Thursday, October 28, 2010

Now I'm waking up sporadically through the night with lines in my head. A sign of dedication - or madness?

However, a combination of a gym trip and a bus trip into work this morning got me most of the way through the whole of the play. Which I've not managed before in 'one' session as it's so long. So I feel obscurely comforted. I still forgot my last line. But at least I got to it. More or less accurately. I missed out a few "I see's" along the way. But as I have so many of these fiddley little exclamations, I don't suppose anyone will miss one or two. I'm sure director Wendy would agree.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lovely film last night at the Filmhouse. Fezeka's Voice. No time to write about it. And as you've almost no chance of seeing it unless you happen to be down in London in a few weeks, it's pretty academic anyway. But you missed a treat.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

As if to punish my complacency, last night's rehearsal was a terrible shambles.

That's not quite true. The scene featuring several other actors was respectable enough, given that it was the first time off the book.

But the scene - nay, the half scene - featuring only I and one other was a total mess. Somehow the fact that I been over and over the lines at the weekend made no difference to my ability to regurgitate them in the right order when it came to the bit.

However, take heart poor soul (talking eerily to myself here, btw.) I ordered up a finely vintaged garment as a costume item (and I need an abundance of them more's the pity) from ebay and was charmed to find that it is being despatched by someone who inhabits the same location as my prospective office in The Play.

As regular and longstanding readers of this blog will know, my hunger for signs has waned somewhat in recent years. But this, surely, is some sort of sign. I choose to take it as a sign of comfort and reassurance. All will yet be well. Won't it?

Monday, October 25, 2010

About to sup down the last portion of "Tempest" / summer fruits squash.

My hands still haven't quite warmed up from the chilled trip to work. So hot squash in order.

Farewell, summer fruits.
It's just as well this play is on in a few weeks. It's getting far too cold to walk through the streets, script in hand.

On the plus side, the lollipop man is still off.

Though I think this honeymoon may come to an end tomorrow.

As may the glove-less days. Could be time to capitulate to the changing season.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I laughed my way through last night's rehearsal.


Showing a proper sense of the impending prospect of performing a long play full of lines for me in front of a paying audience.

Cavalier in fact.

But great fun.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oh, I saw The Social Network last night btw. Great fun. I don't suppose Mr Zuckerberg is terribly pleased with the way in which his character is depicted. But it makes for a great movie.
Because I am working on what could possibly be my dream project right now, I found myself this afternoon sitting amongst the pillars and bottles of exquisite Italian spirits in Centotre talking to the lovely lady who markets the Book Festival. And she said (amongst other things) something along the lines of this:

"Do you know, what's amazing about the Book Festival is that it's all us. We set it all up. Down to putting out the recycling bins. The vinyl stickers on the tents telling people where things are and the stickers on the recycling bins telling people which is glass and which is paper. We've planned it all. We've wheedled with the authors. Juggled the timetable. We decide where the tents go. If we want to move one a bit to the left - or add another one - we can, even while it's in the middle of going on. And I'm lucky because when it gets to the festival itself, I'm not locked in one specific location on site. I go wherever I'm needed. People come to me whenever they've got a question they don't know the answer to. And so you're wandering about looking at it all thinking "we did this". There's nothing like it."

So that, I think, is it.
How time goes.

I've almost - not quite but almost - forgotten that two months ago, for two weeks, fifteen assorted actors poured into the top floor of 'my' office and pranked about eating pizza and playing guitars.

But whenever I pop into our fourth floor kitchen, I'm reminded briefly as the bottle of Summer Fruits squash - right colour to almost pretend to be Buckfast, you see - is still sitting proud on the shelf.

I just noticed that the level of the squash is low. Maybe one serving left. Then the memory will be gone gone gone.

Well, almost.
Hooray! I'm practically well again.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Well we lumbered through our first rehearsal without the scripts clutched in our hot and sticky hands last night. And actually, in many ways, it was less tortuous than you might expect. Though I don't suppose poor director Wendy agreed with this.

We ran two scenes. The first run of each was - it would be fair to say - agonising. The second time we ran each was patchily better.

To add to our misery, Wendy decided that this was the night that Matt and I would be forced to press our mouths together in a simulation of a kiss. Not a terribly tempting prospect as I'm currently full of cold disease and would break away on the cusp of the kiss to mop my dripping nose. Lucky lucky Matt.

But all in, it could have been worse. Wendy delivered her usual (I've now realised incredibly tactful) verdict: "it's coming along". Well, how beautifully neutral this is. "Coming along" could mean a multitude of things, none of which are necessarily positive. I must remember and recycle.

I now have two precious days before the next shameful convening so am snatching every spare second (well, clearly I'm not as I'm writing this but anyway...). And the spare seconds are enhanced by the fact that the schools are off this week so my lollipop man is on holiday so I can cross freely and unobserved with my (dripping) nose firmly in the book.

My dream last night was of a stately home / playboy mansion full of gilt objects, antique furniture and large foam shapes that were nigh on impossible to navigate. I have no idea what this means with regard to my Secret Rapture progress.

