Tuesday, February 28, 2012


That's all.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

To those of who you've always wondered what I do by way of a day job, to follow is some clarification. One bit of my job is running focus groups to shed light and insight on any business or communications challenge. Yesterday, I happily came into ownership of a fine new digital voice recorder that comes equipped with transcribing software and proudly boasts the ability to churn out perfect renditions of your dictations. You have to teach it to know your voice first so I read it a little from Alice In Wonderland (considerately provided along with a variety of other reading material in case locating any text longer than two sentences is beyond the capabilities of the user).

But perhaps Lewis Carroll did not agree with it. Or perhaps I hadn't read it enough for the little device to know me as a friend. Or perhaps the addition of other Strange Voices confounded the little thing.

For when it set to work laboriously, pain-stakingly, time-consumingly to transcribe yesterday's focus group, this is what the little chap spat out.

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(Me again.)

And that was only a fraction of it.

Lucky I took notes then, eh?

(Do you think I might submit the above to a publisher and pose as The New Sarah Kane??)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Having whipped myself (not literally - to be clear) into a frenzy of panic about my lack of show preparation last Sunday - admittedly with no discernable results to show for it - I thought I should remedy the situation at the start of the week and sent off an "I'm still here" email to the agent of the author of 'my' Fringe show.

For my current dread is that lack of precise detail about when when when precisely my festival show will take to the boards will confound my application for the performing rights. Now the rights were available in principle last November. But without a start time, the girl cannot apply for The Licence. Without The Licence, the girl has no show.

But for a cacophony of reasons too boring to go into, I still don't have a start time. So a precautionary email was sent at the start of the week. "Just checking you remembered you said I could have them..." was the gist of it. Wrapped up with all sorts of festive and non-festive wishes, token questions, pointless outlines of my next steps.

Tense 1, 2, 3, 4 days pass by.

2:34pm this afternoon and an email slides into my inbox.

"Yes, I'd said so. Let us know when you know the time." (i.e. I can hardly even be bothered to reply to this email as it's so spectacularly pointless. Bother me when you've got some information I can do something with.)

But i's and e's aside, she replied. He's still letting me do his show. The prospect of a licence looms a little bit larger.

Game on.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sarah Kane and Lana Del Rey?

I suspect Neil would cast his eyes heavenward.

But I rather like the idea.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Guardian called it a dozy thriller.

And indeed, for Kitty / Cari, so it was.

I quite enjoyed Man on a Ledge. In a nonsensical Sunday night big bucket of popcorn way.

It's ridiculous. Flagrantly implausible. But fairly sweetly done for all that.

Cari / Kitty on the other hand, did a cmfwood and slept for approx one third of it.

I blame Greta. As the second she was laid over Cari's ample puffa, the poor girl was done for.

Delightful to be the one who was wide awake for a change.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I haven't really done much so far to contribute to my GMly duties for Six Degrees. A few nagging emails sent, a prompt schedule assembled, a production meeting arranged. These duties have not been taxing in the grand scheme of things.

Sadly, only one dear soul has so far responded to the various 'calls' for help with props. The dear soul immediately sprang into action and instantaneously sourced one problem item. And possibly a second. I sent out a few more emails entreating this or that person to seek out this or that thing. (B S Neill, we'd like your decanter!)

And then felt that as time was passing as invariably as it does, I should try a bit harder. So scheduled a Home Street visit with Ross to see what we could see.

Excelling in this as all things, I was then fifteen minutes late for the agreed appointment. Meaning that he'd already found most of the limited goodness that the amply but rarely usefully stocked boxes could offer up.

We (ok, he) got flowers, a tiny painting that might be refitted to feature a dog, glasses, x2 silver trays (on account of my returning of stolen / borrowed / generally purloined spoils inc. the trusty but sinister 'dead' rabbit) and possible sofa inspiration.

As I returned my other stolen (etc) spoils, the poor boy sat on the dusty floorboards, sifting through our finest silk flowers to find those which would be least incredible in 1990's NYC. I took my leave and he looked up at me, eyes wild with panic, reciting the never-ending to do list that is the director's lot.

So I (lord, oh so benevolently) said I'd take the silvery trays and clean them up. (Well immediately, he's a far better man than I. I used the dirty old thing exactly as it was for our Halloween outing last autumn. Slattern.)

And I stepped off to relax in the hairdressers, resolved that the next day would see me begin preparing for my festival show so I avoid precisely this two months of all-consuming all-else-excluding panic that is currently Ross' life.

I palmed off the tray cleaning to Siobhan. 'Oh how wonderful, how kind, much obliged.' Thinking that now, now, I'd have even more free time to begin my blocking the very next day.

Now it's the next day. And let's think what I've done. Been hungover and not slept enough, read deeply from my current brilliant book, gym, buy food, cook food, eat, Spanish homework, visit mother. Now I'm en route to the cinema.

Funny. Somehow the blocking didn't quite fit in.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Infamous Brothers Davenport.

Last week at the Lyceum. (This week, at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.)

