Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hmm. All this norming and storming nonsense. Perhaps I spoke too soon. Forgiveable in the first flush of the relationship I suppose. Last night was our first full run-through. It did at least have the advantage of the entire speaking cast in attendance. But I think the shock of the whole entire number of them being in the one place was too much as the run-through limped to a 40 minutes over my planned duration limpid sort of climax. I punished them with detailed but pointless notes.

On the plus side, the music reportedly will be amazing.

On the plus-ser side, we've already sold 50 odd tickets.

On the even plus-ser side, we're one of the hottest tickets on the Fringe apparently. So who cares about the artistic product anyway?

(Obviously I don't mean that, devoted readers. I care more than anyone. Come and see it. It's going to be wonderful.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

This picture is imaginatively called "crowd looking at two women wearing chicken suits".

Thanks, getty.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I saw a rather splendid production of The Caretaker last night.

I don't know Pinter at all - with the exception of Iain Kerr's fabulous production of something or other in the one act play festival some years back featuring Gordon Craig as star young man. Both he and it were fantastic. But I think in my head I wrote this off as an inconsistent flicker of brilliance in the midst of an otherwise inaccessible portfolio.

If last night was anything to go by, I was most wrong.

I expect you are all far more roundly educated than me and know the story back to front and outside in so I shan't retell here. But the three actors were superb. The set was jumbly just so. The Brunton was the perfect little venue. It was a beautifully choreographed, polished, slick little production with just the right sinister keeping you guessing overtones. All the more impressive as they've been trekking about the country with it for months now.

You have ten more chances to see it before it is done. Theatre at its lovely best. London Classic Theatre. Dates here. Hope you manage to hook up with it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

So much for having a lovely nap on my horrible crack of dawn train to Newcastle. Silly idiot has been pottering about on spotify instead.

On the plus side, I think my Musical Director has cracked (minor panic there - Berwick from a certain angle looks a little like Newcastle - just the bridgey thing you know?) the song of love for the newly united young things. It's sad as you like but of course that's never a bad thing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Well we drank fiercely last night at the launch for the young and cool of the International Festival programme. And like idiots, we tottered up to their Marketing Man and in fact, Mr Festival Director himself, Jonathan Mills, and quizzed them about their theatre tastes. And waited waited for them to ask us about ours. Ross managed to drop Antigone into the conversation but they didn't take him up on it. So I am left with the sad opinion that Mark Thomas, he who we vulture-like accosted at the Trav programme launch, is much kinder - or at least tokenistically polite - than either of they. But maybe that's unkind.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Introducing all my pretty chickens to the Barge tonight.

This should be fun.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oh my lord what a relief. Gordon is going to look at some sort of design for the flyer for me. And given that his artistic abilities appear to be more or less boundless, it should be a good one. So one item less on my to do list.

It's been an efficient day, all in. Topped off with a super multi-tasking visit to the gym during which I did my stock perch on the exercise bike whilst learning lines with the twist this time that I could also keep an eye on the Federer game.

For in amongst all of this, I have to HAVE TO mind (he was very insistent) learn my lines for our extract for the Shakespeare cabaret. Which is a wonderfully exciting opportunity. Just not right now.

Ungrateful? Moi? Never.

(I remembered to give them a coffee break yesterday. Luckily most of them didn't take it so I just pressed on. Poor fellow in the kitchen re-caffeinating was left to fend for himself.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

You know, I position myself as all caring sharing O so concerned about the wellbeing of my little cast. To the extent that I've maybe been known to refer to them as my little pretty chickens.

But then it dawned on me that 3 / 5 rehearsals in - depending on how you count - I have yet to let the poor creatures have a coffee break.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

This leadership course I did a couple of weeks ago suggested that teams pass through phases when they're working together. I think there were four stages in total. I can only remember three - but these suit my purpose so that's ok.

The first they called "storming" (bear in mind the course trainers were from army backgrounds). This was described as the ropey first phase when the team is getting to know each other, getting used to respective foibles / failings and performing in a consequently shambolic way.

This is followed by "norming". At which point everyone has kind of got used to rubbing along together and are starting to settle into the habit of working alongside each other.

And the final (maybe) prime phase: "performing". Well as it sounds, this is the optimum phase. Everyone understands how to work together to best effect and does astonishingly well as a consequence.

So I'm comparing this to the process of directing a show. And I'm not quite sure what phase we're in at the moment. The actors are all listening to me with touching patience (it's early days) and indeed, looking at me with a kind of childlike optimistic faith that it will all turn alright.

Now I know this will not last. Distrust will start shoving tender faith out of the way in a couple of weeks. Books down time and they'll realise that actually, they have to strut about and do this in real life in front of real people rather than just me delightedly enjoying their every little eyebrow raise. And I expect them to sing too? Really, it's too much.

But for now, I'd say we were practically, given the early circumstance days, "performing" as a team. Maybe the model will this time operate in reverse.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rehearsal 2 (Tuesday) was good. Off tonight to Rehearsal 3. Let us hope for a continuing of the excellence. We have two other Tempests to compete with on this Fringe.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I've been running around like a fool after this here play but of course it's entirely self-inflicted as I don't absolutely have to sandwich my play work between my play play.

