The one on Pennywell Road is typical:unattractive in appearance, unappealing to walk round and linger in, and the shopkeepers always struggle to make a living. The units were never designed for family businesses anyway – branches of chain shops are far more common. The banks are noticeable by their absence, seeing no market for themselves, leaving financial services in the hands of loan sharks. Thus is spontaneous and healthy economic life and social intercourse stifled and stilted. Inevitably a generation grew up with little knowledge of or stake in wider society. In his novel Trainspotting Irvine Welsh later depicted the toilet in the bookie’s in the shopping centre as a fantastically, grotesquely, foul place. The film of the novel dubbed it the “worst toilet in Scotland”.
You can read the full essay in A Sense Of Place: A Collection Of New Scottish Writing, published by Waverley Books.
UK ezine PEOM (Positive Energy of Madness) has an entertaining interview with Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh about their new play Babylon Heights
The World Premiere of Babylon Heights, a new play written by Irvine with Dean Cavanagh opens at the Exit Theatre in San Francisco on June 14. It’s the tale of the munchkin who hung himself on the set of the Wizard of Oz. Look closely at the scene with Dorothy, the Woodsman and the scarecrow heading down the yellow brick road. There he is. Swinging.
The myth and Hollywood legend surrounding the crazed munchkins endures to this day. Babylon Heights brings the Irvine Welsh style to this uproarious tale of Hollywood mayhem.
More info: www.babylonheights.com
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