An Actor's Life


Youth movement
April 27, 2012, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Just funny | Tags: , ,

In 2001 I was part of a totally devised piece of theatre. The characters, narrative even the staging was decided upon by the company. Costume was pulled together from the casts own wardrobes and second-hand shops. Every mistake and every success was ours and ours alone. It sounds like a fairly standard story for a theatre company taking it’s first steps into the world of performance, except that I was 15 years old and my oldest colleague was only 17. We were the Theatre Royal Bath’s Young People’s Theatre. We met once a week under the guidance of a brave and nurturing leader who allowed us to fully explore what our limits were without censure.

To publicise the show we took to the streets of the city, my good friend Pete & I decided to choreograph a fight that would sprawl through the centre if Bath. We were encouraged in our efforts. Pete & I spent two hours fighting, he armed with a large walking stick, me with chopsticks. I repeatedly flung myself onto the becobbled streets, whilst Pete swung wildly at my head. It was fabulous fun and undeniably dangerous. Would we be allowed to do that now? I happen to know not.

I am now in the position of course leader for the Natural Theatre’s Youth Theatre and we specialise in improvised street theatre. There is no way we could ever dream if letting two young people design a fight (with weapons) and let them take to the streets. Even when working in the relatively controlled environment of a stage fight choreographers must be used. Which is right and proper, my life would’ve dramatically altered had one of Pete’s lungs removed an eye. But they didn’t and it remains one of the most thrilling performance experiences of my acting career. I don’t want to sound too much like disgruntled of Tunbridge Wells but maybe our never-ending quest for ultimate safety for our children is robbing them of some of the richness of life.

It should be noted that the show itself was self-indulgent, highly sexual, very silly and pretty crude. Exactly what you’d expect to find inside the minds of a group of teenagers.

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Shakespeare goes global
April 26, 2012, 2:34 pm
Filed under: Just funny | Tags: , , , , ,

We are in the midst of an incredible undertaking: The World Shakespeare Festival. It is an epic festival spanning different venues, aiming to pull together companies and artists from all over the globe and share their visions of Shakespeare’s work.

There are 37 productions from 37 countries, many in different languages (including Maori). Some are straight re-tellings, others are responses to the texts. Its these that irk me slightly.

My company New Old Friends were recently approached by the Theatre Royal Bath to create a tangentially Shakespearean show. We came up with Silly Songs of Shakespeare, a Fascinating Aida style show of songs inspired by various aspects if The Bard. But we would be uncomfortable claiming it as Shakespeare, his influence is all over the show, his name is in the title but it’s definitely not his show.

I guess that is my question, if a play is inspired by the themes of one of old Billy’s pieces should we credit the old Stratfordian? Or is this just us justifying the massive reverence we show him by claiming new artistic endeavour under his name? If a play deals with jealousy and scheming and the playwright has seen/heard/read Othello is she obliged to credit WS?

For all that I can’t help but feel that any artistic response is simply trying to piggy back on the fame of the former, if it produces great new work that drives our medium forward then I am wholeheartedly behind it.



Check this out!

Check out the awesome line-up for next month’s Pick & Mix. It’s gonna be SO good. There are a couple of acts still deciding, including our favourite street magician. Well excited. Here’s the poster. Click here for tickets.



The Happy Couple
May 13, 2011, 10:41 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Allow me to tell you about The Happy Couple; it’s the next full-length show from New Old Friends. I’m about half-way through writing it and I’m pretty excited about where it is at. Lots of gags in there. It centres around two people, MAN and WOMAN, imaginative names huh? They’re a couple, a happy couple, and they don’t cheat on each other, beat each other, leave each other, kill each other, they love each other. That is the challenge I’ve set myself and its pretty difficult to drive a narrative without any conflict, I mean they bicker obviously, but 90 minutes watching two people bicker isn’t really going to cut the mustard is it? I’m no Beckett, by the way. Although our first show, Mate, was described under the headline “Better than Beckett” by Bath Life magazine once. We were so embarrassed by the claim we never actually used it on any publicity settling for the slightly more believable “full of witty one-liners you’ll be using for weeks.” Sorry I’ve gone all self aggrandising haven’t I? I’m supposed to be telling you about The Happy Couple. I wrote a while ago that it previews at The Rondo, Bath June 22nd. I lied. It previews at The Rondo, Bath Fri June 24th, tickets £5 from 01225 463362 or www.bathboxoffice.org.uk/7484 