Ideas on the back of a page of my well-thumbed script.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A sack of ferrets. Joyce, I like it.
I've been having all sorts of colourful fantastical dreams recently. In hindsight, these are clearly manifestations of my panic about learning my lines.

However, progress perhaps has been made in this respect. Last night, a new variation of the panic. I have (in real life - well, in the play) a number of very quick costume changes. Last night, I dreamt I was an octopus (??) and had to change in no time into a wedding dress. Imagine how difficult that would be. All those flailing limbs.

I'm choosing to see this as progress.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'd like to say I'd had a weekend of high art but I think that's probably over-stating it. Low to medium art. No, cruel. Medium to high art. We'll settle for that.

Friday night and I saw Douglas Maxwell's new play, The Bookie. By the time I got to the theatre, I'd convinced myself (for no reason that I can now explain) that this was a show for teenagers. About a man that runs a bookmakers. My expectations were moderate to low. Though I love Decky. And now having seen it, I can't quite put my finger on what I thought.

It's a musical is the first thing to say. The band were excellent. Squished into the middle of the stage in the heart of the story, Beggar's Opera / Band Called Quinn style which immediately endeared them to me. The singer started off in the audience. Also immediately endeared them to me. And the singer was superb. Whisky soaked / cigarette sucked voice of gravel and a face to match. He was marvellous.

When it came to the story, was it the characters or was it the presentation of the characters that was a little bit two-dimensional? Hard to say. It was a very slick little production for sure. The plot, as they should, skipped along. The singing appeared to be of variable quality though I'm not convinced that I'm a very good judge of such things. And so (or possibly not at all as a consequence) I found it hard to care much about any of them. I also found it hard to care very much about what was going to happen next. But it was a polished show. I liked it but I didn't. Puzzling.

Saturday saw me peel myself up from my pit far earlier than I would have liked on account of too much alcoholic consumption the night afore and returning to the Traverse for a dose of Ben Harrison, Co-Artistic Director of Grid Iron, sharing his wisdom about writing site-specific theatre. Far less interested in writing than just doing site-specific stuffs - and far too hungover to think about writing much more than my name as the day began - this was a delightfully satisfactory session. He talked a great deal about himself and shows that they had done which luckily was very interesting. We did a couple of writing exercises but luckily, nothing terribly taxing. And we spent a great deal of time wandering about backstage at the Trav, scouting for possible locations and inspiration. Which turned into an exercise in spotting the pretentious actor vs. the regular joe who just wanted to write a bit vs. the hungover just wanted it all to be over participants. But I daresay I learnt something along the way.

Saturday night was a pocket production of Carmen, courtesy of Scottish Opera. I wondered through the first act if I was just becoming too cynical for my own good (becoming..?) or if I just hated opera. I ascertained in the interval from the wisdom of mother that the singing was patchy, the acting lacklustre, yes indeed the costumes could be improved upon and the pianist attempting to fill in for all instruments maybe didn't do the score supreme justice. So I felt justified in my (failed - they were too noisy) attempts to sleep through the second half. I departed from the theatre sympathising more with 8 year old Miriam. "Why on earth did they have to break into song every five seconds..?" My conversion to opera is clearly not yet complete.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rehearsal tonight and I got off with a little light two hours. And it reminded me again how glorious it is to be in rather than directing a thing. So for example:

- I arrived three minutes late but did not find a pack of (rightly) disgruntled on the doorstep

- I could sit not remotely concentrating when I was not on 'stage'. Well yes, you try and look over your lines but you can't ever really concentrate when other people are strutting about bleating

- I don't have to wheedle with people whose vision of their character veers wildly from my own

- And I don't have to think up clever, interesting and kind ways of telling them this

- It doesn't fundamentally matter that much to me that we don't have a costume person yet. With approx 4 weeks to go. (Although I can only be cavalier as it's a very conscientious cast)

- It isn't a terribly personal slight that with these aforementioned 4 weeks to go, we've only sold ahem tickets

- I have only to worry about not moving my arms about like an ape (I'm sorry Wendy, David) and remembering my lines

- I can enjoy the look of panic in the eyes of fellow actors when we all try to work out who should speak next - rather than panicing about how far this show is from ever being fit for performance on a real stage - oh doesn't it seem gloriously funny while the show's still just about too remote to worry about overly (I wonder when true panic will set in..?)?

- And I can leave before the end because I'm dead dead dead in the final scene. Hurrah!

I'm admiring Wendy's pragmatic delivery of character development points. She thinks hard about what actors think. I think much harder about where they might stand to look pretty and as long as they sound half like they mean what they're saying, I don't analyse it too much. I must remember to learn from this.

I'm loving my 'sister' who is a newbie to the group but has such a terrifying withering look that I shan't have to try very hard to act when she's disappointed in me. Which is most of the time.

And it's obviously an undiluted pleasure to be pranking about with my old favourites.

Long may this honeymoon - untroubled by the hot stark lights of the actual looming venue - last.
I attended a presentation yesterday on various media stuffs. The editor of the observed that their traffic spiked at 9am, 12:30 - 2pm and 6pm or thereabouts. Nothing particularly surprising in that. But because I've become obsessed recently (I so need this anti-obsessional medication that I read of recently - unfortunately it's prozac...) with my blog's traffic stats, I smiled smugly to myself as this is the pattern that traffic to my blog follows, albeit on a miniscule scale.

