Thursday, March 30, 2006

This might just work...

Let's get this in proportion. It's an amateur show. I've got 100 lines. There's other people there, who are doing great stuff.

It will be fine.

It's amazing how helpful it is to have props in hand too. We've got a splendid throne-like chair I borrowed, a quill pen and all sorts of bits and bobs.

Also, I've trimmed my whiskers to something a little more Elizabethan...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Bring back the 70s - we're all doomed here!

It's just like the 70s today at Judge Towers. The nation is reeling from (possibly) "the biggest industrial action since the General Strike in 1926, and we are all facing environmental doom (the Archbishop of Canterbury is telling us that our plane rides will kill poor people round the world - and he's right).

Kitty is home from school because there aren't any school dinners there, and she's watching the Goodies. (How lucky a father am I? The Goodies DVD was a present for my oldest daughter, along with a second hand phone form eBay. Not many fathers of 14 year olds get away with so little. )

It's like a time-warp. And the pronouncements of Margaret Beckett on the radio, are beyond satire. The government is taking global warming very seriously, so seriously that we're only doubling the capacity of our airports. It could have been much more, she says.

One week to curtain up...

... and the look you see here is not swaggering self-confidence. More the look of a rabbit in the headlights.

We're going for something a bit more "punk" in the costume and design. We've left the cosy clutter of the rehearsal room for the open stage.

And suddenly, we don't know our lines (or at least I don't).

Catch the look of terror as we have publicity photos taken.

Last night's rehearsal was pure misery - I never knew farce could be so depressing.

It was so bad I nearly didn't use tonight's rehearsal as a (perfect) excuse to skip a church council meeting. If you've been to a church council meeting, you'll know how bad it was.

It was so bad, I fired off a mean and pointless heckle at the stand-up comedy MC in the Theatre bar. I was on my way past the door, back to the rehearsal, and I heard him say "It's OK, you can heckle me," so I did.

I hadn't even been listening to the gig. In fact, I don't ever go to stand-up comedy. And I like the guy. And I said something so pointless it's not worth repeating.

I'm sure the show will be all right. Anne looks like she's enjoying it here. By next Tuesday, I hope to be thoroughly in the mood.

But at home, Alison is rummaging through the video shelf for The Goodbye Girl. You know, the film where Richard Dreyfuss plays an actor who's starring in a terrible camp Richard III, but his girlfriend still loves him....

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Rachel the action hero

Rachel walked 40km at the weekend camping and carrying her food on the way. It was a Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition.

If that's not impressive enough, the first day was her birthday - and she had to be at school at 6.15.

The day after she got back, she hauled herself into school, and acted on stage in the evening, and did the same again on Tuesday.

Today, she's off school looking a bit the worse for wear.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Time for some Ruff stuff

So, yesterday we had six hours of rehearsal. Can people really put this much work into an amateur play and still enjoy it. Yes!

We got our ruffs, and enjoyed trying them on. I think Anne looks more and more like a raddled Gloriana every rehearsal. Dermot, yes your bum does look big in that.

And my beard. Still not looking Elizabethan. Time to take arms against it.....

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Letter of Marque

I just finished the twelfth book of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin saga, which started with Master and Commander.

There's no point adding to the general praise which fans heap on the series. It deserves every bit of it. This one is - as ever - the best in the series so far, with a last chapter full of a powerful pleasure that wouldn't mean a thing if you haven't read the previous eleven books.

And you should...

Elizabeth: My Part in Her Downfall

Things are getting closer and we now have a poster, props and so forth. There's more here, and box office details (hint!).

Learning lines is harder than it was when I acted at school, and I keep getting hung up on really obvious points to do with, well, acting.

When someone is about to snatch a book from you - it may have happened a hundred times before (and it probably will have with the amount of rehearsing I need), but you have to look like you weren't expecting it.

It's one of those things that you think is easy, but actually there's a lot to it - and stuff to (humph) learn even at this late stage....

