Sunday, August 30, 2009


End of Edinburgh

We're poised in the Cow Cafe at Underbelly ready for our final performance at this year's Festival. It has been good fun. Little Gem won the Carol Tambor award, which seems right. We have had enough encouraging audience responses and promoter interest to suggest that we will be peddling Home of the Wriggler around a bit more before it expires.


Thursday, August 27, 2009


Carol Tambor Shortlist

Home of the Wriggler has been shortlisted for the Carol Tambor award. Each year this award selects one production from the Edinburgh Fringe to receive a New York transfer.

The short list is short, we share the honour with just three other productions, these are: Crush, which I believe has already won a Fringe First, Little Gem which last year won an award at the Dublin Festival and Midsummer. The last two are running at Traverse whilst Crush shares Underbelly with us in one of the more popular slots.

Obviously the whole Wriggler team here are attempting to balance high excitement with modest expectations. Taking the show for a run in Manhattan would be amazing, but realistically we must be regarded as outsiders for the prize. Although we haven’t seen all the other shortlisted pieces it does sound as if they are relatively conventional plays compared to Home of the Wriggler. We are proud to be on the list and we’d consider it an honour to be taking to New York a collectively devised show, built from the modest stories of so many people who are remarkable only to those who love them.

The irony of course is that when we made the show it was the native British motor industry which was in crisis, now it America’s ‘big three’ face crisis of their own. A transfer across the Atlantic could be timely.

I'm posting this a bit late so by the time most read this we will know the result as it is all unveiled 11am tomorrow, Friday. Fingers crossed!



Thursday, August 20, 2009


Four or Five performers.

The first review of Home of the Wriggler has been published up here. Do you trust the judgment of a critic who can sit less than five meters from a show for seventy minutes and still get the number of performers wrong?

Admittedly sometimes shows are so befuddling in their choreography that its difficult to keep track of performer numbers or are so vast it's only at the curtain call that you can tot them up, but in Home of the Wriggler there are four of them and no one goes off, comes on, changes costume or even moves particularly fast.

I’m pleased to say the publication was not The Observer.



Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The Best and Ten Better

Home of the Wriggler is up and running in Underbelly’s Belly Button space. The venue is very friendly and has a great atmosphere, the space is good for the show, small and intimate with the feel of a nuclear bunker. It comes with the added advantage of being so buried in stone and hillside that, “please turn off your mobile phones” is a redundant request; no one gets any kind of signal inside that venue.

We’re three shows in now. The first bounced along happily with an enthusiastic crowd. The second was fine but little more with a more reserved clientele. Today’s was very nice indeed. With a little time to get in and less time to get out significant re-rehearsal is ruled out, but we’ve been snipping, tweaking and polishing, the results are good, the show is the best it ever has been and I’m looking forward to more people coming.

If I have one remaining horror of the Fringe it is the whole promotional nightmare. Next time I must arrange it so we are on TV every week in front of hundreds of thousands of people and in so doing absolve myself of the guilt brought on by being spiritually incapable of handing out fliers. Things have been made a bit worse by the fact that our posters got lost somewhere in the venue over the two festival weeks before we arrived. Nick Sweeting had to be sent in like a terrier to flush them out.

With one show in full flow attention has turned to 49 Steps, which we are making for Dance Base, to open on Tuesday. Even in a venue familiar with free expression of the body our antics have drawn quizzical looks, possibly due to Craig and my un-dancer like inelegance as we plot out the actions of a dashing adventure story.

For those who believe in signs – and when it comes to theatre I often do – the first sign is good for this show. It was named 49 Steps as a statement of intent, “it will be like John Buchan’s book but 10 better”. Travelling up it was my intention to pace 49 steps up Dance Base’s main staircase and see where that got us. It turns out the very top step, the one which allows a view down through the glass roof into the main studio space, is the 49th step from the street. Perfect.


Sunday, August 16, 2009


An 'Edinburgh Festival' top ten.

