Follow by Email

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Sit down, stand up, repeat

It's been raining a lot round my way.  Rather nice, when one is indoors.  I'd love to say I have been a storm of energy and excitement, that I've been beavering away at the next piece but that would be a lie.  Been reading, tidying and a bit more tidying.  The thing about the build up to a show is that all the little things get neglected.  So I get home and find everything in a pile.  Luckily post-show I'm in an odd state of exhausted restlessness.  Can't settle down but can't do too much.  So tidying occurs.  And I do my tax.  And I transcribe all the changes the script gained during the run to the master copy. 
Mostly with The Natural History of Trolls this involves cuts, minor little edits, the odd punctuation change and occasionally new material.  There is a joke that might get added involving the French Ambassador.  Might not.  I am undecided.  Once these changes are made I will put the script down for a month and come back to it actively looking to rewrite for the December run. 
I have to say that Trolls came out far better than I'd expected.  I didn't tell you, my dear readers from around the globe (Hello Australia!) about my doubts because... well, I didn't want to put you off.  The paranoia of the playwright is intensified with the monologue - you can usually tell if a play works, you can test it, but a monologue needs people, an audience, so you can set yourself up for a real fall. 
The nice thing about the way we staged Trolls was it was an open storyteller format.  The whole cast sat round and watched as well as performed the piece.  So I did get to watch 2/5s of the evening.  And was very pleased with how it went.  So Trolls goes down as a keeper.  That doesn't mean it's perfect.  There are lots of areas that need tightening still, little simplifications.  I know where these bits are because I couldn't remember them very well.  If you dry continually during a section I'm inclined to blame the author.  Talk about setting yourself up for a fall.  Luckily, as I was the author, I could always make something up to get out of it.
Which is cheating.
So next up - well in my still discombobulated state (yes, there is a pun there, sorry) I'm just writing notes for the next story The Ghosts of Lavenham, which will be the keystone to the GhoStoryteller show for October.  I'm generally dancing round the actual writing bit till I'm less exhausted.  This is the time to write notes and plan - so in a day or two I will announce the full schedule for Nov - Jan - all the blurb and dates decided.  I might change some of them, but only if there is a great public outcry.  And you wouldn't do that, I'm sure.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

After the Vault was Opened...

To say that the last three days have been incredible would be a massive understatement.  I have been blessed with a great cast and we pulled together (though I am biased) a great show.
That isn't to say this week has been easy.  Monday practically killed me before we'd even done the technical - it's a long story involving a broken handle on my suitcase and the heel of my shoe.  Needless to say, anyone looking closely during the show would have seen my right shoe was a little bit held together with gaffer tape.
The first day was the biggest day for me - because I had no idea whether the show was going to work.  For those who haven't been following the blog, the show is made of four main sections, two I do myself and two which are chopped up into five chunks each (plus an epilogue).  These chunks are played by the rest of the cast (numbered 1 to 11) six of which were different people each day.  The remaining five (the core company) stay for the week.  Everyone rehearsed on the day from 1pm till show up without any additional rehearsal - they just turned up knowing their lines and we went from there.
But on Monday the rehearsal task was greatest because everyone needed to be rehearsed, everyone was new to the show (even the core company) and we didn't know if the audience would like it.  It was also incredibly hot and so everything seemed very intense.
But as the company arrived and I did the health and safety talk it became clear this show was going to work.  Everyone was asked to bring cushions and nice cups and saucers, creating a nice tea party oasis on the stage.  Sitting around the performance space everyone sat, getting up for their bit, sitting and watching the show with the audience.  This was particularly effective as for the last quarter of the show no one, bar Richard Ward (who was the epilogue of the story) knew how it ended - so the cast was a geniune part of the audience for the end.
The Monday was the scariest of the days, but the Tuesday and Wednesday threw up surprises of their own.  Because each day the cast changed, we got completely different versions of the story.  On Monday Number 4, Simon Nader, brought placards for his section whereas on Wednesday Gillian Horgan and the company created the insides of an asylum through the medium of silly noises. 
The audience feedback was entirely positive (our mailing list has swelled some what) and people went home happy.  And I went home generally exhausted but with a lot more friends.
There is some footage of the rehearsals and blogs from the week, so I'll edit that up for people over the next few days.
Till next time,
Robx

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Storyteller Programme

Due to various late arrivals at the Troll ball we haven't been able to produce a full printed programme.  So, for those who came to the show and the rest of the world, here is the programme.


