It’s been an amazing journey in support of this fabulous production. I have some really good friends in the cast, among them Phil Nair-Brown playing the Creature, and Sam Razavi playing Victor Frankenstein. These actors are incredible professional actors, super talented, and also super lovely humans. Their scenes together are electric – they positively sizzle.
So if you’ve seen any publicity on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, that will be my doing. Or press, for example this lovely article across the Worthing Herald Group of newspapers thanks to Phil Hewitt: click here. Or if you see the show and like the programme, thank you very much!
I’ve also been part of creating the lighting for the show, and I will be running lights (and there are a lot of changes) during the show. I don’t expect you to notice necessarily unless you are involved with theatre yourself – it’s there to add ambiance, to improve your theatrical experience – so people usually only notce if it’s wrong or jarring! Which is the same for sound of course. It’s been full on, lighting tech until 1.25 in the morning, then back in the Theatre 2 days later as there seemed to be issues (which it turned out there wasn’t) but changes and tweaks were requested: another 3 hours. It’s all worth it if it looks amazing, and it does.
And working with some brilliant friends while you do all this? Priceless. Absolutely priceless.
Wick Theatre were so kind to nominate me for the 2021 “Outstanding Contribution to the Arts” for which I was awarded a Commendation. It was so gratifying to hear that the calibre of entries had made it very difficult to choose an overall winner, and that the quality was so high, each of the nominees received a Commendation.
It’s amazing to be recognised, very unexpected, and huge thanks to Wick Theatre for their nomination and to Brighton & Hove Arts Council for the Commendation. But – these things are never in isolation, there were loads of other people that committed time and effort and skills to all the projects I’ve been involved in or led on. I couldn’t have done any of it alone, so massive huge thanks to all of those people: Wick Committee, all the people who contributed films to the Wickanory project and to Ghost Stories for Christmas. Special thanks in equal measure to Phil Nair-Brown, film maker extraordinaire, and to Guy Steddon, horror story officianado and curator of the Ghost Stories.
It’s important to celebrate achievements! Here we are:
I continued my Lighting Design training with the brilliant Martin Oakley for Wick Theatre’s Pygmalion in January. It was brilliant to be able to use my maths and logical brain for the computer part, and my artistic brain for the actual lighting design, including creating a wonderful sky colourscape for big scenes set in a conservatory: I loved every bit of it!
I also ran lights during the show and was able to amend and add things that needed it on the fly, during a show, which was amazing.
Plus – never one to shirk a challenge, I did the Deputy Stage Manager: DSM role. At Wick Theatre, and some others I’ve worked with, the DSM runs the show: following the script with a detailed eye and calling all the cues: lights, sound, projections, haze, actors to the stage and anything else that’s going on. This did give me sleepless nights as so much was depending on me but I also loved every second. I benefitted from training from Julian Batstone who has been part of every Wick production since he joined, and is our most experienced DSM. I couldn’t have done it without his support.
It was really cold in the Lighting Box, by the end of the week I had brought in scarves and hats and blankets and so had the very lovely Doffey who was running sound – also for the first time! We had a great time in the box. A lovely friend had just made me fingerless gloves and I wore them throughout!
I also organised the publicity campaign of course! But it was amazing to learn 2 brand new roles in theatre. You’re never too old to learn new things or develop your skillset.
October 2021 I was at last back on stage performing. It was truly brilliant to be back especially with a sell out show which made so many people so very happy!
Not only do I love “Cluedo” having grown up playing the game both in English and in Swedish, but I adore the film “Clue” with Tim Curry: in fact, it’s my all time favourite comedy film. I’ve been quoting Madeline Kahn’s lines as Mrs White since I saw the 1985 film. So I was thrilled to get the part of Mrs White – I had to fight for it though! I was the only actor who had a call back! And I’m so grateful to Director Julian Batstone for trusting me with the role. I was also producing the show, but I would still have been Julian’s production manager even if I hadn’t got the role (although I would have been extremely sad and disappointed!) I also had the opportunity to train as lighting tech with a full 96 channel board and learn from the hugely talented Martin Oakley. It was fantastic.
We were also recognised in the Brighton & Hove Arts Council Awards with 5 nominations and 2 wins: Best Actor went deservedly to Guy Steddon for his incredible performance as Wadsworth the Butler, and we (the cast plus 1 stunt double) won Best Stage Crew for the funny and in character way we moved the set around.
I also had to tango with Guy, which I’m sill not sure he’s forgiven me for… I seriously learned steps for it and everything, and practiced at home in front of a very bemused Andy.
