Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Anyway, look, sorry, I've been a bit quiet here lately. I'm sure you've all been devastated by the yawning silence.

It's not actually that I've been bone idle. But more that:

- I'm sort of quietly starting to organise a thing that is - for the first time in my quasi / un-professional life - embargoed (is that even a word??) so I may not speak of it. Yet.

- I'm sort of quietly thinking about my contribution to a thing which is very definitely not embargoed and you all may attend. And that is this.

- I'm about to inherit a play for the baby-sitting for a fortnight. But I don't think I should really talk about that here.

- I'm beginning discussions with some illustrious talent concerning a venture in 2013. Of which more, if you're not already paying your membership fees, on 21 November.

- Oh and I saw Bond. Sorry. Skyfall. Amazing. Go see.

So I'm keeping busy.

It just makes for light blogging.
Ridiculously, Kate Bane continues to bother me.

To the extent that I just checked the reviews.

As ever, I like Mr Fisher's take on it.

And Joyce. Yes, good. "Tremendous technical skill." Tick. "Immaculately directed." Tick. "Elegant but oddly uninteresting new play." Mmm hmm.

Not just me then.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I went to a workshop at the Traverse yesterday.

Though I didn't realise it was a workshop.

I believed I was attending an event featuring someone talking to me about a thing I felt I should know about.

A playwriting competition that - this time - might be the one to spur me on to sudden artistic brilliance.

Unfortunately for me and my sluggard's head, it was a workshop. A writing workshop.


They asked us what writers should write about.

Which I think is a brilliant question.

I seized the opportunity to rant to my small group about The Unauthorised Kate Bane.

Ah, said one lady who had the look - you know That Look - of a writer, perhaps she was trying to make you angry about being angry about being middle class.

Man alive, existential stuff.

She said she would go and see it as it sounded really interesting.

So Writer Lady, if you're reading this, tell me what you think!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

37 years on, I've finally realised why I like to visit a dance show.

Cabaret Chordelia, to my great regret, muddied the waters a little at the weekend. Inventive. sassy and cute  and featuring a most beautiful male singer - it was fun but just didn't quite cut it for me. To my great regret as I admire the company much.

Richard Alston's company unmuddied the aforementioned waters nicely.

A pack of beautifully but relatively normally shaped boys and girls in chinos and tea dresses pranking around a (beautifully lit, of course) stage to, first off, a pianist at a grand piano jaunting along with Scott Joplin.

Then we had (I gather) Ravel. And, well,turns out the costumes which were the prettiest pieces of string and sequins I've seen for a long time, were designed by Julian Macdonald. I wish to order the little stringy thing with the red background above for an - as yet unreceived - party invitation. Though I'll need to gain some substantial muscle tone first.

Finally, god only knows what music but the urban counterpart to the slightly more pastoral (though that sounds twee and they weren't) precursors. Very industrial. Madcap it was called. Jeans (though more likely jeggings) and vests. And this - this is how I want my autumn 2013 show to be. Collaborators take note. Though you can't. For Richard et al were on here for one night only.

B S Neill bravo'd once to the first piece, clapped only for the second and both bravo'd and - fancy - hollered to the third. So we all know where his favourites lay.

But what I see at last when it comes to this dance milarkey is that the human body is beautiful.

The body when it's properly exercised is an even finer thing. (Particularly when it's topped off with an adorable tousled haircut such as that modelled tonight by Pierre Tappon.)

The body when it's properly exercised, properly warmed up and pranking around like a pranky thing in love with the idea that it can do All Of This Stuff - and in time with some music to boot - is amazing.

Thanks, Richard.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I have a jacket from Home Street in my flat.

I forgot how much this altered the olfactory composition of the atmosphere in here.

Yuk yuk and yuk.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I went to see a play last weekend.

("Really??" you cry. "How unlike you.")

And it served as a beautiful demonstration of why a normal person might write off the theatre.

Don't get me wrong. It was a beautiful production. (Grid Iron, I love you and I loved your boxy set and I loved your best efforts with the nostalgic film show on the till then inexplicable pinboard. You, girl who was in the truly terrible middle class but pretending so hard not to be, it hurt, Wonderland, you were very good. I do admire and covet your cascading red hair. And scientist boy who was more finely formed than any scientist ever would be, you were hot.)

But the story. Goodness it made me fume a little bit.

