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Tuesday, 27 December 2011

GhoStoryteller: Full Cast List...

Merry Post Christmas!  I spent Christmas mostly watching the fantastic The Strange World of Gurney Slade on DVD.  Such joy.
Now, it's the question everyone keeps asking me - when is the full special guest list coming out.  Today.  It's an all male first week, which is very usual for Milk Bottle, we are usually lady heavy.  But the second week redresses the balance.  If it helps, think of the show as a phone in reality show, call the box office and vote for your favourite performer by buying a ticket for that night.


Tuesday 27th December – Robert Crighton (yes, I am my own special guest!)
Wednesday 28th December –Alexander Gordon-Wood
Thursday 29th December – Rich Cline
Friday 30th December –Simon Nader
Tuesday 3rd January – Denys Gaskill
Wednesday 4th January – Richard Ward
Thursday 5th January – Elizabeth Quinn
Friday 6th January – Jessica Moore
Saturday 7th January – Elizabeth Nicholson
Sunday 8th January – Kate Steel

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
GhoStoryteller
Written and Performed by Robert Crighton - plus Special Guests
Tuesday 27th December 2011 to Friday 30th December and Tuesday 3rd to Sunday 8th January 2012 (No performances 31st Dec, 1st or 2nd Jan)
Two weeks of real ghost stories collected during our autumn tour.  From the ghosts of empty houses, to the personal ghosts we carry around us, this collection is a mixture of the fantastic and the “real”. 

Tickets £12 / £10 concessions
Tuesday to Saturday starts at 7.30pm – doors open 7.15pm.  Sunday at 7pm, doors open 6.45pm.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

Friday, 23 December 2011

Saying farewell to the Trolls

Well, Christmas is nearly upon us and that means we're nearly at the end of the run for Trolls.  Yes, by the time this blog goes out I'll be on my way to London for the final show.  Maybe you'll be on your way too, to watch, obviously.  It's been a great year in so many ways and I'm very proud of the show as it's come out.  And, of course, it isn't over yet as after Christmas I've ten performances of GhoStoryteller. 
But I can't stand still for long and have to plan for next year.  What will I be doing?  Well, GhoStoryteller will be returning next autumn and will be on offer for tour dates across the country - and will probably return to London next Christmas.  In more immediate times I'm going to take the next few months off performing to write, network and generally hustle to get funding, collaborators and venues sorted for autumn onwards.  I'm directing a couple community projects so as not to get too bored, but in all probability there won't be a Milk Bottle production till after the Olympics - the duck and cover manoeuvre is suggested most favourably for that event.  I would like to produce a revised version of one of my old stories and bring it to London for next winter - but I'm taking a look at a lot of options at present.  I'm thinking of doing something completely different and crazy next year - but I just don't know.  Uncertainty is my middle name.  Actually it's Paul.
Whatever the plans turn into, I want to involve more people - I've met some lovely performers this year, now for a few more - and some technical people as well, perhaps.
Lastly, I'd just like to say thank you to Georgina Blackledge and Sophie Morris-Sheppard for being a wonderful cast these last four weeks, you've made it all so easy.
Merry Christmas, or what you will.
Robert Crighton xx

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

GhoStoryteller: Meet the Cast 7

Todays blog is brought to you in association with the letters B, Y, T.  B. stands for BUY.  Y. stands for YOUR and T. stands for TICKETS.  Put together they can be put into such sentences as 'buy your tickets for Trolls, there's only six more performances left'.  
But back to the new show - and todays featured guest artist is Simon Nader, who appeared with us at the New Wimbledon Studio in July and many, many previous shows before.  I've only got him for one night as he keeps flying abroad to appear in big budget TV shows that he's not allowed to talk about.  Boring.  Oh, and he also has another iron in the fire which he does talk about - see below.  He joins us for GhoStoryteller on the 30th December 2011.

Simon Nader
Simon Nader is a core member of Milk Bottle having played Teiresias in BLIND SPOTS, Treplev in THE ALTERNATIVE SEAGULL and several solo pieces including KEYNOTE SPEAKER. He trained at London’s Academy Drama School. Previous stage work includes: Billy, BILLY BLISTER’S CIRCUS (Watford Palace Theatre); George, OF MICE AND MEN (National tour); Colin/Policeman, MAGGIE’S END (Shaw Theatre); All the male roles, THE OTHER SIDE (Gilded Balloon Edinburgh); Otto, CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (Union Theatre); Gary, THE REVENGERS (Barons Court Theatre) and many others. Feature Film work includes forthcoming horror THE DEAD INSIDE as Wayne Andrews; Guildenstern in HAMLET (Fodor’s 2006); Horst in FUR MEINEN VATER and as a voice actor on IRONCLAD. He recently played The Journalist in BBC Radio 4’s THE CHESS GIRLS and Claudio in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING for Rooftop Theatre in St Albans.

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
GhoStoryteller
Written and Performed by Robert Crighton - plus Special Guests
Tuesday 27th December 2011 to Friday 30th December and Tuesday 3rd to Sunday 8th January 2012 (No performances 31st Dec, 1st or 2nd Jan)
Two weeks of real ghost stories collected during our autumn tour.  From the ghosts of empty houses, to the personal ghosts we carry around us, this collection is a mixture of the fantastic and the “real”.  Do you have your own ghost stories?  Let us know and we might add it to the show.  Send to contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk 

Tickets £12 / £10 concessions
Tuesday to Saturday starts at 7.30pm – doors open 7.15pm.  Sunday at 7pm, doors open 6.45pm.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

***
And now a word from Simon...

***

Hi there! If you need someone professionally trained and experienced to help you with the presentation of a monologue for an audition; if you are having a crisis of confidence; if you feel that you just need an acting check up: help is at hand!
My students usually contact me because they want help preparing for an audition for drama schools, theatre companies or just to improve their general skills and confidence. Many of my previous students have gone on to train at accredited drama schools including RADA, DSL and BSA amongst many others, or attacked their next audition with a new approach and confidence.

