Thursday, June 28, 2007

There are 3 routes I can take into work from the bus stop in the morning. And my options are rapidly narrowing.

The first route is the one taken by one of the angriest men in advertising who lives along the seafront from me and if I'm careless, ends up on the same bus as me on the way to work. So that one is immediately ruled out as a bus journey is already too long spent listening to his anger.

The third route is taken by one of the guys that works alongside me and is notable for foppish floppy hair and the the most accomplished flirting I've encountered in a long time. I always become rather tongue-tied around him. So that route is another to avoid. Particularly in the stuttering early morning.

Themiddle (geographically) route is the one taken by The Man At The Bus Stop. So today, I had to resort to stalking along the street a few paces behind him. I hope he didn't mind too much. I tried to stare casually into the distance so he didn't feel pressurised.

I need to find a new route I think.

Incidentally, for those interested in my wardrobe malfunctions, I found myself at the fourth rehearsal last night in a pair of tricky trousers with a slippy zip. One of those trousers where you zip yourself up as convincingly as you can but somehow the zip slithers down a little as you potter about your day to day life. I don't believe that my pants were exposed at all luckily.

But I feel sure my cast will be left with the impression that I have a strange exhibitionist tendency.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More ipod tunes. I was thinking of this for the start.

It's not very upbeat though!
My ipod is proving invaluable for track hunting for the Tiny soundtrack.

This morning, I was very taken by this from the Scissor Sisters. Though I'm a bit puzzled by the video accompanying it. I wondered if it might be an ironically upbeat way to end the performance. What do you think..?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The comparison started innocently enough. I was at a 40th birthday party at the weekend, seven miles outside of Stamford. Remarkably near my old (brief) stamping ground in fact.

And at about midnight, I stumbled into the field nearest the accoustic tent to find people lighting kind of baby hot air balloons. Big white shell like things (rather like condoms in fact) with a little circular bit at the base that they lit, so it filled the shell thing with hot air and then floated up and off, forming a rather grand procession across the midnight sky.

(Sadly I think the birthday boy missed it all as he was fiddling with the stereo system in the other tent which someone had seen fit to fiddle with in a breaking way earlier, bringing the cheery ska soundtrack to a halt.)

So I was thinking about this fiery procession this morning, wishing that I could somehow incorporate fire into Tiny Dynamite. As I'm sure Diverse Attractions would love that. But then my ambitions expanded and grew and I started fantasising about a site-specific thing. (The party site of course with all its tree-lined nooks, leafy crannies and babbling brooks would have been perfect.) But I shall have to scale back my ambitions.

Good news is I caught up with Andy at his BBQ the next day and he says I can have my extra rostra. And the dear best lighting man in Edinburgh has sent me a link for sugary (crushable) lightbulbs. Only bad news is my potential sound technician is selfishly teaching sailing in Turkey this summer. Thoughtless bastard.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Third rehearsal. I only had two of the actors as the third is on holiday or something. Unable to attend anyway. And I was kind of apprehensive about whether the three (mostly short) scenes that they’re in together would be enough to warrant this just for two rehearsal.

My mood was much improved by a sudden downpour just as I was leaving Tescos with my six mini pork pies (such a healthy diet – still haven’t quite got the hang of this work / rehearsal thing). And even though I had my big sturdy umbrella with me (on account of the sudden downpour on my way to work that morning), it was no match for the lashing rain.

A trifle early to the rehearsal, I tipped my boots out in the sink and wrung (wrang?) out my trousers. And padded around in the rehearsal rooms in my pants, door safely locked you understand, eating my pork pie. (God, she’s a classy chick.) And I was a little drier and dressed by the time Madeline turned up. Early, I noticed approvingly. Perhaps making amends for her late appearance on Sunday.

(I’ve cunningly thought – after earlier blogging disasters faithfully charted here - that I will refer to my actors by their character names and that avoids any obvious humiliation. Of course it won’t take a genius to come along to the show and work out who is who. But at least I don’t explicitly mention real names. Learnt that lesson with my actors before.)

So here we all are. Seven thirty and good to go. And we chat a bit about their characters. Swap some thoughts. Anthony says “you can tell I love this play. I’ve been thinking about it at work all afternoon.” We begin running little sections of scenes. I have brought a tennis ball so they can practice the miraculous apple catching scene. They practice and practice that. We got three catches in the end out of who knows how many failed catches. What potential for disaster. But at least I guess a real apple won’t bounce.

