Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My sister is visiting at the moment. She clearly, in her heart, thinks I'm a slattern. Possibly because I am. So she was hoovering yesterday. 

I got back from work and she'd unearthed all sorts from under the sofa. And she said disapprovingly: "there's a bag of something - it looks like white powder - down the back of the cupboard but I can't reach it."

For a moment, I was puzzled. I'm dabbling with airbnb. Had one of the guests left some supplies? Was I being used as an unwitting (static) mule?

Then I remembered.  

Ban ban ca-Caliban. 
Has a new master. 
Get a new man. 

His "cocaine".

The mystery is solved.

And I've left it down the back of the cupboard for old time's sake.

Friday, February 17, 2017

No time to blog. Rewrites on the bus on the way to work.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

So I'm trying this thing. I'm ridiculously coy about it because I've never done it before. And I don't know if it's going to work. And I don't know if my poor workshop-ees will end up hating me. Not just hating me passively but actively, passionately despising me for wasting their time. 

But the professionals do it, I figured, so there must be something to it. So I thought I'd give it a try. 

I've written this play, see. It's been sitting on my hard drive for such a long time now that I'm beginning to think it'll miss its moment if it doesn't get let out soon. But because so many writers seem to start a rehearsal process with one script and end up somewhere else altogether, I thought that might be a way to make it better. 

Fancifulness aside, and given that our actors often have day jobs and limited capacity for learning rewrites with two days to go, I thought I'd split out the script workshopping bit and the rehearsing bit. So I've just started a series of four workshops with seven very kindly willing victims. I'll frantically rewrite the script, theoretically as we go. And then to make sure I follow through, I've set myself a public read through date. 22 March. I'm sure this is just how Shakespeare worked.
It's about a photographer, Ty, who gets a little bit obsessed with trying to find the perfect image of beauty. He tries ever so very hard to make it work with adults - but what do you know? They're simply not beautiful enough. So he turns to teenagers. Here "he" is (and isn't it funny that though there isn't a camera in sight, you "see" the camera?!) with his first attempt. Tiffany has done this a hundred times before so is fully confident that she'll be the star of his forthcoming exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. 
But the media get wind of his exploits. And there've been so many stories in the press recently about grown men being inappropriate with much younger people that Justine, our down on her luck journalist, scents blood.
We played around on Sunday with the first photo session, with a fight between Ty and his long-suffering agent, a face-off between Tiffany and Ty's girlfriend and a possible scene between Justine and a couple of Ty's young models. 
Hats off to my workshoppees. They made improv look effortless. Ty's girlfriend Heloise even had something of a French accent by the time we were done. (I would love her to be French - but is that really practical??) Thank you to all of you. You gave me bundles of food for thought. I felt like Dumbledore with his wand, sucking the memories out of people's heads in a single silvery strand and dispatching them to his (my) pensieve. I hope the pensieve reveals an excellent play to me by the time we're done.  
(Thanks to Matt for the great pics!)

Sunday, February 05, 2017

On reflection, I think that Love It Or Leave It! was probably very excellent. 

The acting was polished and the timing, perfection. The fact that the contents were largely unintelligible to me was neither here nor there. I staggered through a couple of reviews of it, one complimentary which I now can't find and another which is less so. My German isn't up to it so I put it through Google Translate with deliciously mystifying consequences. But the review which I now can't find thought that the play was a marvellous metaphor for the Turkish Republic. As the title of the play says, if you don't like it, leave it. But I didn't, did I?! In any case, the two hours of pain enduring the thing in the first place were pretty amply recompensed by your hilarious comments on my original post. For which, thank you.

I managed to gravitate towards more esoteric theatre earlier this week. Maybe esoteric is unfair, actually, but it was - let's say - philosophical theatre. Cities was brought to the Manipulate Festival which offers up puppetry and animation,  courtesy of Theatre De La Pire Espece. The programme offered the same dishearteningly vague description of the show: "partial but precise X-rays of our human social organisations, revealing the various secret collective obsessions and cancers that can devour us all." Gulp.

But it looked delightful. It featured a man surrounded by various tables with shelves and compartments aplenty. He had a little video camera trained onto the table of choice and would film the objects he collected from the compartments, ranged and rearranged as he went, sometimes accompanied by his pre-recorded voice and sometimes to music or other sound effects. Sometimes he would speak 'live' as it were. He might take household objects that, filmed from an unusual perspective, looked completely different. Or he sometimes used little Playmobil people arranged in stumpy rows. The film of the ranged and rearranged objects was projected onto a much larger screen alongside his work station.

I loved and was impressed by the inventiveness of this show. But rather like the German reviewer above, I was left a little unmoved by the content. In the name of full disclosure, I DID have quite a big sleep. But this was only after I'd watched quite a lot of it and found it wanting to me from a story point of view.

The concept for the show was sound enough. Here is how people end up bundling into living alongside each other - and here are all the ways in which it doesn't work. But I missed the end scene so perhaps he knitted all the strands together in an elegant and profound musing on humanity's chance for salvation. Or perhaps he thought that he didn't know the answer either but it's a thing that's bothering him, will bother other people too and what better reason to explore it through a piece of theatre?

Narrative or philosophy aside, the performer was excellent. His / their collective ingenuity was excellent. But I guess this isn't the first time I've seen a show using this technique. Hark at me. So I could have been more impressed. But I gather they created the show in 2014 so then, perhaps, it would have seemed more remarkable. 

Poor old bitter cynic. I daresay this says much more about me than this excellent French-Canadian theatre company.