Monday, August 28, 2006

It occured to me recently that I'm rather losing sight of the original purpose of this blog with my rambling and fawning accounts of festival shows. However I shall permit myself one final foray into self-indulgence before returning to my original raison d'etre on this sad final day of the Fringe.

I saw two shows at the weekend there. A fantastic performance from NoFitState Circus who produced a show called ImMortal in a marquee that they fling up on a building site on Leith Walk. The finale sees the characters progressing from the twilight state occupied after death and before arrival at heaven / hell. And they did it beautifully with a kind of 3D image of a baby somehow projected into the air. And then the baby disappeared and a kind of waterfall of spray poured over the characters as they processed from the tent. I think it loses something in the retelling but in a tent full of dry ice and light bouncing off the spume, it was quite magical. It got me closer to crying when I thought about it at the crucial moment in this play I've been doing than anything else has managed so far. Cynical bitch that I am.

Rather more relevantly, I saw The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui yesterday. Unwittingly actually as I stupidly hadn't realised it was by Brecht until the programme was handed to me. But it was really interesting to see another of his plays staged as I haven't (sloppily) read anything else by him yet. Reminded me yet again that I should do a bit of reading on him before we kick off. Though with a week to go, I may rather struggle in this respect.

But returning at last to my (single-minded) purpose, things are progressing apace with this here play. I've been listening to music to try and compile my brief for the music man. And am about to go listen to some of his previous work to get some idea of what he might be able to do. I laboured painstakingly over the rehearsal schedule yesterday trying to accomodate all these evening classes. And now need to apply myself to getting some of my blocking down on paper.

Week to go. Goodness.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

This, by the way, is the track I'm thinking of for the start of the play.

Ignore the video. It's very offputting.
In twelve weeks, we'll be almost done. An alarming thought.

I am currently having a nightmare trying to arrange the rehearsal schedule. Needless to say when I circulated the original schedule, no-one (except the very efficient) said very much about what they couldn't manage. Now that I've re-circulated it to prompt them, all kinds of evening classes and work commitments are slithering out of the woodwork. It's like one of those gridlike logic puzzles. If Mr C can make it on Tuesday between 6:15 and 8, who else thereby can't? God bless those precious few who have empty social lives and no professional commitments.

Still, we have a sound / vision man on board, thanks sincerely to Mr JGH. And he sounds like he'll be a cracker. I think I might even have some music. A little industrial style Depeche Mode. So just need to sort out whether we'll actually have any 'vision'. And find a stage manager, a prompt and a props person. And we'll be away. Easy.

If I can ever get more than 3 people turning up to a rehearsal at once, that is.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Like a fawning fan, I went last night to see ‘Black Watch’ again. My father is visiting at the moment so ostensibly, the trip was in his honour. Although I’m almost tempted to go and see it again before the run ends but I suspect it’s sold out.

It’s a great script but a truly magic production. I have many favourite bits. A pool table is left centre-stage and suddenly a knife cuts up through the felt, slices through it and a couple of soldiers unfold themselves out of the belly. There’s a lovely moment where the post arrives and each soldier reads their own correspondence and silently acts out the contents. Obviously to some suitably melancholy music.

And the marching / piping sequence at the end is almost enough to persuade you to enlist. Although it did seem to have been trimmed rather from the version I saw at the start of the run. I believe that was the only portion of the show that the critics felt was rather self-indulgent. So perhaps they have curtailed it as a consequence. I would happily have watched a little more marching actually. And I feel sure that the whole sequence is a homosexual’s dream. But anyway.

The acting was excellent. Music / lighting / scaffolding set and multimedia components just superb. Of course it made me want to be a real director.

And very satisfyingly, Sean Connery led the standing ovation at the end.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I've seen some magic stuff in the Festival so far. Last night, went to see 'Realism' by Anthony Neilson. Who it appears is the son of Sandy Neilson (who was in it) who is the very dear friend (as he would have you believe it at any rate) of Robin Thompson. Does that mean I almost know the author? Could wangle an introduction at the very least? Perhaps. Anyway.

