Thursday, June 30, 2011

SSM last night to talk about silk and braces.

First full run through tonight.

As we've only ever tackled scraps at a time 'til now, I'm expecting a shambles.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's vey exciting.

Everyone's starting to do things Behind My Back.

Unlike social occasions which horrifically only come to light After The Event, this thrills me.

Lovely Publicity Lady (LPL) sent off our press release to the Fringe press office and received a lovely long email back full of wisdom and advice from their press officer.

Excellent General Manager (EGM) has been busy sorting out a prompt schedule (thanks dkpw for filling the final slot) and negotiating with ESM (Excellent Sound Man) to arrange the all important recording session.

LCL (Lovely Costume Lady) - oh but you've heard about her already. (Read down.)

I'll meet SSM (Skillful Set Man) tomorrow to discuss my limited 'vision'. He's already been in touch with the venue to explore the projector possibilities.

ASD (Actor Slash Designer) is onto draft two of our superfine publicity image.

LPL and EGM have been negotiating with the venue to investigate possible publicity poster sizes. And I gloriously haven't paid the slightest bit of attention to their findings.

It's a big giant undertaking, this. Perhaps not quite on an Olympic scale but certainly, a Commonwealth Games.

I do much appreciate your collective help. Thanks, my acronyms.
Lovely Charlotte who is tending to the costume finery for the show sent me today four 'concept boards' perhaps you might call them for The Women.


She's a very clever lady.

I've requested her permission to share them with my millions of readers.

Bait your breath.
Something happened to me last night which has never in my - getting on for ten years of this time-guzzling milarkey - happened before.

I attended a rehearsal for my own show with weeks and almost months to go before curtain up that had been (wait for it) requested by my actors.


I'm used to panick (oops) last minute rehearsals when it dawns on them suddenly that they must strut forth without the comfort of script, secret dark rehearsal room or appreciatively chortling director to air their wares to the nation. And then there's no time and it's tinged with a secret squashed down simmering resentment.

But last night.

O the indulgence!

Weeks to go and hours to play and it was fabulous.

The Two Lovers had - in a kind of roundabout way - wondered whether more time might be spent tending to their scenes.

So two and a half hours in the dingy rehearsal rooms of horror and all we actually achieved was a moderately hasty (in the end) canter through two (two!) tiny short scenes.

But o my life. The difference between the before and the after. Amazing.

I would that I had such interest, attention, eagerness to please, patience, aptitude (tremendous aptitude), good humour and general all round loveliness from all of my casts always.

Hats off to you, Two Lovers.

(Having said this, if any of the rest of you are reading this and send me a sudden 'extra rehearsals please' request, I'll see straight through it.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

I sprung a sly homework exercise on my cast in advance of yesterday's rehearsal.

To establish the thought that togas will not be involved in this production, I urged the girls to investigate modern day royalty / being in service to modern day royalty. And the boys were asked to bring something representing modern-day soldierly duty.

A strange of assortment of somethings and nothings was served up.

Some went to town and did a fine and honourable job. (Interestingly, mostly the girls. Cleo, Charmian, Iras and Eros offered up a careful collection of well-thought through contributions including a set of medals for honourable army service. And this from innocent Iras. )

The boys had a ramshackle collection of things (or excuses for no things).

A neat demonstration of why girls do better at school.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tonight was meant to be Knives in Hens review night.

But it got swept up in the stuff of organising a.... blah blah blah. Yes, you've heard all that before.

On the plus side, I had a fabulous rehearsal last night despite inexcusable late-ness on the part of the director.

I love my cast.

Post-rehearsal, in a wild gesture of indulgence, I trotted off to the cinema. To the Edinburgh Film Festival cinema no less. (The Cameo on any day.) And saw the fine thing referenced above.

I'm delighted to report that it was fabulous fun. Like a glorious Blair Witch / conspiracy theory / fairy story combination. I think it's on once more before the Film Festival is done. But don't take my word for it as I can't even spell panicking (makes me shudder yet).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Four months ago, I resolved to order up some warlike films from lovefilm to give me a powerful sense of context for this rendition of A&C.

Shortly after this, obliging lovefilm sent me The Hurt Locker and Jarhead.

Both sat on my shelves for weeks and then months.

Two weeks ago, in a fit of unused money pique, I despatched The Hurt Locker back unseen. In my defence, I've seen it before but it was on a plane and the plane noise interfered with the unfortunately realistically noisy soundtrack of the film so I heard scarcely any of it. It looked good though.

Jarhead I remember liking more. Nothing whatsoever to do with the powerfully talented fellow in the lead role of course.

And on Sunday night, only 14 weeks after I'd received it, I watched it again.

It's a beautifully shot film. Sam Mendes did a cracking job. And it's full of lovely brutal savagery with a little male camaraderie thrown in to soften the blow. But hardly any. It's an aggressive little offering. But a fabulous observation of the disintegration of character when you're dosed up with adrenalin and beatings and then abandoned in the middle of nowhere with nothing much to do.

