Thursday, January 31, 2008

The miracle of YouTube.

I'm about to go to my technical meeting completely unprepared, about to panically fill out the paperwork (what a shit director - and yet every night this week I've been working!) and so I'm urgently looking up music on YouTube like a lunatic.

I think this shall feature.
6:55am. The honey kicked me out of bed shouting "come on, you've got 10 seconds". I staggered into the shower and at last, Siobhan's missing line came to me.

Tired of crowd-searching
Telepathy and hope

At 6:55 as the sleet lashed against the windows and I trudged off to work, it seemed gloriously appropriate.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The language in this play is beautiful. Normally, it's only after the event that I wake up with lines darting around my head but this has been happening for a couple of weeks now. Hats off to Sarah Kane for choosing such wonderful turns of phrase.

I was desperately trying to remember my favourite line on the way to work today. Siobhan says it. But I can only remember the line after hers:

Watch the stars
Predict the past
And change the world with a silver eclipse

Lovely stuff.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'm starting to think I might have a really excellent little show on my hands.

Two more rehearsals. Sunday saw everyone together again, all scripts down (except for a few sluggards still clutching at the books when it gets to the flash flicker dabs and many sly looks at the words from honeymooning Alex inbetween her porrtions) and we limped through it a couple of times.

Yesterday was more creditable still. It's funny watching them always sticking on the same lines. It seems that everyone has one or two (or five) evil nemesis lines. I wonder why it works like that. But they're really getting there.

The great debate is whether I should rethink the flash flickers. But I think I'll give them another week of misery before I make any rash decisions. Poor things.

Now of course I'm starting to wish and hope that we get through to the next round.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Most recent rehearsal was with the so-called chorus. First time for them off the script. I fully expected it to be a complete shambles as their dailogue is so random and strange. But they did remarkably well.

There's a horrific passage of 7 verses of random words, each verse has four lines with maybe 8 to 10 words in each of the kind which read maybe:

flash flicker dab slash flicker burn flash stab float

And I'm encouraging / telling the poor bastards to learn whole lines of this stuff, some of which is be recited in unison with others. A horrendous task but I'm sticking to my guns for the time being in the hope that they can do it.

None of them had managed to learn their portion of this "dialogue" for Tuesday. Except for dear Siobhan who did incredibly well with the final communal verse. So hats off to her.

Unfortunately Caroline has now joined rehearsals as prompt. Unfortunately because I find that when she giggles, I giggle. And it doesn't take very much to start either of us snickering. The poor cast were interrupted continually with one or other of us chortling away in the most irritating fashion. I am surprised no-one set off towards us to give us slaps.

But this aside, it all went remarkably smoothly. I hope and dream that the cast are having a nicer time doing this than some of the other productions I've been recently guiding. But luckily they're a pretty polite bunch so I doubt I'd know if they hated it. The director's privilege.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Continuing my cinematic extravaganza, I caught (after an exhilarating almost didn't make it bus ride on Monday night) The Kite Runner. And what a lovely film it was. Having read the book, I knew exactly what to expect and judiciously attended the cinema alone so I could sob in an unrestrained and self-indulgent frenzy throughout. And I pretty much did.

I guess the storyline does deal with one terrible misfortune after another but in such a charming and engaging way, you don't feel like you're watching a particularly sorrowful film. And they'd put the film together as charmingly as I hoped they might, with brilliant performances from the young boys and the grown-up boy for that matter. If you like weepy movies, go see.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I've been playing panicky catch-up at the cinema. Saturday was the much vaunted "No Country for Old Men" which admittedly was less catch-up than almost advance guard viewing. I liked it though a little eye-shutting through the gory bits was required for this squeamish female. The ending was a bit of a shock but I think I shall agree with Ross and appreciate it. Not sure about it being an Academy Award candidate though. But there you go. If anyone deserved an Academy Award to my small mind, it was Kelly Macdonald for an amazing portrayal of a down-trodden trailer-trash wife. But I think Cate's hogging most of the nominations there.

Sunday was Ang Lee's "Lust Caution". I feared the sex scenes as everyone seems to have been fussing about them. But they were far less pivotal to the film than I'd imagined from the outrage. Beautiful looking film I thought. Beautifully acted. Of course I liked the "let's do a play" scene at the start. Aside from the disparaging remarks made about directors. It was probably a little longer than it needed to be and featured some disappointing gaps in the plot. But that aside, a much more enjoyable way to spend 2 hours and 38 minutes than I'd imagined.

In between this, I managed to squeeze in the Lyceum's Glass Menagerie. Here, of course, I am hypercritical as I have imagined myself both acting in and directing this particular play many times over. And I carelessly saw a super production in London last year so I did rather doubt that this would measure up well. On the plus side, the Lyceum's Laura was a thousand times more convincing - and more endearing - than the crazy parody of a girl with a club foot who dragged herself around the West End stage last year. And there was some pretty respectable acting from the mother and the son. And the gentleman caller was lovely. But the set was clumsy, the lighting was a bit clunky, the music was inconsistent and some of the direction was just a bit amateurish. Who am I to comment?? But I am very fussy about this play so don't take me too seriously here (in case you ever do).

Monday, January 21, 2008

They have been instructed to be off their scripts from heretoforth.

So cue a shabby rehearsal with the girls yesterday that dully consisted of me listening to them trying to remember their lines in a shivering rehearsal room.

The art of the director...

I look forward to perfection from the 'chorus' tomorrow.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Lovely rehearsal last night (I thought! I hasten to add).

All of my cast in one room which is always reassuring for a director.

Introductions for those that hadn't met her to the lovely-voiced Alex who guzzled chips as she staggered through the early porrtion of the play.

