Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I’ve just seen the most amazing show. “Knot” by Deborah Colker’s companhia de danca. It was incredible.

Seventeen dancers (just goes to show that asymmetry is good). A huge collection of ropes pulled into a column as the curtain opened were subsequently untangled and strewn across the stage as the dancers slid through and tied (each other) up and wound amongst them.

Then a Perspex box complete with impromptu lap dancing poles, artful ladders so the dancers could clamber in and out, a white and scarlet set and the dancers slithering against the plastic walls. And oh my god a girl “tight-roped” along the edge of it and then cast herself off into the waiting arms of her companions. And oh my god again, then someone hauled out a pole from one of the corners and they span the box so it revolved on the stage.

I want imagination like that.

What I love about dance productions is the attention to detail. What I mean is the way that all elements of a stage show are called into play. So this had a brilliant score / soundtrack, a cracking set and exceptionally beautiful lighting. Helped I suppose by the 17 sinuous, athletic, fluid dancers.

They’re a Brazilian company and learnt philosophy alongside ballet, modern dance and presumably rope tricks in preparation for the show. Must remember that one.

I was so impressed that I bought a programme which my fellow theatre goers will know is almost unprecedented as I’m usually far too mean. And I like the following quote from Ms Colker herself:

“If what is being said has emotion, sensibility, intelligence and originality, nothing else…no technique, no age…matters.”

The ticket was a birthday present from my father. A brilliant gift. Beloved daddy.

I’m very very impressed. Needless to say, I want a collection of ropes, trapeze artists and a perspex box in CCC in November…

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The aforementioned London visit saw me wandering into the Tate Modern on Sunday morning. This Sunday morning in fact as I am currently on a train on the way back to Edinburgh. (Wifi blogging. Very cool.)

There was a big surrealism exhibition which various people had pointed me towards. In addition to this, the gallery was in the grip of full bank holiday festivities with skateboarding displays, a collection of surreal musical performances, various incredibly cheap food stalls and hundreds upon hundreds of beautiful people.

I got into terrible trouble for taking a photo of a picture that caught my fancy. Quite why I - the model citizen - suddenly took it into my head that it was ok to take a photo in a gallery is rather beyond me. I couldn't even blame alcohol as pregnant friend Hope meant that we were abed rather earlier last night than we otherwise might have been. But I wanted to get the artist's name (Ernst) as well as the blurb about his picture as well as the picture itself. Stupid idiot.

Of course the second the camera flashed, an attendant materialised and said 'could I not?'. Understandably. But he was very nice about it. And I have my photo.

But I was interested as he (Ernst) had used a technique - forget what it was called - of laying canvas over rock or other bumpy things and scraping paint over it to give it a rough kind of finish. I wondered if I could persuade someone to recreate that on my back wall.

I saw another painting, another surrealist, didn't take a picture this time and consequently can't remember anything about it. Except that it showed a very beautiful lady sprawled across some kind of sludgy green and brown background with bright red lipstick on her mouth. And I thought how beautiful clothes were in the 30s and 40s and I wondered how many of anything 40s ish we have in our theatre wardrobe. As wouldn't it be lovely if it looked like Cabaret? I'll need to talk to Christelle.
Just been for a weekend in London, meeting up with - amongst other people - a collection of old school friends. Turns out that there was a school production of "Caucasian Chalk Circle" as well as the version that Ingrid and I did with Roundabout Youth Theatre. Which demonstrates yet again just how terrible my memory is.

Apparently I had nothing to do with this school show. We were in the fifth form and it was a fourth year production. However Ingrid was asked by our beloved drama teacher, Mr Carberry, to play Natella Abashvilli, despite the fact that she was by this point a mature woman amongst teenagers. Clearly however, there were no fourth years worthy of the part. And she was / is a cracking little actress.

I'm astonished that I don't remember as I would have been exceptionally jealous. Clearly it was not enough that Mr Carberry asked her in her third year to take the only speaking part not played by a fourth year in that year's production of The Birds. (And that in this aforementioned show, she got to wear a rainbow covered dress as Iris whereas I had to settle with flitting and swooping as a silent - though extraordinarily colourful - parrot.)

However I don't remember. So it seems that myself or my nearest and dearest have more experience of the CCC - as it is coming to be known - than I had realised. I hope that this will enhance my understanding and intepretation of the piece.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A debonair friend of mine muttered disconsolately that I hadn't mentioned him anywhere on my blog. A curious thing. I would assume that my friends and acquaintances would prefer not be mentioned. Certainly I would feel a frisson of alarm if I stumbled across a blog that recorded details of my life. I tend to feel that I am entitled to record my own business - but not necessarily anyone else's. I fear this makes me quaintly old-fashioned.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Incidentally my friend Mr Neill made a comment a while back that I could use graffitti on the back wall of the stage to liven things up. After my initial affront - that anyone would dare to disagree with the mastery of the director - I have now grown accustomed to the idea and indeed adopted it as my own.

To the extent that when a crazy girl started chattering at me on the night bus on my way home last night - and on discovery that she's an animation student at the art college - I found myself presenting the graffitti idea as my own and asking whether she thought an art college person might be interested in creating some artwork for us. She was very enthusiastic. Although that could have been the three pints of coke she professed to have drunk.

The Observer Woman magazine this weekend apparently debates whether a baby is the new designer accessory. Exactly why I wanted to do this play. I wonder if I could get hold of their TV ad and play it before the play starts...?

