Monthly Archives: March 2006

I Stole Someone’s Food Whilst In Their House

You know how when you get a prescription from the doctor and it’s just a scribble, but the pharmacist knows what it says, and they give you the right stuff, except that these days the prescription is printed from a computer, so that piece of observational comedy is irrelevant?

Well, when you order a takeaway curry to be delivered, and it comes in those foil trays, with card lids with the same scribbles on them to supposedly differentiate, for example, your Lamb Hyderabadi from your generous host’s Lamb Razalla, but the only word readable is ‘La……’, I don’t think it’s surprising that mistakes are sometimes made. The trays get mixed up. Someone who didn’t order hot and tasty Lamb Razalla may end up eating it, while the host, whose beer you are drinking, ends up eating the other, less appetising dish, because he was stuck upstairs getting his daughter to sleep.

Sorry, Paul. Great to see you, Colleen and Roxy at the weekend though.

On the lighter side of the news, Shuggie is getting used to long walks on Tooting Bec Common on Sunday afternoons. To illustrate the fun we have, here’s my route marked on a map. Blimey, that’s under a mile. Now, for comparison, here’s Shuggies. Spot the difference.

While we were walking past the footbal fields, Shuggie decided to ‘ease his heavy load’ on the grass. Not a problem, out comes a plastic bag, there’s a dog bin nearby. As I stand up to tie the now-full bag up, I notice that someone I recall seeing on the train platform at Tooting a lot has just taken a photo of – what? Shuggie doing his “ostensibly-covering-up-the-poo-but-actually-just-dancing” dance? Me being conscientious and clearing it up? Or my bum as I bend over? I THINK WE SHOULD BE TOLD. Apart from anything else, Shuggie doesn’t get out of bed for less than £10K, top model that he is, so I want my 40% commission.

Green Highlighter

Having a full script from day one is a bit of a novelty, after doing plays that were written around the cast as the rehearsals moved on. This way I know from the beginning that I have too many lines, and I’ll never learn them all, but I want to learn them all, and I don’t want any of them to be cut, because who wants that? Every actor wants more lines.

You will never hear a sane actor say, “[Director’s name], I think this three-page speech rambles a bit, and it doesn’t add to the character’s development or the story arc and I don’t think people want to sit and look at me and listen to me. I think we should trim it a bit.”

But there is a hell of a lot of green highlighter in my script, and it’s a bit daunting. Still I have my battery of high-powered script-learning techniques to help me out.

  • Scribbling the lines on a filched notepad with a filched biro, then checking to if I have them correct. Repeat.
  • Reading the script again and again. Not as effective.
  • Record a rehearsal on-book* with my creaking steam-powered Minidisc recorder. I will then transfer these recordings to MP3 and put them on my shiny modern iPod, which doesn’t record, and has no MIC in socket. Then I can listen to the scene again and again on the train and in bed. (*with script in hand, as opposed to ‘off-book’ which is the goal)
  • Face to Face rehearsals with a co-actor are the best. They get you through a speech and force you to do it again and again.

One of these must work, surely…

They Made Us Sit And Watch

I was talking to a friend about crappy B-movies the other day, and a flood of memories about being shown films at school came back. And as the memories became more detailed, I started to worry about what films they had showed us.

I don’t know why they got us to watch films at school, apart from the obvious ones about science and puberty and so on. Maybe there were teacher strikes (this was the early 80’s), and the best way to control a school full of 11 and 12-year-olds was to sit us in front of a flickering screen with coloured shapes and lights projected on it. I can see that would work.

Of course, in the main the films were Children’s Film Foundation flicks, with the distinctive opening sequence:

  1. Stock footage of Trafalgar Square, with pigeons (this being before the Massacre Of The Winged Rats)
  2. Music Fanfare
  3. CFF logo zooms in from centre!
  4. This has the effect of scaring the pigeons, who all fly away.
  5. ENTIRE SCHOOL GROANS as they realise they have to sit through another fecking Childrens Film Foundation tapeworm, perched on those weird gym benchs with rubber knobs on.

