Tag Archives: Carlton Dramatic Society

Theatre Database Available Again

I’ve managed to get my little database of theatrical productions I’ve been involved with back up, after an extended period of not being able to remember my MySQL password (thanks, ICDSoft tech support!). It’s part of my ongoing relationship with theatre – the small-scale, amateur, just-for-fun kind.

I now need to update a lot of the information in the database. It was set up as an exercise in PHP and MySQL, but I would like to get it moving again. Many of the links are broken, and I would like to add more information, and if possible integrate it more into the rest of the site.

Regarding that last one, it would be great if there were a WordPress plugin that could manage the realtionships I have in my custom database. There are a few that deal with theatre bookings, company schedules, but none that cover the full extent of what I want. I shall explain.

What I have in this database (here’s a dump of all the raw data):

  • Table containing information about Groups or Theatre Companies
    • Name of group
    • URL of homepage
    • etc
  • Table containing information about Venues
    • Name of Venue
    • URL of homepage
    • etc
  • Table containing information about Roles
    • Name of role
    • Onstage or Offstage (to cover backstage work such as lights and sound)
    • etc
  • Table containing information about Performances
    • Name of show
    • Author
    • Blurb
    • Dates (either exact or just a quarter)
    • etc
  • Table containing Links to other information about a Performance
    • URL

Relationships (created by the queries at the time of page creation):

  • Each Performance is related to a single Venue and a single Group. Not every Group has its own Venue, so these had to be kept separate. This is where most of the plugins and tools for managing show data fall down. They assume that a Theatre Company has a Theatre where they do Theatre. Most groups I’ve been involved with have not. (The “get-in” and “get-out” are often the most fun parts of a show week).
  • Each Performance may be related to multiple Roles. This is to cover the possibility that I may have had more than one Role in a show, including roles on and offstage, for example designing the poster, or helping build the set.
  • Each Performance may be related to multiple Links, which point to resources like an image of the flyer, a show website, or a photo gallery. This is to allow multiple resources to be connected.

Fancy graph!

Any ideas for what I could do next? Anyone know of a good WordPress plugin along these lines (that doesn’t fall foul of the requirements above? Anyone want to help me get this information more presentable? What I definitely need is a way of entering and editing information in the database without burrowing into PHPMyAdmin and doing open-table surgery.

The question of whether I want to ever add some new performances to the database remains open…

Sad News From The Carlton

I received some very sad news today from my old friends in the Carlton Dramatic Society. Philippa “Pippa” Cain (nee Booth) died suddenly on April 28th. She was a huge part of the society, driving the shows, the direction and the character of the group for several years. She met her husband Adam there, and it was a love story worthy of the stage. She leaves behind Adam and two children, Topaz Albany Zoë (aged 11) and Merlin Orion George (aged 9) – as you can tell, she was one of a kind!

Pippa’s time at the Carlton only just overlapped mine – I was never involved in one of her shows apart from creating the prorgams and websites for a couple. But I wish I had been – from the enthusiastic descriptions given by the cast and crew, they sounded like lots of fun. Pippa had a distinctive sense of aesthetics – her productions often made great use of sets and props to give a quirky style all her own. She was handy and practical as well – she made me a moulded plaster mask for one show, which I still have.

Only recently, I posted the preserved show pages for all the old Carlton shows, up to when I left the group. In particular, Pippa directed:

I’ve picked out some of the choicest pieces of Pippa’s original artwork from the various show pages. See the gallery below.

Judging by the emails flying around in the last couple of days, she will be sorely missed. A tragic loss.

Carlton Production Pages

Back when I was a member of Carlton Dramatic Society in Wimbledon, I was for a while the newsletter editor, and by extension, the website editor as well. The site was already packed with pages from the earlier productions, so when I spruced up the site, I corralled them into a new page, and tied them together with some semi-automating PHP. This is a language designed for use on websites, which allows dynamic content, file access, etc.

I was learning PHP at the time, and of course learning by doing is always best, so I was quite pleased with the way they came together, and how it was easy to reuse bits and pieces to reduce the work each time a new page was needed. Basically, each show had a main PHP file, a selection of reused INC files (which were just snippets of text with an INC extension to remind me they were to be INCluded, and which provided the repeating structure), and a couple of CSV files containing the cast list and crew list, which allowed me to display the cast without having to fiddle with HTML and UL/LI tags.

When a new show was announced, all I needed to do was copy the previous show’s folder, rename a few things, change some copy text, change the CSV files, and drop in the relevant graphics. Simple, but flexible, and it made possible the great difference between the simpler pages for Teechers and Stags and Hens, and the one for The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. In some cases I added in some custom bits, for example with 84 Charing Cross Road, which had extra airmail-style borders.