My own acting career has evolved through many years of stage, feature film, television, radio and voice work. As a theatre director, I have worked on many professional productions at venues as diverse as the Southbank Centre and small fringe theatres to foreign tours. I also have many years experience directing and working with young people and consequently hold an advanced CRB certificate.

Rates

I charge very competitive rates with some room for negotiation depending on the number of lessons you would like to have and what you are seeking to accomplish.

Base rate for a one-hour session is £25

A two-hour session is discounted to £40

I can provide a tailored quote according to your needs, please get in touch to discuss.

My new studio is an intimate space on the Old Kent Road near to Elephant & Castle and South Bermondsey which is easily accessible from all parts of London by bus, rail and tube connections.

I look forward to working with you!

Simon Nader

t: 07976 399 825
e: sayhello@simonnader.com

Saturday, 17 December 2011

GhoStoryteller: Meet the Cast 6

Todays blog is brought to you in association with the letters B, Y, T.  B. stands for BUY.  Y. stands for YOUR and T. stands for TICKETS.  Put together they can be put into such sentences as 'buy your tickets for Trolls, there's only six more performances left'.  
But back to the new show - and todays featured guest artist is Denys Gaskill, who appeared with us at the New Wimbledon Studio in July.  She joins us for GhoStoryteller on Tuesday 3rd January 2012.

Denys Gaskill
Acting credits include: The Handwitch of the Second Stage (Camden Peoples Theatre), Rashmon and Hello Paris (Edinburgh Fringe Festival),  Antigone, A Christmas Carol, Trap for a Lonely Man (all at the Lion and Unicorn), ‘House of Bernarda Alba’ (Pentameters), ‘Macbeth’ (The Scoop), ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (Rose Theatre Bankside)
Student films: ‘One Word’’, ‘Paul Thomas’, ‘ Spring Clean’ and ‘Man and Dog’.




Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
GhoStoryteller
Written and Performed by Robert Crighton - plus Special Guests
Tuesday 27th December 2011 to Friday 30th December and Tuesday 3rd to Sunday 8th January 2012 (No performances 31st Dec, 1st or 2nd Jan)
Two weeks of real ghost stories collected during our autumn tour.  From the ghosts of empty houses, to the personal ghosts we carry around us, this collection is a mixture of the fantastic and the “real”.  Do you have your own ghost stories?  Let us know and we might add it to the show.  Send to contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk 

Tickets £12 / £10 concessions
Tuesday to Saturday starts at 7.30pm – doors open 7.15pm.  Sunday at 7pm, doors open 6.45pm.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

Thursday, 15 December 2011

GhoStoryteller: Meet the Cast 5

Only 7 more performances for The Natural History of Trolls, but after Christmas we have some Ghost Stories.  But who are my special guests?  Well, today's featured performer is Kate Steel who is performing on Sunday 8th January 2012.


Kate Steel
Kate trained at East 15 Acting School.  Theatre credits include Tzeitel in "Fiddler on the Roof" and Madame Aubert in "Titanic the Musical" at Hull New Theatre. Last year she toured Slovenia with the Alzaytouna dance/theatre company and has recently finished “n Her Time” in which she played a 17th Century prude and a Scouser bride-to-be who was on the edge of sanity!
Kate was in Los Angeles from January until April this year and was thrilled to be cast as Liz in "Me as a Penguin" by northern playwright Tom Wells – although it was a slightly surreal experience for her to play a lass from her native Hull.... in Hollywood! She also played Emma in Harold Pinter’s "Betrayal". Playing a Renaissance Fair Maiden in a US commercial was also an experience! 
Kate also loves film and her favourite role to date was when she gallivanted across the North Yorkshire Moors as a 17th century governess in "The Legend of Beggar's Bridge". Her first feature film, ‘Peter’ (based on the life of The Yorkshire Ripper) is due to be released early next year. 
As a former primary school teacher, Kate has always loved telling stories and after being cast by Robert in "The Natural History of Trolls" earlier this year, she is looking forward to being part of “GhoStoryteller”.


Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
GhoStoryteller
Written and Performed by Robert Crighton - plus Special Guests
Tuesday 27th December 2011 to Friday 30th December and Tuesday 3rd to Sunday 8th January 2012 (No performances 31st Dec, 1st or 2nd Jan)
Two weeks of real ghost stories collected during our autumn tour.  From the ghosts of empty houses, to the personal ghosts we carry around us, this collection is a mixture of the fantastic and the “real”.  Do you have your own ghost stories?  Let us know and we might add it to the show.  Send to contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk 

Tickets £12 / £10 concessions
Tuesday to Saturday starts at 7.30pm – doors open 7.15pm.  Sunday at 7pm, doors open 6.45pm.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

GhoStoryteller: Meet the Cast 4

Only 8 more performances for The Natural History of Trolls, but after Christmas we have some Ghost Stories.  But who are my special guests?  Well, today's featured performer is Elizabeth Quinn who is performing on Thursday 5th January 2012.

