"It's not for you to decide what shit is what animal!"

As of late (in the last three productions, to be more specific), I have been cast in multiple roles (see my previous posts, on previous production blogs, if you need proof for this outrageous statement). This time, in NOT the Vag.Mon., by my count I am five characters (or six – one does very little, although hopefully, with a fair amount of impact). Also, although I have never had myself down as much of a comedian (more the boring and serious kind of actor, me), all of these productions (and consequently, a good few of the roles) have been funny. What's all that about, then?

Anyway. Although I clearly am The Serious, Boring Kind of Actor, I've really enjoyed letting my hair down with the funny stuff we've had underway lately. In fact, the current script saw early rehearsals where actors had very serious trouble speaking their lines without corpsing*. This may, of course, be due to the fact that some of the script is based on real-life situations – i.e. actors getting together on the playwright's balcony, of a summer's eve, to talk bollocks about art in a deep, meaningful, philosophical fashion, whilst imbibing bottle upon box a glass or two of red wine. It could even be claimed that some lines are stolen from reality. And we are enormously funny, we are, even on our evenings off.

You will be happy to know that we have got to grips with how enormously funny we are. However, as you, dear Reader and future bum-on-seat**, will be hearing our stuff for the first time (save the small taster tit-bit I am giving you in the title of this post), I strongly urge you to empty your bladder before taking your seat. Just, you know. As a precaution against wetting your good self. 

And do see if you can guess which lines are ones actually uttered by innocent, unsuspecting actors, discussing art on an evening off. For extra brownie points, try guessing which actor said what.

theatre terminology for inappropriate breaking-down with laughter, mid-performance, as committed by an actor
** theatre terminology for our esteemed spectators


Good Cop, Bad Cop

At yesterday's rehearsal for The Suspect, one of the playlets in NOT the Vagina Monologues, I was reminded of Boffle. The scripts often called for Hugh Laurie to be beaten up by Stephen Fry. Hugh has since said that Stephen was unfortunately rather bad at stage hitting, and would often just actually hit him.

In the FACE!

Ouch. And I can sympathise. During the 'good cop, bad cop' scene, Anna is meant to knock my hat off, but yesterday she somehow punched me full-on in the ear. It was still ringing for the next two scenes.

This good cop routine doesn't fool me!

Ah well, anything can happen in love and theatre. All is forgiven. This time. Just remember: at the end of The Suspect, I'm the only one who has the keys to the handcuffs... and we've still got two playlets left to go.

An actor prepares

One of the sketches in NOT the Vagina Monologues is quite physical, so we spent one of our early rehearsals workshopping the physicality of our non-human yet humanoid characters.

When we got too knackered, we took a break and watched a few character development videos.

Essential viewing for the cast

From desk to stage

It’s a common theory that writers always write a piece of themselves into everything they create, whether subconsciously or otherwise, be it into every character, plot, dialogue or style. It’s not surprising then that when embarking on the first performance of one of your plays you feel a little like you are stepping out alone onto centre stage…….. into a huge spotlight…….. completely naked! Yes, it’s a scary prospect but one which must be done, and I’m about to do this for the first time inFinland.

Once a writer gets over this initial daunting issue, which they must if they ever want their work to be seen and develop, it’s not actually all that bad. In fact it’s quite a liberating experience. Much of the writer’s working life is spent in solitude, glued to a (mostly blank) screen, with no promise of a pay check and, even worse, no promise that an audience will actually like what you’ve spent months pouring your heart and soul out over…….a miserable set up wouldn’t you say? But then comes the moment when you finish your final draft, someone reads it and enjoys it, and all of a sudden you find yourself holding auditions and giving away the characters that you have nurtured and cared for for many painstakingly long months to a bunch of actors who are about to breathe life into the flat pages of your script. What a great feeling it is to finally see your characters and hear them for the first time.

Finally the lonely writer is permitted to step away from their desk and out of the prison of their own thoughts to actually interact with other people! In so doing though, one has to quickly look at the script from a different angle and ‘change hats’, as it were, morphing from writer into director.

The view from writer to director

A director has different things to worry about in a script, forcing the writer to quickly form a detachment from their precious baby and start to work on presenting this drama and emotion to an audience as a director. It’s amazing how quickly you can treat the play as ‘a play’ instead of ‘your play’ and, with the help of some great actors, let the characters flourish and grow on their own.

Although exposing and scary, in my view this flight from desk to stage is the most exciting part of the writing process and makes all those dim, lonesome days locked away with the laptop all worthwhile.