I wanted to like this a lot. I love Vox Motus. I admire their ambition a great deal. They do cute, fun, frolicsome stuff that makes you think. They're big fans - as far as I can see - of using theatrical trickery to tell stories. And hats off to them for this ambition. I loved their Slick in the Fringe a few years back. And I once met one of the main men and have a mild crush on him. All of this helps sell tickets, of course.

The premise for this show - a Victorian séance - is great. And in such a venue as the Lyceum, perfectly atmospheric.

The spectacle started promisingly. Chillingly. Spectacularly, even. With an extremely impressive piece of wardrobe trickery supervised by an apparently - presumably - vulnerable audience member.

The set was stunning in fact. Good costumes. Suspenseful atmosphere. Great casting. It appears - as far as I can tell from my cheap person's internet investigations (at £24 for a ticket, I begrudged lashing out on a programme) that the brothers were played by Actual Brothers. One of them was my little favourite Ryan Fletcher. The other, Scott. Little Ryan I've been fond of since Black Watch days but wouldn't you know, he also featured in Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us, 365, The Wheel. Substantial chunks of the finest theatre to be pouring out of Scotland in recent years.

AMAzing effects. Amazing. The table. Go see.

The problem for me really was the story. A fairly sketchy narrative to start with, it was stretched out to breaking point by the end. Without enough colour having been built up around the emerging characters for you to care much that this was how it turned out. And the wardrobe - home of revelations to start with - became a bit of a weary accessory by the close when it was unwrapped for the 94th time to reveal - well, I shan't tell you.

Technically, the show was stupendously astoundingly impressive and you shouldn't lose sight of that. But technical mastery didn't compensate wholly in my book for narrative spindlyness.

A pity because as one who is easily chilled - as the dreadful (film version of) Woman in Black neatly demonstrated - I could have been chilled-er by this.

Don't let that deter you though. Go see it for the table.
You can tell B S Neill is on holiday this week. My web traffic is rubbish!

(Normally, I'd link to his blog when I mentioned his name but I cunningly shan't this week so as not to attract to thieves to his abode.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mustn't forget this Gothic nightmare. Slightly unbelievably taken from exactly the same gardens but just facing the opposite direction. What a difference a direction makes.

Mount Stuart estate on the Isle of Bute. The inside was equally impressive. The boys took excitable photos of the Victorian toilets. Water closets, I suppose I might say.

A very pretty day out.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I'm in The Book.

Man alive.

More than once.

He mentions me by name.

He mentions the group name thrice, spelt correctly n'all.

God bless him, he mentions that Leith paid the venue licence fee.

He does not mention anything that It Would Be Wrong To Mention.

Not, I think, that I told him anything that It Would Be Wrong To Mention.

But a year and a half on, well, let's face it, I couldn't quite remember what I did tell him.


Most triumphant of all.

I'm in The Index.


Man alive.

Well, that saves me the bother of writing my own book then.

Jolly good.
I need to say this - only because I'll never get to say it again.

I'm on my way to a book launch.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Because my Spanish class is on a Tuesday night and if I'm not there, I'm being a vulture of culture somewhere else, I've sorely neglected the SCDA Play Library in recent times.

I took out a whole bunch of scripts last autumn (very early September judging from the 11 September train ticket to Manchester I discovered in one volume): Sophocles' Electra, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Winter's Tale, As You Like It, CorioL, Ibsen's Lady of the Sea (one day), Strindberg's Miss Julie. Spot the theme. Out of copyright.

In the end, I've jumped a different way altogether to the dark remuneration-requiring side. But that doesn't mean others should be deprived of the pleasure.

So betwixt fortuitously placed meetings today, I hopped into the library to return these great works.

The door was shut as I approached. I felt vengeful as it was a Tuesday, not within school holiday season as far as I knew. How dare it be shut when I'd come 'all' this way?

But on shoving at it, it yielded.

And inside, the golden glow of happy industry. Douglas and Alison laughing and chatting by one bookshelf. Susan sat industriously working through a heap of books, cataloguing? studying? logging? defacing? them at the other side of the room.

Having flown from one place and about to fly to another having flown about frantically all morning, I filled up with envy. O to be retired! O to spend my Tuesday afternoons (in termtime) laughing and cataloguing the finest of our country's dusty art! Chit chatting here and there with those that fly in and out. Laughing and chatting. Having cups of tea. Happy busy bee industrial.

At that moment, I vowed that the second I retired, I would take charge of the SCDA Play Library. And that will be my happy laughing chitty chatty life.

Logged. Noted. Committed. In virtual ink.

I flew off to the next meeting with the golden glow clinging to my stooped (only for now just for now til I retire then I'll be spry) and sorrowing shoulders.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Eeee. The blogger app doesn't much like phone pic uploads.

Forgive the unruly nature of the post below.
Perthshire earlier today. Not laden down with snow.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

50/50 is a very fine film.

On the surface, it's a bleak subject matter.

A fine young man with everything to live for gets a rare form of cancer and struggles with a virulent treatment and his impending fate.

But the subject matter is handled with such a delicate touch and such an eye for the beautifully dark humour that can be wrung out of his situation that it's not nearly as dreary as a cinema goer might fear.

