Tag Archives: Carlton Dramatic Society

That Pain Barrier I Mentioned

I hit it at last night’s rehearsal, but I didn’t quite break through it. A couple of speeches were attempted, with pretty faltering results. I had to give up and grab my script, which was a bit disappointing. But while the rest of the cast rehearsed the court scene (nice and long, a good break for me) I disappeared into the community centre kitchen to thrash through my lines. It worked! I’m now off book for 2 major scenes, which is a relief.

So what is the secret of line learning? Judging by the community centre kitchen, the following things help:

  • Pus-coloured paintwork
  • Extreme damp, leading to heavy flaking in aforesaid paintwork
  • Belfast sink with wooden draining boards
  • Wall-mounted water heater
  • Discarded Alcoholics Anonymous paperwork
  • Fablon

I’d better hit Ebay to put together my own ‘Line Learning Room’ at home. Fablon’s due for a comeback anyway.

Twinkle Toes

As well as singing, it turns out certain scenes also contain what can only be described as ‘movement’. So now I must remember lines, remember to say lines, and remember dance moves in time to music. I fear the West End is not calling. Still, I’ve been here before, so I should be able to manage it again. My character’s not supposed to look dignified, is he?

As for line learning, the nerves are starting to kick in, but I think that with some prompting, I should be able to punch through the pain barrier, bearing in mind it’s not just my pain, it’s everyone listening’s pain as well. And if I don’t, I guess The Beloved Director will punch me. It’s nothing less than I deserve!

We’ve heard a little about costume now as well. It’s suits, basically, which is easy. I can do suits. I can do shabby, I can do smart, I can do drab, but I can’t do plaid, which is a relief. What I also need is the hair. My hair is just getting too long at the moment – floppy and shapeless, and not in a floppy-fringed-indie-kid way. So what’s needed is a trip to the hairdresser to say, “Can you give me a haircut like Adolf Hitler, please”. See how that goes down.

As for the famous moustache, I’m going to have that appear halfway through the play, so it needs to be a fake one, stuck on with spirit gum. This is a relief for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t really want to walk around with a Hitler ‘tache for the show week. Two, it wouldn’t be just the show week anyway. As described before I have a problem growing facial hair – it takes a long time. I’d need to start now, which would either mean walking around with a Hitler ‘tache for a month, or more likely, but no less nauseating, growing a miniature (aka ‘goateeeeee’) beard, and them shaving off the bits I don’t need. But growing one of those is out of the question

I do have some pride.

The Musical Thug

Rehearsals continue apace. I’ve been recording various scenes and long speeches with my trusty Minidisc recorder, and playing them back in glorious Oh-God-Do-I-Sound-Like-That-O-Scope.

And it’s not just talking either. Just because one of the scenes is written in straight verse, The Beloved Director has decided that there wasn’t enough music in the play, and this scene is now sung. A duet between Betty Bullfeet and Arturo Ui, aka Kirsty and me. I’ve transferred the minidisc to my PC using Audacity, and now I’m in the process of editing the bad bits out, exporting to MP3, adding to my iTunes library, and burning CDs for my fellow cast members. Hard work, made harder by the fact that my voice seemed really off in the recordings. An aberration!

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…

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!

Carlton Showcase LXXIX – It Works Better Short

Well that’s that over with for the moment. Thursday and Friday were the performances for the Carlton’s Showcase LXXIX. The LXXIX comes from the fact the the society started in 1927, and it ties in nicely with the 80th Anniversary celebrations next year (which will be LXXX).

It was the usual fun mix of short plays, sketches, and monologues, all enhanced for the audience by the addition of candleit tables and WINE.

I was in a couple of things, including a couple of short sketches with my buddy Mike Ahmad – the usual stuff, man goes into a bar, and a quite amusing anti-Tory rant. But most intense of all was KMcG’s Lord Of The Rings In 25 Minutes-ish. This was a masterpiece of quick changes, sock puppets, plastic swords, entire scenes reduced to one line, garden gnomes (or should that be dwarves?), rubber spiders, and invisible horses (“We ride north!”). I played Aragorn, a man given to scanning the horizon like something from a catalogue, or a U2 (spit) album cover from before they went “ironic”.

