Tag Archives: Marat-Sade – June 2005

My Netty Effort

Here is the crappy poem what I wrote to accompany the gift I gave my compatriot James Grayston at the after-show party, in the ceremony we call the ‘Netties’.

This inmate is further in years,
Than his partner in crime, it appears.
When calling for “Food!”,
His “Pleas” are quite good
His “Not me!” a treat for the ears.

But way back before he could shave
La la la la la la la lave,
The careers officer,
Der der der der der,
Cos he wanted to be “Depraved!”

Utter shit I know, but all I could come up with between the matinee and the last performance. The poem I got from Jane was much better.

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.

Act II Redux

After yesterdays horrors, last night was a bit of an improvement. A bit of thrashing through the lines with the wonderful Katy, and I was able to get through the first big speech of the Act. That’s a tough one, because as well as talking, I have to move around, and do other stuff as well (wait and see). But the second one was a bit of a struggle. I needed lots of help from the Incredible Knitting Prompt, and all in all it was a bit painful. More than it would be normally, that is (wait and see). But a few thrashes through of the lines should set me right.

It’ll be fine! It’ll be fine! (said in high-pitched voice, with eyes wide and a sweaty forehead, trembling)

Character Development

An extra rehearsal last night, and what a doozy it was. Act II, from the top. It went swimmingly(ish) until the fateful bit when I have to perform some intricate moves using both hands, which coincides with the long speech that I don’t know yet. Yes, I know, only a few days left.

I just need to buckle down and stand in front of the bathroom mirror and practise. Or I could do my other line-learning trick of sitting on the train with a filched notepad, and scribbling down the lines, then checking to see if I got them right, then repeating until Paddington. Either way, I need to damn well do it. Mmm.

I was pretty upset by it, and embarassed, and the worst thing is the fact that it throws everyone else, especially when I have a large chunk of lines, and I keep having to stop, or missing their cue lines out. Of course, co-actor Jeff was very supportive, saying, “You’ll be fine, you know you know the lines, the loud music downstairs isn’t helping, having half the cast missing isn’t either, don’t worry.” Thanks Jeff.

But after that effort, it was good to be able to get into some micro-direction for the scenes between Sade, Marat and Evrard. Anger, digust, withering scorn. And that’s just the director! Ah aha ha ha. Apparently there are 3 de Sades, because of the way the play is structured. A play within a play, a wheel within a wheel like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind.

So, the plan. We run through Act II twice tonight, so I’ll get some line runs in before that. Hopefully it should go a lot smoother.

Nothing worse than a fumbling Marquis.

Bipolar Rehearsal

Ah, the pleasure and the pain. Or, in the case of last nights rehearsal, the other way round. We’re at the point where we really should be zipping through full runthroughs. Instead, we limped our way through the first Act, with the slightly hysterical energy of the terminally afraid.

I was one of the worst culprits. I know the lines. But still, there I was, shattering the pace, causing hiccups and making everyone retrace a scene while I bumbled around, muttering, “Sorry” and looking sheepish. More work needed there, methinks.

So, after the tea break (during which we realised we don’t have anyone operating the lights – can you help?) we went at Act I again. And lo and behold, we tripped through it fantastically. OK, some v v minor glitches, but it was a vast improvement, and we were able to head off into the cold May London rain with smiles on our faces.

So all we need to do is rehearse, it would appear. It seems to have a positive effect.

1 week to go!

Doesn’t It Hurt?

OK, I’ve been in two minds about saying this before the show, because I didn’t want to spoil any surprises, but then I thought you’re either coming to see the show, or you’re not, and if you’re not, I’d like to you come, and this may encourage you to fork out and turn up.

I get whipped on stage during the play.

For real. No shirt, no padding, no sound effects. OK, it’s a play whip, but it does actually hurt. Just not for long. And the red marks fade remarkably quickly.

To be honest, I’m more nervous about taking my top off (and the lines, don’t forget about the lines) because lets face it, while I am a fantastic specimen, what I am a fantastic specimen of is your basic slightly doughy thirtysomething WASP.

But at the end of the day, you only live once, it doesn’t hurt much, and I’d probably regret not just doing it.

So what are you waiting for? Get along to the Carlton site, pick your date, phone and book tickets and come and see me get what you probably think I deserve. Apart from everything else, it’s a great play, with a great cast, and some great singing. And a bathtub. Oh, and I GET WHIPPED LIVE ON STAGE BY TWO ATTRACTIVE YOUNG LADIES. Mustn’t forget that.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was ‘suffering for my art’, but padding and sound effects would dilute the theatrical experience somewhat. And I wouldn’t get so much attention.

