Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Saw Billy Reid doing magic last night. It was an excellent antidote.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

I saw a very gripping play a week and a bit ago. Gut by Frances Poet. Directed by Zinnie Harris. On at the Traverse for a little bit longer maybe.
It's nicely topical which always gets a show brownie points. It speaks of a couple with a 3 year old child. The child is out for lunch with his gran. The gran is busy at the till in the cafe, juggling tray and purse and trying to pay, when the wee boy announces he urgently needs the toilet. A guy behind them in the queue offers to take him. Crisis averted. All good. But then the gran relays this episode to the parents and they slowly, simmeringly, seethe with uncertainty.
It's a great premise. We don't know and they don't know at any point whether the stranger did anything other than take the little guy for a wee. But the feverish, over-excited and suspicious world that we live in, works relentlessly on the parents, driving the mother in particular slightly mad. It's an extra great story line in this era of fake news. What is truth when it walked out of the cafe with the kindly stranger?
Mainly you should see this because the story nicely lingers. But it's also brilliantly directed, excellently acted, has pitch perfect sound, is thoughtfully lit and will chill you to the bone.
Though if you have small children, I'd maybe stay away.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Well, I was astounded by the number of people who came along to auditions.
Astounded isn't even an exaggeration or my (occasional) hyperbole. It was just very incredibly surprising.
Someone sent in a video audition. 
One auditionee turned up at 10pm to my surprise. 
The Wednesday audition had started at 7pm. 
I had a handful of round the edges auditions in addition to the scheduled sessions. 
My numbers were further swollen by the children in attendance bringing mothers, fathers and sometimes, siblings.
It consequently took a very long time. 
And I must commend everyone who attended for lovely, compassionate patience.
Both at the time and subsequently, while we shoogled and sorted and wondered and debated and decided. 
But hooveryray. We have a cast. Very happy days. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Because, I realise, I have no self-belief, I expected no-one to come to auditions in my heart. Apart perhaps from dear BS who I didn't believe would hoodwink me about his attendance. 

So then loads of people turned up last night. 

And my heart danced.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Auditions on Wednesday. And then Sunday.

It's tremendously exciting.

I get to cast 15 (or is 16? I can't remember delightfully) people who've lived only in my head for the past eight months. Will I recognise them as they walk in, I wonder?

Many thanks to Thom Dibdin for this and Robert Peacock for this

We've been getting loads of enquiries and it's just great.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Hundreds of pounds worth of shoes in the permanently locked shoe room. Note the named pigeon holes to allocate the shoes by dancer.
It is rare that I attend a work event and wish devoutly that one of my 'real' friends were with me. But so it was on Wednesday when I found myself at Scottish Ballet's premises at Tramway when I wished dearly that BS was with me though he was busier with giant steins of beer in Innsbruck. The reason for my visit was an Institute of Practitioners in Advertising event on the theme of creative inspiration that paired SB's artistic director, the wonderful Christopher Hampson with some man from advertising who also (to my unending envy) sits on Scottish Ballet's board. 
Being darkly honest, I thought the adman's reasons for liking the ballet and the similarities which he observed between our own (less creative) profession, were rather foolish. He talked about the mammoth effort that goes into preparing an advert (true) that you don't see in the end result (hopefully true) as being similar to the mammoth effort that goes into a dance production (hmm, I guess). I was bursting to shout out that I thought the greater similarity is that we're both in the business of story telling. But then Christopher Hampson said more eloquently that we're both about finding a unique voice, inviting people to identify with whatever we're presenting and hopefully singling out "something that shows a side of myself that I'm not comfortable revealing".
Like a fan girl, I went darting up to him at the end and found fawning words pouring out of my mouth. I'm interested in how they programme, marrying things that are popular with their audience with things that give the dancers enough to get their teeth into. I babbled for a while about the cleverness, I supposed, of their Stravinsky double bill. Though I forgot it was set to Stravinsky and called it smartly "the peasanty thing with the modern thing". This double bill apparently, he told me, is their greatest ever box office success. He thinks his master stroke was calling it Stravinsky. I realised with vague dawning horror as we spoke that the modern thing - which I had violently hated - was his own choreography. And the "showing a side of myself that I'm not comfortable revealing" fluttered uneasily at the back of my mind.
The greater wonder of the night was a tour of their premises. We saw their to be constructed on site in gym halls around the Highlands and Islands set for Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling. We saw their beautiful costume store (Home Street, eat your heart out). Boxes of mice tails discarded from the Nutcracker. Boxes of peasant shoes. Boxes of bodices and hats. Rails and rails of costumes. Rails and rails of net and tulle. I could have spent all night in there, fingering stroking lavishing love on their beautiful industry.
Then the shoe room. (See pic above, thanks to Sara, as my phone battery inconsiderately ran out.) We got to fondle a shoe to see how tough they are. But silky and lovely. A principle dancer will get through a pair, a show. And they cost between £40 and £50 a pair. No wonder they trot us around their premises talking about the wonder of their community outreach programme - they want our money to pay for their shoes.
But the greatest treat was watching a little excerpt from a rehearsal for Highland Fling. They'd laid out two rows of seats. I was carelessly late, having assumed the first half hour would be given over to drinking as is usually the way at these events. So I snuck into the back row but still got a completely prized view of the sylphs stalking around their mistress, the human boy busy loving his mystical queen sylph and the horror of her (spoiler alert) crushing debilitating despair when he snippy snip snipped her wings off.
Most especially wonderful, they weren't in costumes or make up. They were in scruffs. Practice clothes, I guess they'd say. Jogging pants and vests and long sleeved tops and little shorts and all sorts of loose jersey garments. You were close enough to see them sweat which sounds sordid but was just impressive and fascinating. The studio was surrounded by a barre. There was a waterfall of ballet shoes hanging off the barre and sliding in a tumbling heap in one corner of the room. There were bits of set lying about, where necessary to the action. And the loveliest thing was watching them as they came "off stage" and flopping and mopping their faces and gulping water and slumped breathless - and then they'd shake themselves down and go back "on". It was completely captivating.
If there'd been a place to sign up for lifelong sponsorship, I'd've done it on the spot. But there wasn't. So they're saved a formalising of my fawning.  
 Here's a heap of tutus as a sorry to BS that he wasn't there too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My reading around the subject has translated into some decent (in my mind) conversations with the children over dinner about stereotypes and harassment and inequalities. I've just finished a brilliant book by the brilliant Laura Bates called Everyday Sexism. She span it out of the blog with the same name. The book is wonderful (and horrifying) in all ways. So I was delighted to discover that she's 'made' a new book called Girl Up. I eagerly ordered it from the library and collected it last night.

A good title. So when last night's meal was done, I say encouragingly to the child: "what do you make of this title? What does it mean to you?" (Ever the researcher - poor kids.) We discuss it a little and she leans in to peer over my shoulder as I open the book to see what wonders it contains. 

To see ARRRGGGHHHHHHH AIIIEEEEEE inside the front cover. So that caused some disruption and indecent conversation around the table. All in a good cause, though, eh?