Thursday, April 30, 2009


John Wood and Paul Harrison, recommended

I was delighted to learn that John Wood and Paul Harrison had an exhibition showing at Ikon in Birmingham as it's year's since I have seen any of their work and I think it's wonderful.

Today, despite not officially having time, I called in to see it. The fear was that if I waited until I did have time I would have run out of time. It was as good as I had hoped. I urge all to go. Take your kids too and parents, even grandparents, leave only your pets behind.



Sunday, April 26, 2009


Cycling Home

It has been great watching Home of the Wriggler come back to life. It has also been great watching @ A E Harris become a venue. It's not all been totally smooth, but we are learning and most things have come together well.

It was difficult to judge how many nights to do with the show in Birmingham, especially outside the shelter of MAC or BirminghamRep as sole promoters. In the end we opted for three nights but with Thursday busy and both Saturday and Sunday sold out it now looks as if we should have aimed higher. With the scrum for tickets, the good feel about the venue and good performances in my mind I set off home in high spirits. Traffic was very heavy around, especially given the hour. Something had just finished at the National Indoor Arena and everyone was leaving. Streams of cars and coaches flowed in every direction, temporary traffic lights had been sparked up and marshals were waving at traffic

Torvil and Dean put our triumph in its true perspective.



Thursday, April 16, 2009


Stretching and Compressing.

I’ve spent the last couple of days editing together animations I made in a school last month. The deadline is now in sight and the soundtrack has been delivered. Conceptually the project makes sense: a storyteller works with the pupils so they all write stories, a musician works with the kids turning a small selection of these stories into audio pieces before finally, we turn up and work with the pupils adding the visuals. In reality it’s all a bit of a compromise. What works as a short story becomes over-written as the narrative for an animation. Ideally the narration would have been delivered earlier so we could put the animation over the top and the sound effects would have been recorded later, with the visuals as a reference. As it is I’m desperately stretching out our fragments of animation to cover vast swathes of audio.

By way of contrast we’ve had news from the Edinburgh Fringe people that in listings hyphenated words count as two words not one, which makes sense but seems harsh when the words are abbreviations: ‘sci-fi’ and ‘lo-fi’. The obvious repost is to rewrite the forty word copy using the most extravagantly polysyllabic vocabulary available. Surely a character count can only be around the corner. As it was time was of the essence.

Home of the Wriggler.
A lo-fi, sci-fi, docudrama. Investigators in a post-oil world, power lights with bikes, tracing entwined lives of a community once built on cars. ' ... one of our most tirelessly inventive theatre companies' (The Guardian).

The title is included in the 40 words.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009



Where are they now? Richard Da Costa.

Birmingham University Theatre Studies alumni. Birmingham theatrical man about town. MAC productions impresario – Living with Pigs.



Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Sunny Swansea

8.30 is probably the earliest we’ve ever opened any performance but the conference breakfast shift made it worthwhile. Since then we have had waves of delegates attend between talks and workshops. Lots of photographs are being taken and there have been a good number of enquiries about how we work with schools and how much we charge.

It’s impossible to tell what will lead to what. Sometimes gigs that are full of enquiries lead to nothing, sometimes gigs that seem very quiet throw up a great booking. Often the lead-in time is a couple of years but I’ve always believed every gig is worthwhile come what may. Even if we send a few teachers away inspired to do something similar in their own classrooms then that will be a good result.

Next up I give a talk, I’m not sure what they’re expecting or hoping for. I’m not sure how much to tailor it to maths or teaching, the trick in these situations is to throw things open to questions as soon as possible and let the audience get what they want out of the encounter.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Association of Teachers of Mathematics

Excitement is stirring about @ A E Harris. Today there were discussions about a showcase event taking place there in the autumn. An artsy party thing in June. An exhibition in the summer and photos taken for the venue as a possible film/tv location. Nothing may come of any of this, but the interest feels good.

P.M. a short wheelbase transit got loaded up with rice and hammered down the M50, ending up in Swansea. It's now approaching 11pm and we're just about to call it a night, ready to open a mini-version of Of All The People In All The World up for the Association of Teachers of Mathematics conference. They have treated us very well so far, food and drinks, and the few folk who have wandered in for a preview seem to like what they see, so all seems set fair for 08.30 tomorrow morning.