'Realism' had a cracking set. A steeply raked stage. Household appliances set into it at dramatic angles. Water that showered down on the main protagonist at one point. A set of whatever it is that's needed to fly people - as one lady was lowered dramatically from the flies at one point wearing a Monroe style white dress and showring handfuls of red rose petals as she went. And the the piece de resistance. A final curtain that looked like it was a borinf old white fire curtain (and how could they finish such a beautiful looking production in such a mundane way?) until the lights came up and the middle front section was a full kitchen set and the main guy proceeded to open the door at one side of it, wander in, make himself a cup of tea and then sit idling. Until the house lights came up. Everyone sat, not quite knowing what to do. And then some brave soul clapped and others haltingly followed suit. And then people started standing up, the usherettes flung wide the doors, people realised in greater numbers that this was indeed the end, and clapped more rousingly. As the guy went on supping his tea. A magic ending. The play was pretty good too. But stole my heart for the beauty and (pretentious for a moment) audacity of the production.

At the weekend, I saw in succession, "Into the Hoods" by Zoo Nation. A fabulous rendition of "Into the Woods", hip hop style. Featuring the cutest four year old surely to grace the Udderbelly stage, hip hopping in the midst of the most fantastically toned dance troupe you could hope for.

Then we had "Chalk Circle", an American High School production. This was intended as an educational (idea stealing) session so I went along with some brave souls frm my cast. Unfortunately the story - according to Brecht - had been given a revisionist treatment, making it the story of Grusha. Should I say Hannah, as all the characters had been renamed. To make them more pronouncable for the poor californian school kids? It was done in a kind of gypsy peasant style, all floating tunics, violins, recorders, swathes of silk and given dramatic musical numbers which punctuated proceedings disconcertingly. Still, the Grusha tale was retold pretty faithfully. And I did have a moment of horror 40 minutes in when I reflected on all that was to come and yawned at the duration of the piece. Luckily they'd abandoned Azdak - replacing him with an emporer who only appeared to sit in judgement of the final case - so all the wordy scene 5 was gone. I'm wondering about having two intervals to give people a bit of a break from the worthy wordiness of it.

And then the lovely Siobhan and I went to see Midnight Cowboy on Sunday. One of the hot tickets of the fringe apparently. Although the theatre was half empty. Apparently everyone is suffering from the grounded planes in the wake of the latest 'terror' alert. 23 people - or maybe it's 30 now - who were plotting to blow up 10 planes mid air en route to America with bottles of innocuous liquids and i-pods. Anyway.

The script suffered from having been a film and having been faithfully replicated for the stage. But the two central performances were remarkable. Ratso (?) particularly so. Quite how he has the energy to twitch so much day after day for 28 days or however many shows they're doing is beyond me. To a half empty house. Made me think that I should put a little more enthusiasm into the half-arsed fringe show I'm in that now opens in a week. A week today in fact. On which note I should go as the evening's rehearsal will be beginning in 4 minutes. Although they'll all be late. But I keep patiently waiting and hoping...

Monday, August 07, 2006

We're all saved. They'll agree to the cuts! Thanks lovely Terry McCormack.
To relieve the gloom, a little good news. It looks as if lovely Patricia, she of the fantastically well-stocked attic, might be persuaded to do props. And possibly in the nick of time as she's about to move house and is binning enormous quantities of stuff.

I just need Sam French to agree to a play that isn't three and a half hours long now.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Here's a comically interesting turn up for the books. I spoke to Samual French months ago to establish whether or not I could trim the script to make it rather more palatable for an attention deficit riddled modern day audience. And they led me to expect that this request was nothing out of the ordinary and would certainly be granted with little more than an approving tick of the pen.

So I (finally - so badly organised) submitted my proposed edit to them yesterday. Only to receive a call from this morning (very efficient - very impressive) saying why did I wish to cut the script as the estate of Mr Brecht could be tricky..?

Lovely Terry / Terence and I agreed that I wished to cut the script on the grounds of time. So he will put it to them. But apparently they can refuse outright to let me cut anything at all. Which would make things rather interesting.

We could get T-shirts printed: I survived The Caucasian Chalk Circle.

Bitchily I thought I'd fling the cat in amongst the cooing pigeons and point out oh so casually that an American High School group are performing "Chalk Circle" in the Fringe. And that appears to accommodate all manner of shenanigans. But he knew all about this and apparently Brecht's estate don't mind this at all. Perhaps as it's a more radical overhaul than mine.

Still, as Ross pointed out, if we must perform it in its entirety, we can always have copious intervals and harvest plenty of tea and coffee money for our coffers...