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!

Categories
A Glass of Nothing Performance Theatre

A Glass of Nothing: rehearsals start

Rehearsals for ‘A Glass of Nothing’, my dark comedy, fittingly began in a dark and blurry basement. Left to right below are a blurry Kitty Underhill and a blurry Beth Symons, while Dylan Corbett-Bader stands absorbing the script before he swaggers on. Tickets are now available directly from Other Place Brighton.

P1000922

Categories
A Glass of Nothing Comedy Theatre

Tickets on sale for A Glass of Nothing

IMG_2670

So I finally finished writing my play ‘A Glass of Nothing’. Quite handy really, as the first actor’s read through was on Saturday afternoon. Unlike Douglas Adams, I hate the whooshing sound deadlines make as they go by. In fact even thinking about missing a deadline makes my toes curl in horror so I was mightily relieved to get there with 24 hours to spare.

Beth, pictured above with our listing in the magazine, will be starring-in and directing the play. We toddled off to the official Fringe launch on Tuesday. Great fun it was too, with free drinks (two words that go wonderfully together). This helped everyone enjoy a long speech thanking people by the fringe director, the charming Julian Caddy. The likeable lady mayor, Lynda Hyde, gave a speech too about the economic benefits of the Fringe, adding a couple of knob gags for good measure. The fringe contributes millions of pounds to Brighton’s economy apparently. There was some entertainment too: a magician, someone offering a comedy tour through a museum of thermos flasks, and female versions of male drag Queens, (logically enough called Kings), which was interesting and (of course) very Brighton.

The first read through left me buoyant and cheerful. The play is going to be even darker and funnier that I had imagined. Not to mention burlesquey (if that’s a word which I don’t think it is). We have clearly chosen two splendid comedy actors in Kitty Underhill and Dylan Corbett-Bader, and the script has a shape and cohesion that I am proud of. Most importantly there are a few really good laughs in it, and as rehearsals start in earnest this week, we hope to tease out many more.

Tickets are now bookable here on the Brighton Fringe box office.

 

Categories
A Glass of Nothing Actors Brighton Fringe Theatre

Gut decisions

Beth and I have our cast!

The audition process was fairly smooth. Slightly tangentially I found myself interested by where the auditions were held. The Brighton ones were done in the basement of a restaurant bar Neighbourhood on St James Street. The metal bull’s head on the wall felt, for me, like some kind of a good omen as we sat underneath it. The London auditions were conducted in the tranquility of the Kingston Quaker’s Centre. Entering the door code made the doors open automatically and all the lights turn on brightly, but there was nobody there, but the residual stillness of a place where people come to pray and meditate.

When the actors started doing their thing, I sensed little ripples in placid atmosphere. The actors however, seem to me to bring their own portable imaginary space, a bubble of energy to perform in. Some actors had energy that filled the whole room.

All actors were asked to read a section of the script and do some improv with Beth. From the snatch of script, we got an idea of people’s timing skills (essential as this is a comedy). Watching people improvise, however, gives you a rapid snapshot of people’s skill set.

Everyone we saw was talented. One or two people didn’t show up to their audition, however, which I found a bit surprising.

We chose two actors: a male and a female. Kitty Underhill, seemed a great fit for the parts we want her to play. She came to her audition fully prepared and totally switched on – she was hilarious and bitchy when the part called for it. A real live wire.We also chose Dylan Corbet-bader who is 18, but revealed a lovely depth and core to his performance. Some actors just have lovability, and Dylan is one of them.

There are few other walks of life in which you happily expect the success of a production to rely on people who are almost strangers. But in theatre that leap of faith happens all the time. Perhaps this is why Beth and I let listened to our guts when making these decisions. It affirms your faith in other people when it works.

Below: a space to be heard.

IMG_2644

Categories
Actors Comedy Performance Theatre

A space for Eddie Izzard

I saw Eddie Izzard on Saturday night. I love the proliferation of characters (all played by himself) that populate his stand up act. He carried the audience with him on fantastic imaginative journeys. I particularly liked the death of Caesar scene. Stabbed twice by a Roman called Tenacious and his dying gasp misinterpreted as ‘remember me as a salad’. Always impressed to see how one person can hold a whole theatre for the evening. And despite it just being one man with no props, it managed to be a properly theatrical experience.

