Going behind the scenes of “The Rivals”

Bolton Little Theatre’s next production will be Richard Sheridan’s famous comedy about a clash between greed, snobbery and romantic ideals in 18th century Bath. The play is most famous for giving literature one of its most famous comic characters – Mrs Malaprop, a rich pompous dowager who frequently mangles the English language as she lectures all and sundry. “She’s as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile!” Sheridan probably based her name on the French phrase “mal a propos” meaning “poorly placed”. Although many comedies had used mixed up phrases before this, including Shakespeare’s, malapropisms has become the popular description of such jokes.

Last week I took my camcorder down to the theatre to interview director Jolyon Coombs about the challenges of staging the play and talk to some of the actors

Hope you find it interesting. “The Rivals” is on 5 – 12 March 2016 in Bolton.
You can book tickets and find out more from the website by clicking here.

 

The Thrill of Love

Last night I was watching the rehearsals for Bolton Little Theatre’s next production – The Thrill of Love. It is an excellent play by Amanda Whittington, probably best known for her award winning play Bollywood Jane, and based on the true story of Ruth Ellis. Ellis was an ambitious young woman who for a while had a profitable career as a nightclub hostess in post-war London. But she became infamous as the last woman to be executed in the UK, following her conviction for the murder of her ex-lover David Blakely. The play looks back at her life and the crime, following the investigations of Inspector Gayle as he interviews people who knew and the flashbacks conjured up by his questions. It is an excellent piece from the scenes I watch and cleverly staged too with its small cast.

I was at the rehearsals to film a promotional video for the BLT website and other social media haunts. In the past I’ve tried to film prior to rehearsals but this time I was working in parallel with them, catching actors to answer a few questions whilst they weren’t on. I was a little worried that the noise of the rehearsal might be too distracting but in fact it helps with the atmosphere of the interviews. Thanks to both Kimberley’s, Nicola, Tara and Sandra for sparing the time to filmed and Peter for understanding why he was not included in this video, despite his pivotal role in story. Despite their nerves, all the participants had perceptive comments to make about the play and Ruth’s history. Considering the speed it was edited, I’m pretty happy with this promo.

The Thrill of Love will be staged between 7 and 14 November 2015 at Bolton Little Theatre. For more information, please visit the website (which I maintain) http://www.boltonlittletheatre.co.uk

More adventures in poetry filming

Well my good intentions to write more have not been bearing much fruit lately. However my poetry promoting video work has continued apace with two interesting commissions.

First up was North West England’s contribution to the International Beat Poetry Festival. Held at the Bolton Socialist Club on 9 September 2015, it featured not only a line-up of top local poets, but thanks to the modern wonder of Skype, transatlantic contributions from Frank Messina and David Amram. I filmed the event and have uploaded a montage and individual performance videos, which have been pleasingly popular on Facebook etc. I was relieved the sound recorded as well as it did, thanks in part to Brad’s sound system. It was a well attended event with a great atmosphere and a feather in the cap for its organiser, my friend Scott Devon. Editing the montage was pretty difficult. My first cut was nearly eight minutes and I needed to get it closer to three! So in the end I went for a quick fire, one sentence each approach.

Following that I got together with Potting Shed Pete again to record a third poem of his, this time inspired by his past experiences at certain open mic nights. A certain snobbery from a section of the audience about his down to earth material and ebullient performing style. Initially I had considered filming on location at Bridgewater Hall but in the end we went for a simpler empty classroom.

At the next open mic event, also at Bolton Socialist Club on 8 October 2015, I will not only be filming, broadcasting the event live on Periscope, in case you have that app on your phone. Starting at 8pm GMT. A brand new experience for me, which I’ll let you know about!

Helping Potting Shed Pete arrive on social media

I first met the performance poet Potting Shed Pete about a year ago, when he came along to Bolton to appear at Scott Devon’s monthly open-mic evening George’s. He’s an engaging character, with a fully worked out stage persona of a cheerful Northern bloke in flat cap and white gloves. Most of his poem’s are light-hearted observational fare, but occasionally he’ll reveal a more serious side to his work, which is more effective by the contrast.

A little while ago he got in touch to ask if I could commit a few of his poems to video so he could use them to promote himself. I’ve plenty of experience of filming poets for Live from Worktown and related projects, but these videos are the first I’ve made entirely under my own steam. I think they’ve turned out pretty well. Especially the sound, as I used a cheap tie-clip microphone and a separate Olympus dictaphone to capture it, rather than rely on the camcorder’s mic which also picks up reverberations from the room. Standard practice of course for professional cameramen but it’s a taken a while for me to learn to do it by default.

In addition to the videos I also created a YouTube page for him which you can visit here. Please give them a watch and I hope you enjoy them.

Whilst I still think of myself primarily as a writer, these video jobs are satisfying as another creative string.