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

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.

The story is approximately 80 minutes long without an interval.
 
MONDAY (Cast – in order of speaking)
Prologue:
Robert Crighton
Georgina Blackledge
Charlotte Hunter
Philippa Tatham
Simon Nader
Sophie Morris-Sheppard
The Natural History of Trolls – Part One:
Robert Crighton
Interlude:
Jessica Moore
Emma Burn
Sally Gilfillan
Ailsa Ilott
Pamela Flanagan
The Natural History of Trolls – Part Two:
Robert Crighton
Epilogue:
Richard Ward

TUESDAY (Cast – in order of speaking)
Prologue:
Robert Crighton
Georgina Blackledge
Sophie Carmichael
Denys Gaskill
Jessica Tobert
Sophie Morris-Sheppard
The Natural History of Trolls – Part One:
Robert Crighton
Interlude:
Jessica Moore
Josie Bloom
Kate Steel
Matthew Harrison-James
Pamela Flanagan
The Natural History of Trolls – Part Two:
Robert Crighton
Epilogue:
Richard Ward

WEDNESDAY (Cast – in order of speaking)
Prologue:
Robert Crighton
Georgina Blackledge
Elizabeth Jee
Jamie Addlet  
Gillian Horgan
Sophie Morris-Sheppard
The Natural History of Trolls – Part One:
Robert Crighton
Interlude:
Jessica Moore
Elizabeth Quinn
Elizabeth Nicholson
Colin Emerson
Pamela Flanagan
The Natural History of Trolls – Part Two:
Robert Crighton
Epilogue:
Richard Ward


Storyteller returns to London with new stories for six weeks from 29th November at the Barons Court Theatre as well as various tour dates.  There are lots of ways of keeping up to date with us: 
Join our mailing list – just send an email to contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Or...

Milk Bottle Productions is also a group on facebook – join us today to get event invites and generally to keep up to date

Or...

Follow Robert Crighton: Storyteller on Twitter and Facebook

Or...

Subscribe to The Robert Crighton Channel on YouTube

Or...

Subscribe to the Robert Crighton: Storyteller blog on blogger

Or...
Just go to our one stop shop website: www.milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Or...
Nope, run out of ors.

As the pander said to the Bishop.

We’ll stop now.


Milk Bottle would like to thank the people of the New Wimbledon, the cast, website Keith and most importantly the imaginary duck.

FULL COMPANY BIOGRAPHIES:

Jamie Addlet  
Theatre credits include Quincey Morris in Dracula, Badger in Toad of Toad Hall, George in Don’t Dress for Dinner and Ernest Foster in Suddenly At Home. Screen credits include Larry in Eye Level, Barry in Best Man (a film that was nominated in the 2010 British Horror awards and then banned from being shown at the ceremony for being too graphic) and an Ident for EDF Energy.

Georgina Blackledge
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 filming Emma Peel in ‘The Avengers Return’, of which a pilot series in is development with Gin and Tonic Productions. Other film work includes ‘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. She will also be appearing in ‘Excess Deductable’ with So it goes...Theatre Company later this year. After stumbling upon the audition, Georgie is extremely excited to be making her Milk Bottle Productions debut.

Josie Bloom
Josie Bloom is an actress, singer and storyteller. She graduates from ALRA in July 2011 and is delighted to be making her professional debut with Milk Bottle Productions. She is also due to appear at the Camden Festival in Peter at The Shaw Theatre in August 2011. Previous credits include: Underground (Dream Think Speak) and A Storyteller in Search of an Audience (Vayu Naidu Company)

Emma Burn
Originally from the North East of England, Emma moved to London to train at The Academy drama school. Previous credits include: Charmian in Antony and Cleopatra at The Rose Theatre, Bankside.  Mercutio in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ which toured theatres in England and Ireland and Hermia in 'A Midsummer Nights Dream' which toured to open air venues.  Suzette in 'Don't Dress For Dinner'at The Palace Theatre, Westcliff, Belle in 'A Christmas Carol' at The Marina Theatre, Lowestoft (with the legend that is Paul Daniels!) Emma also appeared as Ruth Bechlar in 'Suddenly At Home' and Jane Bedford in 'Murder With Love', both for The Thriller Season at Nottingham Theatre Royal. New writing credits include ‘Bacchus In Rehab' at The Etcetera Theatre, Camden and the comedy musical ‘Rasputin Rocks!' at The Kenton Theatre, Henley.  Emma can also be seen in various commercials and i-dents.

