Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Some small progress.

Monday was a false dawn.

I sent off my publicity stuffs to the venue, all very smug.

They immediately replied saying thanks but where's the contract and the deposit, both due today??

Well, gentle reader, there was nothing I could do about it at that point in time as I was en route to an audition and then a ballroom dancing class.

So I sent a lamely grovelling apology. Impressive.

The next day, I retrieved the altogether forgotten contract from under a pile of Stuffs.

And hastened into town to deliver it.

I feared their collective wrath.

But they were unreasonably kind.

Given my shoddy ineptitude.

Now, today, I have just paid for and submitted the show details (thanks for your copy comments!) to the Fringe programme.

I squeezed in one production type meeting yesterday.

And have another today.

And all the while, my head is jostling with possible casting combinations.

Imagine the luxury of doing this full-time.

Monday, March 28, 2011

How do I ever manage all of this with a day job?

I'm on holiday today so that's easy.

But still.

Fankling about with photos and fiddly word counts and scrappy bits of copy and paperwork galore.

When all I really want is to go out and play.

Now of course I'm late for my next thing.

Typically slack and disorganised.



As the young appear to say.
So. I get 37 words after the show name (bastard 3 word show title). What do we think to this?

Antony and Cleopatra are in love. And at war. When Antony's wife dies, he's free to make his relationship with Cleopatra official. But for political reasons, he marries elsewhere. With tragic consequences. Contemporary adaptation from award-winning group.

Tantalising enough?
I'm completing the Fringe Programme entry registration paperwork to qualify for the early registration discount.

And they're trialling a thing this year called the "suggest-a-tron" which apparently offers up helpful suggestions for audience members that can't make up their minds about what to see.

So I have to fill out a section rating the show according to things like noisiness and 'challengingness' (whatever that is). I've just got to the final question which reads:

On a scale of one to five, where one is serious and five is a laugh riot, how humourous is your show?

(A laugh riot???)

With five deaths, I think I could fairly give us five. No?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I was running a focus group a while back with teenage kids.

The group tends to consist of 7 or 8 children.

You'll be aware of the tendency of the young (sorry, some young) to struggle to sit still and concentrate.

This group had been (I'd thought) particularly quiet and attentive.

But as I herded them all out of the room at the end of the session, I found this discarded on the table.

Clearly, one industrious soul had been quietly and attentively attending to his own particular project.

Portrait of the moderator, perhaps?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oh my aspy queen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I haven't seen The Man Who Lives Opposite for months.

Not even any sign of life has been evident in his flat.

But this morning. This morning.

There I am, running out of the house, no eye make-up on in the name of speed, face like a blank white sheet, rushing up the road.

And from across the street, it's almost like he's Danny from Grease or a World War Two fighter pilot, so super cool in his leather flying jacket (only in my head?) and a "hello there".

A swift turn of the blank white face towards him so as not to be rude and a mouth stretched over teeth grimace: "Oh! Morning!" and rushing rushing on.

Super cool.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I owe you a proper post on this. It's late so I shan't do it justice.

But as a teaser - and as auditions are now looming - let me say simply that:

As research for this forthcoming theatrical epic, I sought out a copy of the renowned (accurately or not - on this, more later) film, Cleopatra.

Featuring Lizzy Taylor and Mr B.

All five hours and forty something minutes of it.

The money that has been lavished on it cannot be denied.

Some of the acting is first rate.

(As a consequence of this, I want my Antony to look hot in a skirt - not that he'll be wearing one but it's a casting couch prerogative - and to smoulder like a bastard. And I want Cleopatra to be - well - Elizabeth Taylor. Think you can manage that?)

But the script writing skill could be questioned by those less spiteful than I.

I've laboriously written out a selection of my favourite lines as they made me laugh so much.

Here is a tantalising foretaste.

An exchange between elegant eagle-eyed statesman Caesar and sultry young 'Lizabeth.

Caesar: You should attack my guards more often. Battles become you. You grow more beautiful every time I see you.

Cleopatra: And you grow balder.

It's not Shakespeare.
I've been thinking about this current being planned and starting to be in production show since November.

Five months.

Give or take a few weeks.

So why is that my heart sings because I have a precious few more days than I thought before my first lot of venue blurb is due to be completed and despatched?


Friday, March 18, 2011

x3 delightful emails this week.

One delightful in an auditory capacity.