And it’s remarkable. The actors listen to what I say. They have all their stage direction written down from the last rehearsal. Know where they’re meant to be standing, where and when they exit. Anthony, three rehearsals in, knows half of his words including a couple of lengthy speeches. They listen when I suggest stuff and for the most part, try it out. Remarkable respectful times.

It helps that Anthony is a cracking actor. Handsome as you like and apparently utterly adorable too. He has a fiancé of course. What adorable boy of that age and respectability wouldn’t? And I think Madeline might shape up to be pretty sweet. She’s terribly young. 20 I think. And seems slightly shy about it all. But then she loves Sarah Kane and would like to direct 4:48 Psychosis so I have myself a companion in the Kane-loving camp there.

And they both speak sweetly enthusiastically about the play and how lovely it is. What more could I want? I remember at last why I loved directing.

They trot off home and I’m pottering around tidying cups and gathering my sodden clothing together. And suddenly I see to my horror that I haven’t zipped my trousers up. Clearly in my haste to get dressed after the showers. All night, padding round, happy as you like, with my trousers gaping open. Least I was wearing respectable pants.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Second rehearsal yesterday. Putting aside the slight hiccup which saw my actress labouring under the impression that we started at 7:30 rather than 3pm, we plodded through the blocking for the play with one very hungover boy and one slightly dishevelled looking girl.

And do you know, it was a delightful afternoon. For me at any rate. I'd got so used to rehearsals for CCC that were little more than a battle of wills that it was charming to have a small attentive group who seem happy enough to potter along in an amiable fashion. But happy enough to get down and get on with it at the same time.

And all wasn't perfect. It became clear quite quickly that my vision for the set isn't going to be very practical. Unless I specifically want my poor cast to be seen as little more than removal men. But even that, they seemed to take in good faith. Though of course, couldda been bitchin behind my back.

I'm sure it will all yet take a turn for the worse. But for now, happy days.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Saw two interesting French films recently. Notable for plump waffling padding almost masking charming stories in both cases. And both redeemed by little heart-wrenching moments. For this viewer at least.

Dans Paris told the tale of a turbulent relationship between a crazy obsessive depressive older brother and his livelier amorous younger brother. I was interested to discover that the director was the same chap that directed a godawful film called "Ma Mere" which culminated in the son shagging the mother as they injected drugs together. Arthouse cinema at its pointlessly provocative worst to my mind. But maybe I've just led a sheltered life.

The former film was briefly redeemed by a charming scene which saw the reprobate older brother read aloud one of the reprobate younger brother's favourite childhood books to him. It got me weeping (briefly) at any rate.

The Tango Lesson was a self-indulgent tale of two self-loving people that bonded over laborious tango lessons. Beautiful cinematography that rather overwhelmed a skimpy plot in many instances. And all interspersed with the tribulations of the main character attempting to find funding for her masterpiece film which told the tale of a legless man who rolled round murdering fashion models.

Both films were notable for suddenly (and inappropriately) lapsing into song at climactic moments. Which was disconcerting and even slightly cringeworthy.

But the latter redeemed itself with one of the loveliest screen kisses I've seen for a long time, oddly located on the moving walkway in an airport. It almost made up for the weird simpering song that took us into the final credits.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I almost passed out when my actress walked through the door of the rehearsal rooms.

Last time I saw her, she had shoulder length hair. Pretty unexceptional but pretty, you know. On Wednesday night, it had been sliced. She has a fabulous geometric haircut. All cropped on one side and a lovely diagonal slice of hair on the other. It looks marvellous. But it hadn't quite been what I'd expected.

In my overwrought state, I almost snapped out "how have you had your hair cut without checking with me first?" But luckily I held back. And of course as we read the script, the boys talk about how their (dead) beloved had "funny hair" and how this new beloved is eerily reminiscent of her. So it actually works beautifully.

Small control freak.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Off to my first rehearsal!

Monday, June 11, 2007

I didn’t have my first rehearsal yesterday. With an eerie sense of déjà vu, I got a text from one of my cast boys on Saturday night as I meandered around the Taste tents in the Meadows saying that he hadn’t realised that there was a rehearsal the next day and didn’t think that the cast girl had realised either.