I'm working hard, though, so I won't be the weakest link. It's going to be a very funny, very silly show.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Count your blessings

So far, I've "forgetten" and had a drink on three out of the five days, since Lent started last Wednesday. I never quite get to grips with Lent, and yet again, it feels like Christians are out of step with the rest of the world. Everyone else gave up booze in the "secular Ramadan" of January, and they are now busy re-toxing.

And anyway, it's not about giving things up. It's about appreciating what we have, appreciating the world, and being more connected to it all. Christian Aid has a better idea, and a lovely leafelt - "Count Your Blessings" - which gets you to do just that.

Today, the leaflet tells me to give 5p for every fairly-traded, and 10p for every non-fairly traded cup of tea or coffee I have (20p and counting...). Yesterday, it suggested giving 10p for every disease I've been vaccinated against (no idea, but it's probably at least £1.50).

I'd recommend this one to anyone, of any religion or none.

Bad English is evil

Here's a refreshing start to a Monday morning. A post on the Authority blog sends me off to read Orwell. Specifically, his excellent essay Politics and the English Language

This isn't altogether expected. The Authority blog is written by journalist Michael Cross and sponsored by local authority IT supplier Civica. And, from my experience of local authorities and IT suppliers, neither world is particularly concerned with good English.

But a look at the essay reminds me of two things:
  • Bad English is evil. Not unfortunate or disappointing but, by allowing sloppy thinking that might permit evil, actually evil.

  • It is actually possible to stand against this sort of evil.

There's a third, somewhat depressing thought, though. Orwell was writing of the decay of politics in 1946 - just a year after the Labour party arrived and when - from our prespective - politics was really alive. The welfare state was being started, and Churchill was out, on a 72.6 percent turnout in the 1945 general election.

Compare that with now. You don't need me to draw the comparision. Over here, the politicians have nothing to offer but words. Those words are now without meaning. And over in the US, you can get up an invasion on the basis of lies and fudge.

And even Orwell has become the thing he hated: an abused cliche.

Friday, March 03, 2006

So - I'm a real historical character!

Well I never. Bizarre though this play may be, I'm a historical character! Thomas Egerton, chief of police in Dario Fo's Elizabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman, was in fact one of her chief advisors, along with Cecil and Bacon (a different Bacon from the one who "wrote Shakespeare's plays", I believe). Ben Jonson wrote a poem to him.

The play happens at the time of the rebellion led by the Earl of Essex in 1601. I wonder if the queen really did call Egerton a "fuckwit" and point a pistol at him?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Vampire Bunny?

Watching early Buffies (yet again) with the girls, I couldn't help feeling that the big bad guy in Series One looks familiar.
Something about the pink nose rang a bell.

Then I saw Rachel's rabbit, Salt...

Bum-rolls and Beards

This blog may go a bit thesp for the next few weeks. Normal rubbish about children, church and wireless should resume eventually.

Monday night we had a frock-fest. Nearly everyone else gets to wear a skirt, with a bit of Elizabethan padding known (in the theatre at least) as a bum-roll.

Anne as Elizabeth I looks "like a knitted toilet roll holder" according to one observer (which is apparently more or less the effect we're aiming for).

Dermot looks fine in his bum-roll as Dame Grosslady, but he will have to lose the beard apparently.

And then there's the question of my beard. I'm going to have to do something goatee and Elizabethan-or- with it

Luckily there's plenty of pix online, as the Guardian runs an article about what Shakespeare really looked like.

My searches for Elizabeth Beards lead me to a play called The Beard of Avon an American play which sounds a good enough proposition for someone to have a go at over here. The idea is that bumbling-but-good-with-couplets Will Shakespeare runs away with the theatre, to get away from his wife, and ends up in London, where he becomes a "beard" for prominent people who want their plays put on anonymously - starting with the Earl of Oxford, obviously including Bacon and finally even Queen Bess, who write The Taming of the Shrew.