Friday, December 22, 2006


Last One Out Does The Washing Up

Eve kept me off work yesterday and I’ve been trying to catch up today. As a result I’m the last person left in the office. Karen left about a month ago on a mission to claw back time owed. Ana ran to the hills midweek clutching an HD-Camera. Even Charlotte triumphantly ticked the last item off her massive To-Do-In-06 list at lunch time. Now it’s just me. I’m about to go, but before I do I must execute this year’s last visionary plan: all these half finished mugs of tea need washing up. Furry mould cultures would be a very poor start to 2007.

Have a good one.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Dress For Success

Some deep inner weakness has prevented me making the concerted effort it takes to shake-off the Lancaster University Alumni organization. As a result they keep chasing me with news of people I don’t know and invitations to switch to a Lancaster University Credit Card. At some point I filled in a form divulging my job – possibly in an attempt to stop them asking me for money. Today a letter came through inviting me to a Media Networking event they are running in London. I’m not a Networker so I won’t going, the idea makes my skin crawl, but I was interested to note that the event's lead attraction is Mark Wells.

Mark Wells was contemporaneous with some of Stan’s Cafe at Lancaster in the late 80s. He was notable for being the only person on campus to wear glasses with coloured frames. It seems he knew where he was heading, even in those early days. Now he is Head of Entertainment at ITV, which is pretty impressive. I imagine that is equivalent to be Head of Breakfast Cereal at Kelloggs.

As I cycled off to work I found myself thinking “Mark Wells, didn’t he do well”.


Thursday, December 14, 2006


A Terrifying Moment

It's always a terrifying moment when you first see promotional material in the public domain for a show you haven't started making yet.



Wednesday, December 13, 2006


First Briefing For Constance

The Cleansing Of Constance Brown is a show that has been on the horizon for years, but it’s a big one and has had to wait for its time. Other smaller shows have jumped the queue whilst commissioners have been put in place. We are nearly there now. The last details of contracts are being haggled over and casting is close to completion. Yesterday was what felt like the first properly creative session on the show.

Paul and Nina came down to be briefed about the show so they can start mulling over their contributions in light and sound. As the show is heavy on the visuals and sound we want to be working them in from the off. It was good to start other people’s brains whirring on the thing.

The show opens in May, everything cranks up from here.


Sunday, December 10, 2006


The Unmentionable

A bit of corporate work has come in.

We may be working for some people we can’t mention helping to delivering a service we can’t mention for a client we can’t mention. It’s all above board and ethical, we just can’t mention it. So we’re not.




Our Duties

On Tuesday night I had child care duties, which was a shame as I had wanted to attend an event called Panic Button, hosted by Kindle Theatre downstairs in a Birmingham pub (the pub is kind of upside down, the downstairs in this place is equivalent to the upstairs in other places). Panic Button an event at which fragments of performance material that has yet to become a show get tried out in front of a complicit audience. B-Theatre have been hosting an equivalent night called Pilot for a while now. The publicity always stirs my conscience: I never go.

Wednesday daytime Simon, the genial Pilot of Pilot, set in motion a discussion day for Mid*Point, which is a gathering of Midlands based theatre companies. The subject was “How Do We Work Together To Make Great Theatre Happen” – or something similar. The ‘Open Space’ format of the event, in which delegates determine topics to form a multi-stranded agenda which they then chair themselves, worked well. I facilitated a useful discussion focusing on what can be shared between companies. Later I walked in on a discussion just as someone was saying “If only Stan’s Cafe, Talking Birds or Theatre Absolute knew how good it would be if they came along to a Pilot event”. So then I did know. Apparently it would be very good. So we will. After some discussion it became clear I have been an old reactionary in my approach to what BAC would call a Scratch Night. I’ve already thought what Stan’s Cafe could do at the next Panic Button or Pilot.

We have always been keenly aware of our duties towards the next generation, the problem comes when two new generations both demand your attention simultaneously.


Friday, December 01, 2006


Vale Of Confusion

On Wednesday we were in Castle Vale School again. Craig was inducting teachers into the ways of the rice. I was getting lamps blown on the Home Of The Wriggler bike kit by over enthusiastic staff. Afterwards, daydreaming and mulling over recent news, I was wandering around trying to find an easy route to get the bike out of school and passed a group of kids chatting in the playground.

“Impressive” I thought “young kids discussing the fate of dissidents in the former Soviet Union. This Bond style poisoning must have made current affairs the stuff of playground debate”. Later, the sad truth dawned and my over optimistic nature was exposed again. Of course the kids weren’t discussing the Nobel Prize winning former scientist and dissident Andre Sakharov, they were clearly dispensing sensitive relationship advice. I wonder if he will sack her off?



The Most Expensive Curtains In Britain

Historically I’ve worked for Paul on corporate lighting gigs, pushing flight cases around early in the morning, plugging in dimmer racks at point A, hanging very heavy moving lights from point B, running miles of cable between points A and B. Hanging around whilst Paul absorbs vast amounts of stress. Yelping in triumph as some of the refreshments laid on for delegates are diverted to the crew. Then lifting very heavy moving lights off trussing, unplugging dimmers, coiling up cable, pushing flight-cases and finally getting to bed the day after tomorrow. Now I know what it’s like to write the cheques for that kind of gig and it’s shocking!

Creative Partnerships National Office commissioned a large scale performance workshop from us (Sonic Journey) to take place in the huge Great Northern Hall at GMex in Manchester. We had fun planning the event. The project marked the return of the excellent Giles Perrin and was a chance to call together a large number of Stan performers, get Brian Duffy back in harness and Ana out on the road – so good in many ways. We were told to plan, initially for 800 delegates over two workshops, then 500, ultimately 100 walked through the doors, so it was a minor miracle that the thing held together as well as it did. This is all pretty much beside the point, which is how unbelievably expensive the whole exercise was.

We have learnt that when you hire a space in a conference centre all you get is the empty room, everything else you have to hire in. You want lights in the roof? You have to hire the dimmer racks, the truss to hang the lights off, the chain and motor winches to lift the trussing and of course you can’t plug the dimmer in yourself for fly the trussing, you have to pay through the nose to get one of the venue’s ‘approved’ people to do it. Given that it’s pretty much a closed shop these approved people don’t come cheap. Some where along the line we also picked up a £300 surcharge for failing to send someone plans a fortnight in advance. Of course the staging has to be hired in and the curtains… surely the Lord Chancellor when he did up his offices didn’t spend as much on his curtains. Admittedly ours were bigger, but they were only up for a day.

With all this money flying around you’d think the service would be pretty hot. Not a bit of it, our man from MCL was nice enough but the GMex staff made you feel you were invading their space not paying through the nose for it. I admire Paul more than ever for managing to operate in this environment on a regular basis – I couldn’t.


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