30 January 2008

All Better Now, and Miniaturists 11

I got seven solid hours and a cheque in the post (I'm so cheap), couple of nice comments, and the sun is out, and the boys were delightful this morning, and the laptop is in the pink again thanks to the good offices of the fellas at Get Digital, and the Miniaturists show on Sunday (5pm and 8pm at Arcola, book early!) is looking shapely:


Still
by AL SMITH
directed by Will Mortimer

At Sea
by VANESSA BATES
directed by Lucy Skilbeck

A Change in Partners
by STEVE HAWES
directed by Gordon Murray

Running Backwards
by CLARE BAYLEY
directed by Tom Wright

and

The Twenty Three Greatest Moments of Dave
by GLYN CANNON
directed by Rob Crouch.

_________

29 January 2008

Somewhat stymied by a confluence of poor sleep, tyrannical small people, a temporarily trashed laptop and all the usual impediments to productivity, viz. fear of failure, lack of self-belief etc. Throw into the mix the numbing realisation - upon doing the annual tax self-diagnosis - that I really did earn that little, and that's a leaden cloud louring over proceedings. What can I do to chivvy myself out of this mood? A reflex response is to check in at the Guardian theatre blog and see what the tribe is up to, but honest to god... I mean even if the blogger is sweetly reasonable, you can bet your life some bile has been smeared in a comment box. God knows, to whinge is human, we all do it. But today I would just wish for a moratorium on moaning (funding threats excluded - there the shouting is honest and justified) and some persuasions toward solidarity and mutual support. Even if a person is working in the field in a way that differs from your own, it does not follow that that person must therefore be inimical to *your* way.

Great documentary on BBC4 last night, in which culture rock band Eels frontman Mark Everett decided, with a sigh and butterflies in his heart, to try and find out about his father. Hugh Everett was a quantum mechanic, "an unrecognised genius" who idolised Einstein, scrapped with Niels Bohr and developed the theory of parallel universes. He lived with his son for 19 years but the son could not remember touching him until the day he found his father dead of a heart attack. Anyway the film is a thing of beauty, Mark Everett a deeply lovable subject and I'm pleased to say the thing is downloadable for the next few days at the BBC iPlayer site.

parallel460

20 January 2008

Rehearsals kick off tomorrow for Cloudcuckooland. Looking forward to meeting everyone, and hearing the latest on how director Helen Eastman plans to tackle the massive strategic bird-poo aerial bum-bardment sequence.

18 January 2008

Bit of a bitty week, truth be told. Had a tooth out on Tuesday, so that was a day down the Swannee. Then on Weds a blissful day hiding away in the theatre watching Nicholas Nickleby. While agreeing with some of LG's quibbles I had a cracking time (Sam Marlowe's praise for the actors is not overdone) and shed a tear for poor old Smike, yet another ghost of the lost boy the author had been for a brief but incandescently formative time. Perhaps I'll just watch Dickens adaptations and nothing else for 2008. Christmas Carol finished its run last Saturday and that has left me in even more of a January mood. I was meant to make a weekend of it in Newcastle for the last perfs but an extraordinary thing - as I was leaving the door on the Friday morning to head for King's Cross, Spike erupted - he hadn't realised the show was going to end. He'd seen it the week before (twice), and fancied he could pop up and see it anytime - or at least any Christmastime - he liked. Now of course no one would be more pleased than me if the play was seen again, in Newcastle or elsewhere - Alfred Hickling's neat objections to festive repeats duly noted - but I couldn't guarantee it to the boy, there, on the spot. So on with his coat, family railcard pocketed, and away he came. And I'm so glad he did. It meant I couldn't stay for the last night carousing, though in truth I was not sorry to dodge the more melancholy moods that such occasions always bring in their wake. So here he is, in the boys' dressing room post-show, in the hat and wig that Michael wore to play Dickens at the top of the show before becoming Ebenezer Scrooge.

spike dickens

10 January 2008

Of course I couldn’t omit to mention some of the fantastic work by mates, colleagues, fellow bloggers, and people I’m generally friendly with, in the year just gone. The Gate produced Ben Yeoh’s award-winning translation of the Noh play Nakamitsu, and it was eerie and exhilarating. Ben Ellis’s play at 503, The Final Shot, was a heart-on-sleeve piece of writing that I’m guessing was in part inspired by this documentary but was also very much its own thing. David Eldridge teamed up again with Michael Grandage and a stellar cast to make a version of Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman that will be hard to trump - icy clarity in the storytelling, heat and storm in the hearts of the protagonists. Aside from his contributions to the Miniaturists, I loved Glyn Cannon’s play The Kiss at Nottingham Lakeside, and also the piece he devised with his students, Nineteen Ninety Eight Nissan Micra. Ellen Hughes co-wrote and directed a fascinating double bill of medically-themed plays at the Old Operating Theatre, where once an audience would gather to watch dissections. Erica Whyman’s directed six things by me - and none of them miniatures, by the way! - but her work on other people’s plays at Northern Stage this year (both designed by her associate, the estimable Soutra Gilmour) has been different class - Ruby Moon in the summer and later the Newcastle epic Our Friends In The North, which comes back for a tour in the spring. At Liverpool Everyman, a space very dear to my heart after The May Queen and a very exciting Miniaturists adventure, Lizzie Nunnery made a sensational debut with Intemperance - Alfred Hickling doesn’t exaggerate here. Lizzie was on this Royal Court thing with me, The 50 - and to my shame I missed work by fellow 50ers including Duncan Macmillan, James Graham, Tena Stivicic, Tom Morton-Smith, Ian Kershaw, Oladipo Agboluaje... Mea culpa. I did however catch a reading of Samreen Masood’s I Will Find You (at the Minis we produced her wonderful Blaggin’ Bread), and a tantalising excerpt from Rachel Barnett’s Perfect Sandcastle at Hampstead. Leyla Nazli was in that group too, and when not exec producing at the Arcola she wrote the blinding Silver Birch House. Richard Bean’s play In The Club was a comedy highlight for me, as he put his stamp on that trickily formulaic thing, the sex farce. Lucy Skilbeck directed Gabriel by Moira Buffini at RADA - great work by the Orstraylian, detailed and dynamic - and MB is one of my favourite writers, can’t wait to see Marianne Dreams.
Then there was The Rose Tattoo at the Olivier - Lucy was associate on the show, working with her friend Steven Pimlott, when he suddenly relapsed into illness. After the terrible shock of his death, the NT and the company took Steven’s production forward, and when I saw it I swooned at its generosity, colour, romanticism, and inherent sense of fun, qualities I gather its director had in spades.

rose tattoo