Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Bring us some figgy pudding

Christmas checklist:

[X] Have early mini-Christmas at a chum's place with gift exchanges and cheer and listen to Haddaway endlessly (watch Night at the Roxbury)

[X] Tidy and clean flat to unhealthy degree

[ ] Look forward to grandmother's arrival

Of all the many Christmas songs that could be sung at this time of feasting and celebration at the birth of the tiny baby Jesus, once, Pink Floyd's Merry Xmas Song (a one-off radio recording in the sixties on John Peel's show) is the one that I'll be lustily belting from my car as I drive past Oceana with the windows down howling like a banshee at the drunk, vomiting idiots in Santa hats.

#Cheerful faces wreathed in smiles
Can see him coming for miles and miles
As he passes by he'll catch your ear
With, "Merry Christmas, guys. And a happy new year"

Turkey and sausages and Christmas pud
"Have another helping, John"
"Oh, I don't think I could"#

Saturday, 20 December 2008

I was later apprehended on Space Mountain

Saw Spamalot on Wednesday night. Not entirely sure why I didn't like it.

Just had a thoroughly bizarre morning which culminated in my failing to see The Tempest at Ham House when I thought it was on at one-thirty instead of one. Dolt. I wandered into the room afterwards to have a look around and was ushered out by one of the staff, and confusedly walked home along the river.

I also underwent a barrage of suspicion when I attempted to buy some heavy-duty drain cleaner at the hardware shop.

On the plus side, thanks to the sterling efforts of Abi and some bandanas, my bathroom is very very clean. Now the living room will follow as the Kitchen Of Destiny nears completion.

Going out tonight to celebrate the return of Mark from the bleak northern wastes.

P.S. Abi is cool.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

T'would be too tedious to repeat

A superb final lecture at uni today before the Christmas break dragged me seven-and-a-half years back to my sole visit to the National Student Drama Festival in Scarborough. We were looking at difficult-to-stage scenes from various plays (including the famous 'pursued by a bear' direction) and one of them was the beheading scene from Judith, which I'd seen at the NSDF back in Easter 2001. It was probably that week in Scarborough which put me off ever wanting to become a drama student (although, in fairness, alongside some dreadful plays and amidst the sweaty throngs of horrible, horrible drama students *ptooie*, I was properly introduced to live physical theatre which ultimately led me to where I am now, so swings and roundabouts I suppose).

Just spent the evening back at uni seeing part of the Shakespeare Festival, with three Shakespeare snippets in the theatre. I was terribly disappointed, largely due to the quality of the performances. The first piece, a well-crafted clowning ensemble of Midsummer Night's Dream's rude mechanicals was the best, even if some of the characters lapsed into dull stereotypes (the primadonna Bottom, or the lion with stagefright, both overdone and mishandled). The next was an snippet of King Lear, which was fascinating visually and initially had me very interested as I don't know the play at all. Quickly, though, the performers started to irritate me and my attention wandered. The same with the final piece, a maritime-themed telling of Pericles, without enough of a maritime theme or confident performances (bar Pericles himself).

I thought back to Destination GB which I saw there last week, a devised piece performed mainly by friends and directed by my tutor. The reason I felt it hard to judge was because I feel like I know the performers too well. Seeing the shows this evening with a completely fresh eye (I didn't know anyone in it or anyone involved, except for, I assume, Al and Paul in the theatre) had me wondering whether it's almost impossible to properly judge work within the confines of the university drama community and whether frequent invitations for external audiences (outside of the cast's friends and families) are the only way to get a subjective view of the work. I felt every foot-shuffle and lifeless face and (what I felt to be) misunderstanding of the text by the actors and I wondered if I would have felt as strongly had it been my friends and peers (and indeed colleagues) that I was supporting.

Another thing came up which rather interested me. The evening was sold to me (I felt) as one event, but it very much seemed to be three seperate plays and companies to the extent that the companies who had already performed would join us in the audience afterwards. When I was about twelve, on holiday in Guernsey, we went to see an outdoor production of A Comedy of Errors in the awesome castle in St Peter's Port. It had the convention of the actors actually playing Shakespearian performers putting on a show, so beforehand we had knife juggling, firebreathing and so on. It was extremely well done, and immediately afterwards, as the audience was wandering off, one of the actors had come out into the crowd to see his friends. "That was great!" his friends were telling him, before he replied, in front of all the people who'd just seen him, "Nah, it was crap."