Promotional photos and dress rehearsal photos courtesy Miles Davies Photography.
Twilight Theatre was due to be bringing you my latest play in the Brighton Fringe. Cast were in place and in rehearsal. I know it’s absolutely necessary that this has happened but I’m still absolutely gutted!
Still, we will be bringing it to you when the Fringe is rescheduled, so all is not lost. In the meantime, stay safe and keep healthy, be sensible and don’t stock pile, and be kind to one another.
Since last Summer I’ve been involved in all manner of Theatre shenanigans, including winning the Publicity Award from Brighton and Hove Arts Council for the publicity for “Taking Sides”, produced in October by Wick Theatre at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, nr Brighton – which I am seriously proud of.
In January, I directed the wonderfully eerie “The Exorcism” by Don Taylor, from TV’s Dead of Night, also at the Barn Theatre for the Wick. That was an amazing production and the reviews were astonishingly good. My cast were fantastic, the set was incredible, the special effects made the audience jump – and we had real Christmas dinner cooked fresh every night by one of the cast members!
Shoreham Herald Review – click here. There is also a review from NODA – the National Organisation for the Dramatic Arts, on the theatre page as a PDF file.
I’m now busy planning a new production of one of my plays in the Brighton Fringe in May with Twilight Theatre… busy busy…
Hubby Andy wished me good luck being a “God bothering nut job” for my role in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Neighbourhood Watch”, produced by Wick Theatre at the Barn last week. That made me smile. A lot.
It really was great fun rehearsing for this quite bonkers play and John Garland was a fabulous director. Of course that doesn’t mean it was plain sailing, it never is, there are always tense moments towards the end of the rehearsal process but there were some evenings where I was literally crying with laughter. There was even one evening where I had to stop myself laughing on stage. There were pieces in this which were hilarious from the word go and still funny three months later.
I think my character: Hilda Massie, is possibly the most far removed from my own personality that I’ve ever played. It was hugely educational getting under the skin of a type of person I have never understood – those that don’t value honesty, but think it’s rude. They have such a skewed view of the world and themselves that they are seriously deluded, but would vehemently deny this to the end. I’ve previously found this incomprehensible but I had an “aha!” moment during my character preparations and research that really helped me understand. Fascinating. And very sad. There was seriously only one thing we have in common – we both value arnica. And yes, it comes up more than once in the play!
So in short – farewell Hilda, you bonkers manipulative right wing evangelical nut job, I’m re-embracing myself. Acting tab is updated with our brilliant reviews from NODA, Brighton Argus and Shoreham Herald; plus show photos. It’s always so important to receive feedback and so lovely when it’s positive!
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is my favourite of his comedies so I lept at the chance to go and see it last night in the Minerva Theatre in Chichester (last minute spare and cheap ticket). This is my first experience of this particular theatre and what a beauty it is, absolutely lovely, intimate yet it looked like quite a huge amount of seating.
Flute Theatre had their cast of 7 portraying all the characters in this abridged version of the play, adapted by Kelly Hunter. It was a polished piece, despite one of them slipping over on water at one point, and the actors were drilled. It was a very physical piece too, all the actors had to display their fitness with the way the play had been directed and choreographed. They also played all the instruments and there was music accompanying the performance for almost the entire time. This gave a feel of almost street theatre which was sometimes appropriate and sometimes not.
I’ve studied this play and there are many themes in it but I don’t remember water being one of them. So what huge tubs of water dotted around the periphery of the playing area were doing there is beyond me. There was obviously a reason but it wasn’t drawn out in the playing, although a couple of them did use one of them. The actors did convey an understanding of most of the words that they were saying, meaning that even the most new to Shakespeare could probably follow it, however there were some meanings that were very important that were lost and it didn’t seem like the actors understood those particular lines. What was the most detrimental to my enjoyment was the actress playing Viola – the main role, had such a strong accent that when she spoke quickly I just couldn’t understand what she was saying and that took me out of being able to enjoy the production.
There were some sections just devoted to physical acting with no words where I wanted to shout “get on with it”. I’m not sure why music needed be played throughout the play either. Shakespeare has such beautiful and clever wording particularly in this play and the gaps meant some of this delicious language was left out, when it was abridged already it felt like these things were just devices for the sake of it.
The actor playing Malvolio acted his part beautifully, bringing in a masochistic side to the character which I hadn’t seen before but fitted perfectly. His attempts at smiling were both funny and sad. The actor playing Sir Andrew and Sebastian moved seamlessly in a few seconds between them and that was brilliantly done.
