Monday, April 24, 2006

A couple of idea stealing sessions. I was in London a week or so ago and had time to kill before my flight back. So was wandering very aimlessly from Belgrave Square and ended up passing some posh shop with a window display that was largely black with coloured masking tape stretched diagonally across the floor and onto the back wall. It looked great. I’m thinking of a bare stage without back cloths anyway. So wonder if this might be a way to break up the stage area.

And then last weekend, I saw a show at the Traverse: Majnoun by Mehrdad Seyf, produced by 30 bird productions. It was a cracking production, really neatly staged. And they had a series of rostra (asked my dad who was visiting and knows these things…) built up so they sat on an angle. But it was obviously in two sections that crossed the stage horizontally so characters could dart behind one portion or another. Could be a way to solve the bath problem. (Grusha’s carelessly married just back from the dead husband is meant at one point to be naked in the bath. I wonder should I specify this as a criteria for auditionees..?)

I’m having a bit of a theatre going fest at the moment. Saw “Good Sister Bag” by Lung Ha Theatre Company on Friday night at the Traverse. Quite magical and notable from an idea stealing point of view because the cast were all dressed in what was probably their own “bottoms” – trousers, skirts, whatever – but had what I guess must have been specially dyed tops making a rainbow of colour. And of course they were beautifully ranged around the stage in colour order. Don’t quite see how I could make use of this but it was very pretty.

Saturday night saw me at the Royal Bank Drama Club’s production of “Ghost Train”, a terrible play from which I shall steal no ideas. Except that trying to circumvent the smoking ban by having a character fussing around with lit matches pretending but conspicuously not lighting the cigarette – isn’t the best way to get round the ban.

Better to abandon smoking altogether as we are doing in our current production in progress, Patrick Hamilton’s “Rope”. Watched a rehearsal of this on Sunday and they’re doing brilliantly. Would that I can be so lucky with my cast.

We have a committee meeting in a week or so which means I have to nail my colours to the mast and set an audition date. I can’t be worrying about it yet. Surely.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I wandered along to Dancebase to register for a class in the new term the other day. Slackly only sloping up at quarter to ten – with booking opening at ten – I was given ticket number 96. Which meant I ended up waiting a prime total of two and a half hours to be seen.

But I’d come prepared with a couple of the translations of Caucasian Chalk Circle. CCC as a friend abbreviated in a text. So whiled away the time comparing the two. I gather there are three English translations in total. And having decided on a favourite, I then started plodding through it in an attempt to work out what I could cut.

I’m finding this difficult because I find a lot of it very funny. Some of it can be easily dispensed with – there’s a scene where Grusha flees across a collapsing bridge which wouldn’t be easy to stage convincingly for example so I’m happy to abandon that. But apart from a couple of obvious sections and the odd line here and there, the rest of it is either entertaining or relevant (unsurprisingly I suppose – he wrote it three hours long for a reason…).

Having said this, it’s hard to work out what I find funny – with my weird sense of humour – and what genuinely is funny. Any ideas?
The reading was interesting. Inevitably I didn’t have the right numbers of the right sex / age of people so the allocation of parts was pretty random. But they all rose to the occasion and delivered the dialogue with typical flair.

They read the first scene – the coup, the abandoning of the child, etc. – stumbling over the Russian (Caucasian?) names. And it highlighted how much work will have to be done on allocating the lines for all the little parts. Every scene seems to be littered with them.

Having finished the scene, someone cheerfully pronounced: “well, that was weird”. Great. “Weird in what way?” “Well you know, some of the dialogue. It doesn’t even make sense.” That bodes well then.

However, no-one burst out with a “can’t possibly do that play” – even if they were thinking it. So that’s something. And in fact, seeing a few of them for lunch yesterday, they were muttering almost enthusiastically about it. Hope so, as we’ll need a great deal of enthusiasm to get this off the ground.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I’m just back from Palma after a stunning week of sunshine. And what a beautiful island Mallorca is. It was a week of red wine (and variants), incredible scenery, couple of good books, lots of nonsensical drunken chat, some brilliant April Fools (always the child…) and a couple of icy cold swimming pool swims. Temperature got up to 30 degrees for our final Sunday.

In my absence, matters have been rather precipitated as the our festival show director has withdrawn. We had a reading of her play scheduled for the group monthly meeting tomorrow night and are now left without anything to read. So I volunteered the ‘Chalk Circle’ in its place.

Which isn’t quite how I wanted this to happen as I envisage a certain amount of suspicion about my choice of play which I don’t feel I’m yet armed to address. Having said this, my previous choices have been rather more radical so I perhaps don’t need to worry.

More importantly, I haven’t done much more thinking about my so-called ‘vision’. But then I’m in the rather peculiar position of having one candidate to audition in the next couple of weeks before he disappears abroad for six months. To do that any kind of justice, I need to work out at least a bit of how it might all fit together. So this hastily arranged reading isn’t such a bad thing.

I’ve also got hold of another version of the translation which contains copious notes about what Brecht meant with this and that. So I can perhaps start my conscientious reading around the subject.

From an utterly selfish point of view, the cancellation of our festival show (though don’t tell anyone – we’re not announcing it until tomorrow night) means that I may have less of a struggle to cast and crew my effort. But I shouldn’t speak so hastily. Or so self-interestedly. I’m sure my words will come back to haunt me.