Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Salon Project by Untitled Projects. At the Traverse Theatre. Backstage first.

And then 'on stage'. (Those that were there will notice that the photos run in reverse chronology but getting them in the right order would have taken more time that I'm prepared to invest. Lazy as ever.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

La Mascarade.

I owe you a full debrief.

But by and large, it went frighteningly well.

Mephistopheles was a proper tomcat on the prowl.

Faust was world-weary and easily head-turned.

Margareta was tragic.

Valentine was dapper, debonair and divine.

The witch was witchier than I'd ever hoped.

And the spirits - well, therein lies a story.

More anon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Now I don't know if I'd be so bold as to give One Man, Two Guvnors, a National Theatre production just transferred to the King's Theatre, five stars.

But I would give it four and a half.

I love a good farce. And this, though not featuring as much underwear as might classically cross the stage in a farce, is a superb job.

Now vehemently disliking celebrity appearances on well-trodden floorboards, I didn't expect to relish James Corden's performance. But to my discrete shame, he did rather steal the show. I don't think the director should have let him get away with it. But as (s)he did, I can only be happy that he was so sparklingly smartly brilliant.

Do what you must for a ticket. If you have any time at all for a farce, you shan't be disappointed.

I've got myself a festival show.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm doing almost none of the organising for La Mascarade. It's wonderful. I'm being very spoon fed.

I've arranged the measley rehearsals for the actors. I gave them their lines. I arranged a costume appointment. And visited Home Street to harvest witchy props.

But that aside, Chris and Hilary have been as angelic as ever, gathering surprising stuffs from surprising places. Siobhan obligingly sourced some embroidery. Dear Margaret brought her shiny red tray. Cari brought....crisps.

And the producer girl, Jenny, has just sent me the politest nagging email ever to spur me into action on the music which she's obligingly sourced by various means. I just needed to listen and vet. Easy.

Oh, if any of you that this affects are reading this, no stilettos on the tables please. I don't suppose that'll break anyone's heart. This was the other Jenny note.

If only all gigs could run so beautifully trouble-free-ly.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This week has been neatly bookended by remarkable cultural diversity.

Last Sunday saw us here, in The Salon, hosted courteously by the Traverse Theatre.

(More photos to come but I'm having - shall we say - technical issues. As usual, born out of my laziness. Or rather, disinterest in anything practical.)

The Salon Project was a rather wonderful idea. The brainchild of Stewart Laing and masterminded by his production company, Untitled Projects, it endeavoured to recreate the Salon experience of times (ranging wildly throughout several centuries) gone by. Which meant dressing the audience in a gloriously eclectic collection of fabric and feather stuffs to enable them to wholly embrace the experience.

It was great fun. But as it so often the case, the getting ready bit - for me, at least - beat the show itself hands down.

Backstage, we had a conveyor belt of a production line to enable 60 people in jeans and workaday hair and make-up (always impeccable Cari aside) to be turned into creatures of gentility. That was fascinating. And so like a 'real' backstage with hair and make-up girls and a jewellery man and dressers - I've never had a dresser! - and racks and racks of costumes and hats and boxes of shoes in abundance that I was quite enchanted. It was glorious.

And then the clock chimed and we were herded through into the Salon. Beautiful set. Quite white. Ornate mirrors. A grand piano in the corner. A proper chandelier.

I suspect I wasn't clever enough to 'get' the concept. We had a tableau something or other (and if you were in the first batch of people, you got two) which consisted of (we were instructed to shut our eyes during the preparation) a bunch of people standing around naked studying iPads and phones and other assorted gadgets. Making a powerful point, I expect, but I have no idea what the powerful point was.

Then a series of discussions led by Stewart, the host and featuring assorted speakers who mused on this or that theme. This established once and for all that indeed it was Joyce (my stalker!) Macmillan in the large red dress. Unfortunately the first speaker was boring. Or my attention span was non existent as Mother claimed it was very thought-provoking. Second up was some very beautiful woman who spoke about the role of costume I think in our drab daily existence. Topical at least. Joyce spoke of Scotland. Very nicely actually. Then we milled around a bit more and then we watched some film of the previously naked people lying around all dead and bloody. (This provoked Mother to rant on the way home about the outrageous laziness of modern day man who only has to be presented with a screen before he flocks to it and laps up whatever is there presented like a thirsty dog.) And then - to the accompaniment of some dramatic sound effects and an apparent dialling up of the temperature, a group photo and we were herded back into the dressing room to be stripped of our finery.

I should have entered into the spirit of it more than I did. Sweeping around the salon in my beautiful 1920s golden dress engaging in discussions about the topics therein raised with my fellow salon goers. But I wasn't quite in the mood for talking. Mother claimed she met some fascinating people. I was introduced to Stewart Laing by Kim, our enthusiastic 'people-sitter' and babbled like a foolish schoolgirl about a ball and Faust and people standing around talking "rather like this" (oh no no no Claire, so gauche) and a Tempest on a boat and oh! how I love this kind of thing. I'm sure Stewart thought I was insane. But this fumbling foray aside, I managed only to take 103 photos. Which I'm sure was an infinitely better use of my time.

