Friday, May 30, 2008

Run-through in "performance conditions" last night, i.e. we weren't allowed to shout for our lines if we forgot what to say.

So all the other conditions were entirely the same. Same row of tired looking people sitting watching us. Same drafty church hall with the floor covered in blue tape, odd arrangements of fake flowers on the windowsills and the sunlight streaming through the windows.

But somehow the thought that you won't get a prompt if your head empties of the lines makes all the difference in the world. Or at least makes you a little extra jittery.

So of course a thousand small mistakes result. But maybe this is just the stuff of being an actor.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Man At The Bus Stop was reading another book about God this morning.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The miracle of arnica.

For the past two weeks, my knees have been blackened with bruises describing my repeated falls in The Moment Of Misery. A fine rounded bruise covering most of the kneecap on my left leg - clearly the one which bears the brunt of the fall - along with a little neat bruise on the right side of my left kneecap which must be where I neatly fall when I sink lower into my misery. And then a broad general bruise on the right knee. All an attractive brown apart from the side bruise which is an angry purple-black.

Costumed run-through on Sunday demonstrated that my pretty summery dress skims my blackened knees. While I suppose appropriate for a devout character who is possibly continually on her knees praying whenever she's not on stage, I felt it wasn't particularly sightly.

So an emergency trip to Boots and a purchase of a phial of high-strength arnica pillules. I sat at my desk yesterday afternoon guzzling these pillules, careful not to touch them as the label instructed and instead pouring them direct into my mouth so as not to weaken the effectiveness.

And today, miracle of miracles, I wake to find the left knee is only palely brown, the right knee is no longer bruised at all and even the wicked little side bruise is calmed by the power of the homeopathic remedy. I swallow down my cynicism and believe.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Email chitchat about DL today with our IT guru. I was bemoaning the fact that my concentration is atrocious, making me liable to wail with laughter on stage at the slightest provocation. (To the extent that DG had justifiably sharp words with me last night.) IT guru replied:

Ah corpsing. The Actor's dread, the audience's bread.

Neat, huh?!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Went to see Esther and Andy's band in concert last night.

Esther and Andy are one of those rare couples who restore your flickering faith in relationships as they certainly give the impression of being delightfully happy with each other.

To cap off the perfection, now they jam together. He on the trumpet and she on the sax.

The concert was great fun. All the faithful favourites that even those who know nothing much about jazz (which is me) recognise and can tap a foot along to. And some weirdy ones that no-one much had heard of but were hauntingly pretty anyway.

A great way to spend an evening. Utterly couthly in comparison to most of this island who were watching Chelsea v Man United in Moscow. Reminds me again of why I like my free time. (Still trying to convince myself. Still aghast at the prospect of a free summer. Must start writing. Must...)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

To cap it all off, I threw myself down on the (hard wood) floor moaning and wailing in my moment of misery before my premature death at the end of the play. Valmont / Matt did his look of remorse and disappeared off the stage. Siobhan, my silent woman servant, appeared on the stage to scoop me up and help me off. And trod on my outstretched pleading hand. Ooops.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The new space means two things.

I don't have a small low coffee table to faint off. So I have to utter my cry of distress and then jump into Matt's arms. Which inevitably makes me snort with ridiculous laughter. (Though I mustn't on Thursday. Mustn't mustn't.)

And the floor is either laminate or just wood. Highly polished highly varnished wood. So when I slump to the ground in my pinnacle of distress, my knees get a fine crack on the once-tree floor. I have two neat bruises. Good preparation for the stage I suppose.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Three rehearsals this weekend. A special extra Saturday morning meeting for Matt and I. and then a bumper day of it yesterday. 2pm til 6pm and 7:30pm til whenever. Yesterday was all in the almost real at least full size space with crazy echoey acoustics. And it was great to be in something approximating to the real space so you could figure out exactly how much further you were away from things than you were meant to be.

