Friday, 18 April 2014

He loves me not . . .

Our next production opens in under three months and I'm busy working on the publicity. The first task is to put together a poster, which will form the basis of our leaflets and other advertising. This is the draft I've put together so far. (Yes, I'd far rather this was undertaken by a professional designer, but we're losing enough money as it is...)

There are - as many of you will spot immediately - several problems to be overcome. We need a strong image. We need a title, a strapline. We need dates and addresses and prices. We need reviews to entice the punters, sorry, discriminating members of the public who will rush to buy tickets. And we need to list three shows with straplines to further entice our potential audience. All of this has to come together in a harmonious, seductive whole.

This is what we have so far. Needless to say, there will be changes. The theatre address will probably be smaller and move down a little. The theatre logo might also be reduced. We will probably more a little more of the beauty's body - after all, there's nothing like nudity to draw the eye of the beholder.

Plus the strapline is likely to change. "love" is a difficult word, with different meanings for each person who utters and hears it, but there is a common core that suggests that the heart is more engaged than the groin. I'm not convinced that the three characters in Desire and Pursuit - the tormented priest in Angel, the cantankerous writer in Now We Are Pope and the old man on the beach in Tadzio Speaks . . . are in love with their respective obsessions. Lust, yes, Longing, ditto. But love? One of them indeed believes he is in love, but whether he is fooling himself is a central question in his play.

Which means I am thinking of changing the strapline to say "three one-man plays about beauty, faith and obsession". Will that bring in the punters? Or should we just have the youth in his loincloth posing at the theatre door? Nice idea, but since he's been in his grave for the last fifty years or more, not one that I am seriously considering.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Mysterious, baffling and comic

That's me. According to Views from the Gods, which reviewed A Man Who Lost His Mind, which finished its two-day run at the White Bear in Kennington last night. (Full review here) I am happy to say I enjoyed the experience. I played a commuter, complete with Financial Times, briefcase and bowler hat, who appears suddenly in a room inhabited by a man with amnesia waking up on his bed. Although there was a serious side to my character in the context of the play, my role was to provide a touch of absurdity. The laughs came, realising one of my minor ambitions - to play the comedian.

There was a little drama en route to the final performance. At the first dress rehearsal I was appallingly bad, muffling lines and offering little energy. And on the last night one of the actresses had not appeared by curtain up. She had been unaware that start time was an hour earlier than the night before and was rushing to the theatre. Tension among all the cast was high and that actually led to a much better performance by all than the night before, especially after the lady in question managed to squeeze into her dress with seconds to spare before her entrance.

Matt and Kellie, the producers, are talking of taking the production to Edinburgh Fringe, but admit that the scenario is unlikely. If they want me, I'll be there. In the meantime, I have to get back to my next project, promoting Desire and Pursuit at the Etcetera Theatre in London and April, and in Edinburgh in August. Of which more anon.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Half and Full Cock

Six hours spent in the upstairs room at the Lion pub in Stoke Newington yesterday, dashing out every couple of hours to move Patsy The Car and feed another parking machine. £13 for the privilege of spending five minutes driving to and from rehearsal rather than thirty minutes in the bus carrying the various parts of my costume. And all for the sake of 20 minutes rehearsal.

As I've written before, sitting around doing nothing is an integral part of acting. The fact that my part is small, taking up no more than the first ten minutes of the play, means that Kellie The Director quite naturally spends most of her time giving notes and going over lines with the other actors. Still, the free time let me read the copy of The Daily Telegraph which I had bought as a prop (my character has to read a newspaper) and, inspired by the rave, five-star review given by Charles Spencer to King Charles III at the Almeida, I spent quarter of an hour on the telephone waiting to get through to the theatre to book tickets for late in May.

Kellie was too polite to say so, but I wasn't impressed by my first run-through. "Half-cock" I said, referring to my relatively listless reciting of my lines. Second-time was much better. I had energy and movement and my character came truly alive. "Full-cock" was my judgement on myself and the others agreed. Perhaps the next one will be "orgasm", said Paul-who-plays-the-guru. Promises, promises, I replied.

Are you wondering about the picture? It represents my character in the play. It's a Magritte, one of several versions of an anonymous clerk. I consider the apple an improvement on my regular appearance.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Running out of time

I am. Running out of time, that is. Another day has come to an end and I realise that I've only achieved about 80% of what I set out to do. Theatre-wise, that includes going over the lines for my Sunday debut in A Man Who Lost His Mind (see previous post), in which I have to utter the immortal line "You're running out of time?" to a man in underwear lying on the bed next to where I sit in my daily commuter's coat. Ok, so that line is not unique, but Matt Crowley has given me more to work with. I look forward, for example, to reactions to my stating "It didn't please the parrots much, but they soon adjusted." Sadly, the pictured parrots do not appear in the play.

Why am I running out of time? The usual demands of family and flat as I spend 72 hours in Edinburgh. I'm back in London tomorrow and rehearsing Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which gives me plenty of time to put all the nuances I need into my ten-minute appearance. And with ticket sales looking good, I have plenty of motive to give a good performance. Come see and judge for yourselves. Facebook link