Sophie Carmichael
Born and bred in London, Sophie studied at Exeter University before deciding that she wanted to explore the world; once she’d done this, an acting career was just what she was after.
Theatre credits include: The Princess Bride and The Just So Stories (touring with Theatre Alchemists), Macbeth (MOPA Theatre Company tour), Brits in Bits (Look Left Look Right/BAC), Last Post (Theatre Royal, Bath), Ovid Reworked (Brixton Village Market) and Bullpen (Theatre Delicatessen). Television credits include Search for the Bront√ęs and Football Focus (both BBC). Sophie is currently developing a new piece of theatre based on a well-know children’s story, which will hopefully be on a stage near you by the end of the year….watch this space!
Her last story telling experience was an autobiographical one, with Spark at the Blue Elephant Theatre, and, funnily enough, was also all about negotiating with a penguin.

ROBERT CRIGHTON
Robert Crighton is a multi-award winning playwright and performer, founder of Milk Bottle Productions, and the only entrant in the 25 year history of the Lost One-Act Festival to win three awards in successive years. He is no longer eligible to enter.  His last show was the tour-de-force The Complete Sherlock Holmes, in which he performed every single story over 32 performances – for which the nice people of Remotegoat said "… you'd better be quick to catch Robert Crighton enthrall you..."
Previously for Milk Bottle he has written The Invasion of Sudbury, Blind Spots, Shoes That Angels Fear To Wear, Cuckold’s Fair, Teaching Gods and Other Stories...  (Including the monologues: Problem Tree, The Examiner of Small Ailments, The Alternative Seagull, Keynote Speaker, Teaching Gods and Fantasy Terrorist League), Thebes, Apathy, Amateurs & Lord Ashborn – as well as adaptations of Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, The Birds & The Bacchae.

Colin Emerson
Born in London, Colin passed a course in Contemporary Popular Musics and went on to become a singer/songwriter working with Garage producers, Delinquent, DJ Fabion and Mischief Makers, and scored a top 10 hit on 1xtra with the track ''R U Ready''. Since then Colin has turned his eye to learning Japanese and the craft of acting. He has trained at The Actors Temple and has also worked closely with producer Milly Ellis and screenwriter, Nick Reed and currently in the process of producing/directing a web series.
Last year Colin performed ''Teaching Gods'', written by Robert Crighton at the Tristan Bates Theatre and will next be seen in The Actors Centre/BBC Talent Boost short film ''The Conference'' directed by Justin Edgar.

Pamela Flanagan
Originally from Dublin, Pamela graduated from The University of Glasgow before training on the Post-graduate course at the Academy Drama School.
Pamela has previously played Octavia in Antony and Cleopatra (The Rose, Bankside), Jill in Come On, Jeeves (Devonshire Park Theatre), Nancy in Dance Hall Days (Riverside Studios), Pegeen Mike in The Playboy of the Western World (Catford Broadway), Vi Gibbons in This Happy Breed (Pleasance) and Rose in I Capture The Castle (James Arnott Theatre).
Her film work includes Blood + Roses, Incubator and Eye Level. She has also recently been made into a hologram for a museum installation recreating the birth of the Irish coffee in Foynes.

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’.


Sally Gilfillan
Sally trained at ArtsEd, London. Theatre roles include: Katy in The Revengers, Barons Court Theatre, Maggie in With Feathers, The Pleasance, Islington; Paulina in A Winters Tale, Maria in Twelfth Night, Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew, Maria in Love’s Labours Lost all for Rooftop Theatre Company, Veralanium Park, St Albans; Beatrice in Much ado about Nothing (UK tour) Pauline in A Kind of Alaska, The Pleasance and Barons Court, Gila, One for the Road Barons Court; Susan in Tiresias part of an evening of monologues at The Crown Pub, New Oxford Street. Films include Dirty Turkey, The Brotherhood, The Kiss. Commercials: Sainsburys Jamie Oliver Campaign.

