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Performance Theatre

A golden moment

There is a section of A Glass of Nothing where Beth is transformed into the world’s most beautiful woman and goes into the audience, requests a phone and takes a selfie. I just love this pic taken last night at the Marlborough Theatre.

Our wee two-day run of We Three Kings and A Glass of Nothing is over. Brighton Blonde Productions will be back in the new year, not least with taking A Glass of Nothing to Edinburgh. Running A Glass of Nothing again, in a slightly trimmed version for me was a proof of concept. With Beth shining at its centre, this is a piece I am truly proud of.

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Beth Symons in ‘A Glass of Nothing’

The cast of We Three Kings a few minutes before the start of the show. Left to right, James Kuszewski, Kitty Underhill, Beth Symons, and Dylan Corbett-Bader. We Three Kings is a half an hour twisted nativity play with hope in its heart, and these are the people who made its hope shine.

 

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James Kuszewski, Kitty Underhill, Beth Symons, Dylan Corbett-Bader in ‘We Three Kings’
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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.

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A Glass of Nothing a writer's life Actors Brighton Blonde Productions Guernsey Poetry Theatre

Nostalgia, and other news

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This time last week I was in Guernsey. I loved every moment of it. As soon as I set foot in my home parish of St Martin’s I feel surrounded by magic, and weirdly rebooted. The lanes are sedimented with decades of my memories, which provides the illusion that this is somehow my place. And I feel a love for this tablecloth of land spread over the corner of a little island that can never be erased. It is a piggy bank of my identity into which I have stuffed coins all my life. Above is the view from Icart Point, ten minutes walk from where I once lived.

The word ‘nostalgia’ derives from the Greek nostos for homecoming and algos pain. It is bittersweet, as if the past is a country you might visit. Perhaps one reason why nostalgia is such a close cousin of misty-eyed patriotism.

To my Guernsey family, I was always English. Taxi drivers sometimes ask me on the way back from the airport if it is my first time on the island, and just last week my wife said a cheery hello, to an English couple outside La Barbarie, where I stay. I heard one of them say as they moved on, ‘I do like it when people love our island’. It made me grit my teeth. But I am an exile from the island, and from my past. We all are. We don’t belong anywhere, but we want to belong. That is the algos of nostalgia, and the cause of a lot of nationalistic nonsense in the world. But if I were to belong anywhere, it would be there.

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I’ve just had a poem accepted by E·ratio, due out in January, which ‘publishes poetry in the postmodern idioms with an emphasis on the intransitive’.  I am attracted to the journal’s rigour, and keep returning to it to be delighted and sometimes enraged by the poems it features. I’ve long enjoyed poetry that confronts you with difficulty,  ever since wrestling with late modernist J.H. Prynne. A long bout I owe to university friend Michael Stone-Richards who bought me a copy of Prynne’s The Oval Window back in 1986.

What was dubbed by ‘The Democratic Voice’ in poetry, (famously by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford in their introduction to the Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain since 1945), has appeared to overshadow the more esoteric reaches of late Modernism and Post-Modernism. As usual (and tiresomely) if there is a debate about this, I am in the middle. I wish more mainstream poetry had more ambition, while some postmodern poetry could stop desperately flashing its cleverness at you. Sometimes I feel like thundering at it, ‘yes I get that you’re clever, and that this poem is an artificial construct, now tell me something I don’t know’.  In a world of ironic speech marks, a dash of authenticity doesn’t go amiss.

And talking of authenticity and the middle way, tomorrow I am  going to the official launch of Charlotte Gann’s Noir. A book, a poet and a person I like a great deal.

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And finally, rehearsals are now well underway for my plays We Three Kings and A Glass of Nothing, presented in a double bill at the Marlborough Theatre on Thursday 8th December and Friday 9th December. Tickets are here. Below, snap from last night’s rehearsal.

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Categories
Brighton Blonde Productions Theatre

Tickets for A Glass of Nothing & We Three Kings…

Tickets are now available for my plays  A Glass of Nothing, and We Three Kings here.  You get two plays for the price of one. A bargain, even if I say so myself.

We are doing a two nights at The Marlborough Theatre, (an old stomping ground for Beth Symons and I) on Thursday 8th December, and Friday 9th December. The Marlborough is a small venue, seating only 50-ish, and we expect tickets to move briskly. We plan to take A Glass of Nothing to Edinburgh next year. So grab this chance to see it in Brighton if you can.