All in all, a glorious 'project'. But costumes aside, I wasn't wholly convinced.

In beautifully stark contrast, I went to see some clowns last night. Slava's Snow Show at the Festival Theatre.

They didn't speak. They pranked. With the most extraordinary effects I've seen on a stage for a long long time.

Guess which theatrical experience I preferred.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Monday's chasing was a false dawn.

I can see that next year's festival show shall be decided by whichever of the agents has the manners to get back to me.

If any of them do.

6 days til print deadline.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Off to play in the giant dressing up box that is NOT Home Street to find costumes for La Mascarade.

Tremendously (sartorially) exciting.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I spelt the agency wrong so I got a bounceback.

But dear google revealed the truth.

It's stupidly Gersh, not Gersch. (Though I suppose Gershwin might not consider it so stupid.)

Anyway, removing the pesky C yielded an email from Quinn informing me that (hot I'm sure) (polite I know) Matt would be dealing with queries in his / her (?) absence.

Transatlantic times.
On the hunt for performing rights, I just called NYC.

It was thrilling.

I spoke to a lovely polite boy.

Who actually couldn't help at all.

Beyond sharing a minimal amount of information and politely suggesting I call back tomorrow.

Parsimoniously, I suggested I email back.

He (politely) gave me an email address.

I've even cleverly spelt "inquiry" with an i in the subject header.

Does that make me an International Girl Of The World?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I always have high hopes when it comes to Woody Allen films.

But in recent years, I've more often than not been disappointed by beautifully shot films about principally mean people which only reinforce my slight (depending on the day of the week) disenchantment with humankind.

Midnight in Paris was a glorious breath of fresh air however. As it was packed with The Mean but in the empathy-inviting epicentre, we have a slightly bumbling slightly cynical but ultimately full of sweetness Owen Wilson. Who entirely made up for all the superficial sillies surrounding him.

In fact, he seemed all the sweeter on account of his superficial surrounds.
So the twist - for there was one, albeit a fairly early doors twist - was all the more glorious for it.

I shan't tell you more than that as it would spoil it for you if you go see. But be assured that Owen is delightful. Marion Cotillard - well, I want to be her. And the shining entourage including - whatsername - the short lady made the whole hour and one half a wonderful enormously fun beautifully set and beautifully clad romp.

Me thinks I have a theme for new year.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I'm quite liking being described as "mystery, intrigue and entertainment".

I hope we live up to expectations.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Btw, a phenomenal and heartfelt thanks to father.

Above and beyond n'all.
Hey. Thanks to the miracle of t'internet, I'm downloading a script.

Guess what I'm thinking about...

Monday, October 10, 2011

I suspect a fair few tears were shed in Edinburgh last night.

After a stupendously exciting "will we / won't we?" period of weeks, a brave party sailed forth on Friday to Northampton for the quarter final of the Sky Arts competition.

By a happy stroke of fate, I trotted along to cheerlead on Saturday. Though really, even if I hadn't been Nottingham-bound, I'm not sure that I could have missed it.

Beautiful theatre (Royal & Derngate). They all got to mill round backstage, lucky bastards. Apparently the wings were huge. Such is the stuff my fantasies are made of. A crack of dawn start (for what purpose, I'm not wholly sure). A morning tech. A lot of hanging about. And they set foot on stage for The Performance somewhere around half past two.

It was stupendously exciting, seeing them all trotting about on this big proper stage, with cameras craning about overhead, sound booms lurking in the wings, semi-celebrities roaming in the auditorium.

I felt absurdly proud of them all, despite the fact that none of this has had a particle to do with me. But I felt a little bit amazed and a little bit astounded to be lucky enough to know such stupendously talented people.

Of course, I'm vilely biased but it seemed that the audience enjoyed "our" (their) performance more than all the others. Of course they would. It was much funnier.

It sparkled along, technically perfectly (poor bastard on just before our lot completely dried at one point, just precisely as he knelt down for his camera close up - poor poor man), just angst-ridden enough to be squirm-worthy, just haughty enough to make you a little bit angry about the aristocrats' arrogance. (I'm not sure that they were technically aristocrats but I know 'people' will rush to correct me and I liked the alliteration.)

And we were left quite breathless with the "didn't they do well?" of it.

Two other, odder (vilely biased) performances. A bit of hanging about. And The Verdict.

Oh, we're not supposed to talk about it. So I'd better not tell you what happened.

Let's leave it with Matt's hashtag.



Thursday, October 06, 2011

Whilst I've been backroom gorging on culture for a few weeks now in my panic to find The Perfect Script, I've gorged thrice this week - in public.

Tuesday was the very stunning Far by Wayne McGregor at the Festival Theatre. Beautiful to look at, I couldn't tell you the first thing about what it stood for. Except for, perhaps at one point, there was a loud scoffling and gobbling noise as a part of the soundtrack so I thought perhaps they were all eating each other.

