Noël Coward’s Advice for Actors ( at a Baptist Church in the West Midlands)

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!

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Modern Technology, Ping-pong, and a Quick Thump of the Fist

June 12th 2017
So there I am, all set up and ready to go at the Oasis Hub venue, Waterloo, on Friday evening June 9th … a hundred plus folk have turned up to see ‘THIS EVIL THING’ (despite having stayed up half the previous night to watch ‘THIS ELECTION’S HUNG’).

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This Evil Thing: Highs and lows

Monday 8th August

So, I have opened THIS EVIL THING at New Town Theatre, Edinburgh, with the help of my brilliant team, director Ros Hutt and sound designer Mark Noble.  Various teething problems with lighting boards and so on, but the incredibly mature and experienced Mark (aged 24) has dealt with them all.

First two performances last week went very well, including the two who travelled down from Dunblane and were very moved by the whole experience.

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This Evil Thing: three days to go…

Did I catch him smiling?

So, we have completed our two London previews of THIS EVIL THING to small invited audiences in our rehearsal space at Room One – without stage lighting but with all the set, sound and costume.

And phew! they seemed to go down well. And I already seem to have a lost a bit of weight. Will need to up my carb intake etc etc in order to perform this piece – and make sure I stay hydrated.

I have strategically-placed sips of water available during the play (in a tea- cup, a sherry glass, a whisky tumbler, and a period bottle), but they are just sips. The serious drinking has to be done well in advance. A voice coach told me you need to start drinking water four hours before you perform to give it time to be fully absorbed by the body.

It’s been an incredible experience, feeling the piece come together with the help of such a brilliant team, Ros, Jane, Zoe and the two Marks…and without wishing to sound too mystical, I really feel the COs themselves are behind the project. I have a large copy of a photograph at home of Bert Brocklesby, the main CO in the play, given to me by his granddaughter Jill Gibbon. Now it may just be fanciful thinking on my part, but when I got home after the first preview I could have sworn that he was smiling ever so slightly – as if to say – ‘Hey up, lad – that were grand…’

His photograph will be coming with me to Edinburgh on August 1st along with photos of the other significant people in the play – safely stowed in an enormous suitcase with everything I might need for my month north of the border. Keep smiling on us, Bert…

This Evil Thing: five and a half weeks to go… Skylarks and Sergeants

Sunday June 26th
Had a quick tot up today of all the characters I will portray in This Evil Thing (some with only one line to speak) and it came to 52. Phew. 52 characters in 75 minutes!

Monday June 27th
I am working with brilliant young sound designer Mark Noble on the soundscape for This Evil Thing.  Some of the 52 plus characters I will be playing will be pre-recorded – for example, prisoners who were subject to the infamous ‘No Talking’ rule: we want to record some of their ‘thoughts’, what they would have said could they have spoken.

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