Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ten years ago - or maybe more - a very young cmf featured in a Fringe show directed by B S Neill. The Sisterhood. An adaptation of a MoliƩre play by Mr Ranjit Bolt. I can sadly remember the T-shirts more than I can remember the show. (T-shirts = white, pink and black design, cute cut-out-paper-girl design motif. Show = Riddles Court, upstairs room, not much space behind the curtains that equated to wings, I kissed a man who sweated enthusiastically.)

But this morning, bus stop. (Location of all scenes of substance in my life.) Sitting on a bench in the thinking about sun. And a "Claire?" And goodness me, there's...

Declan. Who played... something in The Sisterhood. I've bumped into him a few times over the intervening years and he now appears to live about three streets away from me. He's shed one job since I saw him last which must have been a couple of years ago - I think I thrust a flyer at him then too - and begun another. But we mostly bickered about the Olympics. And marvelled at how much work Liam Rudden gets through.

Until he suddenly, disturbingly, said: "I liked your piece in the Evening News. I thought then I must see your Fringe show. So this is a great reminder."

I broiled with shame as the trying to come out sun beat through the window of the bus.

To compound the shame, one of my new work colleagues - who's not been in the office Since The Article - cried out in front of a whole group of people that might - maybe - still think I'm relatively normal; "I loved that Evening News article about you last week!!" I launched into an apology. But the damage was done.

I don't think I'd make a good celebrity.
Goodness, I've finished with the programme and it's more than an hour short of midnight.

Wonders never cease.

Monday, July 30, 2012

One time, I must compile a chart documenting my anxiety levels in the pre-show preparation period.

I'd imagine it would look much like the graph depicting traffic to my blog. Flat and flat and flat (calm  peaceful content) rounded off with a sudden sharp spike when the actors remember that I might be writing about Them and all dash on to the internet to have a peek. And then slink away disappointed when they realise I only do empty narcissism.

This time about, flat and flat and flat anxiety-wise. Almost none, in fact. Just a happy little jogging along loving 'my' script and loving my actors and loving rehearsals. The familiar nostalgia setting in at approx -3 weeks. But another fortnight of simmering before. O my lord! The show's on in a week! O my lord we can't be ready! O my life we have so much to do! O o o!

This gripped me yesterday. I thought it was ruining my appetite which is most uncharacteristic. Then I woke up this morning (early, feverish, full of worry) and realised I just had an inconsiderate cold.

I've been guzzling inappropriate drugs all day. I think I might snack on a pork pie, take some fierce flu remedy and then I'll be good to go for (if I have the nerve) the -2 rehearsal. Tonight, Wednesday, tech. And then, in precisely two hours, a week today, my beloveds are out on the loose without a single directorial / assistant directorial reassuring snicker for comfort.

Good luck everybody. And apologies in advance for my absent sense of humour. Two fifths of my beloveds will recognise it by now. Though coupled with their spiked sense of anxiety, that's little help.

What a pursuit.
Oh dear. I'm starting to quote the script in stuff I'm writing at work. Tiny obsessive.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises.

(aka Batman.)

V good.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Programme more or less put to bed, beautifully enhanced by some fine photos courtesy of Julia Girlfriend Of Gary.

Now onto scheduling my review shows.
The pretties at play.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Another Matthew McConaughey pause in the Fringe proceedings, last night for a fine film called Killer Joe.

I say 'fine' because I can see why it was critically exalted in the Film Festival earlier this year. But the exalting critics must be made of sterner stuff than me.

It's a harmless enough story, full of - to my (director's enraptured) mind - enchanting parallels with Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us. A boy owes money. They're a generally poorly off family (they live in a proper white trash caravan in Texas) so he sets out trying to borrow the debt from his dad. This doesn't quite work so increasingly desperate - for I guess he can't play snooker - he resolves the situation by engaging a local hitman to (spoiler alert) bump off his mum for the insurance money. Hitman (Matthew) takes a shine to the debtor's slightly half-witted - though awful pretty - sister and ends up taking her as security on the big big prize (the dead mum).

