AUGUST 2009

AUGUST 2009

Postby Barry » Sat Aug 01, 2009 12:30 pm

August 1st 2009

Back home briefly in rainy Manchester having been in London at rehearsals for most of the week. If I didn't love theatre so much, and respond so directly to it, my faith in it would have been shattered by my involvement with three supposedly professional productions this year, each blighted by their share of dramas, and each involving so much scrounging, and begging, stealing and borrowing just to put up a set and dress the cast. So many corners cut as to be positively circular. Each production weighed down with so much unnecessary awkward stuff and egos that get in the way of the show itself, and each production not providing any brownie points to a bigger whole. Inspite of all this I still love the process, but darn it's a tense struggle and not worth it financially. I keep doing it hoping that one day I'll get to work in a proper venue with a decent budget and a decent support system. One day.

So you can tell I'm a bit fraught, mainly because my time seems to be involved in sorting out things that have nothing to do with designing a set and such, and literally squabblign over pennies.

This made walking round London and seeing long queues of people hoping for returned tickets at sold out productions an odd but gratifying experience. People still want theatre. Seeing War Horse again and hearing the sound of collective sobbing, still drives me on to be involved in such quality shows.

Animation wise I did have a meeting about the possible short film and that's all very exciting. I sent the second book in so that's somethign of a relief, though I have a third book I so want to write, but don't have a publisher yet.

A busy exhausting tough week, and I am now counting the pennies i can find in jam jars and such. It doesn't help that what little fees I have earnt are taking about 60 days to get paid. That and my strange life is not something my bank manager can comprehend. He does not have a box on his overdraft form marked 'Edinburgh Festival' or even 'artist' - no allowances made there. All he has is such things as 'average weekly wage' - well that bears no relevance to my life.
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Re: AUGUST 2009

Postby Barry » Sun Aug 09, 2009 6:17 pm

August 10th 2009

Murder mystery musical – Edinburgh fringe

Well in spite of various bumps along the way, this two month period has been an exhilarating and wonderfully eccentric and sort of creative journey, and a journey that has taken in a Buddhist centre in Bethnal Green, a beach hut in Lincoln, an amatuear theatre in Altrincham, a piazza in Turin, and finally Edinburgh. I’ve certainly not been involved with the Edinburgh fringe before, and getting a show on there has been full of problem solving and such. It all began with sitting in Ben’s wonderful garden surrounded by his colourful family. We sat there and at his beach house discussing how to visualise the musical with the enormous restrictions necessarily imposed; a miniscule budget, and a set and costumes that not only had to fit in a nine foot long van but that havd to be set up in under 15 minutes by the cast, as we would be sharing the venue with six other shows; these ranged from a children’s musical, to Gingers – the musical, a very erotic Wolfboy, Porn; the musical, an improvised musical – all fighting for attention and space, both of which were limited. As it turns out we were both a little ambitious with the set and most productions in the fringe made do with furniture or a token image. But our show had a full set and transformations and the whole shebang – this was happily justified as it got applause and laughs during the performances I saw, and has been commended in the reviews. It was more than was necessary but served the show very well and looked great in the space. It was a long way from my original idea of a dolls house tumbling out of a huge Pelican book but gave a good professional look to the piece.