Matthew Harrison-James
Matthew Harrison-James is a British born actor hailing from the West Midlands who currently lives in and around London since graduating from East 15 Acting School.  Matt has trained in Beijing Opera (jingju), African Traditional Performance, Balinese Theatre forms and Butoh as well as training in traditional western theatre.  Matt has worked with esteemed international artists Nakamura Fukusuke IX, Nyoman Sedana and Qin Liang in Kabuki, Balinese Theatre and jingju respectively.  This work culminated in the shows “Kabuki Meets West: Sumire” at Wimbledon Arts college and “The Women Generals of the Yang Family” at E15’s Clifftown Theatre, both in 2009.  Not only has Matt worked with international artists but also British based crossover theatre specialist and former artistic director of the Yellow Earth theatre company David Tse Ka Shing on his cross-cultural version of White Snake in 2010.  Other credits include You Me Bum Bum Train (Barbican bite) and Romeo & Juliet (Clifftown Theatre) Matt is soon to be playing Palamon in ‘The Two Noble Kinsmen in Stratford-Upon-Avon’s Dell Festival.

Gillian Horgan
Gillian Horgan is originally from Cork, and trained at Drama Studio London. Theatre credits include: No Dogs (Fragments), Susanna (Theatro Technis), Reeperbahn (Theatre503), Tilt (Cockpit Theatre), Famine (Old Red Lion), Monsieur Venus (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Camp Confidence (Hailsham Pavillion) and Dark Week (Everyman). Film credits include: Camden Calling, Verge, The Boat That Rocked, Black Coffee, and The Hurt in Hope.

Charlotte Hunter
Charlotte Hunter graduated from The Oxford School of Drama in 2009.  She performed the roles of Ophelia from Hamlet and Twelfth Night's Olivia to much acclaim at The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival last year and has since played two roles, one of which required the motion capture for an undead child, in the movie 'Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness' which was completed in March this year and is due for release in 2012.  Charlotte will be on our screens come September, appearing in the BBC's hospital drama, Doctors.
She is very happy to be reunited on stage with Robert Crighton following her stage debut as Nora from A Dolls House alongside Robert as Krugstad.

Ailsa Ilott
Having graduated from Middlesex University, shall we say a while ago, Ailsa went on to survive travelling the world on her lonesome to carry on studying acting at Drama Studio London. Ailsa's recent credits include: The Merry Wives of Windsor (What's in a name Productions); Alice's Adventures in the New World (Old Red Lion); Handbag (BAC); The Haman Bride (The Arcola); Licentogue (the Underbelly); The Enemy of the People (The Arcola); Storm in the Willows (The Albany); Richard II (The Bloomsbury). Last year she made 3 short films: Exploitation; The Date; and The ID Girl. Ailsa is an associate artist with the all female theatre company Fluff Productions with whom she will be doing a tour of Alice's Adventures later this year.

Elizabeth Jee
Elizabeth graduated from the London Centre for Theatre Studies in 2007. Theatre credits include AFTER THE DANCE (National Theatre) MY BOY JACK (Baron's Court Theatre) and TREWLAWNY OF THE WELLS (New Players Theatre). She has recently been working on a short film EMPTY PAGES playing the lead role (Release July 2011) and is looking forward to working with Milk Bottle Productions for the first time and helping to tell their marvellous story.

Sophie Morris-Sheppard
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.  
www.sophiemorrissheppard.com

Jessica Moore
Jessica Moore is an established actress who trained at East 15. She recently performed in Loves Labours Lost as The Princess and Henry V as Mistress Quickly and Alice for the CSF, Top Cat and Alice in 'Dick Whittington meets Top Cat', Polina in 'The Seagull' at Barons Court and  Kim in 'The Waiting Game' at the Unicorn Theatre. Other credits include Emma Darwin in 'When Poets Meet Scientist's' and various Voice over projects including Sony Playstation in various roles and more recently narrator for Revealed on CNN; credits include Sylvio Berlosconi John Malkovitch and Mark Ronson.