Elizabeth Quinn
Elizabeth’s interest in drama started when she was very young and in 2009 she graduated from East 15 School of Acting during which time she performed in both The Cherry Orchard and Richard III. Since then she has worked in several theatre productions including playing Mrs Whitticker in Chivalry and devising and writing a new and exciting play 300 Friends with Whitespace Theatre Company. Her work with this company has given Elizabeth a real passion for new writing as well as devising and most recently she has worked with Crow Theatre on their newest play Crowd. Her film work includes several short films and the lead role in the independent British film The Dead Inside, due to be released later this year. Elizabeth is also a keen ‘Ripperologist’ and takes Jack the Ripper tours around the East end of London.



Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
GhoStoryteller

Written and Performed by Robert Crighton - plus Special Guests
Tuesday 27th December 2011 to Friday 30th December and Tuesday 3rd to Sunday 8th January 2012 (No performances 31st Dec, 1st or 2nd Jan)
Two weeks of real ghost stories collected during our autumn tour.  From the ghosts of empty houses, to the personal ghosts we carry around us, this collection is a mixture of the fantastic and the “real”.  Do you have your own ghost stories?  Let us know and we might add it to the show.  Send to contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk 

Tickets £12 / £10 concessions
Tuesday to Saturday starts at 7.30pm – doors open 7.15pm.  Sunday at 7pm, doors open 6.45pm.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

GhoStoryteller: Meet the Cast 3

And, of course, usual rules apply - still nine performances of the fabulous The Natural History of Trolls - so no excuses not to come down.


Anyway - who is our featured artist today?  Well, it's one Rich Cline - who I met on OnFM a few weeks ago.  He was discussing films, I was discussing orange penguins, it was a normal day, and I decided to invite him to be in the show whilst on air - he has a fabulous voice and I just couldn't resist.  He is appearing on Thursday 29th December.  For more info go to his film blog. http://www.shadowsonthewall.co.uk


Rich Cline

A journalist by training, Rich Cline has been obsessed with cinema since he was about 8 years old. Born in Los Angeles, Rich moved with his family to Quito, Ecuador, at age 12, graduating from an American high school then returning to Southern California for university. He hearned a bachelor of arts in journalism/communication arts. While a student, he started writing film reviews for a local weekly newspaper, but after graduation he had to get a real, paying job.
Shadows on the Wall was first published in Los Angeles in September 1985 for a readership of 120. Even then the readers were located all across North, South and Central America; the Far and Middle East; Africa; Central Asia; and Western and Eastern Europe.  Rich continued publishing Shadows as a newsletter while living in Miami for six years and after he moved to England in May 1992. The Shadows ezine made its debut in March 1995; this website went online in October 1996.

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
GhoStoryteller
Written and Performed by Robert Crighton - plus Special Guests
Tuesday 27th December 2011 to Friday 30th December and Tuesday 3rd to Sunday 8th January 2012 (No performances 31st Dec, 1st or 2nd Jan)
Two weeks of real ghost stories collected during our autumn tour.  From the ghosts of empty houses, to the personal ghosts we carry around us, this collection is a mixture of the fantastic and the “real”.  Do you have your own ghost stories?  Let us know and we might add it to the show.  Send to contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk 

Tickets £12 / £10 concessions
Tuesday to Saturday starts at 7.30pm – doors open 7.15pm.  Sunday at 7pm, doors open 6.45pm.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)
 

Monday, 12 December 2011

GhoStoryteller: Meet the Cast 2

As I might have mentioned last time - there's still two weeks of The Natural History of Trolls so get your skates on down to Barons Court, it's a lovely show.

But on with the next show - GhoStoryteller and today's featured performer:  Elizabeth Nicholson.  I first met Elizabeth online - no it's not as bad as it sounds.  Elizabeth joined the company for the New Wimbledon Studio version of Trolls by auditioning online, one of many hopefuls who took up this novel audition process and it proved successful as six months later I'm delighted to see her return to Milk Bottle, performing on Saturday 7th January 2012.


Elizabeth Nicholson

After performing in stage productions whilst growing up in Nottingham and then Dorset, Elizabeth graduated from the University of the West of England in Bristol and went on to train full time as an actor in her Postgraduate studies.
 
She has recently filmed a commercial in Romania and been busy filming 3 shorts and a feature film, including the ambitious indie feature ‘Red Heart’ (redheartmovie.tumblr.com), sci-fi short Proximity (vimeo.com/22052733) and the Andy Edwards’ horror ‘Six Ghosts’. Theatre work includes ‘Like a Fishbone’ by Andrew Weigh at the Cockpit Theatre, Robert Crighton’s ‘The Natural History Of Trolls’ and ‘The Sugar Syndrome’ by Lucy Prebble. 
 
Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
GhoStoryteller
Written and Performed by Robert Crighton - plus Special Guests
Tuesday 27th December 2011 to Friday 30th December and Tuesday 3rd to Sunday 8th January 2012 (No performances 31st Dec, 1st or 2nd Jan)
Two weeks of real ghost stories collected during our autumn tour.  From the ghosts of empty houses, to the personal ghosts we carry around us, this collection is a mixture of the fantastic and the “real”.  Do you have your own ghost stories?  Let us know and we might add it to the show.  Send to contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk 

Tickets £12 / £10 concessions
Tuesday to Saturday starts at 7.30pm – doors open 7.15pm.  Sunday at 7pm, doors open 6.45pm.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)
 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

GhoStoryteller: Meet the Cast 1

Firstly, just to make it clear, there's still two weeks of Trolls, so just because I'm writing about GhoStoryteller doesn't mean you can forget about the show that is ON AT THE MOMENT.  Get down to see it now (if you haven't already).

