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.
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).
Oct. 29th 2017
‘To beep, or not to beep, that is the question…’
Is that chap about to leave or not? Can’t tell. But he doesn’t look happy.
If I beep to show him I’m waiting, will he get in a strop?
Behind me, someone has decided that ‘To beep’ is the answer to the question.
Well – to honk, loudly…
‘I’m waiting to see if this chap’s going!’ I mouth impotently back at them.
Oh, give me a break…
Oct. 22nd 2017
33 years ago, I was being crucified nightly (twice on Thursdays and Saturdays)
in the haunting ruins of the old Cathedral in Coventry – in a production of the Medieval Mystery Plays – an extraordinary experience. Nuns, monks, and countless dog-collars were clearly visible in the audience – ‘Will I live up to these peoples’ ‘image’ of Christ?’ I asked myself each night before the plays began. My dad who, while he was alive, loyally followed me in productions all around the country, said of this one to a friend, ‘You know, it’s very hard watching your son being nailed to a cross so convincingly…’
So the tour bandwagon rolls on from Bewdley to Stroud, forty miles or so south in Gloucestershire… the bandwagon consisting of one man and his partner – his Peugeot Partner – (not getting anything for that plug, alas) – and his nine crates lovingly made from reclaimed wood.
Back to London for the weekend … and the laundry, the ironing, the admin … 24 brief hours to unpack, repack, recharge and then set off up the M1 again to the beautiful city of York and my first Airbnb of the tour – a very nice Airbnb but…no tea and biscuits outside the door in the morning!
Oct 16th 2017
‘On the second week of my tour
The schedule then led me
To a Quaker In A Pear Tree…’
No, of course he wasn’t IN a pear tree – I just couldn’t resist staying as true as I could to the Christmas ditty…
A request was received by Hull Truck Theatre for a complimentary ticket for my play from a Mr. Don Sutherland, a Quaker who had been a conscientious objector in WW2.
He had been involved in setting up agricultural peace communities in Lincolnshire…
could he also sell copies of his memoir about those experiences, and could he join me for the post show discussion? The answer from me was yes yes and yes! Oh – and could I ask how old Don is? Ninety seven.
So I approach the van, the sick feeling in my stomach getting stronger. The driver’s side window is open. Wide, wide open…but…no glass on the road…no glass anywhere…is anything stolen? Vandalised? Any visible attempt to start the van? And more to the point, have they tampered with my Leonard Cohen CDs? No. Everything is in order. There is no ‘they’ I realise. Just a ‘he’ – HE did it. Well, let’s ‘fess up. Me. I did it. Opened the window wide while reversing into a tight spot late last night, then got out, locked up, forgetting to close the window. How could I remember 75 minutes of densely-packed text without a flaw but forget to do something so basic as close the bloomin’ window!?