One delightfully practical.

And one which was (and is) (potentially) delightful from a modesty point of view.

The casts', rather than mine.

As ever, at this sort of time of year, baby steps.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An amazing flash of early morning insight.

The British Army don't have soothsayers in Afghanistan.

So nor shall I.

Another man bites the dust.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How time goes.

I went to the dentist this morning.

Now the thought of visiting the dentist chills my blood.

Little sister used to hate the dentist more than most so would be taken into The Room first.

I would lurk in the plastic-seated waiting room, age seven ish, little basin haircut, flicking without comprehension through copies of Homes and Gardens.

To a soundtrack of my sister howling.

Purely in anxious anticipation of the event, you understand.

The volume would up as soon as any sort of mouth delving was required.

So as some sort of peculiar hangover from this time, I've never much enjoyed these dental times.

Teenage time and I fell into the habit of trotting through whatever school thing I was learning at the time in my head by way of a distraction.

I distinctly remember a couple of years of following the passage of the blood round the heart from aorta to ventricle and back again. (Bet I've got that wrong. Siobhan will tell you.)

As a grown person - and remembering nothing from my schooling years as my good friends will testify - I've defaulted to lines learnt.

So today, as the cleany thing whined in my aural passages, I racked my brain for Secret Rapture lines.

And racked.

But they were gone.

Scene after scene of (pleasant but blandly delivered) lines and all I could remember was (predictably): "he's an ad man. His heart presents a very small target."

I could even cough up a couple of strands of Much Ado. ("Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signor Benedict? Courtesy itself would convert to disdain if he come in her presence." and then I flounder.)

But SR. Gone gone gone.

How time goes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ah. Now. This is what I need.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

For someone with a sinister snake obsession, you couldn't find a more satisfying story than Antony and Cleopatra featuring the asp in a substantial cameo as villain extraordinaire. (I guess there's Adam and Eve. But I don't know if anyone's made a play about them.)

Every single snake fetish or fantasy I might ever have had was indulged by Northen Ballet's production of Cleopatra. With (aspy) bells on.

The curtain rose to a promising enough tableau. A lady, presumably The Lady herself, folded in two in a dramatic and beautifully lit position centre stage wearing an adorable little be-colourful- ribboned dress.

The music struck up with a wild Eygptian vengeance.

So far, so good.

But then.

But then.

A tall stocky fellow paraded into view. Did I say paraded? I suppose I meant insinuated his way into view. His tall stocky body adorned in a multi-coloured body stocking. His head all bald-wigged and blue Mohican. I later learnt that this fellow goes by the name of Wadjet. A suitably serpentine name?

It quickly became clear from his slithery movements that this proudly (skimpily) adorned fellow was The Snake. Here he is striking a powerful pose.

Spot his wicked aspy hand? Poised like the head of a snake, ready to virulently strike.

Here he is again, hand directed towards vulnerable bosom, ready to deal the final death blow.

Man, it was powerful stuff.

Actually, it was not.

It was ever so slightly ridiculous.

They tried hard, bless them. There were loads of them. Running about in a huge variety of very colourful costumes. All Egyptian headdresses and eye-linered eyes.

They danced very beautifully.

They were lit very beautifully.

But it did not get over the fact that - well, actually there were several unfortunate facts:

- none of them appeared to be able to act terribly well, with the possible exception of Antony. Of course this is a dance show. And they did that bit very nicely. But I wasn't really feeling Cleo's heartbreak when Antony shoved the sword under his arm.

- the music was a strident and hideous cross between (what I imagine) the Lion King and Miss Saigon sound like.

- the set was super. All crumbling pillars. Trundling rostra. Elevating platform at the back of the stage. A bath. A bath! in which lil' brother met his sloppy end. Lots and LOTS of projections. I stared covetously during the curtain call (a bad sign) at two giant projectors suspended over the stage. But as beautiful date for the night Thea commented, they all looked a little bit too much like powerpoint gone mad. The blood dripping sinuously down the walls as Antony went off into battle was my cringiest favourite.

But all of this was dwarfed by some superbly clumsy choreography.

To be fair, I think they had their work cut out as they opted for Cleopatra's full life story as their start point. So she had to murder her brother, get hauled into Caesar wrapped in a carpet, fall for him, bear his child, parade small bald child around the stage some, acknowledge grown Caesar child, bump him off, fall for Antony, get jiggy with him and then. Well, this version seemed to suggest she got fed up of him too so had him bumped off. Before the snake came back for her.