The chorus mostly remembered their blocking - aside from a few comedy creeping walks which appears to the recourse of the actor who can't remember where to go. So cue a weird hunched and stooping movement to reach something approximating where they think they should be. It's a shame that they couldn't do this in front of a real audience as that would surely add some humour to the endeavour.

A lot of line-learning has been going in, in advance of the books down date which is quite exciting. And this of course makes an amazing difference as suddenly you can see actors' faces which is a nice change to tops of heads lost in scripts.

And I think it's looking pretty good. Even with the ugly chairs. Of course I'm horribly biased.

Alarmingly a few people at work have been talking about coming to see it. I know it's wrong to deter them. But I don't want my colleagues to know what a dark twisted freak I really am.
My cultural outing last weekend took the form of a couple of plays by Big Village, formerly known as the Royal Bank Theatre Company or some such. They that so kindly let me tread the boards in my most recent festival appearance a couple of years back.

Too many people appear to be reading this now for me to truly speak my mind so I am pleased to let others do it for me.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

You can tell she's busy at work when she doesn't post for a week. Far too many distractions.

So last Thursday, we put it all together minus honeymoon Alex. And it looked pretty respectable.

Sunday saw the Great Return. Alex glowing back from Bhutan. Blocked her, ran through it all with the girls. Strength in numbers and they petitioned for extra chairs on the stage, damn them.

I can never quite bring myself to think of the practicalities of my blocking in terms of actual human physical movement. And then feel thwarted when people aren't quite sufficiently flexible to do as I wish.

So ugly extra chairs will clutter up the stage now. Tonight will see the first ugly cluttered rehearsal with all of my cast and my 'chorus' who haven't had a rehearsal for a week now so will have forgotten everything. Wish them / us luck.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Us shabby amateurs can be damned efficient when we set our minds to it, it seems to me.

I had another rehearsal on Monday night, this one blocking the girls and adding them into the alreday blocked chorus section. Helps that my girls are super-efficient and most of their moves are super-repetitive but nonetheless, they swiftly grasped what was asked, we had a start-to-finish run through and it was looking good.

I wonder if it almost makes some kind of sense together. But let's not speak too soon.

Then Tuesday and a couple of conversations later and I'd talked myself out of having a stage manager but acquired the lovely Caroline as a prompt. And it feels like finally - having been fretting about my disorganisation - we're making some headway.

Now of course, I am not rehearsing again til Sunday. When Alex shall return from her honeymoon, dewy-eyed and aghast perhaps at all the weirdness. Everyone else in the cast shall have forgotten where they were meant to be and when. And it will all disintegrate. Before they've even got anywhere near casting down their scripts. Fingers crossed.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A weekend of cultural opposites. Saturday afternoon saw me at Scottish Ballet's Sleeping Beauty. I missed many of the subtleties picked out in the production by the Guardian's reviewer but it was nevertheless better than I thought it would be. Some pretty ropey dancing from the choris amply redeemed by the charming Beauty herself.

Saturday evening saw me at the local multiplex watching Will Smith in I Am Legend. I thought this was pretty rubbish but having spoken to various people in the interim, I suspect that I am judging it rather too harshly. It was good enough at what it did though I suspect Zinnie Harris would accuse the plot of being rather lazy. I liked the dog best.

And Sunday, following the rehearsal (and the stupefied faces of some of the cast as I doled out stage directions), I caught Sin City on DVD. And indeed it does feature strong, sustained violence but rather beautifully done. I would like to speculate that the last but one scene was directed by Quentin Tarantino. IMDB will not tell me the answer. Do let me know if you are aware. Anyway, I loved it. A brilliant opening scene that made me wonder if all my 4:48 cast can appear in black and white with a little flash of red on the lead character's dress. A fine finish to the weekend.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Finished off the blocking yesterday in the cafe at the top of John Lewis at lunchtime surrounded by brawling children and sharing a table with a man who looked for all the world like a paedophile. Though I know you shouldn't judge people by their appearances. But he finished his snack and swapped with a very respectable middle-class lady so they probably cancelled each other out.

Friday, January 04, 2008

First rehearsal went well last night I thought. I managed to speak so much that it was 9:15 by the time we'd finished the read through. So suffering from first day back at work-ness, I "let" them all go home.

It sounded kind of okay I thought. It's impossible to tell really whether the way I've craved up the lines makes any more or less sense than if the whole thing was spoken as a monolgue. Of course I think it does but I suspect I lack objectivity.

The cast seem to be suffering from frissons of fear about the whole venture. I must try hard not to make stupid facetious jokes and set their minds at ease.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Back to work which is a bit uggghhh. The Man Was Not at The Bus Stop. Though I couldn't bring myself to get my usual 7:30 bus so maybe he'd been and gone. Worse still, back to work to find that our department pet, Tiger the Golden Fish, is Dead. I almost wept when I was told. But quickly pulled myself together and rediscovered some perspective.

(Aged nine, I discovered that my beloved goldfish, a big sturdy fellow who lived in the garden pond, had passed to a better life, courtesy of a heron who'd taken a big pecking portion out of his side and I spent the whole day drifting up and down the garden path humming funereal dirges to myself. I was a mournful child. Some considerable years on, I feel I should be more composed.)

But by way of consolation, I have my first rehearsal tonight.

I managed to squeeze some blocking action into the party preparations on New Year's Eve thanks to a minor miracle of efficiency. So have at least some info to impart to my cast.

And managed not to lose my eyes or eyebrows in the midnight firework frenzy so will be able to share some directorial thinking with the cast when they set to work at last.

And actually will have to earn my keep tonight as one of my actors is still on her honeymoon. So I shall be reading in for her.

All in all, a busy first day back.

Oh, and happy new year.