He had a lovely stage too, simple but with its chessboard-like design gave him areas to work from or cavort lengthily round on an extended riff on Dressage for example, which he described as ‘non-mammalian’ sport. The backdrop made me think 1960s TV series such as The Time Tunnel. Pretty much in tune with Izzard’s brilliant time-travelling, polyglot, culture-hopping comedy. Certainly gave me a much-needed laugh.

IMG_2557

Categories
a writer's life Blogging Blowing my own trumpet social media Theatre

I should introduce myself (at last)

Why on earth would you want to visit this site? This is a question that has been plaguing me lately. Personally I find ‘me me me’ blogs tiresome. Worse, I know I’ve been guilty of them too. So I thought it was about time I said what this blog was about, using that tried and trusted Internet favourite: a list snappier than a crocodile sandwich.

Five reasons to visit peter kenny : the notebook

  1. You can find out what a working writer’s life is like. Somehow I have made a living as a writer for over 25 years. When I say this I try to sound deeply impressive, and I adopt an impressive face. People think: J.K. Rowling. Then I have to tell the truth. And I can tell you that the reality is most of my income comes from working with advertising agencies as a writer and creative director. Occasionally this gets interesting, such as a recent trip to Chad. So this blog has a bit about marketing in it. If that’s your bag, then dip in.
  2. If you’d like to lead a double life too. How does a person go about balancing work with being creative? I had my first poems published in the early 80s when I was a handsome young devil of 21. Overnight I became a genius (more about that here) who worked in warehouses, did manual labour, and took depressing temporary office jobs for ten years while I struggled with my muse. Now I balance writing poetry, plays, libretti, etc. while not living in poverty. That’s genius!
  3. If you want to be surprised. It seems to me most successful blogs focus relentlessly on one subject. This makes perfect sense. If you want to get your twice weekly fix on nose flutes you visit the nose flute blog. Trouble is I’m not a ‘one subject’ kind of person, though I often wish I was. So if you visit here, you may find yourself reading about eclectic things that surprise you.
  4. Get an insider’s view of staging a play. I have been finishing off an exhausting writing assignment for a humanitarian organisation. My next major project is the staging of my play ‘A Glass of Nothing’ at the Brighton Festival Fringe this May. I’ll tell you a secret: I’ve not finished writing the first full draft of it yet.
  5. And because I make mistakes and take risks. Sometimes I get it hopelessly wrong, overextend myself, fail to correctly prioritise and generally make a mess. I want to be open about this too. So please come along to read about successes (and I’m hoping there will be a few) and what can be learned from falling flat on your face.

I used to write journals last thing at night. Trouble is those little books often became a repository of miserablist whining. Reading through them it seemed that my life was one dismal episode after another, which was far from true. As soon as I began blogging back in 2003, my perspective changed. The idea that others might be reading what I wrote allowed me to reframe not only the ‘how’ of what I wrote, but how I saw my life. So blogging has proved a healthy experience too. One which allows me to look at my own life in a more positive way.

I hope you find something to enjoy on this site in the coming months. See you soon I hope.

Below here is a recent shot of me in Moulin Huet Guernsey, where I first learned to swim as a child. I live in Brighton UK now.

P1000252.jpg

 

 

Categories
A Glass of Nothing a writer's life Poetry Theatre Working

Life in splinters

All work at present with a forest of deadlines. This mixed with unpleasant things like a house flood and the death of an old friend, means my life is being lived in weekend splinters.

So a few of the splinters:

My play with Beth Symons, A Glass of Nothing will be staged at The Box Theatre, The Warren in May as part of the Brighton Fringe. There is lots to be done between then and now, casting starts in a few weeks. More details here when we, quite literally, get our act together.

Had the Telltale Poets AGM two weeks ago. It’s a privilege to be know such a talented group of poets. More news about forthcoming Telltale announcements shortly. I did a reading with them at the beginning of January. I felt the force wasn’t with me that evening, however one of my poems Ernstophilia was filmed by Robin Houghton which can be watched here… along with a performance by the splendid Jack Underwood.

I finally read all of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen having been very taken with her performance at the T.S. Eliot wards. It seems to me to be concerned with how history amplifies everyday slights and unfairness, and gives them a resonance for people of colour in the US and elsewhere. A legacy which will take a lot of healing. This is illustrated through chunks of elegantly  anecdotal prose, an essay on Serena Williams, photographs and so on. It is an interesting miscellany (and IMO only poetry if you cast your modernist net wide enough). An important work, but did I enjoy it? Frankly not much. When poetry is dealing with really difficult subjects it can make the heart soar and affirm life. I personally didn’t get this from Citizen. But I am certain there are loads who will – and I am pleased I read it.