Some strong performances, some interesting ideas, some not so. I’ve never felt so sorry for Malvolio in any production as I did in this one. So some positive, some negative: not the best production of Twelfth Night I’ve seen, but not the worst.
Trying to schedule everything in this crazy Fringe bubble is tricky – well actually it’s impossible. I couldn’t see everything I want to see.
Helen and I went to see “Sisterhood”: a 3 hander, one was the fabulous Jules Craig. Set in Tudor times, 3 very different women through a few hours contemplating the same fate that awaits them all, interspersed with true tales of their own modern lives. It affected us so profoundly we had to go and sit and have a cup of tea afterwards. It’s so incredibly sad that in some ways things are very different but in others: attitudes towards women who “go their own way”, attitudes to women as objects – not much has changed. So moving, lump in throat trying to hold on to tears and gulping. One that will haunt me. And I’m glad about that.
Then I navigated the mad mile to get to the Box Office for my ticket for “a joke”. Which was so very far away in a completely different part of town. Didn’t look that far away on the map… so this was a play in the Assembly Rooms Ballroom – and yes it was a ballroom. With chandeliers.
“a joke” was with famous actors, one Robert Picardo who I remember as the cantankerous doctor from Star Trek Voyager and then Star Trek films. Also Sylvester McCoy. So I saw a play with a member of the Star Trek cast and a previous Dr Who – or 2 doctors, actually. It was a brilliant production. And so much so say about life. It was such a multi layered play it reminded me of “Waiting for Godot” in that at first, you leave the theatre and wonder what the hell you’ve just seen and what it was about. Is life a joke, with a punchline, or s story and in that case tragic in places? And many many other questions and musings. “Sing and the music will come” is a mantra that will stay with me. Which is pretty much how I live most of my life.
Then I bumped into Robert Picardo in the foyer and had a picture with him, he was just heading out the door but he waited which was nice. Must be a bug bear to live ‘normal’ life and be famous. But hey! Here we are!
So I was round the corner from “The Ivy” which had been advertised on Facebook so I thought I’d give it a go, especially as it was chucking it down. I only wanted a snack. I thought it was a café. Turns out it’s uber posh, there’s me in my hoodie and backpack. I had some beautiful messages from friends on Facebook when I posted that, made me feel like a million.
Blackened cod. Rosemary lemonade. Then a cranachan (we are in Edinburgh after all) with white chocolate. Which came looking like a little globe, then the waitress poured hot whisky sauce on it and the white chocolate melted, missing with the icecream , raspberries and everything else inside. Oh my god it was so lush. I’ve only seen that presentation on Masterchef, it was so great to experience it.
I walked chuffing miles on Friday – the play was miles over the other side of the city! Nice to get around a little bit!
Antling was brilliant of course. After that we went to Bristo Square (we love it there) and got flyered by a New Zealand woman in a 50’s dress for a comedy show “Ladylike”. But I think that actually happened on Thursday… Antling had a crowd in that laughed on Friday evening which was fabulous. One guy who is also performing at the Fringe talked to Helen after and we went for a drink – or rather he took Helen for a drink and I toddled behind very much like the third wheel. Made me smile. We ended up in a private bar though talking to the owner and the members of the cast and crew (and the son and daughter of the writer) which was really lovely, hobnobbing with professional actors and everything…
Saturday. 2 Michael Morpugo plays. You can take the girl out of – oh who am I kidding. I’m just interested in history, especially in the first and second world wars. So we went to see “An Elephant in the Garden”: a one woman show which was so brilliant. I loved it. Especially her body movements of the elephant – so clever. Then “Private Peaceful”, a one man show which was an incredibly powerful performance, standing ovation at the end. That made everyone gulp and tears were free.
My last Fringe show I went and found the Sweet Venues and bumped into the lovely JD and had a quick catch up. Unfortunately, my last show of the Fringe, something I was reviewing, was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I had not thought I could ever give a 1 star. I was wrong. It was just the most hideous puerile crap I’ve ever had the misfortune of having to sit through. One person got up and left. I was jealous.
This was in yet another different part of the city and what a beautiful place it is.
The last night of Antling. What a crazy adventure we’ve had. We met Elaine (who taught at ACT) who came to see it and then 4 of us then 3 of us went for a drink at Bristo Square again. We ended up standing bopping to the strangest eclectic mix of music ever.
This morning we went for lovely breakfast – veggie haggis! – at Spoon before heading off separate ways.