Along the audition and rehearsal way we lost some actors, a song, a few jokes, our sense of humour, our patience, our morale, and after a truly awful tech dress run we nearly lost the show, but it all came together wonderfully for the first performance, with a packed house loving the show and cheering loudly. It seems Edinburgh audiences are out to have a good time, and are very volatile in their support. The numbers of audience were good as some shows seem happy that they have twenty in, and certainly the shows I saw were very thin. Pythonesque, not being able to use a word of the scripts, neatly transposed iconic images onto scenes showing the forming of the Pythons and their history. A great cast almost made me want to revisit the Pythons – almost as I was never a huge fan. Wolfboy had some spectacular flesh on display and a creepy intense atmosphere, but music that suggested it would be stronger as a play. Showstoppers, inspite of a title almost as inadequate as ours, was actually packed for the two shows I saw. A show of some genius where the audience suggest key elements for a musical being written on the spot. The first night it ended up being called Rum bar in Barbados, or something, and the second, thanks to my suggestion of the story of gladiators in love, and the flavour of Elton John music, became Sandals in the wind, though Gladiator School Musical would have done just as well. Sheer joy watching the performers rise with the material thrown instantly at them. A beautifully designed show as well, with a strong black and red themeing to all the props and costumes.
I didn’t get to see much of Edinburgh, but certainly enjoyed all the parks and glimpses of the views. There’s such a buzz on the streets, with everyone selling their shows, and a constant race from one production to another – every company clearly believing their show is bigger and better than the others. It's great bumping into some truly world renowned performers or directors casually having a crepe or downing the delicious cider.

It’s hard to know the true value of a show in these circumstances, especially with them all having to come in under seventy five minutes in length, and other such restrictions. Some shows are clearly fast food fodder, taking random ideas and throwing them together, which can work – amid such bizarre ideas there are serious profound works, but generally it seems to be about comedy and satire, but especially on the Fringe everything seems to be a condensed version or try out of what the show could be.

I’m sad not to be with the cast for the whole run, but they have all pulled together and got through any concerns and worries, and are now so strong – a truly lovely balanced group full of laughter. They’ll have great fun for this month. As always, being either the director or designer, it’s odd to walk away from the show and not to be part of it any more. It’s been a long two months, an expensive one with so much fraught travelling and lugging of cases. It will have cost me more than my fee, and I won’t miss trawling round charity shops trying to dress the cast or searching for props, all for as little as possible. But we’ve done well, and it is a big big show crammed into a smaller one. It’s probably evolved into something much more different to what Ben and I intended – we had imagined something dark and creepy and inventive, but we have a very spirited, funny, musical musical with some macabre moments. I’m pleased to have done this for so many reasons. There are no real photos to show as there simply was not the time to take them. Any work I wanted to do on the set was consumed by the sheer necessity to put it up and open the house. But we’ve done well and I would like to hope it has earnt me some sort of brownie points towards the next job whatever that may be, though for now .If not brownie points I have made some good friends.
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Re: AUGUST 2009

Postby Barry » Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:00 am

Saturday August 15th 2009
Almost a week since I got back from Edinburgh. The show carries on, getting mainly excellent reviews, and all mention the set. I did read one bad review on someone's personal blog - as always it is the bad ones that you remember. But Edinburgh does seem a long time ago, and it's odd to think of the cast that I got so close to, doign the show without Ben and I. I wonder how the Wolfboy cast are doing, and whether they are sick of all that blood yet.

Almsot as soon as I was home then I was off to Ireland to see Amanda and Peter - it's a bit unfair as I always arrive there after some big event, and am totally exhausted and numb. I was in pretty much of a vegatative state for these three days but what a glorious place to be a vegetable. We did go out in kayaks round the bay - I struggled a bit against the wind but oh how gorgeous to be sat on the clear water with all that scenery. We also went to the valley that time forgot and one that A and P certainly hadn't travelled through before. Just turning off the beaten track a bit and we went into some very bleak and spectacular countryside, and where the road almost trickled out. The weather was suitably epic. Absolute beauty touched with a bit of 'we wouldn't want to break down or meet another car here'. Thankfully a good cuppa and scone at the other end revived us. Yes a great few days but I am always recharging some very run down batteries when I'm there.

I came back full of expectation that the various suggestions of jobs might materialise. I'm still expecting........
A few talks are lurking, but one is scarcely an hour. I can't do much justice to the world of animation in an hour. I want to show a variety of films that reflect the scope of animation, but the films will take up most of the time. I shall have to show just a handful of five minute films. I am beginning to feel very odd talking about animation as I do seem to be at some remove from it these days. Maybe not for much longer.