As usual I’m reading several things at once. Life, the biography of Keith Richards, I’m listening to as an audiobook. I’m not a massive Rolling Stone’s fan but as a glimpse into hedonistic life lived with gusto it is bracing and strangely cheering. And quite funny too.

A Year with Swollen Appendixes by Brian Eno is a book I return to when I need to refocus and remotivate. For those who have not read it, it is essentially Eno’s diary for 1995. Or to look at it another way, a prototype blog. His engagement with creativity is utterly inspiring, as well as his friendships with so many amazing people. Including David Bowie. But Bowie is another blog post, bless him.

Enodiary

 

 

Categories
A Glass of Nothing Actors Performance Theatre Uncategorized

Actors with comdey chops wanted

IMG_2514

Beth Symons, pictured in one of her calmer moments above, has got the casting underway for our play A Glass of Nothing. So if this is you, then get in touch with Beth using the email below, or via this site.

Brighton Blonde Productions is a new theatre company based in Brighton, and set to take Brighton Fringe Festival 2016 by storm with their witty and dark comedy “A Glass of Nothing”.

We are looking for 1 male actor and 1 female actor to join our cast. Playing age 22-30 for both parts.

  • Male characters: embarrassed boyfriend, dream man and pervy boss.
  • Female characters: outraged girlfriend and bitchy co-worker.

If you are interested please email beth.symons@icloud.com with your CV and headshot if possible. If you don’t have these a small bio of your experience will do. We will send you more information about the piece and possibly arrange a meeting with Beth and Peter (co-founders of Brighton Blonde Productions).

Please like us on facebook (Brighton Blonde Productions) and follow us on twitter @BrightonBlondes.

Categories
Comedy Theatre Uncategorized

A Glass of Nothing

Just wanted put something on here about a comedy I’m working on for the Brighton Fringe Festival next year. Last year I went to see a rehearsal for a production and grew fascinated by watching an actor drink endlessly from an empty glass. I wrote a bit about it here and now that random thought is turning into a production, a piece that will showcase the comedic chops of Beth Symons. We have an embryo Facebook page here.

Beth’s role is split into three sections, one of which keeps reminding me of Dame Edna Everage. I’ve always admired the way the Dame can talk down to an audience and yet still be utterly endearing. An amazing balancing act.

Also I’ve had to do some research of burlesque dancing, as Beth stipulated there might be a bit of burlesque in it. My knowledge of burlesque is minimal, but I quickly discovered the talents of a dancer called Pepper Sparkles, whose tribute to Marta Hari can be seen here and is unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Watch this space, as they say…

dameedna_2172324b.jpg

Categories
Theatre

I’ll have a glass of what he’s having

Last night I watched a man drink a glass of nothing.

I was at a one man show* and noticed the character pour himself an occasional drink. Eventually the liquid in the prop ran out, but the actor drank on. This is something routinely seen on stage, of course, but  it got me thinking about imaginary drinks.

An imaginary drink can go on forever, like the endless drink featured in Norse mythology. Thor is tricked by a malevolent giant Útgarða-Loki into drinking from a drinking horn magically attached to the sea. Thor is made to look foolish as, despite drinking heroically, he is unable to finish the drink. According to Wikipedia, the annoying giant says:

And when you drank from the horn and thought it slow to sink, I dare say that was a miracle I had not expected to be possible; the far end of the horn was submerged in the sea, but you did not see that. Now, when you come to the shore, you will see what kind of sip you drank from the sea; there is now a sandy beach where there used to be water.

At least Thor’s thirst accounted for a bay full of water. The imaginary drink, however, is endless.

Having recently read The Shining by Stephen King, the tormented father Jack Torrance is a recovering alcoholic. Due to the malign influence of the Overlook Hotel, he sits at an empty bar which has been closed down for the winter. He starts thinking about drink, and a phantom bartender appears to fix him dry martinis. The book was written when King was himself in the grip of alcoholism, so these scenes have a strange force. These imaginary drinks are on on the house and Torrance quaffs them till he gets absolutely wasted.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the imagination. One thing that is wonderful about it is its unquenchable nature. Its freely available. It is intoxicating. And, usually, you feel fine in the morning.

Cheers.

Jack Torrance all smiles at the bar

 

 

* A promising play in development, called Big Man, written and acted by Martin Bonger, directed by Alex Swift and based on the myth of Orpheus.