We Have A Script

Worth announcing, because as we’ve only got two-and-a-bit weeks to go, having a full script is kind of useful. I have to say though, it’s a doozy. Like I said before, I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but on the other hand, I really want to, if you know what I mean.

Put it this way, the props list just got a lot longer, and more interesting…

Look, just buy tickets and come and see it, and bring tissues with you. K? K.

Pain Threshold

When rehearsing a play, and trying to learn your lines, there is a pain barrier that must be broken through before you can really feel free on the stage. That is when you put the script down for the first time. You think you know your lines, (or you don’t, but you’re supposed to) so you go ‘off book’.

And you stand there, squirming, unable at a very base level to remember what hell you’re supposed to say (“Of course, Monsieur” as it turned out).

But eventually, you struggle through, with help from co-starsactors and The Incredible Knitting Prompt. You have managed to burst through the pain barrier, and now you can concentrate on where you are supposed to be, and not fidgeting.

But in this play, it would appear there is another pain barrier/threshold. I don’t want to say too much here, for fear of spoiling the plot, but suffice to say things are done to me on stage which some people I know think should have been done to me a long time ago. Mmmm, I’ll let that sink in.

In other news, the poster is now done, so pop along to The Carlton Website for ticket details and the Official Play Page for the poster. Get booking, get buying, get spending! Witness the depravity! Cheer the perpetrators! See him get his just desserts!

French Letters

To quote Carrie Fisher, talking to George Lucas about the script for Star Wars, “You can write this shit, but you can’t say it.”

Some of the cast, myself included, have had a bit of trouble with some of the words and names used by Our Beloved Writer/Director in the play. OK, the play is set in France, has French characters and name-checks a lot of French revolutionary history, but be fair! My line

Let me remind you of the execution of Robert-Francois Damien*, after his attempted assassination of Louis XV**

hardly trips off the tongue. Then again, one of the cast is himself French, and he doesn’t know La Marseillaise, because he was never into sport, and he managed to avoid National Service.

Ah well, it’s nothing practise won’t help. I suppose I’d best get to it…

* pron. ‘ro-bare-fran-swar dammy-on’. There’s a similar problem with L’Ami de Peuple (‘lammy duh per-pla’)

** Fifteenth. der!

React As You Would

Rehearsal proceeds apace. It has to, we’ve only got a month and a half left. But things are proceeding smoothly, all told. The first chunk is written, blocked, and partially rehearsed. The chorus are yelling nicely, and twitching and gurning on time, just as the Director desires.

This week should see some more pages of script, hopefully with more lines for ME on them. But who is my character? Obviously people have expectations, but as I don’t really resemble the Marquis de Sade physically (thanks) how should I do it? Stalking elegantly? Lurching depravedly (sp?). Time and script will tell. The important thing is to have fun. And remember your lines. And entertain the audience. And GET IT RIGHT.

Monday’s rehearsal brought an interesting development. I was asked to arrive late, which made me suspect something was up. And so it was.

When I arrived, before entering the room, I heard singing and chanting throught the door. Intriguing and yet – somehow unnerving. I was reminded of the writings of H P Lovecraft – as the hapless soon-to-be-driven-insane hero witnesses the noisome drums and flutes of some nightmarish ritual. There was only one thing to do. I grasped the doorhandle, twisted, opened, entered, and confronted Mike, my arch-nemesis, piano player for rent, singing teacher to the rich enough, and recently ordained father. He saw me, pointed me out to the rest of the cast, whom he appeared to have organised into some form of army.

“There he is – try it out! But don’t forget – don’t touch him!”

And then to me, “React as you would!”

And on his word of command, the cast, or should I say mob, rabble, horde, surged forward, chanting some demonic Gallic witchcraft, through clenched teeth and lips flecked with the yellowed foam of their intent.

I reacted as I would. I ran from that place. Or at least across the room, but as I did, they turned like a flock of birds, or more aptly, piranha and came for me again, pounding the air with their fists and gutteral ejaculations. There was nowhere to run. I span on the spot, hoping against hope for a chance of flight, but no escape presenetd itself. The swarm surrounded me, drawing ever closer, until their faces, twisted into blasphemous caricatures of humanity, were all I saw, and their breath, a stench from the abysmal pits of the blackest grave, coursed over me, causing me to fall to my knees. Closer they came, clutching, chanting, gurning, ever closer, until I was curled into a ball, hands over my head, eyes screwed shut, mouth gaping in the rictus of a soundless scream until – suddenly – there was silence. And then I heard the voice.

Hands up for tea!