I kind of feel that you have a bit of a responsibility in the theatre to make sure that the theatrical experience (which a vast majority of people don't get very often) extends beyond what happens on the stage between when the lights go down and when they come up. I loathe hanging around in the bar after shows, and always find it disconcerting to see a performer immediately after their show's over. Not least because this evening a friend of one of the actors was having a heated argument with the girl running front-of-house regarding a refund over some tickets for friends who hadn't shown up. It was very odd and ultimately it's all been a bit unsatisfying.

STILL, getting some semester feedback tomorrow and hopefully going to see The Tempest with puppets at Ham House at the weekend (it'll be the second time I've seen it done with puppets) as well as seeing Spamalot tomorrow night and then hopefully a night out with the drama lot from uni.

Kill all hippies!

Monday, 15 December 2008

A Spaceman Came Travelling

My mini-absence is hereby explained by the fact that I've been working hard on my final assessment of the semester which went off without a hitch today. Then we had drinks and disgusting chocolates (bought from Woolworths). It's been a very tiring time and I'm relieved that it's all done and that Christmas is on it's way.

Had to bid a sad tata-for-now to Annabel whose commitments have piled up to the point where she's had to duck out. Gah.

Meanwhile, people are hurling shoes at George Bush. I can't condemn this, but I worry that this may just be the tip of the iceberg in a spate of clothing attacks on public figures. Next thing you know it'll be jumpers pushed into the beaming face of Rolf Harris, and that, sirs, I will not tolerate.


Would you force a knitted jumper down Rolf Harris' gullet?

[] Yes, I would

[] No, I would not

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

I recognise / Myself in every stranger's eyes

I'm starting to feel like it's the end of term, which is weird because I haven't had an 'end of term' for six and a half years. I've got lots of stuff on and lots of things to do, and in many ways I won't feel like the holiday has arrived until the end of January when the YAT project I'm in is done and performed. Then, and only then, will I be responsibilityless. And then the next semester starts.

Work continues apace on our assessment, as a strong idea with plenty of scope for interesting work develops, while I've got loads of things to put in my essays. The problem, as ever, is actually getting around to *doing* it, so that can be my pre-new year's resolution.

Went to see a show at uni this evening performed mostly by the post-graduate teaching assistants. I'm sort of reserving judgement on it for the moment for a reason that I'm reserving talking about.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Well I didn't read the last page / You thought of me at that final stage

I saw two absolutely astonishing things this weekend.

The first was on Friday night when I went to see a showcase of work by students at Rambert's St Margaret's school. The show was a packed ninety minutes of very short dance pieces (some of them works-in-progress, I suspect) ranging from classical costumed ballet to things more akin to physical theatre and maybe even standup comedy. I love dance and was frequently speechless by some of the performers. This spurred me to think about returning to my contemporary evening classes at Rambert in Chiswick and gave me a lot to think about regarding what I really honestly think physical theatre is.

The other was the Korean film Oldboy. You should probably see it too.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Catch you later, Bill and Ted

I think I hurt my foot a little with some vigourous hopping during today's warmup. Ian's warmups are sure to become the stuff of legend.

I'm ever-so busy, don'tcha know? This evening I watched Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure for the first time in ages and found that it's still the indisputable classic it always was. Lots of good work getting done at university, with assessments and essays coming up, and more orchestra work today with more exciting and varied instruments. Good stuff.

I've also been perusing a data DVD filled with photos from all the productions I've worked on with YAT this year, which has been an absolute treat. I really must wibble on at length here some time about how Royal Hunt of the Sun was the best thing I've ever done. I'm sure you can't wait.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Kitchen Sink Drama

Thunderously tired after a batshit week and a physically demanding day (but isn't that the point?)

I'm finally getting a new kitchen put in, replacing my tired old dead kitchen which has been untouched since around 1969. I'm not making this up.

Thing is, this means that most of my home and posessions are currently under a thin layer of red dust, which is most tiresome. I've also got no kitchen, so I'm eating out of boxes or in other people's houses, or taking out which is expensive. So it's a hectic time.

On the plus side, I had a delicious sandwich from a brilliant local butcher, and an interesting chat with some of the guys on another 'pathway' of the drama course, which was nice. Plus we had lots of fun with makeshift musical instruments in the afternoon.