So I darted into my stats section this morning to vindicate my smuggery. And to my great surprise, I see a great peak on Sunday, Sunday just gone, a day on which I wrote nothing, on which nothing had been written for several days, but somehow 50 odd people (you see, tiny stats!!) wandered over here to have a look. I conclude that it was a boring Sunday.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finally, a picture of a dingy fairground in a tiny village in Normandy. Note the casual juxtaposition of colourful frivolity and murderous sky. This is (irrelevantly) to whet your appetite for my next post about today's visit to the SCDA play library. Of which more anon.

Goodness me, you're lucky I didn't actually burst from eating too much this weekend as I feared I might in the small hours of Monday. What scintillating reportage you'd miss.
I went past the lollipop man thrice today. Utterly unintentionally as I'd have taken a different route to hide my shame if I'd known he also worked lunchtimes. But I had to pick up boots from the heeling shop.

So I passed him muttering muttering this morning. And he called out some hilarious quip about still persevering with the same book.

But when I passed him at lunchtime, I thought his eyes might burst. So I stopped and explained myself (as if he actually would have cared one way or another...). "It's not as if I'm just labouring away for all this time on the same thin book..." I quipped, trying to be thinly witty. "Oh but I'm a really slow reader" he said. I immediately felt terrible.
I think someone comes into my flat when I'm out and listens to Gaelic radio stations on my TV.

Most puzzling.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Psychedelic fit-inducing credits.

Then a dingy flat, albeit with a balcony, overlooking technicoloured Tokyo.

A boy smokes some sordid drug. Oh, except it's filmed to persuade you to believe that it could be you yourself smoking this sordid drug.

The sordid drug takes effect and the boy floats off on some extraordinary psychedelic trip. So the screen fills with this sort of stuff.

For minutes at a time.

And so goes Enter The Void. Directed by Gaspar Noé. Featuring a remarkably unattractive adolescent boy and a remarkably attractive I suppose she's meant to be adolescent but may be a little older girl. Gorgeous, in fact.

So boy trips. Girl (sister) gives him a row. Boy deals in drugs. Girl is none too pure herself as she's taken to lapdancing / shagging some older man for who knows what ends. Boy unfortunately gets shot on account of having carelessly shagged the mother of a friend who vengefully tips off the police about his drug dealing. Lots of shots of boy lying hugging the filthy urinal with the blood draining out of him as the camera goes a bit shaky and weird to show that the life is also draining out of him....

And then eventually the story gets going again. Girl is carelessly shagging her older man when the call comes from a long-haired friend who wanders into the police corral and discovers the misfortune. Girl is sad. Very sad. Lots of flashbacks explaining how they all got to this miserable position. (Bloody bloody car crash (think squashed heads), parents dead, boy and girl separated, make a sinister blood pact to never be separated again, o but he lied, she's carted off to a separate foster home crying and wailing, he at some point wanders off to Tokyo, becomes a dealer to pay for a plane ticket for little sister - though honestly, their relationship is pure - she pitches up, full of joy and so it begins.)

Now I must be honest. This is a long film. Two and a half hours. With a series of long ponderous psychedelic sequences. And lots of very clever camera stuff that is lovely to look at and all very atmospheric but slow so slow. The plot advances in sudden fits and starts and then not at all. As I was there purely for the cinematography, I don't mind this in the slightest. And it meant I ducked out early with an almost clear conscience.

Obligingly, Russell stayed til the end. O so I've missed out a lovely graphic abortion scene (but whose baby?) with the girl. So let's consult Russell's text:

Well, after the 10 minute orgy in the neon love hotel, the artist (long-haired guy and sis hooked up. Cue the ******** scene (can't print this) and our hero (unattractive boy) chose their offspring to be reincarnated in. All a bit bonkers.

Indeed. But it looked gorgeous.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Hmmm. Seems like we did make quite a lot of money with the Fringe show. That's nice.
Lollipop man: "that must be ever such a good book. Are you still on the same page...?"

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

My Secret Rapture script has now become my constant companion. I feel quite fond of its perky orange cover and increasingly dog-eared corners. And it's wondrously compact. A little maybe slightly larger than A5 skinny little book. Poles apart from hauling about an A4 ring binder with notes about everyman and everything.

So I was trotting into work this morning, nose buried in it, muttering muttering away to myself. Because conveniently I've discovered that if I mutter aloud, somehow I remember better. Crossed the nearby crossroads. And the lollipop man who has heretoforth remained mute called out "still not finished it..?"

No indeed. But I'm working on it.

Monday, October 04, 2010

We seem set to make a not inconsiderable amount of money on this Fringe show.

I feel half sick with anticipated excitement.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

I know I promised. But just one or possibly two more posts and then I'll drop it.

The PRS Society have taken a prize total of a little under £18 for the use of music within our petite show de festivale (yes, yes, yes, I know that's not true French).

They have taken a little over £100 to cover their administrative expenses.

So the rest, all of the rest, is ours.