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 is currently playing Claudio in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING for Rooftop Theatre in St Albans (until July 16th). Tickets www.rooftoptheatre.co.uk

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 comedy super-hero short ‘Durex-Man’ directed by fellow Storyteller Colin Emerson.  She is also soon to feature in ‘Like a Fishbone’ by Andrew Weigh at the Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone.

Kate Steel
Kate trained at East 15 Acting School.
Since graduating in 2008 she has played a wide variety of roles, most recently in Los Angeles where she trained with Cinda Jackson and John Pleshette.
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 is currently rehearsing for an Agatha Christie Spoof, ‘Murdered to Death’. If she survives this play, she hopes to reprise her character, Margaret, in the two remaining plays in the trilogy!
Kate was in Los Angeles from January this year until recently 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 this year.
As a former primary school teacher, Kate has always loved telling stories and is thrilled to play her most recent part in "The Natural History of Trolls".

Philippa Tatham
Philippa started her London acting career dressed as an Elizabethan whore on the Southwark streets. Since then, her credits have included Autolycus (The Winter’s Tale), Mistress Overdone (Measure for Measure), Dormouse/Tweedledum (Curiouser and Curiouser) and Sebastian (Twelfth Night.) In 2010 she directed her own show The Adventures of Sydney and Arabella, The Exiled Urban Foxes at the Camden Fringe, and has also staged plays at The King’s Head, Tabard, New End, Baron’s Court and Rose Theatres as well as with London Irish Theatre.  She is appearing as Beatrice in Rooftop Theatre’s Much Ado About Nothing in St Albans this July.

Jessica Tobert
Originally from Harrow, North London, Jessica trained at the University of Birmingham in both English Literature and Drama, before committing to the life of an actor. Since graduating she has been cast in a number of shows.
Her recent credits include: Jackie in The Snow Show (Troubadour Productions); Dancer/Actor for the 20th Anniversary Viral (Sennheiser); Josef/Maria in Macbeth and Taming of the Shrew (Principal Theatre Company); Chorus Member in La Boheme (Cock Tavern Theatre).  Most recently she has been gigging with her band, The Honky Sausage.

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.

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 first appearance with Milk Bottle Productions.  Spotlight  9376-9059-3054.




Last Post Before the Vault Opens

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
STORYTELLER:
The Natural History of Trolls
Tomorrow is going to be a long day.  Yup.  That is a definite.  Travelling down to London first thing - lots of stuff to transport - then tech... then the cast arrive... then we rehearse all afternoon... then we do a show.  And that's the interesting bit.  That's the bit where I get to meet some of you.  Tickets are still available for each night and each night will be a very different beast, different casts, different audience.
So what can you expect from The Natural History of Trolls?  It is a series of stories following several overlapping characters.  You'll meet a Princess, William, Bertie, Robert, Vicki, Bernard and the Angry Young Man.  You'll be transported from Royal Palaces to dark tunnels, from the English countryside to the war torn fields of France.  You'll also be in a small studio theatre listening to twelve different voices guiding you through these events.  Perhaps with a drink in your hand?  Perhaps savouring the taste of a rather nice dry white wine you've just sipped?  Perhaps you'll suddenly remember something that's been annoying you all day, only for a rather silly joke to distract you from the real world?
I've never been that keen on the real world.  Hence the Trolls and the travelling and the rehearsal and the show.
I look forward to meeting you - when we open the Vault.
Robx
P.S. Tickets, as ever, available now - Go on, you know you want to...

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Last Cast Member

Yes, there is one left.  Me.  Should have mentioned me earlier really, but I sort of forgot.  The clue might have been my face on the poster... So, who am I?  Follows is the usual cut down version of my own existence.

 
Robert Crighton

Robert Crighton is a multi-award winning playwright and performer, founder of Milk Bottle Productions, and the only entrant in the 25 year history of the Lost One-Act Festival to win three awards in successive years though is sadly no longer eligible to win anymore..
For Milk Bottle he has written and largely performed in The Natural History of Trolls, The Invasion of Sudbury, Shoes That Angels Fear To Wear, Cuckold’s Fair, Teaching Gods and Other Stories...  (Including the monologues: Problem Tree, The Examiner of Small Ailments, The Alternative Seagull, Keynote Speaker, Teaching Gods and Fantasy Terrorist League), Sunmakers, Myth, The Bear Named Mo-, Blind Spots, Thebes, Apathy, Apocalypse, The Happy Fluffy Bunny All Singing All Dancing Pop Up Show, Amateurs & Lord Ashborn – as well as adaptations of Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, The Birds & The Bacchae.