Anyway, having clarified that, back to business.  Like the New Wimbledon run of The Natural History of Trolls (as seen at the Barons Court Theatre for another two weeks!), GhoStoryteller has a number of guest performers, a different one each night.  Each performer is doing a special short ghost story in the middle of the show.
Todays featured special guest is Richard Ward - a lovely chap who brought such gravity to his part in Trolls that I'm delighted he's agreed to join me again.  We first met on a production of A Woman of No Importance about three years ago - or is it four?  How time flies.  I think he played a hen pecked husband and a bishop... but I could be wrong.  Richard is performing on Wednesday 4th January - so if you'd like to watch his performance, that's the night to catch it.


Richard Ward

Richard Ward trained at Drama Studio London and has appeared in several one act festival plays at the Lost One Act Festival and elsewhere.  Other theatre includes "We The People" (Shakespeare's Globe) and "Twelfth Night" (Saviour Theatre).  Film and tv includes "Midsomer Murders", "Blue Peter" and "Tortoise In Love".  
Richard specialises in audio books and role play and is absolutely delighted to be making his second appearance with Milk Bottle Productions.  
Spotlight  9376-9059-3054.

 
Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
GhoStoryteller
Written and Performed by Robert Crighton - plus Special Guests
Tuesday 27th December 2011 to Friday 30th December and Tuesday 3rd to Sunday 8th January 2012 (No performances 31st Dec, 1st or 2nd Jan)
Two weeks of real ghost stories collected during our autumn tour.  From the ghosts of empty houses, to the personal ghosts we carry around us, this collection is a mixture of the fantastic and the “real”.  Do you have your own ghost stories?  Let us know and we might add it to the show.  Send to contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk 

Tickets £12 / £10 concessions
Tuesday to Saturday starts at 7.30pm – doors open 7.15pm.  Sunday at 7pm, doors open 6.45pm.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)
 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

GhoStoryteller Preview

First thing, just want to get this off my chest.  I can write witty blogs, I can write exciting blogs, I can write controversial blogs - hit rate remains the same for each.  But if I write a blog about a DOG then the hits go through the roof.  Here is a picture of the dog, her name is Tinkerbell.  I am now going to change the name of Milk Bottle Productions to Tinkerbell's Magnificent Ensemble Company of Performing Humans.  Here is a picture of the artistic director of the company. 

The New Artistic Director

Do not feed her after midnight.


Anyway, this post concerns the GhoStoryteller show which starts after Christmas - there are still two and a bit weeks of The Natural History of Trolls, panic ye not - and which I am rehearsing now.  It's a much looser show than Trolls, more relaxed.  It's a few ghost stories tied together with a few thoughts of my own on the nature of ghosts.  It's gone down well in the three tryouts and I've been tweaking the script for the last month.  But now comes the proper rehearsal, which means on top of the four / five hour commute, the three hours at the venue performing, I'm adding another two hours plus of rehearsal a day.  This is fine, at present, as I can learn my lines on the train - in-between reading Great Expectations (which has been rather enjoyable).  I expect by next week this routine will start to pall, but thems the breaks.  Then I get a couple days off for Christmas and straight into the new show.
And it will be a slightly different show each night.  I've got a number of one-off guest performers joining me across the two weeks, and I'll be posting the details of these fine performers on my blog over the next week or so. 
Well, all that remains is to do my preview of the GhoStoryteller show which follows after this announcement from a friend of mine....

***

Hi there! If you need someone professionally trained and experienced to help you with the presentation of a monologue for an audition; if you are having a crisis of confidence; if you feel that you just need an acting check up: help is at hand!
My students usually contact me because they want help preparing for an audition for drama schools, theatre companies or just to improve their general skills and confidence. Many of my previous students have gone on to train at accredited drama schools including RADA, DSL and BSA amongst many others, or attacked their next audition with a new approach and confidence.

My own acting career has evolved through many years of stage, feature film, television, radio and voice work. As a theatre director, I have worked on many professional productions at venues as diverse as the Southbank Centre and small fringe theatres to foreign tours. I also have many years experience directing and working with young people and consequently hold an advanced CRB certificate.

Rates

I charge very competitive rates with some room for negotiation depending on the number of lessons you would like to have and what you are seeking to accomplish.

Base rate for a one-hour session is £25

A two-hour session is discounted to £40

I can provide a tailored quote according to your needs, please get in touch to discuss.

My new studio is an intimate space on the Old Kent Road near to Elephant & Castle and South Bermondsey which is easily accessible from all parts of London by bus, rail and tube connections.

I look forward to working with you!

Simon Nader

t: 07976 399 825
e: sayhello@simonnader.com

***
And now the promised GhoStoryteller Preview:

WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Hope that wasn't too scary for you.

 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Tinkerbell

There has been a new member to the Milk Bottle Team for The Natural History of Trolls.  Her name is Tinkerbell and she is about a foot high (at best).  Now, we've have had a number of dogs involved in productions past - no jokes at the back there - and Tinkerbell is the latest in a long line.  I particularly remember a King Charles Spaniel in 2004 who stayed with us for three weeks and who didn't want to leave.  Tinkerbell was, for the most part, very well behaved.  She didn't vomit during rehearsals (as one previous rehearsal dog has done, albeit not in a Milk Bottle show) or attack anyone.  She did get bored once or twice and started barking throughout one of my longer speeches (everyone's a critic) but that's good practise for when latecomers arrive to the show.
To add confusion we named one of the sound effects after her.  So, the script is littered with notes to play the 'Tink', which is a little musical box.  Occasionally I would get confused between a call for SFX and the call for walkees.
Last Monday, Tinkerbell joined us for the get in.  She decided to set up shop inside the lighting box, underneath the lighting desk, where every so often she would bark if we got too near and risked treading on her.  It's the kind of complaint many an ASM makes on a day to day basis, even at the National.
Show continues till the 23rd December people and, though Tinkerbell doesn't appear (we did consider a walk on part but it's a legal minefield), the show is rather lovely and bedding in nicely.  Next blog I will start on the post Christmas show GhoStoryteller and stop talking about small furry animals. x

