Aug. 31st, 2011 05:02 pm
mirrorshard: (The Book of Rainbows)
So, that went well. Very well, in fact.

I was in charge of the lighting board for the 1400-capacity Concert Stage (a large blackout marquee) and [personal profile] mostlyacat was my deputy, which worked well for both of us. He picked up board op skills very quickly - it helps that he's an engineer, used to computer equipment, and has a pretty good eye for visual arts.

I was seriously impressed by how casual and trusting the organisers were with us - basically, the Stage Electrics contractors (Rebecca and Suzi) programmed in a few presets and showed us what was where, and left us to decide how to light everything entirely for ourselves. I'd been expecting a more formal setup, with cues programmed in for particular artists & songs, so this was a pleasant surprise.

People & groups I lit over the weekend, whom I'd already heard of: Home Service; Spiers & Boden (who performed New York Girls as their encore!); the Spooky Men's Chorale; Coope, Boyes, & Simpson; Emily Portman; Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick.

Ditto, whom I'd never heard of but can recommend: Tyde; Red Hippo; Moore, Moss, Rutter; David Ferrard (Scottish/American singer-songwriter); Kate Rowe (kooky, melodic, catchy Australian singer-songwriter); Saltfishforty. (More details about all of those can be found linked from here.)
more, including some videos )
mirrorshard: (Default)
This evening's treat was a performance of Handel's Messiah at the ENO, courtesy of the kind offices of [ profile] the_alchemist. I enjoyed it thoroughly; the staging was mostly underwhelming (admittedly, I have high standards - it was by no means bad) with some standout points. The high point of the evening, for me, was seeing Sophie Bevan (soprano) singing I Know That My Redeemer Liveth flat on her back in a hospital bed, surrounded by rows of corpses on plexiglass biers. Which then woke up slowly while Brindley Sherratt (bass) sang Behold, I Tell You A Mystery. I'm not nearly educated enough to be able to comment on the music, beyond having enjoyed it immensely, so I shall comment on the theatrical aspects instead.

Technically, it was good, though using a mirror-shiny floor was a Brave Decision - and anything shiny enough to send reflections into the dome of the Coliseum is SHINY. It takes quite a bit of technical skill to combine that and Stage Clutter with gauze and front projection, but they pulled it off, and despite the reflectivity the production didn't even come close to looking too polished and glittery.

They didn't go for a continuous visual narrative, which was sensible; doing that would have come rather too close to dumb-show, and detracted from the focus on the music. Instead, we had the principal singers enacting a few scenes here and there, and a lot of interesting but not obtrusive group action for the rest of it.
mirrorshard: (Rose Theatre)
Through the kind offices of [ profile] webcowgirl, I saw this last night.

The title was a bit offputting, but it proved (not really surprisingly) not to be a pretentiously gothy and overpolished job after all. The premise is simple, but ambitious - 16 scenes done in an order determined by the audience beforehand. I got there too late (thanks to the Central Line) to shuffle objects around in the bar, but I'm assured it was fun. (Relatedly - I was impressed and slightly surprised at the degree of audience investment & enthusiasm. It could be a habitual Southwark Playhouse audience... my cynical first reaction was that the actors had awfully large families. But it was a good play.)

The really impressive part was in how well the actors managed the scene changes. They were doing all the SM work themselves, and every scene needed up to half a dozen props and/or costume changes. Given that they only found out what order the scenes would be in when the audience finished mucking around in the bar when they did it (see comments), they did it really smoothly and energetically. It helped, of course, that the floor was marked out in different colours of SM's tape, and that the projection screen flashed up the number of the scene before each one.

The projection screen formed most of the set, generally with a variety of indefinably Welsh backgrounds. (I'm fairly sure I recognised part of Swansea there.) The only thing that struck me as rather off was a pair of angel wings, projected behind an actor on a stepladder - they were four inches off registration, so that one tip was clipped by the edge of the screen. That might have been deliberate, since they were also a tiny bit crooked and done in the classic slightly-mistuned-TV style, fuzzy and flickering and strewn with analogue artifacts. They did also deliberately do something which I'd normally consider a complete no-no, which is to have the actor standing in front of them lit by an off-centre profile lamp, giving a hard-edged shadow on the screen, but on top of the shoulder joint of one wing rather than in between them. The final effect was extremely disturbing and worrying, which I suspect was precisely what they intended.

