26 September 2007

Bedford- Road Show

So this is the life of a touring actor. Not so glamourous.

Tomorrow I'll get squeeze into a car with 3 of my fellow cast mates and drive to a small hole-in-the-wall town in the middle of England to perform our show for a small group of elderly people. Twice. And then I'll come home.

Pardon my cynicism: I'm trying to affect a jaded, worldly, air.

But in fact I'm pretty excited, because even though it will be small crowds, and even though Bedford is in Middle-of-Nowhere Countyshire it'll still be fun. Beats working, and: most importantly, some good friends are coming up for the show. One on Friday night, and another set on Saturday. With the added possibility of seeing some Birmingham family on Saturday as well.

Also: I'm pretty fucking proud of the show. I'm happy to show my friends this production, which is of pretty high quality.

We took a difficult piece of theatre, made it fun and accessible and had a rollicking good time performing it. I managed to create (I hope) a protagonist whose characterizations within the universe of the play support the text and are at once thought provoking and humourous.

Plus I get to rant and rave, wear goofy mustaches, and make funny voices and stuff.

It'll be interesting to see how this show is received on the other side of the water. It's not the gentle 18th Century comedy of manners Bedford is used to.

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This week so far

After the Saturday night cast party Chiara and hit home for some much needed R&R. Sunday was car-free day in Brussels and we spent most of it soaking up some late Season 5 '24'. Don't fuck with Jack Bauer. I did hit the streets to get in a little skateboarding time and pop by the pub to catch AS Roma square off against the ignoble cheaters known as Juventus. Maybe it's unfair to shit talk them like that, as they've served their time in Serie B, but on the other hand they do have Pavel Nedved on their team, and that guy is a Grade A twat.

The car-free skateboarding excursion was bittersweet because I broke the kingpin on my skateboard shortly after I watched Roma give up a last-minute tying goal. Cazzo!

The good news is its Wednesday and my work week is already over: tomorrow I'm off to Bedford. And it's entirely possible, though not certain, that I've left my workload in a manageable state.

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24 September 2007

Accidental Death-Night Five-Big Finish

Saturday night was final night of our Brussels run. The atmosphere was suitably energetic. The theatre was oversold and the actors were all keen for a high octane kick-ass performance. I wasn't the only one looking to avenge the previous nights so-so quality.

And we did, we brought it. The audience got off to some rolling laughter early on, and were pulled along through the manic energy of the first scene. They were also willing particpants in the high-jinx of the phone call. And from there it just snowballed to the hectic finish. It was a fitting finish to a successful run.

One of the best compliments we received was from the director of the upcoming run of Neil Labute's 'Bash,' also an amateur production at the same space. She half-jokingly said 'I hate you guys.' Why? I asked. Because our show was so good it forces her to step her game up. (those weren't her exact words, but it's what she meant.)

So it was great. And the cast party afterwards was fanastic: great food and drink and people.

Speaking of people: I'm just hoping some show up in Bedford for those shows.

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22 September 2007

Accidental Death- Night Four- Balls Out!

Late in the rehearsal process I got my costume, including a pair of trousers that were perfect. Someone, the director In fact, decided there could be a hilarious sight gag if someone ripped the trousers and sewed in a little piece of material to make it look as if my undershorts were showing. I didn't think it was a good idea. But it happened.

The trousers have been a source of endless problems since, culminating in last nights performance consisting of an entire first act in which the lead actor unwittingly had his balls exposed to the entire front row.

Other than that it was still a good show. Though I wasn't very fucking happy to find out my performance was ballsy for all the wrong reasons.

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21 September 2007

Accidental Death- Night Three

Despite my major dip in energy levels yesterday afternoon I got it together in time for the show last night, and what a show it was!

Due to a fortuitous combination of factors the audience was really responsive right from the start. Directly after the first scene I'm alone on stage for what seems like 15 minutes, but in fact is mayeb only five. And every night I've been asking the audience the same question 'which drawer are the little people files in?' It's a simple question with an obvious answer, but I like it because it's a simple question with an obvious answer and the audinece can get used to particpating in the show.

The first two shows I got no response, but last night somebody yelled out immediately 'bottom drawer!' (Correct!) And it went on from there.

The show was fast and fun, and I was able to play with the audinece more than in the other shows. In fact I made two unscheduled breaks, once to question a woman who had spilled a drink, in the first half, and another in the second half to shush a couple of bitches who were yakking it up in the front row. It got a little uncomfortable, but I managed to effectively restrain my knee-jerk audience interaction impulse, which is to abuse my power as performer and humiliate the fuck out of them. Instead they were gently reprimanded ina way the audience could agree with, and we were able to get bakc on the script and carry on.

