How To Produce a West End Show by Julius Green – Review

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Genuinely, this is a "must" read for all theatre practitioners.

Genuinely, this is a “must” read for all theatre practitioners.

The role of the producer in the theatre world, is one of the most misunderstood and mysterious. Are we the Svengali’s loitering in the background, or cigar smoking fat cats raking in all the money? If truth be told it’s a lot more complicated than the stereotypes so often talked about.

I’ve had experience as a producer, I’m currently working on a project for 2014 (more details will be on this blog as  and when things are confirmed) and so picked up a copy of this hoping it’d give me some useful pointers. Even though I’m not producing in the West End (yet). It truly is a gold mine of advice. 

This is an ESSENTIAL book for all theatre practitioners. Especially for those at drama schools and actors. You NEED to understand what the producer’s role is and dare I say, appreciate it too? He points out in the book that there are no industry awards for producers. More’s the pity, as they are the linchpin of any theatrical endeavour.

Julius Green takes the reader on a wonderful journey of getting a show on in the West End, he’s got plenty of experience and reading his stories and anecdotes are part of the fun. He never makes out this is easy and he certainly reminds the readers repeatedly this is no get rich quick scheme.  

Despite the “West End”, being mentioned in the title, this book has universal relevance, from the professional world right through to the amateur theatre world, whichever level you work in you’ll find something in here relevant and applicable to your theatrical world.

 

 

Boeing Boeing – Miller Centre Theatre Company – Review

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Boeing Boeing Paster

Totally biased review alert!! Boeing Boeing is one of my favourite plays of all time. I caught it in 2007 and have been waiting for the amateur rights to be released so that my local theatre could put it on.

We’ve literally been checking every week to see when the rights would become available. Well they have and The Miller Centre Theatre Company are one of the first amateur theatre companies to present this fabulous farce.

Watching it last night, I’d forgotten what a cleverly crafted piece this really is. Acting in a farce of this calibre is no easy job, it requires pace and split second timing. Forget the gym, if you want to lose pounds get a part in this.

It’s premise is pure farcical genius, Bernard has three air hostess fiances, who he assures his visiting friend Robert, can never meet or find out due to his “pure mathematics” of their flight timetables. Well a new jet, a storm over the atlantic and one planning a surprise visit put paid to his calculations and hilarity ensues.

Camoletti allows the terror of the situation philandering Bernard gets himself in to become an absolute riotous romp. It was a delight to be in an audience roaring with laughter and having such a good time.

The cast give great performances, I must give a special mention to Gail Bishop though, she nails the character of German airhostess Gretchen. A performance up there with how Tracy Ann-Oberman delivered the part in the West End in 2007.

It’s on for another week. This is a play that’ll let your spirits soar, and lighten your load. A wonderful piece of theatre.

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Rose Bruford Graduation 2013

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The graduation day finally came!

The graduation day finally came!

After 8 years of studying in my “spare time” the day actually came. I graduated with my BA in Theatre Studies from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, yesterday!! To say I’m chuffed is an understatement.

It has been the most thrilling, exhausting, challenging, frustrating and fun 8 years of my life. I had no idea the journey I’d be on when I started back then. It’ll be a cliché I know but embarking on this course really was THE BEST decision I’ve ever made.

Graduation cupcakes - yum!

Graduation cupcakes – yum!

I’d never have started this blog if I’d not been on the course (and I’m blown away this blog has had over 100,000 readers since I started it). It really has impacted every area of my life. So looking back what were my most memorable moments and parts that stand out?

Firstly it’ll be the people I’ve met on the course, the tutors, staff and fellow students. I’ve got some amazing friends from this course and have had great banter with them, The tutors have stretched me and it’s been a good experience to disagree with some of them (especially on Stanislavski, Peter Brook, The Method), they’ve also helped me to hone my own views on theatre.

Myself and Kevin, we disagree on lots of things theatrically, but we always enjoy debating our differences!

Myself and Kevin, we disagree on lots of things theatrically, but we always enjoy debating our differences!

Top of the Class goes to our Scottish student Calum.

Top of the Class goes to our Scottish student Calum.