We did a full non-stop run-through yesterday evening and although it was rather chip-laden lacklustre, it did at least come in at 2 hours 16 minutes. Or thereabouts. Which I think was some relief to DG as each act had been taking nigh on 3 hours til then. So there's hope for us. Just need a bit of acting now.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ian Aldred is directing for Arkle in the festival. Picasso at the Lapin Agile it's called. I don't know anything much about it but crucially there was a part for a woman of approx my age. So I had half an idea that I might be in it.

Unfortunately this half idea didn't translate into anything much. I couldn't make the audition (evil client night thwarted me) and sent him an email saying that he should contact me if he struggled to cast it. Unfortunately he took my laid-back attitude literally and appears to have forged on and cast it without me.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

So. The Kiss.

I have been mildly concerned about the Great Kiss Scene in DL since the time that I first read the script. My anxiety was only stoked when it emerged that it was not just a kiss which was required but more demandingly yet, a kiss delivered with tension, then passion, then regret. A tall order.

The last time I stage-kissed must have been a good ten years ago. An alarming thought in itself. The 'opportunity' arose in a production of Moliere's The Sisterhood, charmingly translated from the French by Ranjit Bolt. (I couldn't possibly tell you what the original French title was but Brian or Siobhan would be able to scornfully translate it in the blink of an eye.)

The object of my affection in this instance was a fellow called Dewi Wynne-Jones. Is that right, Siobhan? I think that was how his name was spelt. I had never been kissed (on stage) before, limiting myself til that point, to a quick fumble under a blanket. Also directed by Brian. But Dewi was the very model of a gentleman about it. And I was young so I didn't really worry.

But is it a penalty of ageing that the worrying sets in? I was confident that we shouldn't have to engage in physical contact in the early rehearsals for DL. And after it was blocked and any excuse for not kissing was removed, I bought packets of polos and sucked like a maniac throughout rehearsals. Just in case. But weeks went by and we didn't so I got blase. Curries galore and not a mint in sight.

And just when I'd almost forgotten about it altogether, it snuck up on me on Sunday. I was un-mintily fresh but as I'm more concerned about remembering the right quarter turns in the right places at the moment, this seemed like an insignificant issue.

And of course it was rather easier than anticipated. I'd somehow imagined that a stage kiss would be much more complicated than a real-life kiss but (easy for unable-to-still-my-shuffling-dancing-feet-me to say) of course a kiss is a kiss. Just (warning!) without tongues. And with tension, passion and regret.

From my own point of view, the expression of this tension, passion, regret (TPR) needs a bit more work. I was more worried about where to place my hands on Sunday. But we have all of 3 weeks before the night before the dress rehearsal. Plenty time for TPR.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A weekend of cultural extremes. Saturday afternoon saw me hauling Miriam (aged 6) up the Royal Mile cinema-bound to see Nim's Island as a four month late birthday treat. (I tried a link to the film website there but the Nim's Island website requires a more advanced version of Flash than I can be bothered to download at this time of the morning.) Suffice it to say I wouldn't rush to see it. Jodie Foster was very good. As was Abigail Breslin, she of Little Miss Sunshine fame. But the plot was slightly too far-fetched for my liking. Home Alone set on a desert island in essence.

Saturday evening was slightly more challenging. A Leap at the Traverse featuring directing students from QMU and acting students from Telford. It was dear Nick's end of year / course showcase. And from my selfish point of view, a great chance to see slivers of plays that I otherwise wouldn't have. Some really interesting stuff.

I liked very much an extract from Alexander Salamander (or the Story of a Teenage Pyromaniac) although Equus-like, I suspect it would rely on finding a really excellent teenage-looking boy. (Which they did.)

David Greig's Europe looks very interesting although possibly too obsessed with the nature of nationality for my liking.

There was a great little extract from a play called Wit by Margaret Edson about a woman suffering from ovarian cancer. Though again personally, I'm not too hot on plays about illness. Too squeamish.

And interestingly, an extract from Catherine Grosvenor's One Day All This Will Come To Nothing which is as fine a title as you can hope for. We almost did this in the festival a couple of years ago but it fell through for various reasons.

So purely selfishly, it's given me some fodder for a what next reading list. Nick of course was very good. And some of the other (tempted to say children - clearly feeling like old mother time this morning) actors were very good too. So a nicely interesting Saturday night. And a hangover-free Sunday morning. I could learn from this.