Well, you can imagine the story's veered off course already from the rather more wide-eyed #ForgiveUs story. And then it takes several more sinister twists and turns that result in a lot of blood, some fellated KFC, a great deal of shooting and a head being beaten in with a tin of (white trash metaphor) pumpkin. Hmmm. Awkward.

The performances were all very heartfelt in its favour. But I missed most of last ten minutes of the film for the shut my eyes horror. Too middle class for my own good, p'rhaps.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Today's Evening News.

It would be better if the photo had never seen the light of day.

But obviously all advance publicity is good publicity...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

With real life inconsiderately getting in the way of my middle class hobby, last night, the cast horribly rehearsed Behind My Back.

Man o man, the very thought makes me shudder.

Because don't you know, immediately they're done, the jungle drums start up and they've had o such a wonderful time (WITHOUT ME!) and (WORSE STILL!) they've CHANGED all sorts of things.

O my life. Imagine if it's now INFINITELY BETTER..?

Monday, July 23, 2012

They say that acting is all about shedding your inhibitions, baring your soul, peeling back the public face of a person and revealing the shameful vengeful hopeful squirming soul within. But how personal does a director have permission to get?

An actor is just a person with a job. An accountant doesn't have to pitch up to work, steeled for soul-searching and collective revelations. So is it fair to expect the same from an actor?

But then, acting is all about trust. For the play duration, you cast up your destiny / reputation / maybe a tiny maybe a big sliver of your wellbeing to pretend to be this other thing with this group of people and that requires a bit of a leap of faith.

So all a little ambivalent apprehensive, yesterday we talked about being angry. The different types of being angry. The consequences of being angry. And of course, most critically, how it makes you feel.

And it seems to me that this is the director's remarkable privilege. To collect together this group of people that are willing enough and committed enough to the finished thing to tell a pack of - in some cases - relative strangers all sorts of stuff that matters. And that shall remain between us and the faithful through til 3am walls of our rehearsal rooms. An honour.

My cast and crew, once again, I salute you.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Grand plans involving exercise this morning. Thwarted by fussing about working out how much our exquisite (cheap see-through fabric) show T-shirts cost and tinkering about with the show programme. I should feel smug with virtue but I know it'll still end up with a 2am session to finish it off at some point in the next week and a half. Some things shall always be so.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A sneak preview from last night's photoshoot.

Aren't they moody and adorable?

Big thanks to Gary and Julia for doing such an excellent job.

Very pretty things.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I arrived at the rehearsal rooms last night on the cusp of being late to find my pretty chickens already at work.

Indeed, it came to light that they'd been there since 5pm. (I arrived at 7:29pm.) Carefully, devotedly, plodding and working through their lines.

By way of a reward, I unpacked an ugly bag of jumpers for Cath. Sacklike, unattractive and mine all mine.

But then discovered to my horror that the biscuit store was running low so their collective biscuit dinner was reduced to a handful of Hobnobs and my current (but nobody else's) favourite Malted Milk snappy treats. "No Kit-Kats?" said Johnny, sadly.

I felt like a mother that had provided only a satsuma and a handful of nuts in the stocking at Christmas. Must replenish the biscuit box for tomorrow.

Undaunted, they proceeded to turn in some lovely performances.

Though I've yet to see the pieces that they darkly promised they'd changed, refined and improved in my absence.

Maybe tomorrow will be A Day Of Rage.

But as I haven't had too many of these so far, maybe I'd even let them off for that.

Pretty chickens.


My favourite sort of email. Thanks, dkpw.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I know you're burning to ask how Friday's method acting alcoholic frenzy of a rehearsal went. So at last, relief for your misery.

Disappointingly, they were all pretty sedate. During the rehearsal.

Dad was driving so (wisely) didn't drink. Johnny was running a 10 mile obstacle course with the added bonus of electric shocks en route the next morning so (wisely) didn't drink. Mum sipped a Soave. Cath necked vodka and coke, precisely on brief. Patrick supped Jaegermeister. Our lovely prompt, Helen, guzzled white wine from a secret coolpack. Heather, our SM, supped tea. And I... Well, you don't need to know that.