The entirety of this story was told with much wrist flicking from The Snake. Sorry, Wadjet. Who flitted about in the back- and sadly foreground throughout, looking as sinister as a stocky man in a painted lycra suit can.

Child of Caesar was conceived dramatically with the wrapping of C&C in a long piece of white fabric which was then - really - snatched from between Cleo's legs, bundled into baby form and passed back to her.

But the moment which made the entire evening an even more exquisite pleasure came not during the death throws of the snake's final sinuous soliloquy but during the fleeting appearance of Antony's til then forgotten wife, sister of Octavius Caesar, Octavia.

She trots suddenly onto the stage, all long white flowing dress, long blonde hair (the hair of the innocent and pure), diamonded and tiarra'd to the hilt to show she's posh. Cleo stalks on, resplendent in orange pants and a flesh coloured top body bit with strategically placed flowers. A lady versus a girl in a swimsuit. And poor old Antony has to choose.

He chooses sexy swimsuit and they retire (to get jiggy) stage left. Octavia makes a sad face, drifts up stage towards her assembled family lurking on the back platform, and with a rousing clash of the tragic cymbals, her assembled family - really - just to make sure we the clearly stupid audience get it - give her a thumbs down gesture.

In a ballet.

I don't remember such a move ever. Ever. Being served up in Giselle.

Oh Northern Ballet. I think you're brilliant.

But this was closer to Cleopatra The Musical.

With The Asp in a starring role.

I can learn from this.

Cut The Asp.
A thoroughly productive morning.

Audition extracts collated and despatched to requestees.

And overview of parts scattered appropriately across the internet.

If you're interested, they're here.

How did we ever manage without the internet..?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Friday night.

x2 shows in a festival-worthy orgy of catch-up play going.

Both at the Traverse.

Both National Theatre of Scotland.

One was good.

One was not.

Somersaults first.

This told the story of - well, I understood it a little bit more after reading the programme - a man who fell out of love with his wife, rediscovered an old friend, was declared bankrupt and buried his dad. The exact chronology was hard to figure out but didn't matter all that much.

This same fellow had been brought up by his Gaelic speaking father. And as the fellow's father withered and died, so did his recollection of the Gaelic language. He spent much of the play trying to remember the Gaelic word for somersaults. Which I suppose was symbolic of something.

I slightly dreaded seeing this as it featured the dread word Gaelic in the blurb. And the Traverse had a spate a few years back of producing plays that were incredibly worthy as they documented the loss of a dying Scottish culture but were also often incredibly dull. But admiration for the director (Vicky Featherstone) won the day and I'm glad it did.

It looked beautiful. Gorgeous little set, lovely lighting, very nicely acted. A nice script until it descended into a strangle rambling conversation between the relocated in the audience actors. I didn't even mind the lapses into Gaelic. I sat wide awake throughout and even enjoyed it.

Girl X on the other hand I'd treated with similar suspicion but my admiration for the director (Pol Heyvaert) again lured me to part with my money. This fellow co-wrote and directed a very bleak but excellent play a few years ago about parents who murdered their child. Aalst.

Girl X
dealt with a similarly contentious subject. Parents who opted for their severely disabled daughter to have a(n) hysterectomy to avoid bother in later life. A worthy subject.

Unfortunately, the writers had taken it into their heads to fashion the play around the sort of conversation that you might have in an internet chat room. Which meant that we had a main protagonist - a guy with cerebal palsy - and a 'choir' who spoke their counter arguments in chorus. All very Greek tragedy.

An interesting way of telling the story. But it made the whole issue immediately a little more remote. As you had this guy who was very evidently dealing with his own issues versus an anonymous pack who varyingly did or didn't care.

A great story. Leadenly told.

On the plus side, well - there were two plus sides (if that's anatomically possible):

- sometimes the choir sang. Fittingly. And beautifully. These were proper hairs stand up on the back of your neck moments.
- some really lovely illustrations were projected across the set throughout. Some typographic stuff. Other really lovely little girls or little fauns trotting past or indistinct little figures wandering about. Really chaming stuff.

This gives you a tiny idea of what it looked like but barely does it justice.

I suggest they cut the dialogue, play some nice music and let me watch the pictures. Then I might have been spared my substantial nap.
I've just finished this.