Pilot Night Submissions

Yesterday Craig, Robin and I traveled over to Warwick Arts Centre to push things onward with Spy Steps, it remains to be seen how cooperative the University authorities are our gentle satire of their institution.

Last night work was done in putting together a call for Pilot 17. Stan's Cafe is going to host this platform event on 2nd July @ A E Harris. Part of the deal is that people to get to use the space from 28th June and work stuff up especially for the space. We're hoping there's a good response, it could be a special night. The link is here.



Saturday, April 04, 2009


Building Site Visit

Yesterday I was given a guided tour of the building site that was and will be MAC. It's all looking exciting. Here are some spy photos.

This is the new studio space. It is on what used to be the roof above the dance studio. This shot is looking back towards the Geese Theatre office used to be.

This is going to be the new Gallery space (double height as you can see).

This blurry shot is of the old theatre stripped out and leveled off. You're looking towards the stage end. It's going to have retractable bleacher seating with a main entrance on the first floor.

This is looking down from a place that didn't exist before over a bridge that links the first floor theatre foyer to the first floor of the Hexagon building. Down there will be the new combined bar and cafe area which will the social heart of the building.

The facilities are going to be so much better than those of the old building. I can't wait for it to open, to start playing there and seeing stuff there.



Saturday Unload

The Wriggler set is back. No stairs, no lift, wide doorway, private courtyard, 24 hour access; unloading has never been so easy.


Friday, April 03, 2009


Secure and Shipped

Today Wayne from Rock-It turned up @ A E Harris along with a 40' shipping container. Billy and Jake hefted The Cleansing of Constance Brown out of storage and I gained expert training in how to load a container for sea haulage. Clive did the business as usual with deft work on the forklift and made light of some irritatingly heavy kit.

Everything was in and the container sealed by three. Now it will be in Southampton. On Monday it starts its trip by sea to Montreal. In Montreal it goes from ship to train. It's due to arrive in Toronto storage a week before we require it in the venue. If the scientific tesselation of kit and strategic use of ratchet straps has worked hopefully it will all arrive intact. What could go wrong?

Worst case scenario: Ship sinks taking set with it.
Second worst case scenario: Ship survives but the set is swept of deck by freak wave.
Desired scenario: Ship and container dock safely.
Best scenario: Container gets swept off deck, washed up on a distant shore where beachcombers find it and start performing a version of the show for themselves on the beach.

This evening Home of the Wriggler is performed in Prema.



Thursday, April 02, 2009


Stan's Cafe at Paganel School

In January Kerrie and I made a piece called Smartie Mission with Year 5 pupils at Christ The King School. Attending that was a guy called Marcus who acts as a 'creative agent' for Paganel School in Birmingham, he asked if we could do a cut down version of the project with them, never knowingly refusing work, we said "yes".

For days leading up to Thursday I was cursing myself for this "yes". Attempts at preparation were squeezed in between other duties and late at night. It made me a bit more grumpy than usual at home, but in the end it was fun.

Over the course of the day we worked with every class above reception. Lettuce as Rain Forest (a change from cabbage), Fruit as Planets (again), Rice as people (yet again) and an Apple Pie as a pie chart. My advice for any would be pudding based mathematicians is to use a flan kind of pie not a crusty pasty topped kind of pie. I imagine it allows for more accurate degrees of division.

A substantial watermelon was left as a staff-room offering. Hopefully eating Jupiter will be a welcome change from biscuits.



Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Wriggler @ A E Harris

Wednesday was a great night. The first Theatre Show to be staged @ A E Harris went off smoothly. Home of the Wriggler is set in a factory, normally there is a fake factory floor and a backdrop but as on this occasion we were performing in a factory this dressing seemed unnecessary.

I thought the performers did a great job and the audience weren’t bad either, clapping and laughing and even cheering a little. Bharti has picked this complicated show up amazingly fast and the others have, as usual, kept well on top of our usual ridiculously involved re-editing of who says what lines and exactly what the lines are and what’s cut and what’s added. The first half zipped along and was, I thought, great. We left the improvised ‘break’ section a bit too slack and the second half never quite caught fire, which was a shame as it was very strong in rehearsals.

Brett from Kitchen Garden Cafe ran a small bar and it was all pretty civilized in a factory kind of way, a dream come true. We're about to inherit two sofas to make things more luxurious. I can’t wait for more ‘stuff’ to happen there.


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