Friday, July 31, 2009

So say you had an actor or actress who hadn't turned up for approx one third of the rehearsals, the rest of your cast was getting slightly agitated and he or she then didn't turn up for a rehearsal approx 18 days before the show is due to start with only 5 hours' notice, what would you then do? Hunh?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Well. Sunday. I guess my temper was a little frayed.

I dragged my sluggish self up from London. I think I got up at 7:15am. On a Sunday. To make sure I was back in time. And the trains were perfect. The Victoria line was shut but I got a replacement bus service, a tube, and a NationalExpress train all the way North and arrived in Edinburgh perfectly exactly when I was supposed to.

To be greeted by a succession of apologies for people's lateness. Ten people were due on Sunday. Five of them were late. I boiled silently and defiantly started with an unexpected section to 'defiantly' teach the latecomers that we wouldn't wait. A small pathetic gesture.

And then as if my foul temper had smeared everyone with misery, the run through was terrible. It is meant to run at an hour and fifteen minutes. I've allowed an extra five minutes in the Fringe programme timings to allow for dramatic pauses and moving musical interludes. On Sunday, it ran at an hour and forty minutes. You can only imagine how good it was.

Onwards and upwards, right?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

En route back from a very cousinly weekend in London. Though it still allowed ample time for hungry study of the numerous posters promising boundless theatrical delights to the escalator weary traveller.

I am hoping that my train arrives on time or it will seriously impede my ability to play director this afternoon.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I failed to note and commemorate my 500th post. Which passed unceremoniously 2 posts ago. Well, I am proud of myself. For a blog that started as a PR stunt that turned out to be useless, I’d say I was doing rather well. Though clearly I shouldn’t be proud of the narcissism that compels me to continue. Rather, I should humbly salute my two patient readers. I appreciate you both.

Wednesday was really good actually. Having been alarmingly underwhelmed by Sunday’s efforts, they seemed to pull themselves together on Wednesday and mostly do what they were meant to without too many fluffy lines along the way. It was helped I think by the fact that they had a ‘new’ audience member in DG’s hawklike eye. And they always try a bit harder when they have virgin eyes on them. Also helped by the fact that Hilary had returned from her roadtrip tanned and French elegant. The boys were most appreciative.

But maybe they’ve just recovered from the books down dip quicker than I’d expect. Maybe they’re just all quite good.

I’m getting to that nice starting to know them a bit better state where I can tell (I think) when they’re ‘acting’ and when they’re just desperately trying to remember what to say. So that helps too.

And I had my first ‘lines popping into my head in the shower’ moment the other day. It was a relatively unexciting line about the king of thebes but still. A sure sign that I am starting to get hooked.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My head is full of hideous nonsense so I'm taking x5 minutes to blog to soothe my weary brain.

Sunday night saw me silently lurking in the background at DG's auditions for Wit. It's a cracking script. An amazing role for the lead actress. And the concern, as with all these sort of scripts, is whether you can actually find anyone who is up to the role and available.

Remarkably - and a fine tribute to the health of the group or the appeal of DG - we were rather oversubscribed when it came to competition for this part. He / we saw several brilliant performances from auditionees. And that was only the Sunday night part of the process.

There's no more fine audition than one which gives you an array of talent to choose from. We should probably be collectively quite proud of ourselves.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Well everyone turned up that was meant to today. Everyone limped through their words without (visible) recourse to the script. Gillian prompted with grace and gestures to illuminate more elusive words. I was encouraged to see that it isn't only me that tries to do that.

The acting was variable. Some great successes. Some raggedy bits. I managed to laugh again in The Final Scene of Death. Really, I should be put out to pasture. It's no wonder they can't then concentrate.

And as Jacques said, in a particularly tormented moment, 4 weeks tomorrow.
It's a desperate day when you receive a 9am text on a Sunday from an international reader indicating that it has been some long time since a recent post and is the show in crisis? (Or have I succumbed to the pernicious ravages of the flu of the swine?)

So. No. The show is not in crisis. Yet.