Having said that, I struggle to see what I can give my warlike boys as character fodder.

Apart from some gentle encouragement to look a little more like Jake Gyllenhaal.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sorry. I've spelt panicing wrong again.





Oh well.
I spent the weekend doing an extraordinary thing that has nothing whatsoever to do with theatre. You can read more about the plan here. I could list superlatives but I do too much of that already. So I'll settle for an abstemious:

It was good.

I rushed straight from the final presentation (they obligingly put us first) to an A&C rehearsal. Which was an utterly surreal experience. A room full of people who had absolutely no idea what I'd been up to (well, for the most part) and all I wanted to do was tell them about it. But - uncharacteristically - I bit my tongue. Directing aside.

Which actually was easy to do.

I've been too slippily sucked into the mire of the uphill trek that is pulling the production side of things together over the past week. Panicing and fretting about things getting done. It's an odd juggling act - the 'artistic' requirements and the practical ones. I suspect that too often, I spend far too much of my time considering the practical. This is why I can scarcely answer a single practical question about the content of the current show.

(Or else I'm just stupendously lazy.)

But suddenly on Sunday afternoon, it dawned on me (and I've realised it before, I'll have you know and shall again) that I've got a really rather superb pack of actors in this show. Super professional, super talented, exceedingly pleasant, polite and perky AND they give every appearance of listening to what I say and executing it - even when they violently disagree. It's a practically perfect collection.

Tonight, I picked up a press release from my lovely publicity lady (must do something about the programme) for a good quality local publication. She'd written it all out. Not a thing for me to do but ok it. I like these kinds of emails. And I've updated the egtg site at last. So my various scattered images about the web are - for now - vaguely consistent.

Wait til the venue programme comes out. That'll ruin the harmony.

Nonetheless, it's all very very exciting.
Welcome to my readers coming hot from the heels (if such a thing is possible) of the National Theatre of Scotland blog.

Lovely to 'see' you.

And I'd be most interested in your thoughts on their Five Minute Theatre project...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Seems I've got a bloodthirsty pack of people involved in this show.

At the start of the week, I picked up an email suggesting that a sixth character kill themselves before the play is out.

Clearly five deaths in fifteen minutes isn't horror enough. Hollywood has spoilt us.

Now I collect an email suggesting that instead of the choreographed delicate and discrete death, Cleopatra should guzzle poison.

And I thought I was morbid.
In response to the dress eulogy, Cleopatra mailed me 3 wig photos today, entitled oooh, aaah and hmmm. (She's one classy lady.)

I'm opting for the ooooh.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Foolishly fallen in love with something of this ilk for Cleopatra.

Entirely my own fault for foolishly signing up to this exquisitely expensive website.

(I say foolishly because at a discount of 65%, it's now retailing for a mere bargain of £402.25.)

I suppose I could reduce our time in the venue by half a week. That would pay for it.
It would really be better if I didn't have to eat.

Tonight, for example, I must have wasted a good hour on cooking and eating. Actually, make that about an hour and twenty as I had to shop as well. Oh, and wash up. All in all, it's pretty inconsiderate.

So by the time I've footered about marching around my living room reciting speeches to get an idea of timing for the music man -

And written a belatedly haranging email to people about joining the group if they haven't (so they don't sue the a**e off us if they fall out of a window or break a limb) -

Written an exceedingly panicy (yup, still can't spell it) email about a projector -

And a few scrappier emails to (very important) people helping in other scrappy ways -

And paniced about my lack of progress when it comes to doing anything much about props -

And slyly capitalised on lack of interest to cancel my Spanish group film festival outing -

And then tried to think about what things I should be tending to for my real life -

It's more or less bedtime.

A familiar refrain.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I still owe you a post on the NTS production of Knives in Hens.

In the meantime, be aware that:

Senna is fantastic. Go see and weep at how beautiful the man was.

The fourth of the X Men films, on the other hand, is glorious nonsense. But it's filled with the youthfully athletically reassuringly beautiful. So you can forgive it.
This play - our little festival show - is proving to be a fabulously interesting script. Even in a version that takes into account one third and a bit of its original glory.

I suppose it's simply that the story is a proper story.

Love story.

History story.

Story of what happens when you try and do the right thing.

Story of what happens when duty and honour get in the way.

Story of what happens when friends turn out to be Bad Let-er Down-ers.

And who, exactly, is the tragic hero?

(How can I say without giving too much away?)

Is Antony heroic or vain?

And is Cleopatra romantic, heroic or vain?

John Kelly who's offering up his time again as the person that's paid proper attention to the story and actually understands what the words mean, sent me a fabulous email today on the back of a conversation at yesterday's rehearsal, reflecting on the tragic flaws of our two leads.

If they did have tragic flaws.