"Disturbing" covers most of the play, in fact - it was a lot of hard work, continually forcing you to reevaluate your assumptions about the last few lines in an effort to work out what's going on. Gently, though, with none of that depressing twist-in-the-tale shock-revelation business. My mind definitely feels exercised. Interestingly, it felt quite science-fictional in that respect, with the parallel engagement and suspension of critical thinking about the action. Of course, I'd still maintain that treating that as a specifically SFnal trope is a case of genre exceptionalism, but that's a rant for another time.

I'm impressed with everyone involved with the production - it's not just an actor's showpiece, but a director's too, given that any of the scenes could have come first and the one which did was riveting from the get-go. The only criticism I could possibly make is that I'd have chosen a more matte paint for the stage (one actor's white top was reflected in it from time to time), but that's down to the venue not the production company.

Read this

Mar. 23rd, 2009 05:05 pm
mirrorshard: (Rose Theatre)
Free short story from Tor - We haven't got there yet, by Harry Turtledove.

William Shakespeare goes to see a performance of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Rose.
mirrorshard: (Rose Theatre)
On the evening of the 26th of March, [ profile] sashagoblin and I are running a play reading in Westminster Arts Reference Library - originally scheduled as part of LGBT History Month, but various exigencies meant we had to change date & venue.

There's an open-access Facebook event here, for those of you who use Facebook. Sadly, the venue is not wheelchair accessible - it's a Victorian building with three flights of stairs, and we're at the top. It's not ideal, but it's the venue we've got.

This is in some senses a hilariously bad play, consisting mostly of entirely un-dubious language and arbitrary plot developments, and in others it's really good. It's a political satire with bisexuality and dancing demons!

The original script is here, and the PDF version I've prepared to use on the evening is here.
mirrorshard: (Rose Theatre)
Just had a very nice chat with Rossella Black at the Westminster Arts Reference Library, who was very keen on the Sodom readthrough. We're not going to be using the space there for this, but I intend to arrange something there next month, after Sodom and the Woodhouse Players triple bill (which I'm doing lighting for) are over and done with.

What they normally do, apparently, is hold readings by actors, open to the public, during the day or the evening. Socially responsible ones and ones with interesting themes and so on given preference - you know the left-liberal drill. They typically offer refreshments, but don't charge, unless they can get sponsorship to tart things up a bit.

[Edit: their Facebook events diary is here.]

Who fancies joining me in this?
poll below cut )
mirrorshard: (Rose Theatre)
February is LGBT History Month. [ profile] friend_of_tofu, [ profile] sashagoblin, [ profile] mirabehn, and I are organizing a public readthrough of this rather delightful play (Wikipedia entry, script, about the author, that film).
Read more... )
mirrorshard: (Rose Theatre)
or, The most tragical tragedy that ever was tragediz'd by any company of tragedians. By Benjamin Bounce, Esq.

[Poll #1333267]
mirrorshard: (Rose Theatre)
I went to see this this evening - it's been far too long since I went to see proper amateur theatre, and this is, it seems, really rather a good group. Enthusiastic and friendly, but they clearly know what they're doing. Six weeks' preparation, and they had an opening night with no disasters or nervousness, and a large cast with no fumbling or corpsing. There were a couple of blocking problems, but in the setup they had (the church hall has a prosc & apron, and they were using the space between the apron & the first row for crowd scenes) that's sort of inevitable. Universally good voice work, even from the children, and competent unobtrusive stage management. The stage wasn't too crowded, and everything on it got used. Costumes were good but not wonderful - more or less gestures toward the vague region of the period. Somewhat too clean and well-repaired, but then that's endemic.

I emailed their chairman beforehand, saying I'd be interested in doing tech for them, and she was pleased-but-not-impressed, which is pretty much the ideal reaction from my point of view. It helps that their resident tech geek is clearly very competent, though self-taught and with a bit of a weakness for FX - he Gets It. And they have shiny toys, too. (A Zero 88 Jester and two good moving lights. I feel they're best used in moderation, but they're really useful things to have.)

