Monday, January 31, 2011

Btw, I'm still forming an opinion about Black Swan.
Apropos of nothing, can I just marvel at the wonders of google?

I was after a pic (for work) of a particular sweet shop in London. And I found it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I scratched down seven new year's resolutions this year.

(I write them down in the hope that this will commit me to doing them.)

(It doesn't usually work.)

One of these was, in truth, a bit of a metaphor.

I intended to bake more cakes.

On the grounds that baking a cake calls for you to stay in the same place for more than five minutes at a time.

January has slipped by. As January is inconsiderately wont to do.

And I have baked precisely no cakes. Eaten plenty. Even been given one. (Thanks, S.) But baked none.

Until today.

Panicked by the looming end of the month (the shame of being unresolute so quickly) - and tempted by a tea party invite - I decided that this was the morning to spring into action.

So now my flat is flooded with the smell of spice.

I have three spicey loaves fastened - probably irreparably - into their tins atop the stove.

I have flour all over the floor.

I feel all very Nigella.

And now I can go play Little Red Riding Hood.

This, of all the seven resolutions, might at least be a success.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm starting to get a little tiny bit anxious about the fact that I have heard nothing - not even a small tiny peep - from my prospective Festival venue.

I know it's not even quite the end of January so I possibly am just being impatient (no change there, then).

And it's not like I've been making huge giant strides in assembling this extravagent production after my initial enthusiastic flurry of activity at the start of this dank month.

But still, it would silence the tiny devilish nagging voice lurking just out of sight at my shoulder. "What if you don't get it?" it hisses, snakily.

Imagine a whole year of Nothing.

It could be the making of me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself pompously pronouncing that my blog was single-minded in purpose. What superb nonsense! I wouldn't quite go so far as to say that nothing is further from the truth but it wasn't very truthful. Although I suppose that you could argue that it depends only on how you define the purpose.

The point is that I have deliberately refrained from annotating here my graceless progress with beginners ballroom dancing. (Part of my attempt to broaden my horizons after a one dimensional year of Theatre Stuffs in 2010.) But I don't know if I can refrain from one brief observation about my first foray into the language of the Spanish this evening. That's nonsense too as I made a first foray seventeen years ago or thereabouts with a weekly Spanish class at university. But as with most things, it's since drained from my head so I thought I'd try to stuff some of it back in.

The class which I have chosen takes place in a school. So our classroom is papered with glorious posters such as "be sure to place your jotter and pens on the desk at the start of every class". We're in a maths classroom (it's a secondary school) so have alternate geometric designs - presumably the attempt to impress the very young with the wonder of maths - and posters with complicated looking diagrams and equations on them.

There isn't any signage - I've just been told that I'm in room 3.09. So I peer round the door with trepidation but satisfied, on enquiry, that I'm in the right place, I prowl to my seat. And then the most comic fifteen minutes. We're all grown people. But for this fifteen minutes, we seem to regress. Slouched in our seats like proper teenagers, one man gazes endlessly into the distance. A couple of other people fiddle nervously with pens. The teacher busies herself quietly, purposefully, silent as a cat, at the front of the classroom. It's incredibly quiet. The quiet stretches out. The minutes slide by. As they slide, now and again a tentative face will appear at the door, we'll usher them in and then lapse into our adolescent silence.

We were provided with instructions prior to the class commencement, suggesting that we bring paper and writing implements. The teacher - Angelica who is the most adorable bundle of bouncy chic and youthful fun - dutifully checked at the outset that everyone was adequately provided for. Now take a second to note that this class is full of grown people. The youngest participants are a beautiful pair of sultry lovers who are possibly early in their twenties. The oldest is considerably older. Class of 12. Grown adults. One man had managed to come without paper. He "borrowed" a few pieces from his deskmate. And another had come without a pen.

