Bruised, battered, exhausted and this is a “small part”


Poster for the Play

Note to self ; should you ever be offered “just a small part”, ask to see the script before saying yes!

While the parts I’m playing in A Few Good Men are small from a dialogue point of view, I’m actually spending a huge amount of time on stage. I’m also helping with most of the stage transitions and moving the set etc. So I’ve got LOTS to do. No sitting in the dressing room waiting for my entrance and then retiring to put my feet up until the next scene.

The past week has been one of the most satisfying but draining of my life. I’ve been working my “day job” then going off to the theatre for rehearsals most nights. It’s quite a physical play and I literally have the bruises to show for it. We had a session with a military advisor on Monday night, which involved the cast being drilled around the car park, I felt like I was back in the cadet force.  I’ve come into the play quite late and so have had an enormous amount to take on board. I’m helped in the fact that another cast member who is also playing some of the other “bit parts” started at the same time and it’s him and I that are doing the scene changes. So we’re getting there together, it’s nice to have a “buddy” to double-check with.

Actually being involved with a production has been so helpful and has really made a huge amount of things I’ve learnt at college “click” into place. I have to read so many scripts but this has been a great reminder that I need to read them as though they were to be put on, not as pieces of literature.

The rest of the cast have been really welcoming and I’m really struck by the camaraderie that we have. It’s a play with only one female role so I feel a bit sorry for her being so out numbered. There’s a great range of ages and skill levels, I’ve learnt a huge amount about acting just by watching two of the cast in particular.

We have a long day tomorrow planned, we’re having a full tech rehearsal, where I can really nail the scene changes. Then we’re all going to be kited out in our costumes. These are genuine US Marine uniforms, I got my crew cut today and so feel being “booted and suited” tomorrow will really help us act the parts and get into the essence of the play much better, than doing it in our “civies” as it’s hard to take someone seriously as a toughened US Marine when they’re in a pink shirt!

We’re due to have some photos taken tomorrow, and will put some up on the blog as soon as I can.

Well I have tonight and then it’s “all about the play” for the next twelve nights solid!

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The Miller Centre Theatre Caterham

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been helping out at my local theatre,, I joined their group the Miller Players and have been helping with getting the theatre ready for their next production A Few Good Men, which opens on the 3rd June. It’s been brilliant to be involved with a local theatre group, something I’ve never done before, and I’m now wondering “why on earth not?”. I appreciated moving heavy chairs, and scenery around, or scrambling under chairs with a spanner and ratchet, may not be everyone’s idea of a “good night out”, but to me it’s a great. Changing the Miller Centre Theatre from a proscenium theatre to an in the round has been hard work but great to see it done and I know it’ll make the action of this play really work.

When you join you have an application form where you tick various interests and skills, one of which was acting which I ticked along with numerous others. I then get a phone call the other day asking if I can assist by being a military policeman in A Few Good Men, not a major (no pun intended) part. I’ve not been on stage for a couple of years and I’ve never had to use an American accent, before, so I’m looking forward to the challenges this will bring but I’m really excited, as this is a great play and I never in a million years thought I’d be asked to act so early on.

Theatre is a collaborative art and it’s been great to meet other like-minded folks locally and have the opportunity to work together. They’re a really friendly bunch. The Miller Centre has superb facilities and puts on 9 productions a year. The running of the theatre supports a day centre that uses part of the building during the day, the day centre helps the theatre by running the box office and a few other things, so it really is a community project and a great way of utilising the space and facilities. Each production also has a nominated charity that benefits from a £1 donation per ticket (if the buyer wants), A Few Good Men will be supporting Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

From my studies point of view it’s been great to get more practical with my theatre practice and implement the knowledge I’ve acquired over these last few years.

I’m not performing for the whole run as I have a couple of prior commitments, once the dates have been confirmed I’ll add them as a comment to this post, it’d be great to see some of you there.

