Sage Gateshead Writing


The Conductor: A middle-aged man.


Conductor walks on stage in formal attire, but looks like a wild mess. He hasn’t slept in a couple nights, and isn’t happy about it. He stops in front of the music stand placed towards the front of the stage. He scans the audience as he puts his score on the stand and opens it. Prepares to conduct.
licks his finger and raises it. shivers.

are you trying to sabotage my genius?
someone turn up the heating


are we good?

clearing his throat
prepares to conduct
calls for the opening notes

what is a score? a collection of perfectly placed notes on paper? but a score is nothing more than lines and dots unless someone plays it. and if no one plays it, then the score might as well not exist.
so, little louder. please?
even pianissimo will do.
just let me hear the notes. I can’t hear the notes, and if I can’t hear the notes then I can’t bring the music to life.

flipping through the score

start at Bar 55. or somewhere around there.


I’m sitting at my desk
drinking my seventh cup of herbal tea
trying to get my head out of Mozart’s Mass
the one in C minor. the Great unfinished one.
but no amount of herbal tea can drown out the kyrie ringing in my ears.


how about mezzo-forte?
bar 56 the second and third notes, hmm?
will that help? aiming louder?

just imagine composing something so great, that even unfinished, people will still want to play it. to hear it.


I’m sitting at my desk, looking down at my score. this score. trying to hear the orchestra playing, but all I hear is a herd of yaks. I try to concentrate. Try to not be overwhelmed by yak-kitty yak, but the eighth cup of tea does nothing to quiet my mind. So I snort a line of the camomile lavender blend. and it hits me. right in the pineal gland.

Boom. Out. Allegro.

Suddenly I’m standing on stage, waving my arms in a attempt to draw out the sounds from the orchestra, but if there’s no score then there’s no sounds, and if there’s no sounds, then there’s no orchestra, that’s when I realize I’m wearing nothing but my knickers. I turn around, face at the audience, but there’s only an old man hunched over in the corner looking me dead straight in the eye as he slices a piece apple with a knife and eats it. Slices another piece of apple, and eats it. Then dies.


If I can’t be Mozart then I’m better of opening a glutton-free bakery where I can at least charge a tenner for a biscuit.


But I’m not interested in Biscuits
no. I’m not.
I am only interested in-

Clarinet: My hat it has three corners

Wait, what?

Clarinet: Three corners has my hat

this isn’t my symphony…

Clarinet: And had it not three corners

this is-

Clarinet: It would not be my hat

kind of-

Clarinet plays through the song again. This time more playful and complicated.
The conductor begins to move with the music
Clarinet: My hat it has three corners/Three corners has my hat


Clarinet: And had it not three corners/It would not be my hat!


This time an orchestra plays along with the clarinet. The
conductor conducts with his rejuvenated energy. Rips up his
scores, and throws it like confetti.
The conductor laughs and can’t stop laughing. Wipes tears from his eyes.

screw… herbal… tea

falls asleep. snores loudly.



Allie Ast is from Churchville, Pennsylvania and is currently persuing a MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University with a focus on playwriting. When she isn’t writing, Allie can be found roaming aimlessly around Newcastle or at the orchestra.

Warm Borders

Music is in the mute on the edge
of the flood, seconds before a breath.

If there were no silence or muddy hands
before the clean breadth of white noise,

how would we recognise the start
or sit poised to clap at the change?

And how would we ever part truly
knowing the funny presence,

the fluid balance we think love is,
without the empty clash before?

Pretty Buildings

On the borders of the city
isn’t it pretty with all the lights
and the way it changes from day to night
yes there’s lots to write about
so I write here, probably not
because you have. But because there is
so much I’m allowed to say. Walking down
the Tyne the sight of the Sage
billows like it probably does
for everyone else but language floats
in the in-between

After Adrienne Rich


Kate Simpson is a poet from North Yorkshire. She completed her BA in English with Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham and is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University.