Monday, 20 January 2014

Picture this

The poster and leaflet (that's "flyer" to the younger, US-influenced generation) are now being printed. The leaflet is being handled by a company in Southend - 2,500 double-sided A5 copies for £90 - and the poster by our usual printers in N7 - a mixture of A2, A3 and A4 for £58.75.  I'd like to have used the N7 printers for the leaflet as well, but their prices are considerably higher. It's a dilemma that has returned occasionally throughout my adult life - do I patronise the local supplier, whom I like and want to support, or do I patronise the cheaper supplier who may be hundreds of miles away? Usually the demands of my limited budget steer me towards the anonymous, larger firm that I am likely never to see in person. I have regrets, but they are few . . .

The poster (à droite) is suitably egoistical. It has my name but not those of the actors. I'm not fooling myself that anyone who sees this poster is going to say to themselves, "oh yes, Martin Foreman, the playwright who gave the world Californian Lives and Tadzio Speaks .  . .  and the author of the moving The Butterfly's Wing and the insightful First and Fiftieth, both of which I keep as close to my bed as Plato's Symposium and the most recent Twilight novel; I must book tickets forthwith". I'm simply playing an old advertising trick whereby the phrase "Martin Foreman's" on the poster will suggest to the observer that I am a dramatist of note, in the same way that "Alan Ayckbourn's" or "Alan Bennett's" encourages some people to open their wallets and hand over their credit card details to whichever organisation is selling tickets for those playwrights' latest new opening or revival. My name top left won't automatically sell tickets but it won't harm sales either.

More important is the image. I think it works. I think it's intriguing and will draw people to the theatre. There are the twin motifs of religion and celebration. It's missing the picture of Frederick Rolfe that we use on the website, and which we are using in some secondary publicity, but, as my aged mother has discovered each time she brings up the topic with friends and acquaintances, Rolfe is a mostly forgotten writer and an acquired taste. Anyway, we're printing very few copies, because there are few places to put up posters where the audience will not only notice them but be motivated to buy tickets and come to the show. On the other hand, if the poster and this blog persuade you to come, let me know when you've booked your ticket and a copy of the poster, signed by moi-même, will be waiting for you at the door...

Friday, 10 January 2014

Paper, pens and pot

A short entry today. We're gathering the props we need for Angel and Now We Are Pope. We have about half of what we need, including a picture of the Madonna, a Venetian flag and a chamber pot. Now looking for reams of old-fashioned foolscap paper, lined or otherwise, and old fountain pens, the larger the better. Are you in London? Can you help? We can't pay much, but you will receive eternal gratitude, a mention in the programme, free tickets and maybe even a cheap drink. What more could you want? Get in touch at

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

When I'm sitting comfortably you can begin

I like directing. It brings out the dictator in me. The boss. The controller. The manipulator. The god in the flies (we're talking theatrical terms here, not disease-carrying insects). I'm polite, I'm friendly. I make suggestions rather than give orders, but I know what I want and I'm determined to get it. The actors are the ones under strain, not me. 

The critical piece of equipment for a director - this director at least - is a comfortable chair, preferably a sofa. Somewhere I can stretch out with my feet off the floor and my coccyx cuddled in comfort. By my side, depending on the time of day, a glass of wine (no more than one), a refillable cup of tea or coffee or, occasionally, a Jack Daniel's (again no more than one). In my lap, the script, with pencil to make temporary notes and pen (red) for permanent changes to the script. Once I'm sitting comfortably, the actor(s) can begin. 

And yesterday, the actor did indeed begin. I was with Christopher Annus, setting out on only his second stage role in - well, actors are shy of their age, so I won't give you details, but suffice it say that he last trod the boards in 19XX. Chris is appearing in the one-man play I have written at his behest: Now We Are Pope: Frederick Rolfe in Venice and we spent the first rehearsal on the first three pages of the drama. Much of it is stage directions, with curtain up on Rolfe (pronounced "Roaf", by the way) asleep on his chair, deep in a confused dream in which his paramour and a Conclave of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church both appear. Upon awaking, Rolfe gathers his wits, gets to his feet, utters a pater noster and consults his reflection in the mirror. Which is more or less as far as we got.

I'm not going to comment on Chris's performance other than to say that we both know we're on right track. I see him again tomorrow evening, when we're going to briefly review that section, then move on to the meat of the play - and by Frederick, there is a lot of intellectual meat for him and the audience to chew on and digest. Before I meet him, however, I will be working with Christopher Peacock again, who is taking on the role of the priest in the one-man play Angel: Take This Body - a play which I not only wrote but performed eighteen months ago. Chris P, you will remember, allowed me to direct him in Tadzio Speaks . . . - a piece which will be revived later this year at the Edinburgh Fringe. Chris will make a fine priest and I'm looking forward to working with him again.

Equally important, I'm looking forward to stretching out on the sofa while he paces to and fro across my living-room. He is likely to be stressed by the exercise. Me? All I have to worry about is whether there is enough tea . . .