"The Authorised Kate Bane" tells of a girl, an author, who takes her boyfriend home to meet her dad. Her dad is a nice middle class almost retired lecturer. Her boyfriend is a mild mannered middle class scientist.

Her mother gatecrashes the occasion. (Well, later you discover that she doesn't but that doesn't matter.) She is A Wild (mc in denial) Bohemian.

The girl, the author, who goes by the name of Kate, spends some of the play worrying about her soon to be published novel. Worrying to the extent that she will not let Nice Boyfriend read it for fear it is rubbish.

Then it is published. It is not very good.

She spends the other part of the play speaking of the dread that overwhelms and chokes her every time she thinks about going back to the familial home. So she doesn't go home very often.

The worry and dread, we, the audience, think. Oh dear, that sounds bad. Sick, she says she feels. Dear me indeed. What can have gone on?

One could choose to blame Jimmy Saville but when it is revealed that she feels lurking choking dread at the prospect of going home because she is.... ASHAMED of her middle class upbringing, my sympathy, which was already pretty scant for this poor little rich girl who couldn't write very well, evaporated.

"You're no one to talk" cries her dad as she rails against his slaving to claw his way up from his dirty working class origins in.... DUNDEE. "You won't even drink instant coffee."

"That's your fault" she roars back. "Because you wouldn't let me drink it. You only ever brought it into the house when we had builders in!!!"

Searing political stuff.

I suspect this commentary will come back to haunt me when my political polemic masterpiece is finally published and Joyce observes that I clearly haven't had a very hard life.

But the middle classes railing against the shame of being middle class??

Theatre can do better.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On the delicious day that I changed the nature of my profession in advertising from doing things to just thinking about them, I said goodbye to only one portion of my job with any real regret. Attending shoots (both photo and TV) and recording sessions. In part for the catering which is usually far superior to anything I should cater for myself. But in part, for the curiosity of how the professionals do it.

Yesterday demonstrated that all things being equal, it was probably for the best.

I had the fluky lucky pleasure of attending a recording session. Not for anything terribly important - just the taping of descriptions of TV ads for research purposes. But it took place in a real recording studio with a real lady voice over and a real sound engineer. And very real shiny red branded pencils - which is always the measure of a quality establishment.

My leaving this doing job must have more or less coincided with my starting directing. So happily for all concerned, opinionated me (as opposed to mild mannered pleasant and humble me) has never been unleashed on a (professionally qualified) audience.

Until the yester day.

I tried to bite my lip and let our creative guy get on with it. I squirmed and wriggled and smiled nicely. But in the end - too much!

"Do you think you might take a bit more time over that? It felt a bit rushed."

And then the floodgates were opened.

"Do you think you might try and sound more disappointed when you say this? They're not supposed to be doing That."

"Do you think you might leave less of a gap between Those Two Words?"

"Do you think you might try and sound more like you're telling a story when you read that? I mean (oh always the caveat) not like you're talking to 5 year olds but still..."

"Do you think...?"

"Do you think....?"

"Do you possibly think....?"

Poor actress lady had the patience of the saintly.

Our poor creative boy hid the undoubted hate shining out of his eyes by focusing on the glorious basin of chocolate biscuits.

Our producer sat tapping on her laptop pretending none of this was happening.

And one and a half obliging (actress) patient (creative) constructive (engineer) excitable (I) hours later, we were done.

To my great regret.

To everyone else's great relief.

Probably best that I don't get to play in this way too often.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I'm not in the business of giving advice here. But the sake of your overall wellbeing and peace of mind, I'm going to break with tradition. To say only:

If you're in the market for some light-hearted fun and cinematic froth, don't be tempted to watch the chirpily titled Biutiful.

It does boast the very beautiful Javier Bardem amongst its cast. But about there - and a distant viewing of the Sagrada Familia under scaffolding - the biuty ends.

I seem to remember B S Neill warning me off this much-lauded work of cinematography. I would have done well to heed his words before spending two hours and twenty minutes of my Friday night in the company of the (spoiler alert) universally unfortunate.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I always feel slightly fraudulent when attending a classical music concert. For I don't really know what I'm listening for.

As demonstrated by the fact that I sat through tonight's very lovely performance by the Doric String Quartet at the Brunton, slept for only a fraction of the final piece from Mr Beethoven and when asked what I thought, managed a succinct but uninformative: "it was good!"