The fact that teh actors were more comfortable I think contributed to teh audiences comfort level and everybody, on both sides of the stage, enjoyed the show immensely. This was reflected by the amount of people that stayed afterwards to enjoy a beverage and rehash favorite moments with cast and crew.

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20 September 2007

AS Roma rocks you like a hurricane


Serie A and Champions League has started, and Roma went into both competitions with high expectations, and something to prove.

Italian Serie A and the European Champions League have started, and AS Roma went into both competitions with high expectations, and something to prove.

In Serie A last season Rome finished second, which is a well-beyond respectable showing for one of the finest football leagues in the world. But it was a distant second. Inter Milan ran away with the title, but are unlikely to do so this year. Competition will be fierce and Rome will be encouraged by their strong start.

Last season's Champions League campaign was for them a fairytale. They only made it into the Champions League due to the Calciopoli scandal that rocked Italian football in spring 2006. Having only managed to squeak in under these unusual circumstances they proceeded to mount an impressive campaign, not only progressing out of the group stage but taking out the favored French side Lyon in the round of 16. Unfortunately the fairy tale was one of the original Brothers Grimm ones.

In the next round, after putting on an impressive display at home against Manchester United, they again looked set to play giant killer. However (this is the Brothers Grimm part) they got eaten in spectacularly gory fashion by that very same giant they seemed on the verge of besting, in the form of a 7-1 drubbing at Old Trafford. It is not a result anyone is soon to forget.

Over the summer they lost one half of their (usually) indomitable centerbacks, the Romanian Christian Chivu. However, they compensated by picking up some talent, acquiring forward Giuly from Barcelona (who looks like he's settling in after shanking some gift-wrapped chances over the bar in his Roma debut). They've also solidified their defense with the acquisition of Juan from Bayer 04 Leverkeusen, and Cicinho from Real Madrid. The addition of some more skilled Brazilians (to add to Doni, Mancini and Taddei) gives Roma a eye-catching mix of Italian finesse and Brazilian flair that adds up to relentless, and relentlessly exciting, attacking football.

And this squad seems to be coming together brilliantly: they earned some back from Serie A scudetto winners Inter Milan in the form of a Supercoppa victory in August, and have begun the domestic season with an impressive 3-0 record. The entire squad, and especially Captain Francesco Totti (last years Golden Boot winner) showing themselves well-capable of finding the back of the net when needed.

Wednesday nights Champions League tilt against Dynamo Kyiv showed a squad that is never short of attacking ideas and still stingy in their own end. Kyiv was fortunate to only have surrendered two goals, as Roma also hit two posts and continually threatened. Indeed, there is much to be optimistic about for fans of the club, but undeniably the real test will come on Champions League Matchday 2, when Roma must again face Manchester.

It's a season that promises big things for Rome, but they know, as does the whole footballing world, that for them to achieve, they must purge those memories of last seasons ignoble crash out of the competition. Watch for it.

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Accidental Death- Second Night

Yesterday was a shock. I got to work to find out our Secretary-General had passed away. That rather quickly changed my mood from 'electric elation' to 'solemnly somber.' And it was a long day at work, to be sure. And I was happy to have the opportunity to hit the stage and cut loose.

And so we went back up for our second show. The theatre world has alot of superstitions and beliefs. Actors are a superstitious lot, it would seem. And one of these beliefs is that the second night of a show is a crapper. But, just as we reinforced the belief that a crappy dress rehearsal means a strong opening night, we refuted the belief that a strong opening is followed by a lacklustre second night.

Truthily told, the performances lacked some of the unpolished nervousness of opening. But with that show behind us we were able to relax into it and have a little more fun. And the show was more polished, some of the laughs were easier, and the audience were more responsive overall.

Without trying to be too much of a dick I asked everyone to jump on top of each others lines a bit more. I had the feeling that the first night we allowed some pauses that slowed the pace down unnecessarily. People seemed receptive and we all passed around some notes, including one part that I kept skipping. Last night we kept it in and things went off well. By now I think it's taken shape, the big adjustments have been made, and it's time to just enjoy. And by relax and enjoy I mean attack the stage and shoot energy out of our faces and rocket like a hurricane.

Although I'm pretty fucking tired right now, that feeling will fade as showtime approaches.

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19 September 2007

Accidental Death-Opening Night

The hours before a show are never easy. I hadn't exactly forgotten, but it did come as a shock to me that even after all these years of performing in all kinds of different capacities I am still, for all intents and purposes, entirely dysfunctional right before a show.