Once I’d got the PHP toolkit set up, I started to go back and create retrospective pages for productions which came before my time with the group (some of which came before the web was properly around!). I had gathered and scanned some programmes from older members, and I was able to OCR and edit the pages together from the program notes. I used the free program SimpleOCR for this. A classic example of this retroactive webpage creation is the page for the 1991 production of The Crucible, which uses the same components, a generic CDS logo as a marker, and a scan of the program as the artwork.

This was a good experience of trying to learn a new skill, so I decided to put up all the pages I created on this website. The full list of productions page can be found here. Many of the links originally led back to the Carlton’s homepage, so I’ve changed them so they go to the group’s new website.

Fresh Meat Casting

Back when I was involved in amateur/independent theater in London, some friends and I found some of the things actors put their CVs pretty funny. So, we created our own casting agency, Fresh Meat, and threw together some fake CVs. The names have been changed, but they were based on ourselves – see if you can guess who is who?

A bit of an in-joke, and an old one at that, but I found this stuff when I was clearing out out drafts and crap, so I thought I’d post it for fun & completeness. Enjoy Fresh Meat Casting.

Arturo Pluggy

Katy, who played someone who got killed 4 times a night, whilst with child, for the masses of Merton, saw this in her work bathroom. Ring any bells?
When inanimate objects look like cast members

When inanimate objects look like cast members.

Photos Of The Final Result

Taken just after the matinee performance, these are some shots of my get-up as Arturo Ui. Note florid ‘I’m about to faint from the heat’ look.

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
Me as Arturo Ui

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
Me as Arturo Ui

Katy and Steve Nuptials, 2004

Yes, a bit late with this one, but I was sorting out my photos in Picasa, adding captions and tags, and realised that these are pretty nice photos of Mairi and I. Sadly the batteries in the camera ran out shortly after this, so there are none of the rest of the day. Twit.

Matthew and Mairi at Katy and Steves wedding, 2004
Matthew and Mairi at Katy and Steves wedding, 2004

I Sit Corrected

It has been brought to my attention by one of my readers (the one on the left) that this post contains an error. It turns out that the men will be kicking a ball around in Germany, and not Greece as previously stated. Greece hosted the Eurovision Song Contest. Whatever My bad.

Confusing these two events is completely justified. One is a competition where countries come together to compete in a flamboyant but ultimately meaningless contest of non-marketable skills, airing ancient international rivalries and favouritisms, where “we was robbed” every time except once many years ago.

The other one is the same.

Didn’t really work, that, did it? Oh, and something about silly costumes, dance routines and amusing commentary.

I have to say that I am with Charlie Brooker and Stewart Lee* when it comes to foopball.

In other words,


* On his DVD ‘Standup Comedian’ he describes anyone involved in playing, organising, or managing foopball, and anyone who watches it, as “filthy reactionary scum”

And Up Again

It’s like a bleedin’ rollercoaster round ‘ere. Only on Tuesday I was whingeing about a bad rehearsal, and now I’m telling you that last night was a lot better. Well, a bit better. We were rehearsing scenes which I’m a lot more confident with, so it went pretty smoothly.

We also rehearsed the dance scene, where KC and I glide round the floor like glidey things, except I don’t cos I can’t dance [ref: this blog passim]. I’m assured this will be presentable by curtain up.

The Court Scene rehearsal gave me the opportunity to slip into the Amazing Line Learning Kitchen and put it through its paces. And once again, it worked! I now know nearly all of my characters final triumphant speech. There’s hope yet.

Of course, there’s no point telling you all of this if you don’t have a ticket already, because every performance except the Saturday Matinee and Evening is completely sold out! Apparently some men are kicking a ball around in Greece that afternoon, and that’s more interesting than the play, so there are still tickets available for those performances. Snap them up while you can!

My Beloved Director told me last night in the snug of the Horse and Groom blarey-sport-music-TV-hell of the Hand & Racquet that one scene requires me to take my clothes off. The script requires it; I will do it. That is all.

I’m already being screamed at, pummelled, and slapped, why not go the whole fucking hog.

A Word From Rehearsal


That pretty much sums it up. We rehearsed the whole second half last night, which I should know 100%. Instead, I know about 15%. KMcG tried to help me, in the Amazing Line Learning Kitchen, with little success. The speech I tried to learn was one of those where, instead of a flow of speech with a clear order, it’s a series of single statements. And I, of course, get them in the wrong order. Heavens, I got so frustrated I threw a coin at the wall!

I know, I know, I’ll do it in the end. I did it for Marat/Sade, and Much Ado. My friends are all being very supportive, and I know all it takes is patience and work, and time spent just actively learning the lines, instead of staring blankly at the page with all the green highlighter.

So once again, out come the MD player, the pad, the pencil, the mirror, the guarana, the suspension-upside-down-to-get-blood-to-the-brain ankle harnesses. I’ll nail this.

These posts are getting a bit self-pitying aren’t they? Tough.