We are rehearsing upstairs in the trusty Duke of Wellington. Luckily we’ve retained the same cast and Kitty, Dylan  and Beth seem to coast through lots of it in our first rehearsal. We’ve also recruited the multi-talented James Kuszewski to join the cast for We Three Kings too.

I’m racing to finish We Three Kings, we had a read through of my first draft this week. I’m describing it as a twisted nativity play. Expect gender blurring, and quite a bit of Drag for a proper Brighton Christmas. It’s my favourite time of year, so thinking about it everyday to write this play puts me in a cheery frame of mind. Cheery, and dark of course.

Below: a snap just before we opened the doors when we did it in May.

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Unpacking the Pack of 3

The Pack of 3 nights at the Marlborough at the end of August were well-attended and well-received. In fact Tarik, one of the Theatre managers, has asked for something for the fringe next year.

The second night of Pack of 3 evening was better than the first. The fact that there was so much going on in everyone’s life: me moving house, the actors all off to study: Beth and Callum acting and Mark writing plus holidays, work commitments and so on meant that rehearsal time was very compressed. Also our sound and lighting person was only able to give us an hour or so before the opening made for a nervy first night.

The evenings featured three short plays, Wrong, our strongest piece from the March shows. We ended the March shows with Wrong, and where it was recieved as a pure comedy. This time, as an opener, the darker existential side of the play seemed to come to the fore. The characters of two young people deciding to become actors, who then find a corpse under the table became less comic and more darkly absurd. The audiences were absorbed.

Mark wrote the second piece Pirates Anonymous, and I am full of admiration for him. A fine piece to have written at any age, let alone 19, was about a dysfunctional family whose son takes on a Pirate persona to express his filial rage is a wonderfully theatrical device. The second scene was a self-help group for Pirate obsessives, with the boy attending and reaffirming his vow to be a pirate. Mark used a good deal of pirate language to spice up the text and this gave a really good flavour to the piece. This combined with Mark, Beth and Callum’s huge piratical roaring enlivened the audience somewhat (and made the endless piratical roars of rehearsal well worth it).

The last piece Betty the Spacegirl drew some lovely physical performances from the actors. I had written it in a hurry, but it worked. The actors brought some excellent physical comedy to it too, and the costumes were fantastic. Essentially the story is that Betty the Spacegirl lands on a plant containing only male, somewhat rubbish looking aliens, with antennae. After a while the action is stopped and you see the characters bickering in the guise as actors. The piece is about communication failing, and slightly mocking the idea of Men are from Mars etc. It also had Callum as a transvestite alien, which was good value in itself.

I am working on another play for Christmas, called Sophie and the Angel, which has a strong concept. Next time I am going to more hands on about managing the play and its marketing, as the theatre did next to nothing to promote it until the last few days. My key learning: try not to do everything at the same time.

The great redeemer in all of this were Beth Symons, Mark Gandey and Callum McIntyre. The cast brought enormous energy, enthusiasm and managed to pull the show out of the hat brilliantly. I am fairly certian that when I am in my dotage, I will be croaking to anyone who will listen from my bath chair that I once had a couple of plays performed with these three stars in it. And nobody will believe me.

Pack of 3

The Marlborough Theatre Brighton again is the venue for my next thespy business on the 26th & 27th August. Pack of 3 will be three short plays. My Wrong and Betty the Spacegirl, plus Mark Gandey has an excellent idea for a pirate play, which is as yet unnamed.

As before the three actors will be Beth Symons, Mark Gandey and Callum McIntyre. I wrote Betty the Spacegirl specifically for these three, and it is great when you have pre-cast the roles, as you can hear the actors in your head saying their lines. Both Betty the Spacegirl and Wrong are comedies with dark hearts.

I am also planning a Christmas Play, and have already cast one of the lead roles. More news of this nearer the time.

‘Wrong’ at the Marlborough Theatre, Brighton 1st & 3rd March

Have finalised dates for these evenings at the Marlborough. Betty and Mark, with their pal Callum doing ‘Wrong’, which is my short farce involving a corpse, plus another wee piece I wrote recently called ‘A bite to eat’ which is mainly to do with zombies. Mark is writing some material too and it should be a feast of black comedy.

Tickets available here http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/154027