Last Sunday was an exercise in self-control. But this perhaps is the director's lot. The Unnamed Actor who quite frequently now has been absent from rehearsals was absent again. With an hour's notice. Which, needless to say, made my blood boil.

I had one apology already from another significant actor. And received another from another with maybe two hours to go. So my first full run-through was kind of thwarted. Grrrrrr.

I painted a fake smile on and prepared to face The Wrath of Jo. And the others. But his wrath is usually the worse. I thought I was managing to hide my anger successfully but chatting to our props lady yesterday - who had the dubious pleasure of arriving with flameproofed cushions to fill the body bags in the midst of the excitement - commented that the atmosphere had been quivering with tension.

Oblivious to all the back story, into the midst of the excitement, burst The Child. Eager to get started. So schooling her in the layout of the stage and the names of the actors and her required movements was at least a moment of charming innocence against the backdrop of black black fury.

Entertainingly, the presence of a 7 year old disconcerted the other actors - those present at any rate - to the extent that any swear words were delivered with a hundred times less menace than usual. The Child has clearly been prepared as she obligingly frowned and covered her ears at any inappropriate language anyway. I wonder if she will retain this habit throughout life.

So we limped through most of a run through. And then I flew off (cue the angry music from the Wizard of Oz when the wicked witch appears on her wicked bicycle) and panically phoned anyone that I could think of that might possibly serve as a replacement for the principle offender. No such tolerance as was displayed towards the Impossible Boy who then took all the glory in Polaroids. But then I guess an Eastern European go-go dancer is always a trickier proposition when it comes to last minute replacements.

Wednesday at least was less eventful. The rehearsal itself was as shambolic as you'd expect given that they are about to cast their books down. In a spoiling of my self-righteousness, I turned up late thanks to a pesky flight in from Manchester. But my assistant director seemed to be doing a fine job of keeping things in order. But The One Who Often Does Not Turn Up (TOWDNOTU??) was at least there. So fevered brows were a little soothed.

The Test will come today as Sundays appear to be the problematic day. I await 2:30 with the sort of baited breath that can only come to a director with 4 weeks before debut and a stumbling erratic pack of performers.

However, speaking of stumbling and erratic performers, I should take heart. Last night, I watched a local production of Blithe Spirit. I've never seen the play before. Great script (I must suppose). Great premise. Lovely Noel Coward. But oh my. I counted six prompts. And these weren't just surrepitious muttered swift recoveries. No. These were full-blown grind to a halt, call for a cue, prompts. "Line" a few of them called on occasion. Or, my personal favourite, "prompt".

The acting wasn't really terrible. Just marred by this. Noel Coward and six prompts (though Ross maintained it was more) do not go together. Still, the set was stunning. We need to try and poach their set designer. And the bacon and eggs which Gillian prepared last weekend and froze were a triumph. And Caroline, as you'd expect, was really marvellous. Though she said mournfully that her patience had run out with the shambolic others by last night's show. Reasonably enough. I'm glad that she appears to be destined for bigger and better things.

Still, this was a good lesson in how bad it can be. I hope we won't plumb these depths at least.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Well. That person, whether it was a he or she, turned up tonight. So maybe I won't have to step into the breach just yet.

The books down day is looming so it was a bit rambly and sprawling tonight. With flashes of really excellent stuff. I'm worried I'm victimising Jacques / Creon and not saying enough to Hilary / Ismene. And irritating Ross. And patronising Jo.

On the plus side, Ismene's dress fitted and looks great. She so does not need a bolero.

The boys, with their moth eaten Home Street-scented braided jackets were not so lucky. Creon could barely fit into his so shovelling Haemon into one seemed pointless. I face the prospect of commanders in jeans and T-shirts at the moment. We must hope that the other theatre groups of Edinburgh's wardrobes have a more fruitful yield.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

By the way, Owen McCafferty, if you happen to be reading this, I'm scouring the internet in the hopes of finding an email address for you so I can invite you to the Scottish premiere (yes, premiere, boys and girls) of your Antigone. But I'm not having much luck. I think I should give up and go to bed.
Well. A chaotic Friday was brought to a rousing close by the delightful news that my beloved Ingrid had her baby. Maeve Rose. One of those glorious moments when I thought I'd had a tough time of it. But hey, at least I'd not been in labour for however many hours.