Outside of Milk Bottle he has acted in productions of Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, An Ideal Husband, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, A Doll’s House, Suddenly at Home, Othello, Hobson’s Choice, Twelfth Night, Sleeping Beauty, Two Planks and a Passion, Lark Rise, Aladdin, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Country Wife, Phaedra’s Love, Day of the Doodlebug, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, In the Darkness Waiting, The Importance of Being Earnest, Julius Caesar, Cinderella, Mort, Whose Deadly Sin? & Babes in the Wood.
Also outside of Milk Bottle has directed productions of Alice in Wonderland, The Comedy of Errors, Design For Living, Peer Gynt, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Pot of Gold, Ghosts, Talking Heads – A Lady of Letters, Oedipus, Copenhagen, Roots and Wings, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead & Under Milk Wood.

His plays The Natural History of Trolls, Blind Spots, Shoes That Angels Fear To Wear, Teaching Gods and Other Stories... & Cuckold’s Fair are available to purchase via lulu.com – or directly after the show!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Imaginary Duck

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
STORYTELLER:
The Natural History of Trolls
Right, first a bit of business - here is the full cast list again, with the various changes made.  These are the wonderful people of the cast.

The cast - check earlier blogs for names...
THREE DAY EVENTERS:
(On for all three performances)

Robert Crighton
Georgina Blackledge
Jessica Moore
Sophie Morris-Sheppard
Pamela Flanagan
Richard Ward

ONE DAY INTERNATIONALS:
MONDAY
Charlotte Hunter
Philippa Tatham
Simon Nader
Emma Burn
Sally Gilfillan
Ailsa Ilott

TUESDAY
Sophie Carmichael
Denys Gaskill
Jessica Tobert
Josie Bloom
Kate Steel
Matthew Harrison-James

WEDNESDAY
Elizabeth Jee
Jamie Addlet  
Gillian Horgan
Elizabeth Quinn
Elizabeth Nicholson
Colin Emerson

They should all be found in the previous six or so blogs with details about their wonderful selves.  

Now, there is one member of the cast we haven't talked about yet.  He is the most important part of any Milk Bottle show living as he does in our hearts.  I speak of the Imaginary Duck of whom I am protector.
Let me tell you of the Imaginary Duck.  He is a calm beast to the eye of the spectator - floating along on the surface of the waters of the drama.  No discernable effort is displayed by the Imaginary Duck.  But underneath the surface of the waters the feet of the Imaginary Duck paddle at a terrific rate, churning up the liquid of tragedy, pushing against the fluid of comedy, forcing the evident body of the duck towards its ultimate aim - the shores of total satisfaction that all audiences crave.
The cast and I live through the spirit of the Imaginary Duck, we work hard to reach our destination - your contentment - but do all that is in our power to ensure that you do not see our little feet work.
All hail the power of the Imaginary Duck.
Quack!

You can tell I really haven't got anything serious to write about today.  Rehearsing stories and monologues is incredibly dull I can tell you, it's the performing part that's fun, so forgive me if I take a little time off to write nonsense.  
The Imaginary Duck is actually a company in joke, after someone mistranslated the title of a Moliere play during a rehearsal.  Le Malade Imaginaire.  Of course we should call it the Imaginary Mallard, but Duck flowed better.
As I wrote this I thought I'd put Imaginary Duck into a search engine and see what came up.  I found this Could-becoming-an-imaginary-duck-change-your-life?  It's a strange universe.
Anyway, that's just one of many pointless things we do at Milk Bottle.
Till tomorrow, when there's something with a little more weight.
Robx

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Meet the Cast - The End is Nigh!

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
STORYTELLER:
The Natural History of Trolls
This is the last selection of the company - bar one very special person, who I'll introduce you to on Thursday. Eagle eyed readers and those with a badge for mathematical excellence will realise that the names and numbers of cast presented in this blog have not remained consistent - there have been a couple of changes due to various dull clashing work commitment things.  The revised cast and day of performance list follows tomorrow - tickets, as ever, available now - Go on, you know you want to...