So these past days, I've squidged meeting my (very talented) costume designer, my (equally talented) musical director, photocopying an abundance of badly edited scripts, updating our website copy (bit shoddily but Glee was about to start), tweaking the rehearsal schedule, haranging people charmlessly by email on account of Those That Have Let Me Down and blocking blocking blocking (while trying wishfully to create a marked up script that would not be out of place on DG's shelves) inbetween the Trav programme launch, a murder mystery night, the NTS' Peter Pan and a couple of entirely untheatrical social engagements.

So I bring this hasty frenzy upon myself.

I owe you a write up of both the promenade through the grounds of Traquair House Macbeth and the Peter Pan. In case you're interested.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I saw ten out of thirteen of them (the cast, I mean) today. Blocked a sizeable portion of it. And even allowing for - in some cases terrible - hangovers, I think we made headway.

What a relief.

It's going to look (and be, for that matter) great.

All my pretty chickens.
I don't think finishing the blocking (well, most of it) approx 13 hours before rehearsals start is cutting it fine.

I think it's leaving the maximum room for refinements, improvements and the flourishing of genius. For sure.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

While I've been pranking around on a leadership (!) course today somewhere near Northampton, it seems the Temporary Theatre Licence has arrived with our HR manager back at the ranch.

I didn't even know we were waiting for such a thing. And why to her rather than me? An ongoing mystery. But we have it. So I suppose, subject to our health and safety meeting (ulp) on the morning of the first night of the show (ULP), we are good to go.

Even more positively, I now know how to transfer golfballs in IKEA cutlery containers from one side of an enclosure to another, how to flush a "grenade" (golfball) out of a stanley pipe (my idea - quite proud) in the centre of another enclosure and how to raise a flagpole ('nother enclosure) and hoist a flag, all without the touch of human hand. I think I'll be well-equipped to run this here festival show now.

Monday, June 07, 2010

I just tweeted my one thousandth tweet.

Childishly (and pointlessly) I'm quite excited by that.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Obviously, well done to them all.
Oh. So I see it's proper, well, at least with some history, playwrights who won the Tron's Open Stage competition. Suddenly I feel less inadequate.
Version two of a rehearsal schedule despatched to my cast.

Presciently, I'm not numbering the versions. That way, depression lies.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

All of this is obviously padding. To hide the lack of news on the production front.

But rest assured. The full line up shall be released soon.

And rest even more assured that when it's done (the show I mean), it's going to look lovely. Umi and I had an hour and a half on the boat this evening. It sounds like she's pretty amenable to being our what can we call her set dresser or designer or some other fancy visual name. It sounds like, if she has her way, it'll end up looking lovely. From a personal puzzling point of view, I've finally figured out what I might do with the furniture. Thanks almost entirely to her clever aesethic imagination. So excellent progress all in all.

Thanks, Umi.
Oh, by the way, I was right. Man Who Lives Opposite does have a girlfriend.

Or at least, he has someone, a female friend of approximately his age, with whom he can walk down the street, shopping in one hand and her hand in the other.

Sunday night, on the other hand, was much less satisfying.

Any Given Day by Linda McLean at the Traverse.

Now I don't like to be cruel but I hated it so much that it's hard not to be.

Any Given Day appeared initially (to me!) to be one of these dreary plays that plants a couple of characters at some unspecified point in the future in some dreary life with some looming unspecified post-apocalyptic danger lurking just round the corner. Well, I was slightly wrong here on two counts. The danger was actually lurking outside the (beautifully lit) window. And it was set not at some unspecified post-apocalyptic future point but I believe, about now.

Having told you that much, you'll have the general idea. As Ross said, this seems to be the general theme at the Traverse at the moment.

And do you know what? It all ran more or less as expected. You started to feel half fond of the two misfit characters. A bad thing (and it was terribly bad, this bad thing, with a surprising outburst of expletives and judicious use of a water sprinkler) happened. First half ends. My hope that we'd be led through to Trav One for a pantomime style companion piece was dashed when the scene shifters started darting about in the dark. The play resumed. Different (dreary hopeless) location. Different (dreary hopeless) characters. A good thing happens. Well, you think it's good. But is it? The conversation takes a surprising (inappropriately sexual) twist. There was no beautifully lit window though an interestingly pale couple of glasses of sancerre. You think there might be a mote of hope on the horizon. But that mote of hope comes rather at the expense of first two misfit characters who are left... well, who knows how. And it ends.

Now being strictly fair, Kate Dickie was very good. Dreary hopeless, as documented on celluloid, suits her beautifully. The other actors were all also very good but I found it hard to take them seriously as it was so dreary. I blame poor Linda. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I fear the drear. But what was this particular serving meant to be telling us? Don't ever hope for anything..? I don't really need to pay for a theatre ticket to hear this.

At least it was only a preview.