Further demonstrated by the fact that after I'd patiently queued for a CD, tried and failed to take the cellophane off so they could sign it, only to be bailed out by the beautiful viola-ist, the most insightful thing I could think to say, all of a tizz, to the second violin was the masterful "are your fingers not all callused?" Bless the boy, he launched into a long explanation about how perhaps it was so that a cellist's fingers might be more toughened as the strings are wiry-er but his fingers were not too bad. A little tougher on this hand than that. I could have a look if I wanted? And he extended his (insured for thousands?) neat little hands.

Frozen in panic (should I take his hand? Stroke the balls of his fingers to marvel at their baby softness?), I muttered a nothing in response and thrust the CD at him: "sign?"

I don't think I'll be finding love with a professional musician any time soon. 

Anyway, they were lovely in manner, grace and their instrumental art. I'd recommend that you enjoy one of their non-callused concerts yourself. But you have two brief dates in Scotland (after today's appointment in "Musselburgh, Scotland"), London and then the world. So you might find it easier to get a CD.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

How much I've ranted about poor spelling in recent weeks.

So how much was the lord of spellcheckers laughing when I sent out an email this evening to FOH volunteers for our autumn show:

FOH for Richjard III


Sunday, October 07, 2012

For reasons that will become clear, I've been asked to provide details of I / "my artists" "favourite Burns work".

I'm ashamed to say that it's not a question I've ever considered before.

But for speed of resolution, let it be known that my / "my artists" favourite piece of Burns work may, from heretoforth, for posterity, be known as this:

A Man's A Man For A' That

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that.
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The Man's the gowd for a' that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an' a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man's a Man for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,
Their tinsel show, an' a' that;
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a coof for a' that:
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that:
The man o' independent mind
He looks an' laughs at a' that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities an' a' that;
The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

Thanks to Burns Country for letting me borrow their words.

And I believe that B S Neill has the entire Great Works on a great collection of CDs. If I suddenly become housebound and incapacitated apart from my ears, I shall consider the matter at greater length.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Just discovered that one of the boys I work with is now married to the girl who played Eliza Doolittle in our production of Pygmalion the year that Adam House (almost) burnt down.

Man alive.

I have photos of her looking like a waif loitering on the street with a very picturesque dog that we used as publicity for the show. They live under my bed.

I must bring them in to well and truly freak him out.

What a strange small carousel this Edinburgh is.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Someone came across my blog today by googling:

cleopatra's snake obsession.

If you ever come back, Someone Whoever You Are, I'll try and make it more snakey next time.
I like to think I'm not too much of a grumbler.

(But grumble alert.)

And I love this theatre habit of mine.

And I don't remotely resent begrudge at all mind the amount of effort that goes into getting A Show organised.

I'm sure the end result wouldn't be half so satisfying if it weren't for the phenomenal effort involved in getting it off the ground.



I sometimes feel there are better things I can be doing with my time than waiting for people to attend our monthly meetings.

Thank you to the two who (to all intents and purposes) came along today.

To the many multifarious far flung and far too busy, I hope you realise we do this for you.

That's it. No more. Thanks.

We know you love us really.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

I've almost just read a book, a really quite brilliant book, about Shakespeare. Which is exceedingly unusual for me as I'm not the world's biggest fan of, you know, proper books. But this one I gulped down.

I know very little of Shakespeare. Beyond the fact that he carries a feather and lacks hair in the middle of his head. So this book was very informative. (In fact, I'm not going to tell you the title because I'm probably going to buy it for you both for Christmas.)

But one portion which leapt out at me compared and contrasted surviving versions of one of the speeches from one of his plays. Hamlet. He wrote a version. And then a whole bundle of other people tried to seize a piece of the pie by publishing their versions of his art and darkly mangling the finery as they did so.

So we have Mr Shakes:

To be, or not to be, that is the question,
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer 
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them; to die to sleep
No more, and by a sleep, to say we end 
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks 
That flesh is heir to - 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.

Then we have the imposter publishing this:

To be, or not to be. Ay, that's the point. 
To die, to sleep, is that all? Aye, all. 
No, to sleep, to dream, aye, marry, there it goes,
For in that dream of death, when we awake
And borne again before an everlasting judge,
From whence no passenger ever returned,
The undiscovered country, at whose sight
The happy smile, and the accursed damned.
But for this, the joyful hope of this,
Who'd bear the scorns and flattery of the world
Scorned by the right rich, the rich cursed of the poor?

Thank god for Shakespeare, eh?

Monday, October 01, 2012

Exceedingly pleased with That Email.