Charlotte Hunter

Charlotte Hunter graduated from The Oxford School of Drama in 2009.  She performed the roles of Ophelia from Hamlet and Twelfth Night's Olivia to much acclaim at The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival last year and has since played two roles, one of which required the motion capture for an undead child, in the movie 'Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness' which was completed in March this year and is due for release in 2012.  Charlotte will be on our screens come September, appearing in the BBC's hospital drama, Doctors. She is very happy to be reunited on stage with Robert Crighton following her stage debut as Nora from A Dolls House alongside Robert as Krugstad.

Josie Bloom

Josie Bloom is an actress, singer and storyteller. She graduates from ALRA in July 2011 and is delighted to be making her professional debut with Milk Bottle Productions.

She is also due to appear at the Camden Festival in Peter at The Shaw Theatre in August 2011. Previous credits include: Underground (Dream Think Speak) and A Storyteller in Search of an Audience (Vayu Naidu Company).



Sophie Morris-Sheppard

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 Productions.
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.  
www.sophiemorrissheppard.com

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Travelling Salesman

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
STORYTELLER:
The Natural History of Trolls
My life is a bizarre mix at the moment - half the time I'm a proper performer, rehearsing and performing, running lines and other actory things - the other half I'm a travelling salesman, passing on little brown envelopes filled with flyers.  I had a long day doing similar yesterday - popping round a cast members house to drop off my suspicious package, rehearsing a little in the afternoon with Richard Ward (whose part is so secret no one else in the cast is allowed to see it!) and then off to the New Wimbledon Studio to meet the lovely Helen who showed me round the space.  I must say I was impressed.  The London Fringe is made up of many dives but the studio at Wimbledon is not one of them.  The dressing rooms are positively palacial - if a funny shape.  Yes, we'll be well at home here.
And tickets for the show are, like the bowels of a condemned man, moving.  Tuesday night is the front runner at the moment, so get your tickets now.  And that does mean using the internet or phone to book.  Go on, you know you want to...
The New Wimbledon Studio Monday 11th, Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th July at 7.45pm
Tickets: £10   Box Office: 0844 871 7646
New Wimbledon Studio, the Broadway, London, SW19 1QG

***

Now to other things.  I've been introducing you, my international audience (and yes, I see you in my stats America - hello there! - you're most welcome), to some of my earlier pieces and the progression of their publication/performance.  So it's time to introduce to you the manifesto season.  The manifesto wasn't a manifesto as such, nothing like the kind you got in the early 20th Century where artists nailed various colours to their masts, it was an appeal for the author.  Specifically, of course, this author.  No conflict of interest there.

Broadly speaking I worry that British Theatre has become very faffy.  Lots of artistic statements, workshops and people talking bollocks.  There is nothing so depressing than a bit of blurb saying that a work is "ground breaking" and "innovative" when the piece they put forward is based on techniques that have had currency for more than a century.  The traditions of British Theatre (capitals there, so I must be serious) of solid guts, getting on that stage and owning the text and the audience are diminished by the lack of variety of experience that young actors can get.  This is a slide that happened since repertory companies ceased to function. 

Let's not get too hung up by the death of repertory (many were terrible places where theatre went to die), but these theatres did give actors the chance to play every part under the sun, regardless of age, sex and class and, regardless of type they had to get on stage and do their stuff.  But rep was just one model for this kind of action.  Prior to rep there were stock companies, actor managers and other beasts of theatre which produced a variety of shows every year with (broadly) the same cast.  And so you can go back and back from one theatre company to the next right up to the English Civil War (where it gets a bit wobbly) and through a few threads back to year dot.

That was the British Theatre (still in capitals) - Wales, Scotland and Ireland all followed similar and sometimes better lines.  So when rep died (or was brutally killed, depending on your political pursuasion) there was nothing comparable to replace it.  The tradition of the ages died.
What I am really bemoaning is the lack of companies.  We don't have theatre companies anymore.  For the most part what we call a theatre company is a theatre management, who call together actors and artists to create occasional bits of work.  The RSC is an exception and there are others, but compared with even fifty years ago there are almost no companies where artists work together in a semi-perminant basis - as an ensemble.