A Retrospective Look Back


The assignment’s been sent down the portal and now I have a few weeks until it returns with the notes and grade.

Looking back, what have I learnt, liked, loathed?

The last academic year has been one of changes for me. I moved house, started a new job and the first three months or so of the course suffered due to it. This is also due to having to study Stanislavski and his “nonsense” (as David Mamet calls it)  in the first few units too – I’m going to do a blog on Stanislavski in the near future, where I’ll formulate my views into more depth than just “nonsense”, but that’ll do for now. I got rather bogged down and got really behind in the work, as I just couldn’t get motivated.

After Xmas I was extremely close to throwing in the towel and quitting. I had a long chat with the college who were really helpful and supportive as ever. I then had a long sit down and actually took some time off from work and had a long hard look at my life and where I want to go, what  I want to do and what I enjoy. Theatre is my passion, and the college course is certainly the reason my knowledge and passion has increased these last five years. Following this reflection I took some drastic measures and simply said “NO” to all my other commitments and interests and immersed myself in my studies and all things theatrical. My long-term aim is to work in the theatrical industry and so I realised I needed to focus on it 100% if that’s to become a reality in the near future.

I attended the study weekend and that certainly continued to fire me up, I found the more I got into the course, the more I enjoyed, I suppose it’s the cliché, you only get out what you put in. For the last few years the course has been a nice addition to my life, whereas actually if I really want to get the most from it (and the best grade) it needs to be the focus point. Anyone on the course knows how hard it can be, especially fitting all the reading in, but it is possible, as I said you just have to be ruthless, and again another cliché comes to mind, if it was easy then it wouldn’t count for much and if it was easy there’d be no point doing it.

As mentioned in previous posts I chose to look at Bertolt Brecht and Augusto Boal for my assignment, which I really enjoyed, both these practitioners have profoundly effected the way I see and do theatre. So much so that I was several thousand words over my word count for my assignment and so had to cut lots out for the final draft, this is something that has never happened before as for most assignments I’ve been under the word count even at the final draft stage! Doing in-depth research for the assignment certainly paid off and is a lesson I’ll take through for the next modules.

I now have a few months gap before the next modules kick off (what I’ve chosen will be on my blog soon), I have the bibliographies and have got some books from them already, now onto the background reading for these modules. 🙂

Over the Rainbow – it’s not over yet


I’ve held off writing about BBC’s Over the Rainbow, but now feel it’s time to have a quick blog about it.

Much has been said and written about these shows, both positive and negative, I personally think they’re a good thing for the musical theatre industry and theatre in general. I also think they make great TV. This years show has had a few surprises, most notably that each week a different pair have been in the sing offs.

The choice of panel is rather interesting, I can understand Sheila Hancock and John Partridge but I’m not sure why Charlotte Church is there, I don’t feel she adds anything and her constant interruptions when John is being asked his opinion are annoying to say the least. I really like Sheila’s observations and John’s comments are always constructive (more so than John Barrowmans’s “Fantastic, Fantastic, Fantastic”!) The girls are really privileged to be getting such input this early in their careers.

I was genuinely saddened to see Stephanie leave this week as I thought she would be a contender for the semi if not the final. I’m sure she’ll continue training and will have several offers coming her way very soon. I look forward to seeing her in a production in the not too distant future in the West End.

In my view there are now three I feel could be Dorothy and one in particular;

Danielle, is Dorothy for me, I think she’s grown each week and for the last two weeks has given the performance of each Saturday night, last weeks was just brilliant. Each of the panelists agreed (for once!) that she gave the performance that most stood out on Sunday.

She has a great stage presence and poise that some of the others don’t have and her vocal and dance talents are up to West End standards despite her age. It’s up to the public vote and I sincerely hope she at least gets to the final, and ideally win it.

It’s a double elimination this weekend, so it will be exciting to see which two go, as long as it’s not Danielle, I’ll be happy!