But they were ten. Beautiful people. Dressed in gauzy stuffs in monochrome hues. Springing about the stage in a fluidly sinister double-jointed way. With the most amazing board of lights behind them which raised and lowered (itself) periodically, sometimes light with little spindly spiney bits, sometimes in precise quarters, sometimes with a numbery countdown. It was a v smart piece of technology.

The music was a lovely creation of all sorts of genres, squished together in a delightfully contemporary mix but with enough classical wailing to satisfy all that's pretentious in me.

There was a Q&A at the close of the (compact) performance and encouragingly, most other attendees appeared to be as clueless as we when it came to the purpose of the piece. I tactfully sat on the front row of the stalls in front of 11 lean as lean dancers, gobbling a strawberry ice-cream and reflecting on the three almond croissants I'd eaten already that day and wondering when I would become lean like them.

Last night, I was lucky enough to witness a twelve minute sliver of Chekhov, our entry into round one (or would you count it as two?) for the SkyArts competition. And despite the fact that the poor cast were on - it must have been performance four or five (consecutively with n'er a pause even for a cup of tea) - of it for separate batches of their eager audience, they did a lovely job. Very very good luck to you all on Saturday in Northampton.

(Incidentally, courtesy of Margaret, Northampton was the location last time the group won the One Act Play Festival final. 1968 I believe. So let this be a lucky omen.)

Tonight, long long overdue, I stuffed in the latest Almodovar. The Skin I Live In. And this was all as fu**ed up as all his other ones. But in a beautiful way that you don't seem to encounter so often in real life. Needless to say, I loved it.
I was a little bit late and slack getting the bus to work this morning so crossed my crossroads after the lollipop man had started his shift.

And it was quite like old times. As the first nipping autumn breeze of the season was wafting around my legs and I had some little scraps of paper clutched in my little hand as I swiftly tried to memorise the impossible illogical but pretty speech I've snatched for this La Mascarade.

Although I can hardly remember a single line and on occasion, can scarely remember the girl's name, I sometimes quite miss Isobel.

Monday, October 03, 2011


May the heavens rain blessings on Yipp Films for featuring the email addresses of their directors' agents on their website.

Yipp, I'm not sure about your company name but I feel very fond of you right now.
Damn and blast and hellfire on scripts that only feature postal addresses for performing rights enquiries.

Further damn and blast and hellfire on those (sensible) agents that only feature postal addresses on their websites.

Weeks! Weeks it could be before an answer arrives.

#ohsheoflittlefaith (the twitter translation)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Luckily, three of my scripts turned up from amazon on Friday. I gobbled them down by teatime on Saturday.

I think it must be wonderful to be a professional and not worry about whether or not something can be cast. Invariably, despite my best vetting and ruling out of anything with even a sporadic onstage appearance of a teenage child, I still ended up with a collection of three plays that would each present very minor casting predicaments. Or logistical / proppy predicaments.

For example, play two begins: "XX (forgot her name) is 27". I can think of no girl (that acts) that is precisely 27. Though as we're in the business of fabrication, this matters least of all.

Scene 2 and we see said girl passed out on the floor with "something" on the floor that "we" the audience cannot quite spot. This turns out to be a syringe (this, in itself, holds no fear for me now) and a pint glass of urine. (Now would this be more or less scandalous for a venue with concerns about propriety than a play about incest?)

And then icing on the cake - and this made me laugh alone in my flat like a drain for approx three minutes as dawn broke on Saturday morning - I turn the page onto the final scene and the sole man in the play - who plays 5 hugely different characters - no mean feat for anyone - has become a South African. Man alive.

Anyway, three more down. A couple of possibilities. One is a two hander. (Do I really want to do a two hander?) And I await a final volume which unfortunately is not published til the middle of October. I'm not sure this'll survive the programme print deadline which is my decision date.

Oh for decisions dictated by stationery.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Eee I've been having a fine old fun day portioning out portions of lines for 'my' various characters for this masked ball.

(Back story: Cleopatra and myself have been lured into providing some sort of 'entertainment' for a Halloween-themed masked ball at the end of October. At the astoundingly beautiful Ghillie Dhu. I baulked at a choreographed musical number - the organisers' first thought. So instead, we have a Faustian themed offering and my merry band of troubadours shall each take a character from this story and recite a little. I pray to god it will work. It looks amazing in my head but I realise this doesn't always translate into real life.)

Lovely lovely lines. Considerately rhymed. (I'm using the Philip Wayne translation of Goethe's story for the geeks reading this.)

Here's a little Mephistopheles to whet your appetite.

And I feel like a tom-cat on the stroll
When sick with love he climbs the fire escape
And over walls, then streaks his shadowy shape.
I exercise a sort of moral right
In bits of thieving or of love's delight.
Then through my members, Sir, will thrill and leap
The love of our superb Walpurgis night.

Unfortunately we are not performing on Walpurgis night. But my hope is that the audience will be sufficiently uninformed (apart from Siobhan) to not know that this isn't an equally syllabled word for Halloween.

Do come if you're about. Tickets here. It should be fun.