And there have been few artistic movements in the theatre that have existed outside of an ensemble. Shakespeare, Moliere, the work of the MAT to name but three out of dozens.  Because an ensemble doesn't just help the actor grow, it gives the writer (director and designers) juice.  There is nothing better than to write dialogue for a company of people you know.  You're spurred on by the chance to challenge X, you've got this great scene that Y will do well, and you've got a chance to show off Z's special talent (whatever that turns out to be).  The divorce of theatre from its company has been the end of the British tradition of theatre.


That isn't to say that there isn't a lot of very good theatre going on - it's that there is a hole in the heart of it all that isn't being filled and we are poorer as a result.  When the older generation of actors dies, that will be it.


This, in a roundabout way, is what the manifesto season is about.  All the play's in it were written with specific people in mind and were there to challenge and push, not "the boundaries of modern drama" or the "envelope of innovation" (genuine quote) but to push a cast, to push people, to get those bastards out on the stage and give it some. 

Unfortunately, of course, the theatre company these plays were written for doesn't exist.  Almost.  All my plays are written with one group in mind.  An amateur company, the Sudbury Dramatic Society based at the Quay Theatre, Sudbury.  They produce six productions a year with a variety of old hands and new faces.  They don't put on my plays of course (I wouldn't suggest it for a start) because they wouldn't sell.  But I do imagine who would play each part based on these actors, giving them something to say.  I don't tell them this, of course, except via my blog.


The manifesto season was also just a calling card, a chance to show the variety of work I write - from storytelling to comedy to tragedy.  I wrote this little manifesto - below - in some hope that it might annoy someone and printed it in the programme of the first play of the season, Cuckold's Fair.  In an hope to annoy I made it as pretentious as possible - in that I stated we had pretentions to greatness, as apposed to using pretentious language to give the impression of pretention to adequacy - but no one said a word.  Hey-ho.  Suppose it would have been better to talk about being "relevant".  Which I think I did use in a press release once in 2006, but never believe my press releases, they're almost all lies.


The Manifesto Season @ Barons Court
3 New Plays – 3 World Premieres – 3 Different Worlds

These three plays are our Manifesto.  They are a manifesto that demands to be heard, seen and experienced.  They are a call to arms for writers of challenging words.  Not for writers of scripts or for new writing – but for the ascendency of a theatre of words.
The words of the theatre of Robert Crighton are weapons, precision tools to slice into the physically and visually strong, but textually weak, theatre of today.  Challenging theatre has always progressed with its words, and in the modern theatre the words have become soft.  Come and listen to a few of ours.  Listen to the manifesto.
Milk Bottle doesn’t develop work: it writes it, rehearses it and puts it on.  We do not workshop, we do not create theatre in a democracy, and we do not dilute our material by looking for a consensus.  We aim to share with you the visions of Robert Crighton, three works of different genres, yet all from his own very twisted world.  It is his, it is genuinely unique, and we share it with you - enjoy. 

Manifesto 1:  Storytelling - Cuckold’s Fair - Tuesday 9th to Sunday 14th February 2010

So, in this roundabout way, to Cuckold's Fair - the first of the Manifesto Season.  It was based on the original idea I had for the monologue Teaching Gods.  In Teaching Gods a man is cursed with "perpetual attention" - that is an erection (no swooning in the back) that only goes away when he's about to get lucky.  But I chickened out for Teaching Gods and did the mild version of the story.  Cuckold's Fair took it all the way and threw in a few more sexual antics for good measure. 

Cuckold's Fair is about sex and infidelity - specifically the man being cuckolded by his wife/partner.  This we explored in most combinations, the serious affair, the one off fling, the couples who love, the couples who don't... but mostly I used sex because it's funny, it's absurd and the desperation to have it tends to make people do really stupid things.  It was also a serious look at how infidelity works and the damage it can do. 

It ran for a week and I was very pleased with it - it will return for a one performance this December (BREAKING NEWS - dates pending) and hopefully I'll revive it next year.  But for those who can't wait, you can always purchase the script online or download it to your kindle.  Be warned - it is filthy in places and not always in a good way.  You have been warned!  BUY NOW!

Next time on this occasional blog about the past - rather than the Trollish future - I'll introduce you to Shoes That Angels Fear To Wear.  They're rather natty.
Robx