Cath became stupendously ungainly - in an entirely deliberate perfectly in character way. Mum became extra angry. Patrick ended up a little rougher around the edges in his drinking scenes than usual.

But true to form, it was the post-show that yielded up the real carnage when we got properly stuck into the Tennent's Super (which, I'm pleased to report, is a strangely nice beer) and our AD's cartons (classy) of wine. If you like your cans to dish up a 9% ABV, that is.

So was the whole experience illuminating from a character point of view? Not sure. But it over-delivered on the fun quotient with bells on.

Until the morning after.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Well, boys and girls, I hope you like them.

And a dangerous executive decision for Mum.

They should arrive in approx one week.

The pretty children at work.

(See the sentimentality start to set in!)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tonight's rehearsal will be - how shall we say? - an exercise in method acting. A couple of the characters spend a great deal of time drinking in the play. Two of the other characters are drinking a great deal more by the time we get to the end of the play.

So tonight, (let them eat cake) they shall be drinking not flimsy limpid water from the various ramshackle containers at their disposal but purely distilled alcohol of the strongest possible variety.

I have a bottle of Glen's finest vodka. I have cans of Tennent's Super that clock in at 9% ABV. And we have a disparate collection of pink wine.

I suspect it will end in carnage. So I do hope it helps their acting.

As I don't suppose it'll do much for their lines.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tonight's rehearsal happened simultaneous to auditions for our autumn show, Richard III. Which made for an exhilarating soundtrack of sometime shouting from the room next door and a constant babbling humming hubbub from the hallway.

It also meant that our rehearsal warm-up and then a portion of the rehearsal itsveryself was enlivened by the addition of two adorably elfin boys, last seen howling (one of them only) as Caliban ransacked their father's shopping bag for cocaine on the Mary of Guise barge.

Inspired by the incomers and an exceedingly pretty auditionee who clearly didn't realise that my 'open' invitation to join our warm up was directed at the 7 and the 9 year old in the room rather than the collective ensemble, I suggested Gary took the warm up as he does a much better job of these things than I.

He rose finely to the occasion, concocting a handful of child-friendly activities that youngest to oldest warm-up-ees embraced. I was not so lucky with my stalwart zoom screech as the oldest present struggled and strove to comprehend the rules with variable success. But the boys appeared to have fun.

And then they settled down into MY armchair (fools!) to watch the rehearsal. Adorably quiet. Watching attentively. Scarcely flinching at the vile language. (Though I did wonder whether I should call a halt to things just before they got to the - in fact, I'm not even going to write it for fear of attracting the wrong sort of attention. But Helen, if they start quoting all sorts of filth to you around the dinner table, you can blame Paul Higgins.) And it was all going swimmingly.

'Til suddenly, a tiny hand was thrust into my face with a tiny bloody scrap nestling within it.

"My tooth's come out!"

I stared back at the boy mutely, ill-equipped for such stuff of real life in amidst the middle-classery.

"Does it hurt?" I offered uselessly.

"No?" he replied tremulously.

"Well then!" I exclaimed, heartily, "you'll be fine."

A true Florence Nightingale.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Three weeks and five days to go. But who's counting?

I spent the night listening to doors opening, keys fumbling, doors closing, doors slamming and toilets flushing.

My neighbours must have been thoroughly confused.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The show(s) will open four weeks today. Ulp.

Having been pretty exquisitely good tempered with the cast until now (well, in my head), I could feel my temper beginning to unravel yesterday. Poor things.

Obviously they're scarcely a week off the script so couldn't be expected to know their lines by now.

But I wasn't very tolerant.

To make things worse, I had my AD to one side of me and my GM to the other. And like three wise (I wish) monkeys, we sat there in judgement. Varyingly picking on the various bits and pieces the poor cast offered up that we then took objection to. Poor very poor things.

Sorry, cast. I love you really.

(Though I'll love you more when you know your lines.)

Friday, July 06, 2012

My my. What a difference a day off makes.