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Dickensian Sex Pest

It's been a good first week - nice audiences, lovely responses and a mostly successful commute.  Here's how the week went.
Monday: Get In.  The cast and I all arrived in a staggered fashion across the morning according to my cunning schedule.  I arrived early to sort the lights and stuff and then Georgina and Sophie arrived with the props and set dressings.  And Tinkerbell, of course.  But I'll write about Tinkerbell another time.
First we slowly went through all the lighting and sound cues - we do these ourselves, as there are always two people off stage at any one time.  Then we did a slow tech run.  Which went well.  We all fall down.
Tuesday:  We do a fast tech, low energy, in the afternoon prior to first night.  The audience liked it very much, though we did make some changes to the show afterwards.
Wednesday:  The audience were very focused.
"Dickensian sex pest..."
Thursday:  We had a reviewer in from Remotegoat.  He described my costume as "a sort of Dickensian sex pest".  Whatever that is.  I think it'll look good on a t-shirt.  There is an unfortunate / funny story about Thursday night, but that's for a future blog.
Friday / Saturday / Sunday:  Really nice audiences, the scripts of the play selling like hot cakes (will need to re-order this week if we continue in this way).
Overall a good start - now let's see how this week goes.  See you there!

P.S.  The spell checker on this blog does not recognise the word blog.  Now there's an existentialist conumdrum for you.


The Natural History of Trolls
Tuesday 29th November to Friday 23rd December 2011
Tickets £12 / £10 concessions
Tuesday to Saturday starts at 7.30pm – doors open 7.15pm.  Sunday at 7pm, doors open 6.45pm.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Elasticated Time Paradox

What is too long?  What shape should a show have?  How do you escape the Elasticated Time Paradox (trademark pending) otherwise known as the Intangible Arse Problem?
Allow me to explain.  As The Natural History of Trolls approached revival (electro-convulsers on stand-by - CLEAR! - Bumph! - It's alive!) there arose those issues raised in the New Wim tryout.  The running time was a cool 80 minutes - without an interval.  Now, the show was supposed to last between 65 and 70 minutes (this fitting neatly as a single CD if I get round to recording it for sale) but the story grew beyond this length.  I cut it down as much as I could, but if I cut anymore I would stop pruning and begin hacking, and that would lead to damage of the text and artistic failure.  
Now 80 minutes is an odd length of time for an audience to sit for.  An hour is generally a good length of time before the arse goes numb (the Intangible Arse Problem or IAP) whereby the evening either ends or an interval begins prior to another sitting.  You can push the IAP envelope a bit, but after 70 minutes the audience starts to get restless.  Quality will out, of course (see below), but even if you are enjoying a show a numb bum can take the edge off.  And most of the population of the planet have / will have / will have had piles - so there's a reason why sitting for over an hour is difficult.  Sometimes, if the show is extremely long - 2 hours plus without interval - then the act of fighting the numbness becomes part of the narrative of the show.  You become a survivor of a great struggle (especially if you misjudged your IBS) and can take masochistic pleasure in the whole experience.
A solution would have been to put in an interval - there is a place in Trolls where this can happen.  But there is also something particularly unsatisfactory about two forty minute halves.  Each half is a little too short and breaks up the narrative of the show to little good purpose.  This is where the Elasticated Time Paradox comes in.  The show is too long to fit perfectly into one sitting, but too short to seriously field an interval - paradoxically the only way to make the show feel shorter would be to make it longer.  If I were to write another 20 / 30 minutes of material then I could put an interval in-between two 50 ish minute halves and that would make the show feel much shorter (in terms of endurance) than the 80 minute straight run through.  I know that sounds a bit mad, but it would.  People perceive time in funny ways.
Another example of the elasticity of time: in a show with one interval, people will always time the length of the second act from the length of the first.  So, if Act One lasts an hour, the audience will expect Act Two to last about the same - or less.  If Act Two is even five minutes longer than Act One, the audience will feel that is too long.  Trust me - they do.  (Exceptions to this rule include plays like Glengarry Glen Ross, where Act Two is so much longer than Act One that it feels like a completely different entity.)  I won't go into the dynamics of the shape of Three Act plays and the placement of two intervals - this is largely a dead field as few people field three acts anyone (though Jerusalem does indulge in such activity, it is largely an exception to the rule - a pity, I like two intervals... but I digress).
Getting back to the point, I couldn't cut the show anymore because it all fits very well together - to make a difference I'd have to remove some 1000 to 2000 words, which would be terrible.  I can't make the show longer (enough that is - I have added a few hundred words) because that would mean starting again from scratch and I didn't really have time to do that.  So, basically, all I can say is... tough, you'll have to take the show as it is.  It's only ten minutes above the norm - breathe, that'll help. 
The other thing to remember is that, for all the generalisations I have just made, individuals will always react in random ways.  Some people love long shows, some people beg for a good interval, some people want two intervals, some people hate them.  It's an art, not a science.  Which is why the only answer is to look at the show and try to judge what is the best shape for it?  When writing a show I'm always half aware of the shape of the time I'm trying to fill.  I like one interval usually, because I'm used to working in theatres with a bar that requires the trade.  These days I'm producing more on the London fringe where the bar is either a separate entity or is a second thought to the business and wants only to open before curtain up and then close.  The place of business does have an effect on the art - but only in a general way.  The play does tend to decide what it wants to be.  Hence the running time and the placement of this show within the ETP.