I had a little sliver of culture with Public Enemies this weekend. A very good-looking film - and clearly Johnny Depp was his usual fine self - but do you know, I don't know if I'd've directed it quite like that. As obviously, I am well-placed to comment.

And then a fat sliver of nothing like culture with Transformers the whatever whatever version it is. The return of the big good one or something. I expected to love this far less than Mr Depp's effort but I fancied some popcorn nonsense and it was perfectly that and brilliant fun for it.

My Sunday rehearsal brought my first dread irritation. I knew it was all too good to be true. One of my actors (I dare not mention names) didn't turn up. Oh, well, actually two of them didn't turn up but I knew that one of them wouldn't. That was the difference.

And then you're in that funny situation where you're completely wildly furious but trying not to show it as maybe that's not fair on everyone else so yes, let's pretend I just feel very casaul and airy about it. And then of course everyone thinks I don't care because I'm a SLACK DIRECTOR. Win win situation, n'est-ce pas?

Aside from the fact that I was frothing with irritation and much of the time of my poor silent ones, one of whom had dragged herself along in the aftermath of her 18th birthday party (so she'll have been particularly appreciative), was wasted (too long a sentence - a sign of irritation), it was a productive enough rehearsal.

And it was all beautifully concluded with the unveiling of The Flyer. Lorraine and Jon (for it is his art which adorns it) have done a cracking job. We should have real physical copies of it for the end of the week. How very very (not at all irritated about the other thing) exciting.

Still, I daresay this particular person will be at the next rehearsal. I'm not worried... So not worried that I haven't been anxiously cautiously envisaging myself stepping into the breach if need be. Ulp.
My neighbour (for I'm at home waiting for the boiler fixing man) appears to be teaching him(or her)self the saxophone. Last week, I wasn't too sure whether this was just a hungover hallucination. This week, I am more confident that a real live person is either adjacent or above me emulating Lisa Simpson.

That, or else Brian is somehow pre-humously haunting me. Although the neighbour seems slightly less staccato in his renditions than Brian was. But I can't make judgements about his progress as I last heard him play his instrument over a month ago now. He may be Charlie Parker by now.

Monday, July 06, 2009

And yes, I know, I know. Emma is not in it. But the photos had to be submitted to the venue months ago, almost before I'd cast it, and I wanted a soulful looking girl and Jon had taken this pic of her for 4:48 and it just seemed expedient. You can tell I work in advertising.
Scouting for ticket details, I can't help noticing that all our ticket info / show details are now live on the venue website which you may view here. How very exciting.

Friday, July 03, 2009

I am enjoying this show to the point where I'm starting to think there might be something seriously wrong. Like everyone in the cast in actual fact hates me, for example.

Had another rehearsal yesterday, this time with my 3 silent vitally important supporting actors. And a few of the actors that get a few lines as well. But this was the first time I had all three silent supporters so I was very curious to see how it would look, whether it would fit, whether they would tread on each other and so forth.

Part of the excitement and delight I think comes from the fact that Heather, Ms Military Consultant, is excelling herself when it comes to tutoring both speaking and mute soldiers in proper soldier etiquette. Just watching them all marching about ridiculously makes me clap with delight. (Maybe I should have just become an Army band leader???)

I guess I'm also consoled by the fact that it all seems to be looking pretty respectable. My actors are doing very capably. Some of them are clearly busy learning their lines already and we don't have books down day for another two weeks. And they're all being very pleasant to my face. Susan is bombarding me with emails about costumes and happily, Shirley / Antigone's dress of hope as handed over yesterday fits. So this is one less garment for Susan to 'whip up'.

And so all in all, we seem to be making headway.

Of course I know well that this is always the point I get delightfully excited and then the books go down, no-one can remember what to say and it all shabbily disintegrates. How many times have I written this before? But while that date is a whole two weeks away, I shall enjoy my delight while I can.