- yoga class
- press releases for our two Fringe shows, Dr F and Forgive Us, sent to the Guardian, the Scotsman, the Herald, Metro, Three Weeks, the Evening News, The Stage and Fest magazine
- lunch with extremely cool cousin and her extremely cool boyfriend (I deliberately dressed down for it as I realise I can never compete)
- sideboard, Formica topped table and sets of shelves unearthed for the set
- ugly possible shoes found for Mum and Patrick
- exceeding ugly jumper found for probably Patrick
- shabby T-shirts found for - take your pick
- long overdue landline telephone bought as mine has been unusable for dialling purposes for months (an inconvenient feature in a phone, I've noticed)
- although the boy in the shop, clearly thinking this was superlative customer service, talked and talked and talked. He now knows my entire life story. I am now extremely late for my next engagement
- received reply from Mark Fisher complimenting our "cool soundtrack"
- tweeted exhaustively about aforementioned email reply
- home again, stuffs dumped and off again out.

And it's still only 5:14. Marvellous.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

One and a half hours of last night's rehearsal spent on character development work.

It seemed like an extraordinary indulgence. I sat there, slightly fidgety, thinking 'we could be rehearsing. We could be walking about' but equally, this is - increasingly revealing itself to be - a really useful exercise'.

And did their performances reveal a deeper than ever emotional intensity when we finally did get down to business and they started walking about aka acting..?

We shall see.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Bursting into the kitchen on Monday night at the rehearsal, I encountered one of the cast members who shall remain nameless plaintively assembling a pile of biscuits.

"Goodness", quoth I, "hungry?"

"I haven't had tea" said this hungry one sadly.

Supermarket visit this morning to stock up on chocolate treats to be sure they don't waste away. And I'm now the proud p-picker-up-er of a 27 Pack of Penguins.

Shan't have my cast withering from hunger.
At the grand old age of (ahem-hm), I should really have learnt that the show that I loved aged 14 might not be the show I love when I'm some years older.

Particularly when the original score has had the beating heart torn out of it and thoughtful considered humorous songs replaced by ditties by ALASTAIR Lloyd Webber.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

In my (nhumh-hm) years of life, today is an most historic day.

Bear in mind that I grew up listening to musical soundtracks. Andrew Lloyd Webber for the most part. Stephen Sondheim if we were feeling highbrow. A couple of wild cards by no-one in particular on account of Mother's actress understudy turned star friend. But living in the landlocked middle of England, our few trips to London to See Stuff tended to focus on this aforementioned friend's performances. So whilst I knew many of these ALW shows by heart, I haven't seen very many of them.

Imagine then, how I've been living for this day.

Mother and Sister sneaked off BMB to see one of the favourites from our repertoire, Starlight Express, when I was carelessly at university. But tonight, payback.

This very show opens at our not so little Playhouse. I have a ticket. I have been listening to the soundtrack all weekend in preparation. I will be one of those lunatics who murmurs the lyrics along with the performers. And I don't mind one bit.

The Starlight is in town.

I expect I'll sleep through it.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Take back every spiteful vengeful thought you had about your beautiful little cast, cmf.

They did pretty good. Books down considering.

Thank you, pretties.
Books down today.

And suddenly the tone shifts (as far as this director is concerned at least) from lovely messing about making sure they know where they stand and say things with a modicum of meaning. To oh my god we have a show to put on and they can't really carry their scripts around with them on stage and oh please god let them have made some effort to have learnt their lines.

I feel ever so slightly sick as I journey to work with script, a packet of Breakaway bars and a wannabe cast can of lager in my bag.

Eerily foreshadowing what might lie ahead, I dreamt last night that I was directing some sort of Bollywood musical - gold and sequins and saris everywhere. It was very picturesque. Although stretched our regular rehearsal rooms well beyond their reasonable capacity. The elephants really struggled to get up the stairs - and the cast (not my current cast fyi and peculiarly, the lead was an adorable girl I went to school with called Chelli who has never acted in her very life) were pranking about not listening, roaming off to smoke, to try on costumes and practice make-up (this last culprit was the aforementioned Chelli plus entourage) and eventually, the banks of my rage burst, I bawled at them all (clearly just a dream) and I woke up angry.

I shall choose to take this is a good omen.

Oh, and Cast, if you're reading this, don't worry. I'll be meek as a lamb tonight. Promise.