Now, I wrote the above (mostly) prior to the current run and the tryout at the Quay Theatre.  At the Quay we had an interval - but they have a very nice bar and like people to use it.  I broke all the rules I've just made up, with a shorter first half compared to the second.  So from that example you can ignore everything I just wrote.  Also, on the first night at Barons Court I was talking to someone from the audience after the show and quoted the time (it ran about 78 minutes that night) and they were amazed - they perceived at most only 60 minutes and were a bit confused to find the show had run so short (until I told them the timing that is).  Time is elastic and I'm really rather chuffed that time for our audiences runs 20 minutes faster than real time.
Sadly, I'm afraid, that doesn't mean you retain your youth.  After 80 minutes of the show you will still be 80 minutes older, however quickly time passed for you. x

Monday, 28 November 2011

Underground, Overground...

The Natural History of Trolls is largely set in a disused Underground Station, King William Street.  For the purposes of the story I ignored the true history of the site in the 20th Century, focusing on real history only for the early building and decommissioning of the station.  The tunnels couldn't be used as I suggest in the story, and they are in no way fit to handle the action of the tale.  However, I loved the early history of the station and couldn't resist allowing a train to stop at the platform today (physically impossible for oh so many reasons).  There are other disused stations where a request stop is more plausable - there are more suitable ghost stations about - but I wanted the story set in that part of the Northern Line and so I ignored the rather sad alterations to the station during World War Two and other obvious problems reality causes. 
I have no problem with these 'lies' as there are lots of ways I could explain them away, if I wanted to be pedantic.  But for those who want to see what King William Street looks like today, then do follow this rather excellent link - it's quite addictive.

http://www.abandonedstations.org.uk/King_William_Street_1.html

Last Blog Before the Balloon Goes Up...

Okay, there's no balloon.  Sorry.  Today we got into the Barons Court Theatre ready for tomorrows first night!  Highlights included sharing the stage and the lighting box with Sophie's dog Tinkerbell - of whom you will hear so much in the future.  There is video.  Otherwise it was just a matter of set dressing, slow teching and general working of the words what I wrote so that they come out in the right order.  Tomorrow we'll spend the day doing a bit more art - focusing on performance rather than tech - before our first night.  And we want you to be there.  This is a show that I am very proud of - it has come out very well, funny and moving at the turn of a line.  Come and visit us - it's so much more interesting here.
Robx



Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
STORYTELLER:
The Natural History of Trolls
Written and Performed by Robert Crighton
Plus Special Guests: Georgina Blackledge & Sophie Morris-Sheppard

“Whatever you do, don’t think about orange penguins!”

Multi-Awarding Winning Storyteller Robert Crighton is returning to his roots with a new collection of stories for 2011.  Featuring his trademark wit and dark humour, Storyteller will draw you into unusual worlds and introduce you to people you’d not normally meet.
This first collection is called The Natural History of Trolls, three stories covering a hundred and fifty years of history, two Queens and their subjects in the fairy kingdom.  Midst this epic timeline is the story of an ordinary commute gone wrong, when a troll-like tramp in an Underground carriage turns out to REALLY be a Troll.
Funny, thoughtful and with occasional attempts at wisdom, let Robert Crighton and his team of storytellers lead you through a world like ours – just a little off centre. 
15+ age guidance.  Not suitable for young children.

Tuesday 29th November to Friday 23rd December 2011 (No performances Mondays)
Tickets £12 / £10 concessions
Tuesday to Saturday starts at 7.30pm – doors open 7.15pm.  Sunday at 7pm, doors open 6.45pm.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Egg Sucking Guide for Grandmothers

I wrote the following for the New Wimbledon cast which was a while ago now.  I didn't meet many of them properly until the day of performance so wrote an idiots guide to performing their section.  I thought I'd share it with you today.  Imagine you've got a three minute monologue to perform and read on...

The Egg Sucking Guide for Grandmothers
Or Storyteller: An Idiots Guide

Obviously we will rehearse, so there will be a lot of me telling you precisely what to do.  However, if you have time to do more than simply learn your lines then here is some general advice, suggestions and best ways to prep...

1.  Storytelling isn’t stand up.
You’re alone on stage, you’ve nothing to hold - the temptation to wander around, pace back and forth and punctuate every sentence with your hands is enormous.  Don’t.  Start with no movement, standing still, doing naught.  Then add elements if and only if you have a really good reason to do so.  What will hold the audiences interest is your connection with them, the story itself and the fact that you’re the next person of a chain.  And you’ll be gone in three minutes.

2.  Boredom.
Rehearsing storytelling / monologues is the most tedious task known to mankind.  It is horribly dull.  Prep for a show is primarily about repetition to the point where your brain is melting – because you’re alone up there and need to know the text like it’s your own skin.  It is primarily dull because rehearsing a story misses the most important ingredient – the audience.  A monologue is a conversation and until you get in front of the audience you will have no one talking back. 

3.  Be prepared for change.
Prepare, play around, come up with a full physical and vocal score... go on surprise me.  But also be prepared for me to say NO straightaway and tell you to do it differently.  Don’t get attached to your performance – it’ll only end in tears.

4.  If in doubt, do less.
See 1.  Fairly safe rule.  It’s a studio theatre.

5.  Arms are for nothing.
See 1.  Let em hang there.  Unless you want to do some serious pointing.

6.  Only Connect.
Don’t shoot ‘till you see the whites of their eyes.  Yes, the audience will be (dimly) lit throughout the show.  You will be there for most of it as well, as both performers and audience members.  You give your attention to the person performing, watch them, laugh and smile.  When it’s your turn, you take that out to the audience.  Look them in the eye.  Pick people for different lines.  Make them watch you.