I remember being told we were going to watch Hoverbug, and being excited. Will it have lasers? No, it was made of plywood by some children for a race. Oh no! The secret glue only lasts for an hour! Christ, it’s exciting.

After a few goes at this, the school got a bit more adventurous. Once again we trooped into the assembly hall, to be shown a film. But what was this? Real Science Fiction? A weird uglified man being chased down and zapped by some bipedal chattering lizards? Yes, by god, it was Laserblast, complete with Roddy MacDowall as a cameo doctor. Let’s just recap the story, in case you don’t remember it.

  • Bullied teenager finds alien weapon and medallion in the desert. This was left by the weird uglified man we see in the pre-credits sequence.
  • Bullied teenager puts medallion on.
  • Alien medallion implants itself in his chest, causing mutation.
  • Bullied teenager goes on murderous rampage, killing everyone who ever wronged him, and blowing stuff up.
  • Aliens return and zap him too. THE END.

See the link above for sounds and pictures. Basically, I don’t really understand why they showed us this film (And it was a film, by the way, a film shown through a projector, not a video). While not really scary, it doesn’t seem the sort of thing to show to schoolchildren of 11. Then again, it did give me an important life lesson – DESTROY WITH SUPERIOR WEAPONS THOSE WHO WRONG YOU. Whatever, I’d got a taste for rubbish films.

This new-found pleasure of bad movies carried into the living room at home. Around the time of these film shows, my family got a VHS video recorder (SHARP! front loading! wired remote control!). And my elder brother (bless his ancient heart) immediately went to the local shop and got some inappropriate tapes. Starcrash, Mad Max 2 and let us not forget the wonderful Death Race 2000, a film by certified auteur Roger Corman, concerning a road race across America, with points scored for every person you run over. Yup. And there was a gratuitous female rival topless wrestling match as a bonus. Edifying stuff.

And what do I find on the above IMDB link? I find that Death Race 3000 has been announced. I can only assume the nourishing diet given to my peers and I has led to us wanting to push the taste envelope even further.

“To those who are about to die, we salute you!”

Shiny New Computer

After my PC was making strange noises and generally acting like it was dying, I went and bought a brand new one, complete with Genuine Copy Of Windows XP!

It actually arrived before it was due, but luckily Mairi was in and was able to sign on the dotted line. After the usual unpacking, checking and admiring, I plugged it in and fired it up. Lovely, clean, empty, smooth, and completely useless without any software on it. So I dug out the disks and installed Unreal Tournament 2004, just to check the speed and graphical capabilities, you understand.

“LUDICROUS KILL!”

And that is as far as I got, sadly. I guess I’ll install Illustrator when the need arises, and the various website tools, but for now I’ll leave it pristine. By the way, I decided on the name Proteus II.

As for the old Star One, with it’s newly empty hard drive, I may install Mandriva on it, from a magazine coverdisk. I keep trying out Linux, via Knoppix and so on, but it will be interesting to have a dedicated machine. Unfortunately, there’s no room to put it anywhere, so that will have to wait until the study is ‘remodelled’.

An Excellent And Recuperative Weekend

Friday, wrote Mr Kipling, and having had a successful Friday at work, getting that report out, and having met acting cohort Kristen for Vietnamese lunch by Mornington Crescent, I decided to piss off home early. When I got home I took advantage of Mairi being away visiting family with the dog by having a big orgy with all my weird friends.

Actually I put some washing on and vacuumed. But by God it felt like an orgy – an orgy of domesticity. Then Robin called for a chat, so we went to the Ramble Inn for a couple of pints. Actually, I had a couple, Robin had a miniature bottle of Merlot like what you’d get in a Travel Tavern. But that’s fine, it doesn’t reflect badly on him at all. He’s in the process of buying a flat in sunny Brixton, so he needs all the help he can get, and it would be a shit indeed who begrudged him that.

