Monday, May 28, 2007

Hungover like a little monster after Sarah's wedding, I dragged myself through to Glasgow last night to watch my mother's choir supporting the London Gay Men's choir.

Uncharitably I had low expectations of the concert. Unrelated to my mother's own choir and more to do with the fact that the concert was titled "Bad Boys".

But in fact, the night was charmingly surprising. In large part to do with the fact that the whole concert was signed and the signing man was the hottest chap I have seen for some considerable time. Who knew sign language could be so engagingly presented..? Particularly when presented in a skin tight black vest.

You had to wonder whether Frankie's "Relax" was included in the repertoire simply so the signer could make a variety of particularly entertaining gestures. But then there are worse reasons.

Anyway, enough drool. My mother's choir were lovely. I squinted hard trying to hear her above everyone else and imagined that I did momentarily. Another sign of age but I find now that hearing her sing does make me weep with an odd turned about pride.

Her choir did a concert last summer, she had herself a solo - beloved soundtrack to my childhood "can't help lovin that man of mine" - and I sat up in the balcony peering down in the darkness sobbing like a six year old.

They're doing a real full length concert in a couple of weeks. 16 June at St Augustines in Edinburgh. Do come.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The culmination of Sarah Gilmore's hen weekend celebrations saw us at the Kylie exhibition at the V&A.

A salutory lesson in the ability of a lot of electric light to make the scrappiest polyester garments look remarkable.

The silver dress that she wears in 'Can't get you out of my head'? Purple nylon!

Friday, May 25, 2007

A little work related research led me to this. A Jenny Holzer projection as part of the Beckett Centenary Festival at the Barbican.

Oh for a giant projector. Imagine the potential for letting people down gently.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I’m getting there. I’ve paid the second 50% of the venue cost. It’s kind of alarming writing the cheques myself – even when I’m using someone else’s money to pay the bills. It reminds me rather sharply that this is an expensive hobby. And I still haven’t paid the performing rights fee.

I’ve also submitted the venue programme entry. A couple of days late but the girl in charge was friendly enough about it. I explained deceitfully that I’d been on holiday. Obviously I could have been more organised before I left but she obligingly didn’t mention that.

It’s a funny thing deciding on the programme wording. How to sum up the mastery of your pride and joy in 40 words that won’t fail to charm a prospective audience faced with a few thousand alternatives?

I assume some basic rules. Mention the author (if it’s going to help your case). I cheerfully bandied previous festival show authors’ names all over our publicity as if they were some kind of good luck charm. Or endorsement of our efforts. Whereas patient amateur audiences in particular know full well that simply performing something is no guarantee of any quality of the end product.

I endeavour to mention previous sell out productions. In this case, I’m thwarted as it seems dishonourable to mention my sellout fringe production of Sarah Kane’s “Crave” three years ago. I don’t think our production of Mark Ravenhill’s “Some Explicit Polaroids” two years ago ever sold out. And much as the festival show that I featured in last year sold out, it was more or less nothing to do with me and everything to do with the Royal Bank of Scotland. So that would be dishonourable on a whole new level.

Finally, I like to feature quotes from respectable sources. I fear that this is the frustrated academic in me as I constantly endeavour to do the same in wholly inappropriate work documents. A habit which once charmed one client but tends more usually to appal people with my pointless pedantry. The problem of course is that none of these respectable sources are ever talking about us but about other productions of the same play. So stealing their words is clearly cheating. But no-one has caught up with me yet.

So this year’s effort, our programme entry shall read as follows:

From award-winning writer Abi Morgan, a tale of two friends who fall in love with the same girl. Memories collide, electricity crackles. But what is fate and what is just coincidence?
“A play of remarkable intensity and richness.” Time Out

Must make sure we get some electricity SFX.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Back home under overcast skies and my head is full of the sound of the wind chimes as the sun sets on the lovely Ewan's porch in Dubai.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I managed to get scripts posted out to my cast last week at last. And got an adorable text from one of them when I staggered back to my hellhole Travelodge in Liphook after Clare and Olly's charming wedding in a Doomsday Book featured barn in the middle of the Hampshire countryside on Sunday. He said he'd got the script and had started looking over it and was looking forward to starting rehearsals. I almost wept with gratitude. As obviously I am haunted with fear that one - or all - of them will pull out before we get as far as the show week. And now nightmarishly it looks like Ross may participate in a rival show so back-up plan number one is thwarted.