Friday, May 09, 2008

It's always the way. As the play looms, suddenly it's wildly busy at work. Which is turning out to be ok as I'm in such few scenes that I'm loitering a fair bit. So I cunningly took my laptop along last night and got some more work done.

We got the Chat of Anger (C.O.A. for Esther) last night from David. Or maybe it was the C.O.I. (Chat of Impatience). He was measured but firm. I think he was patient given the circumstances. Understandably he's dreading that the weekend with Act 2 will be a re-run of last week's shoddy Act 1.

But last night appeared to be better. Having said that, I lazily only observed the portions of the scenes that I am in. So maybe the rest disintegrated into madness and shame. And he did curtail the final scene (one of mine) rather sharply last night. So perhaps it was actually rubbish.

We'll soon see.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I finally watched Dangerous Liaisons the movie last night. Obviously scintillating stuff as Russell slept through most of it. But what a stellar cast. A very young Keanu Reeves along with a perky Uma Thurman and a still sly even at the tender age of whatever Peter Capaldi all featured along the headline actors. The only person I didn't recognise was the lady that Russell persists in calling "The Old Woman", Madame de Rosemonde.

It was delightful seeing my lines spoken (by beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer) on the big screen. Irritatingly I kept muttering the next line in the right place until I was sharply told to shut up. And it was interesting to see quite how much of poor Christopher Hampton's precious dialogue they'd hacked out. Madame de Merteuil had much much less to say than she appears to have in the play which seemed rather a shame. But I suppose that's the virtue of film - you can show things rather than just talking about them.

And aside from some rather dodgy camera work here and there - designed I think to build the sense of menace from Valmont - I liked it. It does feel a little dated now. And their accents were terrible (hark at who's talking). Although Peter was allowed to retain his Scots drawl which was great. But a nice revision exercise. I don't believe that I have memorised Michelle's performance, only to execute it perfectly at the next rehearsal. But we'll let DG be the judge of that.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Last night's rehearsal slipped into a sea of unlearnt lines so in the end, he sent us home. My heart went out to poor DG.

I wonder if this is the problem with amateur theatre. Lots of incredibly talented people but all with day jobs so struggling to find the time. Or maybe I'm just struggling around for excuses.

Anyway, give him a supportive pat if you see him. It's a terrifying time for a director.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Stop press. The verdict from the adjudicator on 4:48...

Acting (out of 40)
Highest Mark 36
Average Mark 30
Lowest Mark 23
Our Mark 33

Direction (out of 35)
Highest Mark 33
Average Mark 29
Lowest Mark 22
Our Mark 32

Stage Presentation (out of 15)
Highest 13
Average 11.5
Lowest 9
Us 12

General Achievement (out of 10)
Highest 8
Average 7
Lowest 6
Us 8

And totals (out of 100)
Highest 89
Average 78.5
Lowest 60
Us 85

And he said:

This was an intelligent and innovative production of a notoriously difficult and uncompromising text which showed great imagination and skill from its ensemble cast.

Your concept was clear, it was acted with commitment and directed with discipline and a strong sense of both the vocal and visual demands of the piece.

I personally felt that there is a little more light and shade to be found in the piece and I urge you to seek out the sequences in which you can build the climaxes still more and vary the delivery in terms of pace, pitch and volume. Discover greater shape in the play and I think you can scale even greater heights with this fascinating, absorbing piece of theatre.

Very well done.

Reasonably respectable, all in all.
So the Japanese film turned out to be Korean and really quite charming.

It went by the fine name of I'm a Cyborg and I'm OK.

Young-Goon enters a psychiatric hospital claiming that she's a cyborg and the film charts her time in the hospital, her encounters with other patients and eventually turns into a sweet little love story. Sounds innocuous enough but it's done a slightly crazy technicolour Amelie meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory way that is (once you've given in to it) delightful.

I shan't bleat on any more and ruin it for you but more info here. Though I think it's on its last night at the Filmhouse tonight and a little screen would belittle it so catch it if you can.