PHP Gantt Chart From CSV Data

As you should know full well by now, I’m a member of an amateur theatre group in Wimbledon, London, and I run the website. As an aid to visualising the events calendar, I’ve written a script in PHP which takes a CSV file of dated events (example), and generates a nice Gantt chart using a HTML table with ‘colspan’ attributes (scroll down). It’s a bit clunky, but it works. It shows you what’s coming up, and allows you to see how things overlap.

The CSV file containing the event information contains the following fields:

  1. Start Year
  2. Start Month
  3. Start Day
  4. End Year
  5. End Month
  6. End Day
  7. Event Title
  8. Event Location
  9. Event URL (optional)

The script works in the following way:

  1. Import CSV into an array.
  2. Sort by start date, ascending. This involves combining the date fields.
  3. Loop through, outputting a dictionary term (DT) / dictionary definition (DD) tag pair for each event: example.
    • The DT contains the event start date, and the end date if different.
    • The DD contains the Event Title with a hyperlink to the URL (if present), and the Event Location.
  4. At the same time as you loop through, find the Earliest Date and Latest Date. That is, the start date of the earliest event, and the end date of the latest event.
  5. Start a table in HTML.
  6. Make the first row a left-justified marker stating the start date.
  7. Make the second row a right-justified marker stating the end date.
  8. Loop through the event array creating a table row for each event containing the following 4 table cells.
    • The first table cell just contains the event title.
    • The second table cell has a ‘colspan’ attribute equal to the number of days between the Earliest Date and the first day of the current event. N.B. for the earliest event, this will be 0. This cell should be empty.
    • The third table cell has a ‘colspan’ attribute equal to the number of days in the event. This would be Event Start Date minus Event End Date plus 1, so that single-day (or ‘zero-length’) events show up as one day long. This cell should contain a non-breaking space.
    • The fourth table cell has a ‘colspan’ attribute equal to the number of days between the Latest Date and the last day of the current event. N.B. for the latest event, this will be 0. This cell should be empty.
  9. Ensure that all your HTML tags are assigned useful CSS style classes, so you can style the whole table later.
  10. And that’s yer lot.

The advantages of the script are that it is simple (ha), and the HTML can then be copied and pasted elsewhere. For example, The calendar is generated on this page, and then I copy and paste to the newsletter I also write. Good eh? Also, the CSV can be easily edited online by using WEB2FTP or it’s German sister site WWW2FTP.DE, which isn’t blocked by WebSense! 😉

Possible improvements:

  • Dates attached to the events in the Gantt chart?
  • A date scale along the top?
  • Some tweaking required at the end and start dates.

Carlton Panto 2005

Last Saturday saw the final version of the 2005 Carlton Panto/Nativity/Travesty performed at the Carlton Dramatic Society Christmas party. The full script is available here. It was written by my friend Kristen and I and was based on the ideas and input of this guy, and many other people, especially the cast.

I do a lot of stuff with this bunch, and it’s always fun. Obviously the script as shown in this site bears little, if any, resemblance to what was actually performed on the night, due to the unique talents of the cast, and the extremely short rehearsal time.

But the audience loved it, as they always do. It was a cracking party, with great food, drink, dancing and general seasonal silliness. I gather I tried to do the YMCA dance with a can of lager in my hand. Hmm.

This Is More Like It

In stark contrast to the rubbish I produced, here is the piece Jane Richards (AKA Simone Evrard) wrote to accompany the wonderful gift she gave me. The limerick form appears to be mandatory.

There once was an actor called ‘Petty’,
And it’s to him I dedicate this fine ‘Netty’.
It’s crude and it’s brash,
And a banned load of trash,
But will make any man very sweaty!

Thank goodness for Monsieur de Sade,
He defined what it meant to be mad.
But Matthew is wise,
He took all in his stride,
And was great as this sadistic lad.

‘Secret Sades’ should cost less than a fiver,
But I’ve been a bit of a conniver.
Who cares about rules
When pornography calls,
Coz ‘Justine’ is worth more than a fiver.

Notes: The Netties are our equivalent of the Oscars, a gift-giving ceremony at the after-show party. A kind of ‘Secret Santa’ rule is used, where the names are drawn out of a pot to see who gets a gift for whom. Of course, in this case it was a ‘Secret Sade’. Jane got me a fantastic 1960’s copy of the Marquis de Sade’s Justine, which describes in wordy and vivid detail the fall from grace of an innocent girl. Lovely book, wrapped round with red white and blue ribbon, for that French Revolutionary touch. Thanks again Jane.