The Coolest Chaplain

Feb 10th, 2018

‘You’re a disgrace to humanity!’

That’s what the chaplain at Winchester Prison said to Bert Brocklesby, conscientious objector and protagonist of my play ‘This Evil Thing’, a hundred years ago. Another CO was told by a different chaplain, ‘Christ would have spat in your face!’
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All Things Must Pass (or…All Adventures Must Come to an End)

20th December 2017

In 1916, the world-famous philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell was ousted from his lectureship at Trinity College, Cambridge, because of his work for the conscientious objectors – more specifically, because of the scandal of his arrest for having written an article about one CO in particular (the much-abused Ernest Everett).

That summer, the government also denied Russell a US passport, preventing him from lecturing at Harvard, and banned him from speaking in certain parts of the UK – especially near coastal areas – ‘For fear I might signal to enemy submarines,’ as he sourly commented.

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Call me Fred. Or Mick. I’m really not bothered.

17th December 2017

Five days off…to launder my costume, hang out my costume, iron my costume … to eat, sleep and catch up on the piles of admin … to be taken to the opera as a surprise … then it’s back on the road up north on November 30th for three full-on days of touring.
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The Rolling Stone in the white Peugeot van

10th December 2017

Week 8, and it’s Tuesday 14th November when I rock up to Northampton’s Royal Theatre, to play my one and only ‘main stage’ of the tour – a beautiful 500-seat Victorian theatre that I’ve performed in previously in big cast shows – but in a solo play?  Just me and my nine crates?  Plus two hessian sacks?

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The Pacifist Who Nearly Killed Bambi

29th November 2017

‘There will be more than this won’t there?’

I was looking out at the large hexagonal hall at Leighton Park School, Reading, where I was about to perform at the start of week 7 of the tour. It was 6.05 pm.  We should have started at six.  I could see maybe five pupils sitting timidly to one side and perhaps 20 adults: teachers, etc.

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Review – This Evil Thing, Royal and Derngate, Northampton, 14th November 2017

The Real Chrisparkle

This Evil Thing ProgrammeI have no information about my ancestors’ involvement in World War One. All my grandparents died before I was born. My maternal grandfather was born in 1900 so would have been too young for conscription and didn’t enjoy good health anyway. Of my paternal grandfather I know hardly anything. About World War Two I know a lot more. My father served in the Royal Navy and was totally scarred by his experiences which I researched and wrote about here and here. All I know of my maternal grandfather’s WW2 is that he was stationed at Stirling Castle, saw ghosts and was never the same man again. My mother was in the ATS and told me how she once spent Christmas Day sending out death notices to grieving families. Was she sympathetic to the stance taken by conscientious objectors? Absolutely not. Cowards who made it worse for themselves was her…

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Leo: Actors aren’t animals! They’re human beings!             Max: Have you ever eaten with one?!

November 16th, 2017

One of my all-time favourite bits of dialogue, from Mel Brooks’ ‘The Producers’.

Food – where to get it from, when to have it, how much of it to have, and whether there’s enough time to digest it in before the performance – is a constant preoccupation for actors on tour, in strange towns and cities, with little time to spare.  I’ve never met an actor who didn’t love their food, and who didn’t happily wolf down any sandwiches, cake or biscuits put in front of them.

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Somebody sleeping in the corner of my dressing room.

Nov. 4th  2017

A black box.  That’s how most theatre studio spaces are described – and indeed, that is what they usually are:  a box.  Painted black.  Within which one tries to create a little bit of magic.

That’s what I’ve been performing This Evil Thing in, these last few weeks – black boxes – apart from the few schools, where I’ve been perched rather high on an old-fashioned-style stage looking down on the students below…and then, a complete one-off, on Friday 27th October – the Eastern Lady Chapel of Bristol Cathedral, ancient, ornate, multi-coloured, with an altar of course, and a carpet, on which I set the crates in readiness to perform the play as one of the events running alongside the ‘Refusing To Kill’ exhibition (focusing on Bristol’s WW1 conscientious objectors).

This Evil Thing at Bristol Cathedral

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