Traveling up to Edinburgh I grew hugely enthusiastic about the whole thing and knocked our a back of envelope Top 10 Edinburgh show experiences. I enthusiastically emailed the rest of this year's Stan – Edinburgh crew saying "send me your Top 10 and I'll post them on the blog". Unfortunately the general response has been that they'd struggle to get 10, for various reasons, but for what it's worth here are mine and maybe other people's Top 3 will follow.

1) Johann Kresnick and the Bremen Dance Theatre’s Ballet version of Macbeth. It terrified and inspired me aged 20. Seminal.

2) Some Polish show at the Assembly Rooms (possibly also 20 years ago) with people running around in circles pretending to be horses for an hour or so. I didn’t really like it that much at the time but I’ve never been able to forget it and think I now like it more than I ever have. Unfathomable.

3) Watching the Sowetto Gospel Choir with Sarah and Eve two years ago. At the time Eve had zero tolerance for street performers, anyone in a costume or anyone engaged in ‘make believe’ more richly encoded than “you be the Doggy, I’ll be the Mummy”. This was the only thing we could persuade her to see, early one rainy morning. Joyous.

4) Pina Bausch, Nelken: Powerful in all the predictable ways. It made me wish I had seen everything she had ever done. Obviously.

5) Robert Wilson’s version of Gertrude Stein’s Doctor Faustus Lights The Lights. He became a hero of mine via photos, text and video now finally, with this show, he delivered for me live. Cool.

6) The Tuvan Throat Singers doing their throat singing thing. Saved going to Tuva. Extraordinary.

7) Hamfisted! Bound to Fly in some scummy venue 2001. I’d met them once in Birmingham for a chat and struck out on my own to find them on a rainswept Edinburgh night. I was rewarded with a show I had no idea how to take, which I loved. Proper.

8) The Joseph Beuys retrospective at the Modern Art Gallery. Waxy (and Felty)

9) Ray Lee Siren two years ago, partly for the piece, but also for the atmosphere, the company and the reunion. Comforting.

10) The Death of Klinghoffer, by Scottish Opera: no nonsense powerful staging. The performance that confirmed practically what I knew intellectually had to be true, that opera isn’t always an utter waste of time, effort and expense. Simple.


Saturday, August 15, 2009


Is It Happening Again?

iTunes has been left to roll on alphabetically and as thrown up Party Song, by Stan’s Cafe. The 7” Single we should have pressed, but never did. I love it. I’ve not heard it in years and I love it afresh. More than that, this love has sparked a very dangerous though/

@ A E HARRIS is the perfect venue for a revival of Lurid and Insane.

It would ROCK. This time we should actually hire that Helicopter.

Does anyone have a number for Andy Watson? Does Simon Webb still have his drum kit?

We should spark up People’s Radio Freedom again.



Friday, August 14, 2009


Post Hols

Holidays are great and this one was particularly good, being longer and more resolutely anti-work than usual. I was in no great hurry to get back, but couldn’t have asked for a better return to work week.

I returned to less than 200 emails in my in-box. My spam filter seems to work well and clearly most emails I receive are merely responses to those I send.

Lots of stuff had moved on in my absence. The majority of items on my long ‘to do NOW list’ were achievable and painless.

There was time in the rehearsal room with the Home of the Wriggler team. We had an almost secret pre-Edinburgh warm-up gig on Thursday night to an appreciative audience mostly composed of people who had been turned away when the show sold out earlier in the year.

I met with good people at Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and MAC about various collaborations and commissions (their scam filters appear to be on the blink). I also spent a couple of hours talking to a two different theatre makers about projects they are looking to get off the ground, ‘helping’ them with some ‘advice’.

Now I’m on a cool train to Edinburgh – St.Matthew’s Passion discreetly on the headphones, a spare seat beside me, a power socket feeding my laptop, dusk on the horizon and five further hours uninteruptable thinking time ahead. If the train were towards rather than away from the family everything would be perfect.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009


1mile² Johannesburg, South Africa

You'd have to move pretty fast, but this looks like a dream opportunity for a relatively experienced artist interested in the environment, community activism and spending time in South Africa.



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