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Actors Autobiographical Comedy Theatre

First night tonight at The Marlborough

So the first night of our double bill, We Three Kings, and A Glass of Nothing is tonight at the Marlborough Theatre. Till the evening comes, I feel in limbo. We’ve had long rehearsals over the last few days. Our tech rehearsal was last night. It certainly focuses your mind and clenches the bowels when the stage is lit and dressed, and people are in costume. Tonight sees the first performance of We Three Kings so I am slightly terrified. Being very confident about A Glass of Nothing helps a lot, however.

There are still a few seats available on the door should lovers of dark comedy want to come on impulse. The Marlborough Theatre deets are here.

Being in The Marlborough theatre reminded me of the first time I was there seven years ago for a meeting about something completely different. I snuck onto the stage, and just soaked up the atmosphere of the empty theatre. Unexpectedly, I had a powerful feeling of homecoming.

My first flirtation with writing for theatre was sparked by my friend Timothy Gallagher. It culminated in us staging plays we had written at the Water Rats Theatre in London. Tim was like an infuriatingly talented older brother. But as his death loomed (of AIDs at the age of 37) I shelved my work and focused on helping him stage his own plays. Sometimes he would check out of hospital, get a cab and perform at a venue I’d helped sort out, then go back to the ward. His performances, seen by very few, were electric.

I took me about fifteen years to realise I had been experiencing survivor’s guilt. I didn’t understand at the time, why I was no longer able to face theatre or even poetry readings for about ten years. So I will be thinking of Tim tonight, but in a happy way. And thanking my lucky stars that I worked my way back to theatre again. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of witnessing an entire world being conjured up on stage. It an act of magic. And when people are laughing at a line you’ve written, to be the writer sitting in the audience is a fine thing.

A snap from rehearsals two days ago. James Kuszewski fascinating Beth Symons with a walking stick.

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Categories
Brighton Blonde Productions Comedy Theatre

Time to shine

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After a six hour rehearsal, a snap taken last night in The Duke of Wellington whose rehearsal room we are using. Left to right, James Kuszewski, Dylan Corbett-Bader, Kitty Underhill and Beth Symons all with well deserved cookie accessories. I think their performances are peaking at just the right time. Beth has struck the balance of ensuring the cast is well rehearsed, but not jaded. We’ve got some intensive work this week, before our shows at the Marlborough Theatre this Thursday  8th and Friday 9th. Please come along if you can. A nice preview of our Brighton Blonde Productions show can be found here in BN1 Magazine.

The older I get, it becomes clear that time is the most precious resource. In my experience, no kind of art happens in a vacuum. Everyone else in the cast is juggling work and other commitments. As for me, in the last two weeks I’ve been visiting my mother’s husband who has been in intensive care in  a London hospital following a triple bypass. This kind of stark contrast, moving from intensive care ward to rehearsal room, increases my  determination to take every opportunity I can. I hope not an out of control egotism, just a desire to say everything I have to say that’s worth saying, while there’s still time.

That four such talented and hilarious actors are happy to give up their time, effort and energy to make these two dark comedies live and breathe is something I’m extremely grateful for.

Categories
Brighton Blonde Productions Comedy Theatre

The play’s the thing

Last night Brighton Blonde Productions regrouped.  Our next shows are on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th December at the Marlborough Theatre, Brighton.

It was good after the success of the summer (four star reviews and all) to read through it again making cuts and tweaks. We want to get it so tight it squeaks.

Plus we are going not launch We Three Kings, a short 30-minute piece I am now writing like mad, as we want to start rehearsing it shortly. It is a kind of twisted Nativity. I love Christmas, so doing a play about the three kings is a bit of a bucket list thing.

As you an see, we’ve got a new multitalented recruit, James, to our lemonade-powered cast.

Below left to right: Dylan Corbett-Bader, Beth Symons, Kitty Underhill and James Kuszewski. More news here soon.

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Categories
A Glass of Nothing Brighton Fringe Comedy Reviews Theatre

Four stars from BroadwayBaby

Absolutely chuffed by a great review of ‘A Glass of Nothing’ by Charley Ville.

“Writer Peter Kenny’s and actor-director Beth Symons’s A Glass of Nothing knows exactly what it’s doing – and who it’s doing it for. The very first lines pop like a Formula 1 celebration and we are delightfully bathed in a stream of deliciously fizzing jokes and observations. Featherweight bliss, this is a real Babysham of a show.”

Read the full review here.

Categories
A Glass of Nothing Brighton Fringe Comedy Theatre

Smashed it!