But after the Silence Of Dread Awkwardness, the gathering of the stationery to fill the gaps and a bit of general footering about, Bundle of Fun announces that we're all to tell each other why we're learning Spanish. So we have:
  • Two people who'd been to Cuba, loved it, wanted to go back, wanted some of the language
  • One girl who shrugged and said "I don't have a reason, I just wanted to do it"
  • Another who's planning a trip to South America
  • A boy who might move out to Spain to be with his girlfriend
  • A man who is frustratingly flitting from part-time to part-time job so is moving to Spain to start making a little more progress
  • The sultry young couple who look like they should be Spanish. Perhaps they find the ritual comforting.
  • A boy doing a phd that requires the study of some sort of documentary evidence in Spanish. He knows none. His supervisor suggested he seek out a course.
  • And several "just thought it would be good to do something different"s, this usually delivered in a soft insipid voice.
An hour in, we had a brief break. And I discovered (apologies to those that follow the tweets!) that the girl sat next to me works for a big Scottish newspaper, went to art college with one of the boys I work with and now lives on my street.

I could have gone to at least 9 other classes to this one. The University runs one every evening. The council (the poor man's alternative) also run them most weekday nights. But I chose this one and - extraordinary - Mini Me.

I think it's a sign. That new "hobbies and interest"s are good.

Monday, January 24, 2011

We've just had a staff meeting on the barge.

Chris' wrecked ship is still etched onto a whiteboard.

I'll let go one day.

But maybe not quite yet.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I have an enduring fascination with old-time music hall entertainment. Fuelled slightly by Douglas Maxwell's Variety, more substantially by Anthony Neilson's Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness and more substantially still by a rather smashing book by Glen David Gould. So I'm always happy to attend some sort of loosely themed theatrical event in this vein, secure in the knowledge that there's certain to be at least some small element of the performance that will capture my imagination.

I was consequently delighted to have an excuse (in the name of Chris Allan) to attend last night's Vintage Cabaret by Les Amis D'Onno. And indeed there were plenty of small elements that captured my imagination.

Such as:
  • horrifying knife throwing
  • a performing dog
  • fire eating
  • juggling with eggs
  • a performing dog
  • whip action, lashing bottles from a box top and heads from poor ill-fated red roses
  • a geisha girl balancing atop a giant ball
  • a feisty frisky rabbit
  • an frisky acrobat
  • a performing dog
  • a unicycling monkey
  • some delicate singing
  • a strong man (Chris) who lifted a girl by her hair (eeooooowww)
  • and did I mention the performing dog?
In true music hall fashion, most of these performers turned out to be related to each other. Son threw knives at be-corseted mother, for example. Imagine the strain on the familial bond if he missed. Which apparently only happened once.

And as the icing on the music(h)al cake, I got to pretend (in my head at least) to be a part of the happy band for all of 27 minutes as I helped them tidy up afterwards. Taking the hoover to the stage-side jumble of rose petals and confetti (flung out from the geisha's umbrella) would have been too much like sucking the magic out of the night for my liking. Luckily, I got to wash up.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Nothing to do with anything but I like this a lot.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Of course it's hopelessly late to be tying up ends but yesterday, at last, they were tied.

Poor Ms B has been owed a sailor's hat for - hmm let's think - the better part of five if not six months. Not just any old sailor's hat but a precious ancestral sailor's hat. So Fool here got it as far as an interim location, failed to pass it on to her and promptly forgot all about it.

Fool here has also spent the last five (or six) months thinking furtively, guiltily, lazily, slackly that she still hasn't gone into our costume repository to stash away all the additional costumes lovingly fabricated by our astonishingly clever Czech designer for this past times festival show.

These two sources of shame converged last week - right in the middle of Fool's celebration of idleness - and shuffled and shovelled her at last in to some sort of action.

Last night saw the fruition of this guilty shame. An hour and a bit (or maybe it just seemed that) sucking in ancient moth wings, decaying polyester (and much better quality fabrics) and staggering up and down the heaving jostling life-of-their-own aisles of tweed and brocade that constitute the mezzanine level in our properties store.

In actuality, much of this effort backdated to my beloved Beatrice outing in July. An ugly yellow pair of those strange fat bottomed shorts that a man might wear paid tribute to this.

Most of the Tempy Tempest garments (Ariel's slim-fitting tie-dyed vest for e.g.) were snatched up by Costume Mistress extraordinaire for cataloguing. My tiny bitch kilt. Snatched up. (Dog ears are still obscurely stashed in a vase on my Edinburgh press shelf. Reluctant-to-relinquish-memento.) Ariel's dreadlocks. Snatched up. Caliban's rags. Snatched up - by me actually - for these are to live again in a forthcoming production. (You owe me costume hire money, C.)