Heart sinking – the blow only softened by a delicious chickpea patty-like thing from the Banns tent – I texted him back saying that indeed we were rehearsing the next day at this time and place. And no reply.

Of course at the moment, I’m doing my good Samaritan bit and sitting for someone else’s (biting) cats (as the lovely scar I have now acquired on my midriff will testify to any startled viewers). So had to drag myself back home the next morning to gather the appropriate telephone numbers (lesson learnt there – I now do have their numbers in my mobile phone) and start the mournful call round.

And indeed cast girl knew nothing about it either. I can only assume that the same problem which seems to blight my work email account when I try to mail hotmail account holders, also afflicts aol addresses. Convenient. As both of them swore that they hadn’t received the rehearsal schedule and I like to believe that no two independent people could lie so consistently. (Maybe I should know better.)

So the long and the short of it was that cast girl (dragged up out of her Sunday morning bed) couldn’t make the afternoon as she was visiting an ‘uncle’. So much as I would have loved to read in for her (as clearly I would love to play the girl part, despite being a trifle too old), I thought I should do the responsible thing and cancel. Start as you mean to go on.

It was just as well really. In my fear about the impending production, I have been spectacularly slack in even thinking about my ‘concept’. So the cancellation bought me a bit of time.

I’m totally lagging behind from a logistical as well as an artistic point of view at the moment. Flagrant procrastination. Much as the relentless chain of hen weekends and weddings seemed like a great excuse for inactivity in the middle of May, it all feels a bit more deliberately neglectful now.

I phoned Andy later that evening to (belatedly) chat about production stuff. He reasonably asked about the size of the technical team to date. Slimline would be the best description I suppose. As it is currently him.

And re-reading the script yesterday, I do need some pretty smart sound and some rather nifty effects at various points. So with two months and nine days to go till showtime, I should really get my skates on.

On the plus side, having failed to recruit anyone to produce my marketing materials (unsurprising given that I haven’t actually found anyone to ask), I knocked a scrappy effort at a flyer together in powerpoint (classy) on Friday in a snatched and hungover lunchbreak. So with luck, this was distributed to the assembled audience at the Improbables show that evening.

(Which sadly I couldn’t attend as I was busy watching Charmaine’s one minute masterpiece, “cold”, being aired at the Leith Festival for ya-tube. It was an odd experience watching various of my drama friends doing their stuff in the upper room at the Granary surrounded by work colleagues. “Cold” did not win the competition sadly. Though faithful Hamish, currently on a month’s work placement with us, said he thought it was by far the best of the competition entries. That boy will go far.)

So I have a flyer of sorts. Although Susan is displeased by the quantity of black ink it requires. I just need to get myself a show now. We start (again) on Wednesday.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Not talking about myself for once in my short blog, we had a reading last night at our monthly meeting for a play that Wendy is considering directing in November. Called "Wild Honey" by Michael Frayn, adapted from Chekhov's "Platonov", it's a cracking little story about a widow who returns home newly widowed to find an array of suitors jostling for her attention.

Sorry, all about me. Actually, it's about Platonov, an esteemed doctor I think, who has been married for some long time but is adored by the women of the neighbourhood who continually jostle for his attention. The widow makes a play for him, rather unsuccessfully I believe and then various other females step up for their moment behind the bikesheds with him. In the end, drunk and wild, he casts himself under a train. His exact motivations are unclear to me as we didn't read to the end of the play. But it's a lovely little comedy that verges on the melodramatic towards the end for obvious reasons.

Wendy seems enthusiastic which is a great start. As did the assembled company. So looks like we might have November sorted. And if Mr Neill can successfully complete work on his Marivaux piece (Joyce offered to help if you happen to be reading this) and find a couple of partner pieces for March, looks like we might have almost a year's programme ahead of us. Glorious days.

Monday, June 04, 2007

My favourite story last week came from Aberdeen.

In an effort to distract the wayward youth of the area from pounding the streets and causing trouble by night, an under-16s nightclub was arranged and badged "Hotsteppers".

Some kind of scuffle broke out on the inaugural night, knives were drawn, someone came off rather badly and further nights were cancelled. The night become known as "Hotstabbers".