So anyway Golfer, I salute you. I shall have to credit you in the programme.
Saw a brilliant film yesterday, "Brick". The review in Metro said it was trying to present the troubles that teenagers face as being just as real, distressing, involving etc. as the problems that adults face. Certainly the troubles faced by these teenagers were significant. Although as a slight straying from reality, the kids were all beautiful. Anyway, film was great. Beautifully put together. Then I saw the Lyceum's production of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses". Which was an excellent exercise in speaking "old-fashioned" words in a modern style. Encouraging for the Brecht I think. Although I'm not sure I'll steal their trick of making the monied classes speak with RP and the young / more peasantlike speak in broad Scots. Or perhaps that was just the coincidence of the casting.

Hauled myself along to the auditions for Arkle's festival show on Monday night. They're doing The Tempest (and Art - which I'm marginally less suitable for). It was a super (very Brian word) demonstration of how not to run an audition. Three young pretty things were called in to read - and re-called in. I got to read my three lines having waited for the best part of an hour and a half. (Good things come to those who wait?) And apparently that was enough for the director to determine my abilities and I was allowed to go home. Obviously I say this because I am bitter at not having been cast. At least I assume I will not be cast.

Another most unfortunate consequence of the auditions is that two rather fine actors who I'd been hoping might audition for CCC have been cast in Art. Which does a week in the festival and then adjourns to Melrose for a week in October. Still, at least one of them has cheerfully said that he hates Brecht so perhaps he wouldn't have auditioned anyway.

The only good thing that came out of it was the opportunity to spread word of the forthcoming auditions amongst a very talented group of people. So with luck, some good will come of it all. This after all is what Nick, the Brecht hater, had suggested as a cunning strategy all along.

Many people seem very enthusistic about it. After their initial anxious gulping at the prospect of such a mammoth beast of a show. I am getting quick excited about it now.

Although a further body blow, my would-be production manager is looking at a holiday in Rajasthan in the show week. Inconsiderate times.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Blurb for the newsletter to try and tempt people into auditioning:

When the ruling classes are overthrown and a country is plunged into chaos, what happens to the “little people”?
Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle tells the story of the fallout when the governors flee the city, abandoning their beloved child and heir. A family servant can’t bring herself to abandon the child to the rampaging army and carries him to the surrounding hills for safe-keeping. But years later when the war ends, the governor’s wife returns to the city and demands the return of her son - her meal ticket.
It’s left to Azdak, the drunk judge of indeterminate origin, to rule in the famous case of the Caucasian Chalk Circle.

This play has a cast of not quite thousands but certainly a lot. So the following covers the larger roles. I’m planning a lot of doubling up (and probably tripling) to cover 1st and 2nd architect for example. So don’t despair if none of the following fit you. All the more reason for you to come to the auditions!
If you’ve studied the script, it might comfort (or appal) you that I’m planning to cut the songs. I don’t have a musical bone in my body so thought it was best not to inflict my inabilities on a wider audience.
Key characters as follows:
The Singer – this is the narrator character. Could be any age, male or female. Shouldn’t be self-conscious about spouting poorly translated verse as he / she does a lot of this.
Fat Prince – engineers the coup. The baddie. Probably a man. Any age.
Natella Abashvili – the child’s mother. Think Posh Spice.
The doctors (two of them!) – any age, male or female again. Entrusted with the child’s welfare.
Grusha – the peasant girl who finds the child. Should be 20 / 30 something.
Simon – Grusha’s intended, until her brother marries her off to a dying man for the sake of respectability.
Various assorted peasants that meet Grusha as she flees the city.
Three soldiers – a corporal and two long-suffering foot soldiers. Any age.
Grusha’s brother and his wife. Unhappily married, wife is a nag and brother lacks backbone.
Jussup – the so-called invalid, at death’s door until he discovers the war is over and effects a miraculous recovery. Grusha’s husband.
Azdak – the crazy drunken judge. Should probably be a man, any age. Has some long rambling speeches.
The lawyers – again, two of them. A great little double act. Fight the case for Natella’s ‘ownership’ of the child in the climactic scene. Again, m or f.
Various assorted riff raff who take their cases to the judge for the dispensing of justice. A buxom lass who dispenses her favours with abandon, a blackmailing farmer, an old lady who sees off bandits and more. Again, some great little parts.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Set dates for the auditions last night. 10 and 18 June. The committee reasonably asked if I wanted a second opinion - someone sitting in on the auditions as a sounding board. Trouble is finding someone who I think might be helpful. Crazy egomaniac that I am.

I watched Jerry Springer The Opera at the Festival Theatre on Saturday. Which was much better than I thought it would be. But then I had very low expectations. Anyway, there was a stand in the hall for Scottish Youth Theatre. I gather from a friend with child that Saturdays are the days when they run all their stuff at the EFT.

So I darted up to them to enquire about whether they could lend me a child. They did a kind of horrified double take until I explained myself a little more. But it seems that potentially they could. Although weirdly for a £50 admin fee.

So I think I may abandon the idea of using film. Predominantly out of laziness. My friend - who in my head I had lined up to film it - seemed distinctly disinterested in the project. I think his head has been turned by the pleasures of his recent girlfriend...Or he of course could have just been distinctly uninterested in giving up great swathes of his free time for me / Brecht.

But I had also been wondering anxiously about whether cutting to film for the dramatic climax of the piece would ruin the moment. I shall see if I can find a live child and go from there.

It's very exciting.