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Too twitchy to take photos, but I snapped Beth moments before the doors opened. She is set on stage as the play begins, and as people file in. In retrospect I think this is quite a sadistic thing to inflict on an actor, but then she directed it so she only has herself to blame. Of course everyone was nervous. My own approach was a kind of numbed pseudo-calm. I sat rigidly watching the actors (in the bare few minutes we had left after setting the stage) pacing about on stage muttering lines to themselves.

I find it hard not to resort to X Factor cliches, but the cast undeniably smashed it . We had a great audience – warm and supportive – and a full house. Thank God people laughed lots when it was funny, and got sucked into the drama of the darker bits. An absolute result for a first night.

Everyone gave it their best. With the pivotal role, Beth was daring,hilarious and chameleon-like. And she kept the play glued together. Dylan exuded humour, confidence and is completely loveable. While Kitty was note perfect in the weirdly bitchy parts we’d inflicted on her, and her own improvisation of a hungover office worker was really funny. I managed not to screw up my tiny role too.

After the audience had gone, I poked my head into the tiny wing and found Beth, Kitty and Dylan sardined into the tiny stage wing, giggling hysterically about having made it through the first night.

A fantastic first show. But by God I needed a beer afterwards. Seems the next two nights are full houses too so bring ’em on.

And last, but not least… The Argus has picked up on Dylan’s story here. We’re all proud of him too.

Categories
A Glass of Nothing Brighton Fringe Comedy Performance Theatre

First show tonight

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Beth and Kitty and A Glass of Nothing

This morning I thought I’d write an update from the safety of the duvet.

At the end of our last rehearsal (we crowbarred four complete run throughs plus a tech rehearsal into the weekend) I told Beth, Kitty and Dylan how proud I was of them. They’ve  expanded the play and added so much. Beth has the pivotal role, and is onstage most of the time, but she still has been able to direct proceedings, with me also chipping in. Casting Kitty and Dylan was a big win, and spending hours in rehearsal rooms is much easier when everyone is so easygoing and professional.

Happily, we’ve pretty much sold out the Theatre Box. This means we will have covered our venue costs, promotion costs and so on. There’s little money to be made from this malarkey, but doing better than breaking even means we can put the money towards our next venture.

After we sold the bulk of the tickets there has been a small wave of publicity surrounding Dylan, who is the late Ronnie Corbett’s grandson. The Daily Mail, the Argus and no doubt some other places are picking up on Dylan’s ‘taking to the stage’. We all had a laugh at the photo from when he was about 15 that the Mail used for him. Dylan has a naturally loveable presence, a fine asset for an actor – and has been entirely professional about carrying on despite being very sad about his loss.

My nerves are just about under control. I’m trying not to twitch like Herbert Lom in the Pink Panther movies. Naturally my excitement is seasoned with the odd flash of panic… Visions of everyone forgetting their lines, a stony-faced audience, haywire sound and lighting, and then how an unexpected tsunami rushes in from the English Channel and washes the Theatre Box and the rest of Brighton away mid-performance…

One good thing was that Beth, Kitty, (see above in their white coats) my wife Lorraine and I went about the Warren at the weekend asking people if they’d like to drink a glass of nothing. Several people drank it and commented on its flavours. That the glass could be full of possibilities, imagination and fabulousness seemed to be readily understood. Get that, you get the play.

Right. No more displacement activities. Better get up, and get on with the day. We’re on at 8:30 tonight. Breakfast, then a spot of work, then gym then… YIKES!

PS:  I did my first meme last night…

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Categories
A Glass of Nothing Actors Comedy Theatre

A shiver of anticipation

 

Last blog about this show till the first night, which is Tuesday 17th May. All fairly calm offstage, while onstage things are hotting up. In two days our tech rehearsal, then a few more run throughs… Then we’re on. Typically, it was only last week that we discovered the perfect place to rehearse: Copperdollar Studio. Heartily recommend for other actors, photographers, dancers and anyone else who needs a clean, atmospheric and warmly-organic feeling place to work.

At the time of writing, the last night of A Glass of Nothing has sold out, and the other two nights are going well. My private OMG-please-let-the-audience-be-more-than-x number was passed a long time ago. Much to my relief.

Rehearsals fall into the usual rhythm of excellent and challenging. Fortunately, our last one was a cracker. I actually got shivers down my spine as we were running through it. The play seems so much bigger now than when I wrote it.

Last minute tickets from here, and a few more snaps of our cast below.