Which is not to say I didn't channel my nervous energy into putting up a shelf in the kitchen that I'd been promising to do for awhile. Because I did. And it looks good. And as long as I can spend that time in my little impenetrable bubble of preoccupied distraction, doing whatever it is that suits me, for as long as it does, everything is fine. And everything was fine before the show. As I wandered around the house, read my script, read a book, got dressed, got undressed, got dressed again, washed some dishes and did some push-ups. I arrived at the theatre in time to get myself and my props and costume bits together in time.

And then it was showtime.

The play, being a slightly anachronistic political satire using slapstick absurd humour and incisive political references, caught the audience a little sideways. But they quickly warmed to it. Though slightly uneven and suffering from a bit of 'first night jitters', the show was definitely a success. I've been told that the very few empty seats that were in the house last night will no longer be empty.

And as the comfort builds, and the timing tightens up we will find the laughter and make space for it, and continue to have a good time. So will the audience.

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Talkin Like A Pirate

Yargh! You scurvy-suckin' wenches and land-lubbin' suckers oughta be knowin' it be 'International Talk Like a Pirate Day' today!

Whattaya be doin' on a day that be like this? ye be askin'? Why ye be talkin' like a pirate!

ye' branacle-brained poop deck!

G'wan! Or ye'll be feelin' me wrath once i chucka ye' down in the hold and ye' be fightin' rats for scraps. Or I mi' jes' keelhaul yer sorry ass!

Yarrgh. Arrgh. Yeeegh! Grrr! Ulggh!

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18 September 2007

Accidental Death- Dress Rehearsal

There's a saying in the theatre that goes 'Crappy dress rehearsal means great opening night.' I sure hope it is true. because last night was a disappointment.

Not an unmitigated disaster. But a disappointment.

Due to a heroic, last-ditch effort to get enrolled in a reasonably priced, decent French class, I was thrown well off schedule and nowhere near our call time of 7:30, and even late for the 'absolutely not later than 7:30. In fact, by the time I got to the theatre last night it was 7:40, I was halfway through a pita that was to act as my dinner, and our tiny messy dressing room was crowded and sweaty. That gave me 20 minutes to get settled, get my costume bits together, and get on stage. Before I knew it it was show time and things were only sort of together.

One of the great things about my role is that i get to make two transformative costume changes, involving wigs, costume bits, and props. It is fun. But last night things went haywire and some bits were missing.

By the last quarter of the play the combination of a huge costume fuck-up on my part, a few dropped lines, and the lack of any audience response from the five people in the house had combined for an energy hemorrhage.

But we got through it. And in fact as I wrote earlier, a crappy dress rehearsal is actually a good sign. At least tonight I will remember to wear the eye patch for the last scene.

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KODIAK!

I think it was Hannibal (George Peppard) from the A-Team who would say, mouth full of cigar stub, "I love it when a plan comes together." Me too.

I especially love it when the plan is something close friends plan and work together on and it comes to such fine fruition as this:

Kodiak: the movie

This short film, written by Allen Morrison, directed by Andrew Macleod and starring Matty Finocchio will be having its premiere at the Vancouver Film Festival.

I remember many years ago when they told me about it, and I thought yeah, it is a great idea. Now it's a great short film.

Check it out.

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17 September 2007

Internet People

I like videos on the internet. But I don't have time to watch them all. Neither do you, probably. Here's a recap.

http://view.break.com/362585 - Watch more free videos

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Accidental Death-Tech

As you know, I'm doing some theatre here in Brussels, as the lead in the English Comedy Club of Brussels production of Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Last night was our tech rehearsal. For anyone not familiar with the world of theatre, before a play is performed, the pentultimate rehearsal is 'the tech.' Once the actors are well-rehearsed, and the set is in place and the technicians have the lights and sound prepared...once all these things are in place, they need to all work in concert, and so the tech rehearsal begins.

Tech can be a long and arduous process, and it is generally loathed by the actor, who functions as little more than a movable dummy, posing in place so the lights and sound can be tested. I guess it's similar to modelling, but with more sound effects.

Yesterday's tech rehearsal was a rare beast in the theatre world: it was relatively smooth and short- like a Romanian gymnast.

There's not that many lighting or sound cues, so we were able to jump from cue to cue through the play fairly quickly. The highlight in fact was being rescued by some sound cues during the one part in the play that's been giving me the most trouble .