I assembled a rehearsal schedule in a last-minute panic before fleeing the country for sunnier climes. But failed to actually take any of my cast's email addressses into work so was unable to effectively distribute it before I left. But it's the thought that counts. I'm only away a week.

Now I'm sitting on the landing of the villa of what must be one of the kindest men in the world (I'm careful to say 'one' as I think I may have bestowed this title on one or two others during my blogging time...) tapping away at this and I realise that although I - again - had good intentions of bringing my script and starting to actually - at last - give some thought to how this little chap might actually be staged - I altogether forgot it. I had a spectacular packing disaster when I went to this wedding last weekend. And seems I have now caught the bad packing bug.

Does mean that I'm guzzling up Donna Tartt's "Little Friend" instead. Certainly no bad thing.
Last weekend, we caught Equus in London. The Equus of Harry Potter fame. I felt mildly apprehensive about dragging myself along to the theatre like a groupie to catch a 17 year old boy taking his kit off. But perhaps we have to make these sacrifices for our art. And actually, I'm very glad I did.

I've had a vague eye on the director, Thea Sharrock, for a little while as she seems to be doing very well for herself. And I've never seen Richard Griffiths in action. And my beloved Ross was keen to see it. But primarily, I was lured by the play. I read it a few months back in my quest for possible festival scripts. Dear Nick lent it to me and I should have loved to do it but it does rather rely on having a super 17 year old. And nobody quite sprang to mind. And it is obviously a bit long for a 2 hour time slot. But it's certainly on my wish list if a suitable 17 year old ever crosses my path.

The programme notes suggest that Peter Shaffer was worried about how well it would translate to the modern day as it hasn't been done professionally for 30 years. Though of course there have been various admirable (amateur) productions in the interim, including a rather fine one featuring a sleepy horse and the director of the moment. (You can find it in 1978 if the link doesn't work.) I would say that he has little to worry about in this respect with reports of errant teenagers and middle-aged men having lost their way abounding.

The set was very simple. Ross rather generously suggested it was reminiscent of some of my black block sets. Though I expect those black blocks weren't leftovers from former shows dusted off and resurrected from an aging fire hazard store in an overgrown corridor somewhere in Edinburgh. They did some rather smart work with stable doors which unfolded to reveal the horses now and again. The lighting was quite stunning. And the acting was just marvellous. They were all very good. As you'd hope, I suppose. But Alan's parents were charming portrayals of confused little people. Jill was suitably sweet. Daniel Radcliffe was suitably troubled. And Richard Griffiths was incredibly impressive.

I love the themes of the play. What is there left to believe in? Obviously appeals to my small streak of nihilism. And it's such a beautifully put together, well-educated, informed and interesting script (that could easily be butchered by a bunch of well-meaning amateurs) that it's almost tempting to go see it again. Probably just as well I don't live in London.
"Carthage Must Be Destroyed" (Alan Wilkins) was very good. Of course, I totally fancied the main man, Sean Campion - lovely accent - which helped. The set was a bit of a show-stopper - Roman baths steaming gently in the middle of Traverse 2. Though I was a bit perturbed by the colour scheme (black and red) which was very dramatic and I suppose conveyed suitable amounts of menace but seemed curiously inappropriate for a bathing scene. But then gentle blues perhaps just wouldn't have cut it. I was less keen on the slightly laboured parallels with Iraq but the basic story - a rather cocky guy's fall from grace - was beautifully told. With some nice little character studies along the way. And Sean, if you happen to be googling yourself and fancy dinner, do give me a shout.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I think The Man Who Lives Opposite was on my bus this morning.

(If only I could be sure what he looked like.)

Clearly he has succumbed (as they all do eventually) and begun to stalk me.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I need to crack on and get myself organised now. I've faffed around with the fringe programme entry but that's been about it.

I need to make up my rehearsal schedule, send my poor cast their scripts, find myself a sound man, a lights man, a stage manager man, a prompt, a publicity man. On and on the list goes.

Usefully, tonight I'm off to see Carthage Must Be Destroyed. So I'll get nothing practical done again.

I dreamt last night that I was directing a musical featuring a large pack of children in rat costumes singing Bugsy Malone's "So you want to be a boxer?" The best lighting man in Edinburgh was making it all look beautiful though I'm not sure how artful the content was. Next stop a pantomime, me thinks.
This is one for Mr Neill. To bid him bon voyage. Cos I know he likes this kind of shit. I mean, good quality market research. It's quite fun though. You get to pretend you're 16 again.

Incredibly I was a new techie. And I don't even own an i-pod.