Programme Director Jayne Richards and Mary Lynch the Administration Manger a HUGE thank you to them. I really couldn't have done it without them.

Programme Director Jayne Richards and Mary Lynch the Administration Manger, a HUGE thank you to them. I really couldn’t have done it without them.

The course encouraged me to go and do all sorts of things such as, a trip to Dublin to see Brian Friel’s Translations  (and falling in love with that play and city). Getting up on stage and acting myself, becoming a theatre producer and spending a placement with Cameron Mackintosh Ltd. They’re the experiences that come immediately to mind.

There are 3 specific areas I’ll always be thankful to the course for:

  • My Theatre of the Absurd module literally changed my life – it’s not hyperbole, it’s true. The plays and philosophy I read for that module, just “clicked” with me. I found a philosophical outlook on life that made sense of this crazy universe to me. Devouring the works of Sartre, Ionesco, Beckett and especially Albert Camus has been life changing. A huge thanks to Dr Harry Derbyshire who taught this module deserves a special mention he was an amazing tutor, teaching my first and penultimate modules. Thanks Harry!
  • Encouraging my critical skills. I never imagined I’d become a theatre critic when I started the course. Eight years later here I am, critiquing away. It’s also led me to be invited to officially critique productions and be asked along by others to act as a dramaturg giving input and advice on numerous productions. Thanks to tutor David Chadderton for his Theatre Criticism module and helping me to think in a much more focused way about my theatre critic vocation.
  • Opening my eyes to such a huge variety of playwrights. It is their work that has been what has kept me going on these 8 years. Now I’ll be honest I’ve read a lot of tosh(that’s an academic term!)  also over the last 8 years on this course,  However these plays are special to me:

The Browning Version by Terence Rattigan – I remember reading this for a module and sobbing tears at the end of reading it. I dried my eyes and read it again immediately. My love and admiration for all things Rattigan is due to this course.

Oleanna by David Mamet – I read this very early on in the course and the confusing emotions and feelings it aroused suddenly made me realise the power that theatre has. Mamet’s wider writings on theatre have also been inspirational to me.

Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall – This caught me totally by surprise,  a tight, thought-provoking and dramatic piece. Seeing someone address mental health in such a clever way, blew me away.

Translations by Brian Friel – I owe my love of Irish playwriting to this play (and the Irish Playwriting module). As I said earlier, I took a trip to Dublin to see a revival of this piece as I was so keen to see it rather than just read it. That’s currently the furthest I’ve travelled   just to see a play. A testament to the power of it.

  • The work of director Augusto Boal also radically changed my outlook on life/theatre. Specifically for me, it has led to my active support of Cardboard Citizens. This has been an enriching experience for me and I’m blown away by the help and support they give those who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness.

So I’m sad to be at the end. It really has been a hell of a ride, but I’m grateful for it in so many ways.

President of Rose Bruford College Sir Richard Eyre quoted Sir Tom Stoppard in his address to us, it is a fitting end to this chapter in my life.

 “Knowledge is good. It does not have to look good or even sound good or even do good. It is good just by being knowledge. And the only thing that makes it knowledge is that it is true. You can’t have too much of it and there is no little too little to be worth having.

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The Audience, Boeing Boeing and The Graduate

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Well it’s been a nice summer break for me and I hope it has for my readers too?

I’ve had a total break from going the theatre, which I must say has been good, as it’s given me a longing to see some new productions.

This coming week sees me off to a private screening of The Audience which I’m excited about as I missed seeing that when it was on at the West End (and I wasn’t too keen on paying £126 for a ticket either).

Then on Saturday I’m off to see Boeing Boeing at my local theatre. This is one of my favourite plays. I’m actively involved at the Miller Centre Theatre and so sat in on the Technical Rehearsal this afternoon and I can’t wait to see it with a live audience.

Finally the biggest part of this week for me is I graduate from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance with my BA in Theatre Studies this Friday!! This has taken me 8 years (as I’ve done it via distance learning)  but has been the best decision I ever made. This blog is itself an extension of those studies. I also think a graduation of entirely theatrical folk will be rather special. Full details and the obligatory picture of me in my gown and mortar board will follow as will my regular reviews and musings on all things theatrical.