Tickets are only a fiver because it will still be in the work-in-progress stage. We’ll have it as polished as we can but realistically it’ll be scruffy around the edges. I can confirm that all the usual N.O.F. tropes are in there, we have daft wordplay, daft songs, daft slapstick, daft conversations, daft characters, daft dancing and some truly wonderful ‘groaners’. A groaner is a gag that is so bad it makes you groan, bad but you love them. We do. It wasn’t until I read over The Happy Couple that I realised I had a recognizable style, but there is a clear line through all the work I’ve produced. I originally wanted to be a very clever Radio 4 style wit, but I’m happy to have settled in to a purveyor of a slightly naughty blend of whimsy and wordplay. The first song of The Happy Couple contains one of my all-time favourite joke rhymes I’ve ever written; Mum I know you’re listening, that bit about the drug taking, is entirely fictitious, I’ve no way of knowing that heroin is delicious. You have to work a bit to make it scan, but Heather performs it with brilliant aplomb, in fact she absolutely nails the entire song and that alone is worth the measly £5 admission.

In other news, our second Pick & Mix is looking to be a real stunner, line up announced very soon. More info and booking details for that here. We loved the last one, and all of you who came seemed to too, so hopefully this time around will be like the Peugot and go from strength to strength. It’s June 4th at 8pm still at The Rondo, Bath. Be great to see you there. In fact if you contact my on twitter @thisactorslife with a topic you would like to see rendered in comic sketch form we will oblige you.



Oh and Gee
May 10, 2011, 8:13 am
Filed under: Career Arc, Just funny | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Good morning blogosphere, and you too Twittersphere. The lady wife and I met some delightful photographers yesterday to chat about our impending nuptials (the eagle eyed among you may have noticed I called her the lady wife and then spoke of upcoming nuptials, I’m not a bigamist just eager) the happy snappers were lovely. But they are really cheap, like 25% cheaper than anyone else AND they do more. Rather than being cause for celebration it has worried us. Why so cheap? We wonder are they too young? Have the rushed into this? Do they really understand the importance of a marriage? Can they handle this? Is she pregnant?

The writing is going well, although my confidence took a knock when the other half of New Old Friends read the script and the first thing she said was “There are lots of good gags, but I don’t get the story.” Bugger. But one of those gags for you now:

Oh and Gee

You mean OMG

Do I?

Yeah, its an acronym of Oh My God.

Oh, I thought it was a retro-slang amalgam of Oh, as in oh golly, and Gee as in gee whiz.

Jokey joke!



Support a brilliant community theatre.
February 8, 2011, 1:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hello everyone,

Please help with this, retweet it, digg it, facebook it, do whatever you do but please help me promote this great little charity auction on behalf of The Rondo theatre. A great little venue in Bath that has been really supportve of New Old Friends and numerous other aspiring companies but receives no Arts Council funding. The proceeds of the auction go toward its outreach work (youth theatres, tea concerts for the elderly, adult acting classes and a writers’ forum).

It really is a good cause and what’s more it looks like it will be a great night. Tickets are selling quickly and we don’t want you to miss out on this entertaining and valuable event. Canapés will be provided by the highly acclaimed, One Beaufort restaurant, with comedy auctioneering provided by Pavel Douglas of the Natural Theatre Company.

Tickets to the event cost you only £15. Included in the price of the ticket you will receive £10 in “Rondo Bucks” to spend on the auction and £5 of bar tokens to use at the bar.

Donations already confirmed by partners include: 

  • Thermae Bath Spa
  • The Roman Baths
  • Tickets to Bath Rugby
  • Afternoon Tea for Two on board the Royal Crescent Hotel’s award-winning luxury river-launch
  • Performance day,  and schools workshop with The Natural Theatre Company
  • A sneak-preview tour of the newly refurbished Holburne Museum
  • A Feast of Larkhall (locally sourced gourmet ingredients to make up a dinner party for you and your friends)

For tickets, please send a cheque (payable to The Rondo Trust) to:
 
The Rondo Theatre
St. Saviours Road
BATH BA1 6RT

 
Or, you can pop your cheque and booking form into this envelope, and drop it into The Rondo (you can pick up our new season’s brochure while you’re there!) when you pass by! If you have any questions about the event please do not hesitate to contact us at admin@rondotheatre.co.uk and we look forward to seeing you on the 11th!



Venue Interview

Hello everyone, thought you might want to read this interview in this week’s Venue.

Venue Interview