7. Pass the baton.
We’re all interconnected.  We pass the story to each other, so it’s vital to keep that flow going, not leaving gaps, passing on the baton – unless your story goes off on a tangent.  You can’t prep this – it’ll come out in rehearsal.

8. Your performance is you.
You are not pretending to be a different person, you’re simply giving a more performed version of yourself.  Don’t change your accent, character, just tell your bit of the story.  Use appropriate voices for speech – but there isn’t much of that, so that’s not a major worry.

9. There may be typos... but they might be the words I chose...
Sometimes I get it wrong – it’s the wrong word entirely.  And sometimes I’m just awkward.  (Or aukward, for those who like a pun that only works off the page.)  If in doubt, ask.

10.  And.  A story tends to be made up of a lot of ands.  Try not to add more.  And remember that and ends in a d.  If you let a lazy tongue drop it then the audience will notice. 

11.  Learn fast. 
I don’t mean learn the lines in a brief period of time.  I mean learn it like it’s going at a rate.  Fast.  Few gaps.  It is easier to slow a text down in performance than to speed it up.  Usually.

12. Enjoy.
I hate writing things like this, but best not to let people go unguided.  Most important thing to remember about all of the above – I believe and follow all of the above guidelines... except when I don’t.  The only absolute that matters is to enjoy yourself.  If you enjoy performing your story then the audience will enjoy watching and listening to it.  ‘nough said.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Thanks a Heap

As we creep towards opening night I've started thinking about how this project came into being.  Storyteller will, by the time it finishes in its current form on Sunday 8th January 2012, have been in existence for almost exactly a year.  The roots for the show - to push myself to work specifically on a number of storytelling projects this year - had been rattling around my head for nearly a year.  I'd been trying to decide what to do next and the title Robert Crighton: Storyteller can be found in my notebooks (along with other, far sillier plays, titles and thoughts) as I think I've discussed in this blog before.  But the plan didn't come about until just after Christmas 2010, and it came about because of a chance encounter with a DVD.
It had been a very stressful Christmas, the bad weather had completely knocked the box office for the Sherlock Holmes show I was doing at the time for six.  I spent Christmas itself with the family in a foul temper and was generally at something of a low ebb.  I was going to have to cancel a four week run of a show in May and pull out of acting in a production of The Seagull; I had few funds and no idea what I was going to do after New Year.  Then, the day after Boxing Day I think, I returned to London, staying alone at my brothers partners flat (they were still holidaying with the family).  After the show, which I think was cancelled as I must have left fairly early, I decided to spend some of the vouchers I'd got for Christmas.  I bought some music and a few DVDs.  One was a documentary about Imogen Heap.
I'd encountered Imogen Heap online once before, on the BBC website during Glastonbury, and had been intrigued.  I'd also seen the DVD in shops and had been tempted to have a look, and then, that day, I bought it.  I went back to the flat and watched one of the more frivolous DVDs - I wasn't in the mood for anything difficult like a documentary.  But by 12pm I was still wide awake and so made some toast, a hot coffee and sat down to watch Everything In-Between.
Now, you must remember I loath people who rhapsodise about how 'inspiring' people are.  "They're so inspiring!" they say, to which I inwardly either vomit or punch them in the face.  (Externally, being a coward, I just stare in a supercilious Campionesq way.)  However, this was exactly what I needed at that moment.  It was, actually, genuinely, practically inspiring.  Whereas before watching it I was depressed, caught in a bubble of little hope and really not sure what I was going to do; afterwards I was writing notes, pacing around, positively not going to bed.  The vague idea I'd had about Trolls on the Underground now had an outlet, a plan.
The DVD is about the creation of the album Ellipse but it's also largely concerned about the reconstruction of a life that leads to the creation of the album.  Imogen moves into and renovates her old family home, builds a studio there, learns to drive and writes an award-winning album.  It's a mixture of standard documentary footage and online content she posted as she made the album.  Whilst watching someone write an album inspired me artistically, the process by which she interacted with the world inspired me practically.  Using blogs, vlogs and social networking as a direct line to people who might want to see the work.  It's not a new idea of course - there are plenty of people who already do that - but to see it demonstrated, to see how it can drive you towards your deadline was just the tonic I needed.
And the inspiration was stronger because Imogen (though working through a team) is a solo artist and though concerned with music, this chimed better with my work than any theatre company doing the same would have done.  I work mostly by myself, working on a text / rehearsal into the night and the final work (if a selection of stories) is not unlike an album (it would have been even more so, if I'd had time to record the final work as an audio book this year).
There are areas where this is less successful.  I don't have an established fan base or work in a medium that promotes the level of loyalty as music.  It is also harder to blog about a narrative because if you tell everyone the story then there's little incentive for people to come and watch it.  Playing a song is different, people love to repeat the song they like.
So, the journey (god, did I just write journey, kill me now) began.  The final week of the Sherlock Holmes run was quite good, so I wasn't too out of pocket (though I still had to drop those other shows). I booked Barons Court for November 29th onwards, spent January planning, began blogging in February and have spent the year creating Storyteller, in-between directing the odd play and other side projects.  But this year wouldn't have been the same without the Heap.  So thank you Imogen Heap and the director of the documentary Justine Pearsall, this year would have been very different without you.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Natural History of Trolls Programme

Most programmes for shows come in paper form.  Ours is no exception.  Though we also publish it online, in advance, for those who would like to come along.  Box Office is open - book your tickets now!