I start rehearsals for a play at the Garrick on Monday and I am not sure I ready for it yet. It's a farce, and of its sort it is brilliant, but it is going to need very sharp choreography for this, and gags a go go. It always helps me to find the music that segues into the opening action, and though I'm not definite yet, I'm probably going to use Rossini's La gazza ladra.
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Re: AUGUST 2009

Postby Barry » Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:38 pm

August 21st 2009

Well a truly manic week, but no kayaks, no Edinburgh, and no money. I was up for a commercial but it withered away due to it being somewhat risque - more's the pity. It would have set me up nicely before Feather. I've done a lot of work on that, though I have made one reasonably drastic change due to economy. But I've started doing the shot breakdown/camera script, and though I am adding further details, it keeps coming back to what it has been for the last fourteen years, mainly because it seems to work. it's going to be an interesting shoot as i have not done any serious and subtle animation for a long long time.

I've started work on Don't Dress for Dinner and am enjoying it, and as ever I want the final standard now - that's the animator in me....jumping in with no rehearsal. It's not my usual sort of piece but it is very funny, though a surprisingly complex piece with so many perapatetic moments, every few lines. I'm wanting to make it very physical but we are certainly not there yet. We will be. I need to encourage the actors to let go.

It was the garrick AGM this week, and for once I stood up and constructively criticised - well some criticism, but i'd never grumble about anything there that I didn't have an answer or suggestion for. Basically I'm keen for us all to learn from some rather awkward mistakes that have been made, and to raise the general standard of stagecraft and imagination. It may be an uphill struggle, but we've started. I did feel the villina of the evening.

i'm still wrappign up quite a few details with the book, and sorting out old and new photos.

So busy and yet so broke. Alarming!
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Re: AUGUST 2009

Postby Barry » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:36 pm

August 28th 2009

Well it's late at night and i may fall asleep, but I'm trusting on some ice cream and cherries to keep me going a bit longer. What a week - what a month actually, with Edinburgh at the beginning of it. I'm in the thikc of it with the play I am rehearsing, and am having my usual doubts about whether it is funny enough, inventive, and just, well, just enough really. it's a tricky farce that actually doesn't move forward as very little happens other than six people getting very very confused at great speed. I'm trying to make it as physical as possible...we'll see.

I'm still working on the book - not the writing as such, though I have written way too much again, and dear Georgia is busily editing whilst keeping as much 'Barrification' as possible. i'm still playing games with all the photographs trying to get the highest resolution. it will look good, but I hope it won't be too pared down.

I did a talk over in Leeds for a networking groupd as part of a bigger evening. I only had an hour which is tough as I want to show as much film as possible so they don't feel short changed, and I'd rather show whole films than clips. Aware of my time, I burst onto that stage at full pelt and kept that up, talking ridiculously fast and enthusiastically, and that certainly managed to do the trick. I do enjoy these talks and watching people get inspired by films. Overtime still gets a great reaction, and I showed John and Karen firstly without the picture and then with - what a difference that makes. I only showed Next and screen Play, but Screen Play got an audible gasp. There's been some more agreeable feedback since.

And well, for the first time in my whole career, I have signed on, which was not so much humilating or embarrassing, just awkward as my work patterns just do not fit any of the boxes on their forms, however much they tried. But in the way of these things, as I was in the long long interview, a message was left on my phone from Glenn, about a commercial we had been hoping for - a meeting was arranged, and Glenn came up from london, and for the first time in 14 years we sailed into a board room together, and did our stuff. It's a commercial about Manchester, but with an odd pedigree which seemed to confuse the agency a little, but it could be fun, and you know what, it will be fun, as we appear to have got it. Hoorah. So what happens now about signing on. So with the play, the book, desiging the panto, the commercial and a film, this will be a busy few weeks.
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