 

 

Categories
A Glass of Nothing Comedy Theatre

Rabbiting about The Warren

Beth and I went to the opening of the Warren theatre complex. A fabulous and buzzy atmosphere, good beers, and the unmistakable Fringe vibe. Frankly we’re buzzing too after seeing The Theatre Box where our show will be held. It is red and strangely compelling. And that’s just from the outside. Sipping a pint of East Coast IPA, and looking at the various venues and people beginning to stream in, I began to feel excitable.

I’m very confident about the show at the moment. Being a neurotic, I’m trying not to over-analyse this in case my tranquility collapses like a house of cards. But it is an empirically verifiable fact that tickets are already selling like rather toasty cakes, with our last night looking particularly healthy. And rehearsals are excellent: this play is a living and breathing entity with its own soul and momentum. All that and laughs too.

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In rehearsals, interesting how progress happens in fits and starts. A great surge of progress can be made in one day. An onrushing deadline and the prospect of public humiliation certainly focuses the mind when it comes to learning lines. I know both Beth and I have had ghastly being on stage having no lines type dreams. At least Beth will be on stage, with Kitty and Dylan. I’ll just be twitching in the front row.

Beth has a complex, multifaceted part and in the last week suddenly the strands of the character fell together into one convincing and hilarious whole. It was a privilege to see this happening. I can’t wait for the play, and Beth’s role, to be unleashed on the world.

A Glass of Nothing is on 17th 18th 19th May, at 8:30. The show runs for an hour, and we should be done by 9:30-ish should you need to escape the fleshpots and temptations of Brighton early. Here’s a wee bit about us on Brighton Bites Reviews Hub.

And here’s the obligatory ‘tickets from here’ link. 🙂 Please come…

 

Categories
A Glass of Nothing Actors Brighton Fringe Comedy Performance Theatre

Build it and they will come… we hope!

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On the top deck of the bus, travelling to rehearsals yesterday, I took a blurry snap of people assembling The Warren where our show will be staged. Seeing The Warren being built, focuses the mind more than it would if it were a permanent theatre. Bum-clenching proof that there are just three weeks till the show’s opening night.

Happily enough, we’ve already sold dozens of tickets which is making the Kenny twitchometer slightly calmer. If you’d like to come, and please do if you can, find a link here to tickets. The comedy play runs at about an hour, which is enough to fulfil Beth Symon’s three wishes of absolute beauty, having the perfect partner, and a glittering career. She’s ably abetted by the Kitty Underhill and Dylan Corbett-Bader who are playing several figments of her imagination with gusto and versatility.

Rehearsals have been excellent. Thankfully we’ve got to the point now where the stabilisers are coming off the bike, and we’re freewheeling through entire show in rehearsals. Lots to be done in the next few week, and I’m still tweaking the script, but we’re on track. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Below… Beth, Kitty and Dylan.

 

 

Categories
Actors Blowing my own trumpet Brighton Fringe Comedy Theatre

Definitely cup half-full

A Glass of NothingWatching actors rehearsing your script is like being at a birth. Messy, noisy but rewarding too.

Over the last few weeks in all kinds of venues (a big shout out to Brighton’s The Duke of Wellington where we have been using an upstairs room for the last few rehearsals and lapped up a few drinks too). Beth, Dylan and Kitty have been hard at work. The blocking (where the actors position themselves on the stage and work out what they’re doing) is mostly sorted now, and the script is becoming something that comes out of people’s mouths and from their bodies. I always love this moment when words on a page become something people are doing in the physical world.

I sit in the corner feeling a little bit proud. The play is alive and well, and full of character and interest and – mercifully – quite a few laughs too. The script I’d completed in a week of intense writing (after starting it a year earlier) actually works. Every creative effort is a leap of faith, but the moment when you can see the thing emerging, blinking in the light, and healthy and well is a huge relief.

Beth is directing the play. As she is on stage most of the time, I am also attending most rehearsal so I can add new dialogue or cut cuttable bits, sometimes reword lines to make them more natural.

Me being there saves time too. The actors don’t have to puzzle over what the writer meant. They can simply ask. Repairs can be done to the script on the spot, and more often than not the actors will improvise in a way that fits perfectly and is added into the script. The play belongs to all of us. For me, who spends lots of time alone writing things in my office, this is a really happy feeling.

I’m pumped that we cast Kitty and Dylan. Both are professional, highly creative, and a delight to know. Oh yes, and funny too. Rather important in a comedy.

Below Kitty and Dylan: Nooooo!