Tuesday 29th November to Friday 23rd December 2011
Tickets £12 / £10 concessions
Tuesday to Saturday starts at 7.30pm – doors open 7.15pm.  Sunday at 7pm, doors open 6.45pm.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

**************************


Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
Robert Crighton:
STORYTELLER
The Natural History of Trolls

Written and Performed by Robert Crighton
Plus Special Guests: Georgina Blackledge & Sophie Morris-Sheppard
Three stories covering 150 years of history, two Queens, orange Penguins and the fairy kingdom.  Midst this is the story of an ordinary commute gone wrong, when a troll-like tramp on the Underground turns out to REALLY be a Troll.

At the Quay Theatre - Sunday 20th November 2011
At the Barons Court Theatre - Tuesday 29th November to Friday 23rd December 2011.
Running Time: Eighty minutes approximately without an interval.

THE CAST:    
Robert Crighton - Writer and Performer 
Robert Crighton is an award-winning storyteller, writer and performer, whose last big project was performing every Sherlock Holmes story back-to-back over the Christmas season.  He is only entrant in the 25 year history of the Lost One-Act Festival to win three awards in successive years and is sadly no longer eligible to win anymore.  With Milk Bottle he has produced a mix of work, from classical drama to new plays, swapping roles from production to production.  Recent productions include: Blind Spots, Shoes That Angels Fear To Wear, Cuckold’s Fair, Teaching Gods & Other Stories at the Barons Court Theatre.
For Video Blogs of the making of Storyteller go to TheRobertCrighton Channel on YouTube.

Georgina Blackledge - Performer
Having decided to swap a sterile theatre for a dusty one, Georgie has thrown herself head first into the acting world. Her most recent work includes 'Excess Deductible' with So It Goes Theatre and filming Emma Peel in ‘The Avengers Return’, of which a pilot series in is development with Gin and Tonic Productions. Other film work includes 'The Fiddler', Faith Productions; ‘Africa in her blood’, Nightpiece Media; ‘An act of loyalty’, Evergreen media; ‘Define Crazy’, Ravensbourne Films; ‘Two Birds One Stone’, JAM films; ‘The Cabinet’, Mad Ninja Films. Theatre includes ‘Noises Off’, The Company and ‘The Rover’, The Company. After stumbling upon the audition, Georgie is extremely excited to be making her return to 'Trolls'. 
Sophie Morris-Sheppard - Performer
Sophie has recently finished filming a short film.  She has made many appearances as part of the Play to Stage new writing initiative at The Jackson Lane Theatre which is where she originally met Robert Crighton - and subsequently became involved in this Milk Bottle Production.  Sophie originally attended the Oxford School of Drama. Her first job was as an ASM at Southwold Summer Theatre for Jill Freud.  She went from here to work on several productions at the Kings Head, the Old Fire Station, Oxford, The Wolsey, Ipswich, The Duke of York’s Theatre and The Haymarket Theatre, London.  She has had a variety of supporting roles on both TV and film and has appeared in many commercials, as well as doing intermittent voiceover work.
Stints as a milliner and assisting making theatrical costumes, amongst many other things, have kept her busy in between acting.
 
To watch an interview with the Cast go to TheRobertCrighton Channel on YouTube - 'Meet the Cast'

AUTHORS NOTE:
At has been a long process writing and producing these stories.  Normally I work very quickly, producing a dozen or shows a year.  After the epic task of performing all the Sherlock Holmes stories last year, I decided to slow down and present the process of creating this years run online.  If you're interesting in finding out how this show came together check out my blog and my vlogs.  The blog covers the more... shall we say cerebral processes of writing a show, the vlogs (video blogs) are a little more... silly.   It wasn't all silliness - there are some telling moments in the vlogs mid April when the final drafts for Trolls were coming together that I didn't look my best.
I hope you enjoy tonight's story and come again in the future for more.  To join our mailing list and be kept up to date with future shows just email us at contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk

THANK YOUS:
Milk Bottle would like to thank the people at the New Wimbledon Studio, the Lavenham Guildhall, the Angel Pub in Glemsford, the Billericay Arts Centre, The Quay Theatre (Nicki and Joe) and Barons Court Theatre (Ron and Chris) for their assistance.  We'd also like to thank our occasional photographers this year Holly Nicoll and Matthew Vile and our website designer Keith Atkinson. 
We'd also like to thank the original company at the New Wimbledon production - sorry we couldn't take you
along for the whole ride:  Charlotte Hunter, Philippa Tatham, Simon Nader, Jessica Moore, Emma Burn, Sally Gilfillan, Ailsa Ilott, Richard Ward, Sophie Carmichael, Denys Gaskill, Jessica Tobert, Josie Bloom, Kate Steel, Matthew Harrison-James, Elizabeth Jee, Jamie Addlet, Gillian Horgan, Elizabeth Quinn, Elizabeth
Nicholson, Colin Emerson & Pamela Flanagan. 
And, of course, we must thank the Imaginary Duck and Bagpuss for all they have done for the company.

To keep up to date with Milk Bottle join our mailing list – just email: contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk
Or... Follow Robert Crighton: Storyteller on Twitter or Milk Bottle Productions on Facebook
Crighton Channel on YouTube
Or... Subscribe to the Robert Crighton: Storyteller blog - http://robertcrightonstoryteller.blogspot.com
Or... Keep checking our website: www.milkbottleproductions.co.uk
Or... Nope, run out of ors.  As the pander said to the Bishop.  We’ll stop now.

Production Photos taken at the Quay Theatre, Sunday 20th November 2011.

Robert Crighton with Georgina Blackledge

Georgina Blackledge

Sophie Morris-Sheppard with Georgina Blackledge

The Cast - Left to Right: Sophie Morris-Sheppard, Georgina Blackledge & Robert Crighton