Like Coriolanus, I would not have sought this one out if I was left to my own devices. I suspect it's age-related but I am increasingly unwilling to sit through relentless misery on a giant screen, unless I believe it to be in a good cause. So I avoided it when it was first out for this reason.

Luckily, Gail wished to see it for work purposes. The lucky girl is working for the Government on a campaign about cancer detection so saw it as research. And I strive to be a good friend so said I would accompany her.

It turned out to be much more of a story about people who seem selfish and aren't. And those who apparently strive to help others but turn out to have all sorts of selfish reasons for doing so. With the cancer as more of the pretext than the purpose of the story.

The ending is quite possibly slightly fanciful. But after unrelenting bad luck throughout, I was willing to forgive a little showy flourish.

Go see. If you can. It's surprisingly both funny and fun.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

You'll know that I'm not a big fan of Shakespeare on film.

To the extent that I still haven't actually managed to catch up with last summer's (the summer before's, really) The Tempest with Helen Mirren as Prosp. Era.

I went to see Coriolanus purely as an excuse to see a particular friend of mine whom I rarely see as she's childed so her weekends are wildness. So gifthorse and mouth would have been united if I'd turned down the chance to see her and see a cinema at a weekend. I figured the film would be good for me. Educational. And if the worse came to the worse - I could always sleep.

As it turned out, I slept not a wink. It was brilliant.

I loved the setting. Unspecified Eastern Europe. Loved the cinematography. All chilly greys and khakis mostly. Except for Coriolanus' lush palace but we lost sight of that towards the end.

I don't know how much they'd chopped about the script but I more or less fancied that I could follow the story.

And suddenly, the beauty of Shakespeare on film was revealed to me. Where in the theatre, you're stuck with one place - or lots of scenes with different palm tree pictures or whatever; on film, you can of course show whatsoever you like to make the point. How the story-telling is enhanced. (Man, I can hear Siobhan sadly shaking her head at my appreciation for the spoon feed.)

The direction was rather marvellous which helped. There was only one shot that felt a little bit gratuitous. Can't tell you what it is as it'll ruin the ending. But it was neither too sentimental nor too unemotional. Jarhead meets a story with a bit more of a heart.

I even liked Ralph (Rafe, I said casually to a friend a day later over noodles. She looked up at me sharply: "what? when did you get so posh?" I was plunged immediately into pronunciatory indecision) Fiennes. I've never quite understood the vanity of someone that would direct themselves in the main part of a play. I don't understand how you can possibly be objective. Fundamentally, I'll confess, I think I'm an amazing actress. (Oh god please see that as tongue in cheek.) And can only imagine the horrors I would turn in if I was watching myself doing it. (Actually, that situation would never arise. I'd more likely instantly sack myself.)

The point is - I would never do it. I judge those that do.

But he did. And he was great.

So maybe I should take it back.

Go see it if you can. It's a cracker.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

It's a delicious, delighting and exciting time. The first read through.

You steel yourself. You're about to plunge into it. Then Ross says - perfectly reasonably of course given that no-one knows anything about the script - "what's it about?"

So you stutter around the houses, babbling to recount a scarce-remembered plot, trying to retain a bit of theatre and not give the end away, trying to carefully egalitarianly make each part sound perfectly equally vitally important (but oooops oh oooops - "now that's a cracking part" she says, carelessly. Well, if you weren't there, you'll never know). And then you're dwelling on stuff that isn't at all important and not actually really telling anyone anything about the actual heart of the play. The actual reason you like it.

"It's just funny," you manage to spit out oh so eloquently. "And dark."

Oh great, think the onlooking actors, must make sure I go out of my way to audition for that.

And then the reading itself stutters into life. And you're sitting there, laughing like a drain at the slightest joke because, for this hour and a half, this play is (almost) 'yours'. Probably the only time that it really is, before everyone else starts (how wrong) feeling that they can lay some sort of claim to it.

And isn't it sounding lovely? And isn't it dark? But isn't it funny? And oh how they're laughing so sinisterly but delightedly at the darkest of dark jokes. They must like it. Do they like it? Are they laughing because I'm laughing? Or is it actually funny? It's funny, right?

And set alongside this frantic scrutiny of the onlookers' facial reactions (they hate it oh my god they hate it), you're also staring like a hypnotised cat at your watch. Because what you need to know above all else, above any sort of audience pleasure or artistic merit, is whether the little bastard will come in on time. Will it run at an hour and a half?

And this little script goes on for at least eight pages after I'd expected it to finish. And they're densely worded pages. Not just the quick witty repartee and banter that skips one page through to the next. Suddenly, the characters are all heartfelt pleas and soliloquies. And the minutes are ticking inconsiderately by and I'm thinking I'm maybe seeing my watch face at a Dali-esque angle and it's not that time at all but wait it is but that means I've only got...

And then. Phssssew. It's done. One hour and a half. A stunned (you imagine) silence. Because it's brilliant.

So tonight, tonight, suddenly it's upon us. The official unveiling of my festival show.

We're reading the script after today's first Wednesday of the month meeting.

As no-one knows anything about it - and I've spectacularly failed to update the website with any sort of advance information - it could be an interesting session.

Imagine if everyone hates it.

(I hope they don't.)