Gonzalo's trousers went back to the suitcase for Mo(u)rning Trousers. The sailor's hat was retrieved from the Interim Place and restored to the (daughter of the) owner.

And that, my friends, at last, is more or less that.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I've found the perfect - The Perfect - song for Antony to sing to Cleo as he's half stabbed and dying at the end of the play.

It's this.

Or if you can't cope with Spotify, this. (Ignore the video - they didn't release it so we're stuck with this or a Doctor Who homage.)

I might make this the audition song.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Conscience pricked into guilt by yesterday's trumpeting celebration of inachievement, I dreamt last night that the Group Finance Director of the company that owns the company that I work for (in real life) took it upon himself to give me advice about how to attract funding for my festival show. (In real life, I've met him once. Once!) "But you have to get sponsorship for it!" he said with mild irritation at the thought that I didn't care enough. "Why wouldn't you?"

Why indeed.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Way Back.

One of these films that I felt I should see. My heart hardly leapt at the prospect: the poster (one of my principal selection criteria) looks dreary. But a good cast. My favourite (given my narrow knowledge) period of history. An esteemed director. And I wanted to go to the cinema but couldn't quite bring myself to give up two hours to see either a man saw his own arm off or Anne Hathaway's perky (thanks, teechit) breasts.

Do you know the story? A bunch of men (less by the end of the film) escape from a prison camp in Siberia and make a bid for freedom. Unfortunately for them, this entails trekking across Mongolia, the Gobi desert and Tibet before finally (132 minutes later) arriving in India. Appositely into the midst of a paddy field. You can imagine that a series of Bad Things happen along the way.

I really wanted to like it. Although my patience waned a little when I discovered (assuming that Philip French is right - and he will be) that this is based on a book which may or may not be grounded in accuracy.

The depiction of the prison camp is fabulous. It's very easy (says she) to make cinematic recreations full of skeletal figures and staring eyes and lacklustre drifting here and there doing nobody really knows what. This prison camp was packed to the gunnels with injustices, its own prisoner version of the mafia, maggots and misery in abundance. This must be commended.

But the journey. Well, if it was a recreation of a real trip, I would have all the patience in the world for it. As it is, given what a monumental amount of money it must have cost to conjure up, it was a road trip without fashion or foodstuffs to keep us interested. That's a bit harsh.

But it must be acknowledged that two thirds of the (132 minute) movie consisted of them walking, trying to find food, walking, trying to find water, walking. Lots of gorgeous shots of incredible landscapes. The mountains. The forests. The lakes. The snowscapes. The deserts. The sky at night in the desert with a million trillion stars. All stunning. And then we're back to walking. And eating (lizards / snakes / a mud-stranded deer / tiny slim fish / bark / bark / bark). And walking.

My major bugbear - and perhaps this is petty - is that the film starts with main protagonist being interrogated in (I think) Polish. But handily, in the prison camp in Siberia, main protagonist finds himself capable of fluent (albeit heavily accented) English. As does (Russian) Colin Farrell (who was brilliant. As they all were in fact.). As does lovely (supposedly Polish) Saoirse. And I think to myself, he's gone to all the bother of recreating this misery in such gloriously copious detail, could he not have not capitulated and left them handily chatting away in English?

I haven't seen Master and Commander. I did like Green Card. So it's hard to comment on his vision as a director. I'm pleased he's tried to tell the story, I think. But I lamely find myself agreeing with many of the reviewers. Given who he is, you might have expected better. But then we're all allowed a labour of love now and again. Aren't we?
Whoever would have thought that doing nothing could be so delightful.

This morning, I awoke to the prospect of - Nothing. Nowhere I had to go. No-one I had to see (oh, she's charming). No specific thing that I had to accomplish. What a thing. It was delicious. (As I write this, I'm hiding my 'to do' list - covered with notes in tiny writing to make it appear more approachable - under my filofax...)

Of course, for me, nothing doesn't translate into Nothing. I finished a very excellent book. I went to my gym class. (Two of us in the class. Two! No sloppily executed manoeuvres for us.) I raced to the cinema. I did a little work. I tended inoffensively to my 'to do' list. And I'm about to tuck into Mad Men again, to which I'm whole-heartedly addicted. None of this is relevant to the blog about which I found myself pompously pronouncing (self-important idiot!) that it was single-minded in purpose. (Delusional self-important idiot.) I'm just having a bit of a 'hoorah for a no one act January' moment. I can recommend it. (But don't tell Susan.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

A week back at work has clearly enfeebled my dreamlife.