At one point in the first act my character (Maniac) answers the phone in the police station and carries on a conversation with:

a) the person on the other end of the phone (imaginary)
b) another character on stage (also imaginary)
c) the audience (hopefully not imaginary)

The difficulty of this juggling act has not been helped by the lack of rehearsal of this conversation, in which crucial plot and character information is revealed. Until yesterday.

Without giving too much away, I've now got some sound to work with and improvise off of. And we actually rehearsed this part a couple times, so I feel better about it.

Once we'd gone through all the cues we did a full run of the show with tech. It's very exhausting. By the end of the play I will be very tired. Unfortunately last night I got tired and out of sorts before the end of the play, and kinda hobbled through to the finish. Hopefully that will change. And it should. Part of the problem of rehearsing a play with lots of audience interaction without an audience is that the actors pour their energy out into a black hole of empty seats. Now that the show is selling out, those full seats should reciprocate with all the energy and we can all ride to the finish line together.

Tonights the dress rehearsal.

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14 September 2007

Breakfast Week

Hey. Happy Breakfast Week. I know... a little belated, seeing how it's Friday.

And anyway you're probably thinking "Every week is breakfast week." And you're right.

Breakfast, quite possibly the most important meal of the day. Definitely in the top three.



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12 September 2007

Abide



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11 September 2007

ProTract

I have officially graduated to status of semi-professional writer. I have begun what I hope to be a long and mutually fruitful relationship with Levi's Europe to write stuff for their website. Stuff I've written will be translated into a bunch of languages. It's happening..

The stuff isn't up yet, but it's worming its way onto the internet as we speak. And there's more stuff on the way. I've already been paid: that's how serious this is. Paid. For writing. Stuff. On the internet. Sure you get to read it here for free. But imagine: I could write stuff. For you. And it would be awesome. And you could pay me. Sound good? I know. Get back to me. Let's talk.

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07 September 2007

Sunset on Belgium?

Apparently the Flemish aren't the only ones who think that Belgium should split up. Opinion article in The Economist makes the valid point that if Belgium had elections three months ago, why the fuck don't they have government yet? And why does nobody really care?


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Today

Woke up repeatedly last night, thanks to the annoying whine of an earbound mosquito in a holding pattern above my ear. It never did land. Every stuporful slap of the side of my head failed in its objective. Ultimately I pulled a pillow over my face and managed to resume slumber.

Today was a slowstarter. Yet somehow I managed to beat the 9 o'clock deadline for office arrival. I immediately began stabbing blindly at some tasks with approaching deadlines. Hopefully some will be forced into submission before the weekend. It's a tall order though, what with so much procrastination to do.

This evening Chiara and I are Amsterdam-bound. Why? Because she had a 'function' to attend tonight. That (and the company-funded hotel) was excuse enough for me to buy a train ticket go and hang out with my man Creaseless Ben and watch, maybe do, some improv at Boom Chicago.

Chiara since cancelled on the event, which left me with a train ticket, but no excuse to spend six of the next 24 hours on the train. In the end we're both going to Amsterdam for dinner, maybe catch the Heineken Late Night and see my former (extremely fucking funny) castmates Jim Woods and Brendan Hunt kick out the jams with the rest of 'em all and a magician. I bowed out of performing in the show, but it'll be nice to slip in at show time and just enjoy, though of course I will be wishing I was participating.

For now though, it's back to 'work.'

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05 September 2007

Etsy

I've found my new ebay: its called etsy and it is a marketplace of hand made individual designs online.

In fact, it's a marketplace of awesome: etsy. Check it, for sweet designs, on everything from the website on down.

Thanks again, internet, for not continuing to be an empty portal of suck all of the time.

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The play's the thing

It is now 13 days until opening of Accidental Death. It has been a long time since I've been in this position, sweating these particular bullets. The excitement and nervousness that comes from knowing that this piece of theatre will be seen by a live audience in a very short time. Time that seems shorter than the work requires.

I've missed performing live scripted theatre. I had forgotten what it's like. I missed this time, this part of the rehearsal process as much as the performances itself. It is the time when scripts come out of hands, costume pieces begin to come together, and the set comes to resemble its ultimate shape. As the external trappings begin to solidify, the action on stage hangs in the ether. Now is the time when the play looks it's absolute shittiest. Lines get forgotten and action grinds to a halt; characters seem shaky and actors confused; slow, wince-worthy sections of the play have the director hanging his head in frustration. We are indeed on the brink.

Fortunately it is not without its bright spots, and as Opening Night draws closer the gaping black holes of shittiness will recede and the pace will pick up, details given the attention they deserve and, if all goes according to plan, by 18 September this will be an amateur theatre Tour de Force.

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