It's astonishingly filthy but very, very funny. Well, if you find the general hopelessness of men funny, that is.

My favourite quote from it concerns neither a lady nor a poet but a lobster.

"I drank him down with fine wine. Good fellow. I always liked you in your pink-red shell, dangerous and slow."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Tempest featuring Helen Mirren is out this week.

Weeks and weeks and weeks ago, lovely Cari who is possibly the sweetest girl in the world (Audition Situation aside) coaxed last summer's Tempest faithfuls into an outing to view this much heralded masterpiece.

What we hadn't counted on was the fact that the film would be so bad / the cinemas would be so disinterested in it that the only showing we could find in the whole of Edinburgh last night took place at 5pm.

So from our cast of approximately sixteen, a prize total of two (one retired, one flexi-time employee) watched Helen wield her magic staff.

I expect if you watch attentively the blog of Mr BS Neill, you shall find out more about at least what he thinks.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Horribly mixing imagery everywhere (the first 'don't' when you do my job), I have posted this as my show image on facebook.

For tonight, tonight, I set up an event for my auditions.

One hour on and I have one decline (bitch. I hate you) and two acceptances. Admittedly, one of the accepts is mine. But still, it's a start.

Very, very exciting.
I think I have myself a general manager.

(Woop woop.)

Assuming she wasn't just having a vulnerable moment.

I shall check this and then celebrate.

Monday, March 07, 2011

I have - I think - a final (ish) edit of the script.

Four hours on the train back from London (of which, more later), a final pesky cavalier cut - Caesar's dramatic conquest of poor Cleo - and with luck, I have a script that runs at about an hour and twenty.

Now the Great Despatching of Emails asking asking asking for things can begin.

My current priority is a General Manager.

I'm collecting resum├ęs as we speak.

Do please forward yours if you're interested.

Friday, March 04, 2011

An old vs. young moment last night.

Our Spanish homework the week before this was to prepare a crossword in Spanish.

I'd painstakingly created mine in powerpoint. Hours (well, felt like it) fiddling about with tiny boxes and aligning them and counting them correctly out.

I handed it in - horrible stark thing with loose lines of boxes straggling all over the page.

To see The Young handing in all sorts of beautifully square, solid colour between lines of emptiness, Times-worthy efforts.

I felt a bit faint and weak at my crossword failure. (#fail as The Young would say.)

But it turned out they'd only smartly googled 'making a crossword' and there are multiple web offerings which enable you to do exactly this.

Old Mother Time felt a little foolish.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


The answer.

This is why I love modern dance.

It's beginning.

Read through last night.

It went far more smoothly than I deserved given my exceptionally anal / exceptionally environmentally conscious paper hoarding refusal to print off more than the minimum number of script copies.

In the day or so leading up to it, various stalwarts had submitted their apologies. So I had a lurking fear that we wouldn't have nearly enough people to do it justice.

This fear proved unnecessary. Like so many fears.

As when we stepped next door from the committee meeting, the room was - well, not quite packed but certainly - plump with people.

So the parts were allocated (cue schoolgirl giggles from Susan at Antony's unfortunately named dead wife, Fulvia. Thanks to Jo for - well, you had to be there) and the reading bounced along its way.

The quick succession of deaths went as sleekly as it could. (Spoiler alert for babytiger.) Enobarbus - a sad death I think. Eros - should I kill him / her off is the great question? Antony - well, you'd think a trained soldier would have got it right first time but apparently not. Iras - a quiet and understated death but no less tragic for it. And then the wriggling asp down the bosom for Cleo. All in approximately seventeen minutes.

Interestingly, although I have cut more, it ran slightly longer than the read through in Jan would suggest. To the tune of about 3 minutes so we could probably live with that but probably shouldn't. So cue a little more cutting and then we'll be good to go.

Happiest outcome of the night: I think I have myself an 'historical consultant'. Which is handy as I know nothing about this period of our collective past. (Yes, yes, despite having studied history at university. But my beginning was 274AD. What can you do..?)

Auditions in under one month.

It's beginning.

A little bit fizzy with the excitingness.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

First public airing of the much trimmed A&C script tomorrow.

It's exciting and slightly terrifying in equal measure.

What will They make of my sweeping cuts?

How much less fast will it read when it isn't fuelled with however many bottles of wine?

All shall be revealed soon.