Last night, I dreamt that it was raining and I ordered pizza.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The King's Speech last night.

What a gorgeous film.

As with most of the rest of the history of the world, I knew nothing of the story. Well, I knew at least about the disreputable woman. But history is littered with these. To be more precise, I knew nothing of George VI's stammering ascendance to the thrown (oh my god look at that - she must be tired).

Whatshisname Pride and Prejudice man Firth Colin was superb. A brilliant performance that was beautifully neither under nor overdone. His swift tipping into rage was marvellous though not as marvellous as the seamlessly tortured recreation of life with a terrible stammer.

Helena of the face that suits any age was lovely.

Geoffrey Rush. Beautifully delicately slightly eccentric but incredibly sensibly wise all at the same time.

Guy Pearce was my only hmmm. Couldn't take his accent seriously. At all. But that possibly isn't his fault.

My only actual disappointment was that the godforsaken multiplex cinema audience didn't burst into spontaneous applause at the end. This has reportedly been happening at the Filmhouse.

It first happened to me after Strictly Ballroom at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham, aged - well, less than I am now. I'd never known such a thing before. Perhaps this was when the cinematic love affair began.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I'm experiencing a certain masochistic satisfaction on account of the fact that the absence of a one act this January means that I can work on defiantly (defying myself only) in the office til whatever o'clock without the fear of the gathering clusters on the slushy steps of our rehearsal rooms. I'm sure this novelty will wear off. But given the past five working days, it seems incredible to me that I could / can fit both. Lazy in my old age.
Last night, I dreamt that I was trying to attract funding for an archaeological dig.

Maybe there is no logic or meaning to my dreams.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Last night, I dreamt I was Antigone on a cruise ship.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Baby steps.

I assembled a small collection of chosen ones this afternoon, bribing them with lunch, to enliven the prospect of plodding through a reading of what I've daintily entitled the "coarse edit" of Antony and Cleopatra to establish how hopelessly long it was.

For we shall have at absolute best 1 hour and 3o minutes to present Shakespeare's masterwork to a paying public in August. And you see, one hour and 30 minutes - a meagre total of ninety minutes in all - isn't really a sensible guide. As I have these ninety minutes to get currently 19 actors on and off stage, speaking (and forgetting) their lines, leaving dramatic pauses, getting (in several cases) killed or self-killing and finally (we hope) taking a curtain call.

It's not all that long for a play which I'd estimate lasts about 3 hours if you stick faithfully to the words as the man intended them.

And nineteen actors is allowing for a lot of 4 line only (thus £10 show fee!) parts being re-allocated to a bunch of far better served with lines characters. What a pecuniary opportunity missed.

So today was the first test. Would the hasty secret cafés before Secret Rapture rehearsals and dead-of-night-after line slashing hang loosely together and would - most crucially - it be short enough to be a contender?

Easy answer is yes. It lasted precisely one hour and twenty-one minutes. Even allowing for handfuls of "wtf's...??" But of course that doesn't allow a great deal of breathing space for anything. I think I allowed about twenty minutes of padding time in the Tempy Tempest and that had fewer scenes and fewer actors.

On the plus side, it's a zippy little thing that didn't immediately obviously feel riddled with inconsistencies and stupidities. The time thing - well, that must be much easier to fix. Right..?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Btw, v. jealous of the Tron's tweeting of View from the Stalls' pick of forthcoming theatre for 2011. I'm becoming dangerously traffic hungry. The dirty side of blogging. I should obviously be writing for love.

Having said that, perhaps if I write an equivalent, they'll tweet about me too. Send me some suggestions. As I'm far too busy at work to compile my own...
I have been extraordinarily lucky with two beautifully interesting days back at work. So I almost don't mind that I haven't been able to scoff handfuls of mouldering sausage rolls and see two variable films and a raggedy classical concert. Long may it last.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The past three days have been a veritable cultural feast. Variable culture but certainly feasty. So I've (mostly) enjoyed:

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, third of the Narnia Chronicles, in 3D I might add. Pure comfort viewing. Although wicked little Eustace turned in a thoroughly dislikeable performance. Always admirable in a child, I think.