We shall see how things go - I shall be going to their play-choosing meeting on the 27th, unless something earth-shaking happens, and should be able to get in at the beginning of a new production. I've missed working in the theatre. Readthroughs are good fun, but it's not the same.
mirrorshard: (Rose Theatre)
Further to the poll here, I have Decided that Thursday 4th December is the best day for as many people as possible, given considerations.

If you'd like to join me then, please comment and I'll book a ticket. I can book a maximum of five tickets, but I'd be entirely delighted if other people also want to come along and book theirs.

Food will be happening at some point before or afterwards, and company would be entirely lovely.
mirrorshard: (Rose Theatre)
Further to my previous post about The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes, here's the poll.

[Poll #1296012]
mirrorshard: (Rose Theatre)
The Royal Society have alerted me to The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes - a "dark Enlightenment comedy". It's on at Wilton's Music Hall (near Aldgate) from 12th November to 6th December - there's an audio described performance on the 6th of December, but no closed-caption or signed performances.

Anyone interested in joining me to see this? Tickets are £20, £15 concession.

The Royal Society have an event on the 24th of November all about this play, with the author (Adriano Shaplin) in conversation with Simon Schaffer. I'm elsewhere that day, sadly, or I'd so be there.


Jun. 10th, 2008 12:08 am
mirrorshard: (Blue flower tea)
The first draft of Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds has been posted online. If you aren't familiar with it, read this review and then immediately acquire a copy. If I owned more than one, I'd lend it out, or indeed press it on people. As it is, Fantasy Centre on the Holloway Road has a copy in stock as of lunchtime today.

Also as of lunchtime today, they no longer have copies of Archer's Goon (the first DWJ I read, and the one that got me instantly hooked); The Well at the World's End, Vol. II (with proper management, the entire North Sea could be restocked using the amount of cod in William Morris's fantasy novels, but they're still a really good read. They remind me irresistibly of The Deed of Paksenarrion); Randall Garrett's Too Many Magicians, which I've been wanting to read for a while;The Tombs of Atuan; and Isidore Haiblum's The Tsaddik of the Seven Wonders which is a wonderful Sheckleyesque romp through Jewishness.

Incidentally, I've also been updating my free book bookmark list. It's not even slightly comprehensive, but if it's on there then a) it's freely downloadable and b) I think it's worth reading. It should also be c) legal, or it it isn't then it's there by mistake. Other recommendations gratefully accepted.

I went to see Wolves at the Window at the Arcola Theatre the other evening, with [ profile] friend_of_tofu - it's a dramatization of many of Saki's short stories, woven together into a more-or-less continuous narrative. Seeing Louis performed with a swaddled-up teddy bear adds a wonderful level of uncertainty to the presentation. Highly recommended, and it seems like rather a good theatre overall.

Wednesday, I'm going to the ABTT Theatreshow with my father, to geek out over shiny new lighting toys and pretend to be a real lighting designer.

For those of you who haven't been following it already, I recommend Freakangels, by Warren Ellis & Paul Duffield. First episode & archive.

That seems to be more or less it for lit-geek type updating, so I'm going to go and start clearing off enough of the kitchen table to try mounting some prints. And wrestling with my laptop power cord/socket in the hope that it'll consent to stay charging for more than ten seconds at a time.
mirrorshard: (The Book of Rainbows)
Had a very pleasant evening at the theatre last night, courtesy of [ profile] webcowgirl's invitation. National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner, Simon Russell Beale, GBS, what's not to like?

More comments here.
mirrorshard: (Heart's Desire)
Went to see Ui last night, as previously mentioned, with [ profile] thekumquat. It was a rather good version, though the African touches seemed thin and superficial to me. I suspect I'd have found them rather less so of Brecht weren't such an intellectual, detached exercise anyway - seeing it in a captioned performance was an interesting variation on that, since we quite literally had the text to read along with as we watched the play. I actually had to push myself to concentrate on the performance rather than the captions - or on the text as performed, rather than the text as printed.

The African touches were mostly down to costumes (or at least hats) and music, but then I have somewhat of a tin ear for world music and I tend to focus almost obsessively on the text. It was faithful to the original - the only differences I noted were a string of African place-names (Harare, Kinshasa, Freetown, &c.) in Ui's last speech, and his constant reference to himself as a son of the desert rather than of the Bronx.