Robin asked me to check over his new website – you can too! Lots of updated stuff about his more recent performances. I told him about Arturo Ui, and we did our usual best-mates chat thing. I invited him in for a finger of 12-year-old, which we enjoyed while playing old vinyl and reminiscing. Tom Tom Club! Laibach! Elvis Costello! Hawkwind! Baby Ford! Diamanda Galas! Ahh, heady days…

Then on Saturday I slept in, did the first page for Mairi’s Mum’s company’s webpage, and ate lunch at the cafe while highlighting my lines in my script, trying not to draw attention to myself with my big highlighted script in the window.

Saturday evening was time for birthday drinks for David, who is always kind enough to come and see my plays, so it was only fair to force myself out to a pub to buy him a drink. It was good to see a lot of people I haven’t for a while. Lots of great stories from people, but the ultimate was Rachels tale of RIDING HER BICYCLE INTO THE CANAL AND COLLECTING IT THE FOLLOWING DAY. Not much more can be said about that, really.

I spoke to a friend who knows someone who is making a TV comedy pilot, and needs male actors. Hmmm. I’ll watch out for that email.

I did my usual trick of drinking too much and missing the tube, and then paying too much for a taxi. Sunday I felt a bit rough, so we took Shug to the common and I had another cafe lunch, which went cold very quickly in the chilly breeze. It’s hard to eat egg & bacon with gloves on. Talk about mad dogs and Englishmen.

A Serious Message Through The Medium Of Rhyme

Despite the serious backstory, The Resistible of Arturo Ui, or Ui as I will call it from now on, has a certain amount of black humour and music, which helps to fill in the story. While congratulating each other earlier today, I suggested to Kristen (playing Givola aka Goebbels in the play) that we could do one scene like the intro sequence from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Five minutes later, she came back with this:

Now this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute to jump right in
and I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Berlin.

In Vienna I was born and raised
On the playground where I spent most of my days
Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool
And all shooting some Poles outside of the school

When Churchill and Eisenhower said “you’re up to no good”
And started making trouble in my Neighbourhood.
I got in one little war and my mom got psyched
And said “you’re moving to the motherland to start up the Reich”.

I begged and pleaded with her the other day
But she packed my suitcase and sent me on my way.
She gave me a kissin’ and she gave me my ticket
I put on my jackboots and said I might as well kick it.

First class, yo this is bad,
Drinking orange juice out of a champagne glass
Is this what the people of Berlin livin’ like,
Hmm this might be alright!

I whistled for a cab and when it came near
the Licensplate said “Fritz” and had a dice in the mirror
If anything I could say that this cab was fine
But I thought no forget it, yo home to the Rhine

I pulled up to Mein Kamp about seven or eight
And I yelled to the cabby “Yo, home, heil you later”
Looked at my kingdom I was finally in.
To sit on my throne as the prince of Berlin.

Historically, it may me slightly innaccurate, but you must agree, it’s STOOPID FRESH, yo.

Here We Go Again

I’ve been cast as Arturo Ui in the play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertholt Brecht. As you can see, it’s the title role and as a result I’m very very pleased and excited. Thank you Mike (my beloved director)!

Written in 1941 the play, according to the back of the script, is

… a savage and witty parable of the rise of Hitler, recast by Brecht into a small-time gangster’s takeover of the city’s greengrocery trade … wide range of parody and pastiche – from Richard III to Al Capone, from Mark Antony to Faust – without diminishing the horror of the real-life Nazi prototypes.

I’m extra pleased because when this play is finished, I will have played Hitler, Satan and the Marquis de Sade. No typecasting here!

First rehearsal tonight!

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

New Wimbledon Studio Theatre, The Broadway, Wimbledon

Tuesday 6 – Saturday 10 June, 2006

Here’s all the posts about this
Carlton production, in which I played Arturo Ui.

(in chronological order)

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