Jules and Julia. Featuring the ever lovely and incredibly talented Meryl Streep. Also sweet enough but I'd been led to expect great things and was left vaguely disappointed. Although let's be fair - I slept through the last portion of it so maybe this would have been the icing on the buttery cake.

Handel's Messiah. Of course I slept a little through this too but not nearly as much as I'd expected. Cracking music. In my (inflated with absurd self-importance) opinion, the performance was a little raggedy. Mother's "I would only go and see it if I knew exactly who was singing in it" beat around my head in time with the kettle drums.

The Kids are All Right. A great film. The gorgeous Julianne Moore. Annette Bening frowning a lot. Two beautiful children and a nicely sculpted gardener. Very funny and perfectly poignant.

On Tour. Tournee really. The Guardian dubbed this a "loose entertaining jaunt". Loose would be the word. Or perhaps just French. The story rambles around the place with neither a clear beginning nor end nor very well-defined sub plots. But everyone is beautiful. Lots of long lingering camera work. Introspection in abundance. And sequins galore. Loved it / Loved Mathieu Amalric (who shamelessly wrote, directed and starred. But I'm glad that he did).

I don't really have time to go back to work. Tis a pity.
I have done my one-time Musical Director a terrible disservice. You may have already read the mournful cut-handed comment of misery for yourself. So I retract. Mr MD did not break the handle on the bathroom door. So who did..? Has the anonymous chair-breaker struck again??
Last night, I dreamt I was Kiss Me Kate. First night. I'd just arrived at the venue and John Kelly cornered me, asking me to explain the ticketing system. I patiently talked him through numerous complicated examples of previous ticketing systems, showing samples that I happened to be carrying with me in a giant box. And then he showed me his duplo-equivalent ticketing system with giant tokens in primary colours. I explained how he might use this, wandered about the spit and sawdust set for a final sense of it, speculated about how wild and unruly this night's audience were bound to be and went on my way to the dressing room.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Venue application submitted. It's starting again. Woop!
I'm gathering evidence for our venue application for the Quaker Meeting House Fringe Venue application for 2011. So I'm hunting out reviews of previous productions and came across this rather harsh piece of work. If he'd known that Antigone was only 2 weeks into the job, he'd have understood precisely why they were sighing so much.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Party detritus:

About one thousand jelly sweets. Damn you all, you ate them last year with joyous gluttony

44 empty bottles (including one no longer containing lemon vodka, one Canarian honey liqueur - thanks Andy and Sue! - and one Talisker)

10 empty cans (inc. two which contained pre-mixed vodka and coke - uck)

A great deal of plastic cups containing aforementioned honey liqueur. Was I alone in thinking it delicious?

3 half empty bottles (one red, one white, one obscure banana liqueur)

(For the nth year in a row, no-one touched my grappa or rough Japanese firewater)

3 snack pork pies

1 false beard

1 crocodile, Colin

1 trapeze artiste's scarf

1 Cari Silver scarf, in the softest of fabrics

1 DVD of Charlie Chaplin's The Circus

Half a black bun

-1 bathroom door handle (courtesy of my one-time Musical Director who clearly doesn't know his own strength. Though unlike last year's chair culprit, he had the grace to own up!)

-1 set of house keys (courtesy of the - well I used to think - Kindest Man in the World)

To all of you who couldn't get taxis, were struggling with stinking (of what?) colds or hot-tubbing, selfishly ski-ing, hangover avoiding, Aylesbury-ing, nacho gorging or solitary moment-ing, we missed you very much.

But for all those that were there, I had a stupendous time. Thank you.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

As a final new year's treat (handfuls of salted peanuts and half a dish of olives later, I'm feeling pretty spry), Brian reminded me today that these existed as prize mementos from Harlequin days. Some gorgeous pics in amongst them.

These are my favourites: the master director at work.
The aforementioned screen. And the featured haiku:

The summer's rushed
winter again, my friend;
carry love over.

Jackie Kay

For this 01.01.11 New Year - and until I'm more capable of coherent speech - I give you a haiku by A L Kennedy which flashed up on a big screen hanging from the National Galleries at this afternoon's One Day celebrations in town.

This time to live more
Breathe, burn, kiss, love, touch better,
Fail less than before.