Technically, it was nearly flawless - the only hiccup was in the placement of two desk microphones in the investigation scene, which caused the clerk's voice to drop out as he turned his head to speak to Dogsborough rather than the audience.

The conjunction of Brecht with the Ken Macleod I was reading on the train there caused some odd mental swirls with the combination of Brechtian detachment and distancing with SF reading protocols. Now I come to think about it, there's another tenuous connection that amuses me - the one I was reading was Newton's Wake, which has as two of its protagonists a couple of crap Scottish propaganda-folk singers. Just about the first time I ever encountered protest songs and the idea of music as something that could actively do something was in McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang, where one of the brawns refers to 'dylanizing' - this kind of laughing bitter soul-deep anger at the sheer fucking banal incompetent evilness of the idiots who are in charge of this one single world we're currently stuck on is the same strand of thought as Brecht was playing with a lot of the time.

Oh, yes, and that meme that's been going around. Ask me stuff, if you want to. I'll answer as best I can. Comments screened, will be unscreened unless I'm asked not to or they're horribly embarrassing.
mirrorshard: (Default)
Wonderful play by Brecht, written in 1941 as an allegory of Hitler's rise to power. This adaptation relates it to modern-day African dictatorships, with a Zimbabwean actor in the lead. Wikipedia summary.

This afternoon I will book tickets for the following people:
[ profile] mirrorshard
[ profile] thekumquat

Anyone else interested? 7:30, Thursday 13th March, at the Lyric Hammersmith. Tickets will be £13 unless somehow they're all gone at that level by the time I manage to call them.
mirrorshard: (Default)
I fancy going to see this at the Lyric Hammersmith sometime soon. Anyone else fancy joining me? It's on every evening except Sundays till the 15th of March - their calendar is here.


Jun. 13th, 2007 10:43 pm
mirrorshard: (The Rose Theatre)
Antony Sher in a play by Jean Paul Sartre, adapted from the original by Alexandre Dumas, directed by Adrian Noble, as Edmund Kean. This is love.

For those of you not familiar with Kean, he was one of the first of the great Regency actors, and the first to play Shylock straight rather than as a comic buffoon in a red wig and a huge hooked putty nose. His mainstay role was Richard III, such a lovely meaty tragic storming evil role for him.

Hazlitt and Fanny Kemble were great fans, and Coleridge said that to see Kean act was 'like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning'. His performance as Sir Giles Overreach in Massinger's A New Way to Pay Old Debts (1816 - annoyingly, not on Gutenberg. Wikipedia) sent Lord Byron into convulsions.

He was also incredibly insecure, a drunkard and a womanizer - the play works on this a lot, though I have to say I didn't find the drunkenness more than very lightly touched on.

Kean was one of my late godfather Philip Ormond's obsessions - he'd gathered an amazingly huge collection of Kean memorabilia, including a lock of his hair, and done a great deal of research. We're looking into digitizing it, but that's going to be horribly expensive. Let's hope there are grants available.


Jun. 11th, 2007 01:47 pm
mirrorshard: (The Angels Have The Phone Box)
Well, mostly. Have also just had a phone call from my father, reminding me that the ABTT Tradeshow is on this week, Wednesday & Thursday at the Royal Horticultural Hall, with the new year's crop of shiny things in the exciting and very shiny field of theatre technology. And that there'll be a corporate ticket for me on the desk.

ION, my sister's theatre company - Cloud Cuckoo Land - are applying for grant money to put on experimental theatre at the Barbican. If the application succeeds, they get 'enough to rehearse in comfort' and one performance there; if they're the best then they get an 11-day run.

Wish them luck with the application, and we'll courteously refrain on the night.
mirrorshard: (Act V Scene 1) explores, briefly, how A Midsummer Night's Dream would have gone if the fairies had been Unseely rather than Seely fae.

Oberon. (laughing) Cruel Puck! Why hast thou ta’en this mortal’s head?

Puck. Because, my lord, he made no use of it
Himself; nor surfaced any fish of thought
Upon the poisoned waters of his brain.
Wherefore I judged it well abandoned, and,
As is my right should such be true, laid claim
To it as salvage.


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