A missus, some ladies and a handful of whores

Yes, you read right: after a brief (although fun) foray into the strange realm of Doing Only One Character (in the rehearsed reading of Ben Elton's Popcorn, directed by the one-and-only Pauliina "Pow!" Munukka), I am back* to being several characters. This is, of course, in the upcoming production of Nelson Remembered, written by George Fleming (whom I don't know personally, but who, quite likely, is also a one-and-only) and directed by (the certainly, and what's more, thankfully, one-and-only) Christian "Julli" Jull.

Now, Nelson is a strange hybrid creature (and I mean the play, not the man. Although perhaps the man was, too? You need to make your own mind up on this, though, please, for I will go off on a tangent, wildly, if I start to speculate the matter here). It's not really a full-on production, for one, as we the actors don't memorise the scripts or move about onstage: cry, die, remove tights, or the like. Neither is it a rehearsed reading, really, although we do have scripts in-hand (or on-stand), for the same reason, i.e. no blocking. Nor is it a play-for-voices - not fully, anyway, as there will be plenty to see, too: some of it beautiful, some of it moving, some of it wet-thyself-funny - you get the picture: it is the pictures doing the "doing", onstage, instead of us actors. But then there will also be live music, so classifying the thing becomes ever harder. A Strange Hybrid Creature, A Theatrical Chimera: Nelson Remembered.

We are having fun with it, that's for sure.

Creating several characters with voice and (sigh) accent alone is harder, I have to say, than creating characters who also have body language and walks and hands and things. Although I have recently developed a bit of an obsession with (one day) (perhaps) being able to produce an American accent (as in, believable rather than laughable), I have made the decision (happily, not disputed by The Director) not to attempt producing a West-Indian English Gentry accent from the turn of the 1700-1800s. So Mrs Nelson will only sound kinda soft and gentle; you know, the sort of good-yet-oh-so-simpering little wife whom it is very easy for a hero to forget, and who will easily allow her man to be snatched by some egomaniac exuberant Lancashire slut lass.

And that concludes this teaser-taster. Do come and see us - if you still can get tickets; I understand they are selling like the proverbial hotcakes.

 

*See this particular blog author's previous posts for clarification. She does multiple personality theatre.


Haul anchor!

Before accepting a role as an historical person, it's always wise to check exactly where they came from.

I must admit that a last-minute direction to read Emma Hamilton with a Lancashire accent sent me into a mild panic and scrabbling for Wikipedia. Luckily, I'd had some recent experience Up North in Bouncers & Shakers, so it was a short-lived panic.

I will defend myself here by mentioning that, at this point, we'd not yet started the production and I had yet to receive the full script!

We've now hauled anchor and had our first rehearsal for Nelson Remembered, and I've read up on Horatio and Emma to prevent further surprises.

All those tales of derring-do in the 18th century reminded me of this video about historical prowess. Not unfortunately Nelson, but George Washington. Though maybe someone needs to make a similar tribute to Nelson and his polar bear? (I assure you Nelson Remembered takes a much more traditional and family-friendly approach to honouring the admiral's exploits.)

 

I suspect Putin may have modelled himself on this script.


Nelson Remembered?

Nelson Remembered

 

So where did this production come from?! Actually, it has been in the pipeline for a while now. Nelson Remembered is an historical docu-reading examining, as the title suggests, the life of Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson KB. Who is Nelson? Seriously? Nelson was one of Britain's greatest military commanders and definitely its greatest naval commander. Even if the name is unfamiliar, you will surely have seen him, even if you didn't realise. A statue of him stands, day after day, at the very top of the column in Trafalgar Square in London. The square itself was named after the location of his greatest naval victory and also where he died at the age of forty-six.

The show was written by an historian friend in Salisbury, UK back in the 1990s and performed by his historical drama group, 'History At Large' three times over ten years. The later two I read the words of Nelson himself. Through the use of pictures, words and sound (both recorded and live) it accurately examines all of the important events in his life. At the same time, it also looks at important shaping factors such as Emma Hamilton and the Georgian Navy.

The most difficult task I've had bringing this story back to life after some ten to fifteen years has been modernising it! Although the original material used to stage the show could be classified as 'thorough', it could also be classified, by today's standards, as archaic. Understandable when the writer is now an elderly historian! I had four carousels of 35mm slides, thirty cassette tapes (remember those?) and two printed scripts (one cast, one technical).Thankfully the most difficult part of transferring the script to electronic format was made easier by the accuracy of today's Optical Character Recognition scanning software and the use of script writing software.

The slides were a different matter. I used a reasonable slide scanner to convert the 260 slides to digital, only to find that the deterioration of the slides was horrendous! To get the images to their original state would have required professional scanning services and several hundred Euros. As this was not an option, I had to painstakingly trawl the Internet to match the images (mostly paintings). With a few substitutions, the restoration of several original images and the necessity to convert two original (and irreplaceable) images to black and white, the task was accomplished!

Then the sound... Again, after converting all of the cassette recordings to digital, I found that the quality, although better than the slides, was unacceptable. Most of the classical music could be found quite easily, but some was unidentified. With the use of mobile music identification application Shazam, the remaining pieces were also found. Many of the sound effects had been created by the writer himself, so there was no option but to re-create them using downloaded sound effects and, in some cases, mixing many with sound editing software to achieve a matching similar sound.

So now, with a full cast complement and a musician singer, the rehearsals begin next week and our show will be ready for you next month (February). I truly hope that you can come and see the show. After reading this, I also hope you will have an added appreciation for how much preparation work was required just to get it to a rehearsal stage. Having 'acted' this show several times in the past, I can reassure you that you will be presented with a thoroughly entertaining and interesting historical evening. This is no boring specialist docu-channel TV programme!