Or were they just unlucky (very unlucky) in love?

I love that it's generating this amount of debate two weeks in.

It's going to be a fun couple of months.
x4 rehearsals in and we've sold x5 tickets.

Not bad at all.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

We've sold our first ticket!

Courtesy of excellent saleswoman Cleopatra.

Keep it up.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

x2 theatrical endeavours occupied my time this weekend just gone.

(Well, x3 if you count the bumper rehearsal - god help all those who were htf.)

Friday found me at a lovely previously untried venue, the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.

After a gruelling selection process, I saw an excellent little show called Haunting Julia.

Under usual circumstances, I would run a million miles from Alan Ayckbourn. I accept that he's a fine writer. Very funny and very clever n'all. But he's just a little bit suburban for my liking.

But he also wrote a pack of ghost stories (plays) and this was one of they.

Even the plot sounds a little bit silly. A child prodigy composer died in mysterious circumstances. Years on, her father is determined to rout out the reason why. And employs a psychic to investigate.

Furthermore, he ropes in his dead daughter's ex, now married to someone else and living perfectly happily without dwelling on the (mis)fortune of his long dead one-time love.

The scene is set in the dead daughter's one-time student bedroom which doting father has turned into a museum.

Psychic pitches up, the temperature drops, we hear some weird sobbing in the (already) sinister pretend daughter's v/o describing the exhibit. And the scene is set for some proper chills.

I tend to veer away from suspenseful things for I suspend disbelief far too easily and - as Sister knows to her cost - can get swept away in the terror to vociferous effect.

This production was properly challenging. I spent most of the second act biting my head, paralysed with terror that Dead Daughter was going to burst through the breeze-blocked-up door at the back of the 'room'.

The denouement - when it fearfully wound round - was thrilling and chilling in equal measure.

I loved it.

It was beautifully acted which made all the difference.

The characters were all slightly unbelievable.

Supposedly doting father who in fact over-doted and made... well, I shan't tell you.

Geeky ex who wouldn't say boo to a goose who.... and I shan't tell you.

And the psychic was superb. Leather-look-jacketed wheeler dealer apparently completely chancing his arm in his channeling of the spirits but who turned out to have the kindest heart of all.

Lovely set. Very delicate lighting. Appropriate smoke. And it felt cold. Though I don't suppose it really can have been.

I'm almost a convert to a silly thriller.

A nice dose of brilliantly executed Friday nonsense.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Obviously I don't have enough to do.

That's why I thought I'd take on organising an outing in the EIFF for the shreds of my Spanish class.

(Which obviously limits our potential outing to approx two nights as I'm busy rehearsing already.)


Sunday, June 05, 2011

Rehearsals start properly - in earnest, as they say (though I don't feel very earnest) - this afternoon.

And I'm inanely insanely excited.

I don't quite know why.

It's not like I've never done a show before.

It's not like there aren't things I'd rather be doing with my Sunday afternoon slash evening.

I could be sitting on the jetty from our lovely hotel stretching out over the sea looking at the bay and the beach in the sun in Baracoa.

But I'm not.

And right now, this feels like a pretty good second best.

I'm pretty well-organised by my standards which helps.

Slavish work this weekend (not easy in a train's airline seat sat next to a sweet young thing with an abundance of copies of trashy magazines) has meant I'm only a couple of scenes short of transcribing my Cuban blocking onto my rehearsal script.

And I've got a rather fantastic cast which always makes it a bit more of a breeze.

Oh but look.

Little Miss Complacent almost just left her prize transcribed script on the bus. An ooops and a skip back and disaster was averted. This will teach me to revel in my good fortune.

Anyway, now, I'm here.

Time for a Turkish coffee and then, to play.

Friday, June 03, 2011

A first read-through is much like an arranged marriage.

Everyone has high hopes.

Most particularly, the mother of the bride (aka The Director).

Everyone's a little bit apprehensive.

As no-one quite knows how it's going to turn out.

Least of all, Mother of the Bride.

And she's going to be stuck with it.

So the guests step / trot / teeter into the hallowed space with trepidation.

Mother of the Bride's feeling a little bit shaky.

The customary announcements.

(Arrival of the Queen of Sheba on full volume in Mother of the Bride's head.)

And it begins.

Tremulously at first.

Peering at each other under eyelashes.

The young lovers not wholly sure about volume.

And whether they can be heard at the back.

And not at all sure what to make of these unfamiliar words.

But as time passes, they grow in confidence.

Break out the KitKats.

Start to deliver their lines with a little more aplomb.

Start to titter nervously at the vague vulgarity of some of the readings.

Particularly where lewd uncle Agrippa is concerned.

His speech sticks in my heart.

The ceremony gathers momentum.

Hankies wafting in the wind at the emotional bits.

And before we know it, we've wound to a joy(l)ess conclusion.

The triple pillar of the world transformed into a strumpet's fool.

A proper love story.