Here’s a nice piece in the Daily Mail about Dylan. For an 18 year old, he is already extremely mature and professional. His grandfather, the much-loved performer Ronnie Corbett died during the period we were rehearsing the play. Although very sad, if anything his grandfather’s passing made Dylan more determined to succeed.
This week was so important for Dylan for all kinds of reasons. And as a cast, Beth, Kitty and I are really proud he did so well.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Watching 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.
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.
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.
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.