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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Press Release - Storyteller 2012

Press Release - Storyteller 2012
27th November 2012 to 6th January 2013

Six Weeks of Storytelling at Barons Court Theatre - Christmas 2012/13
A selection of (mostly) comic stories and storytelling from award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton and his friends.
Two exciting new productions performing in repertory at the Barons Court Theatre this Christmas, spearheaded by writer, performer and storyteller Robert Crighton

Press Night for both shows:  Tuesday 27th November 2012
Two comps plus programme, do contact us if you can review the show.

Ghost Storyteller:  “Ghosts don’t pay tax.”
A traditional ghost story show, with a difference – it’s played for laughs not for fear.  Ghosts are faintly absurd things, they wander around making noises, feeling generally sorry for themselves – why do we take them seriously? 
Robert Crighton’s ghost story is about a poltergeist.  But why should it be one of those over the top sinister ones?  So his is the poltergeist of a hamster – doing what all hamsters do, running on his wheel all night. 
Writer and Performer Robert Crighton:  “It is a comic show, primarily because I don’t believe in ghosts.  Since I first started this show I’ve been inundated with stories – some of which were, unbeknownst to the teller, quite hilarious.  Like the person who told me all about the ghost of a nail that appeared in their kitchen.  A paranormal nail!  However, making fun of ghosts can have its drawbacks.  There was a heckler one night - he wandered into the show after five minutes and then started saying, very loudly, that ghosts were real and that I wasn't showing them enough respect.  I’m sorry, but ghosts don’t pay tax or vote so I don’t see any reason to show them respect.”
In fact lots of people think the show should show respect, as Milk Bottle regularly receives abusive messages from offended members of the ‘ghost community’, who don’t take criticism of the paranormal (in a light and inoffensive fictional storytelling show) as reasonable.  So just wait till we get to the second show of the night.
For more on this year’s ghost story show at tryout and the author’s lack of belief in ghosts, go to:

The Fantasy Terrorist Variations:  “Three plays – one subject – BOOM!”
This is a show that spins off from our 2005 play Fantasy Terrorist League which won the award for best writing at the LOST One-Act Festival.  There are three plays that deal with different aspects of the terrorist world since 9/11 – internment, prisoner abuse and offense, specifically offense caused by criticism of Mohammed.  Recent protests in the Middle East highlight how different views of free speech can be used to create fear and hatred.  These are just some of the themes dealt with in the show. 
For a full account of THE FEAR and the author go to Robert’s blog:

A short trailer for The Project After can be seen on YouTube –

***

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
Ghost Storyteller
Comic Ghost Stories Written and Performed by Robert Crighton

Returning this Autumn / Winter following the success of the run last year!  Ghost Storyteller is a lightly comic selection of ghost stories written and performed by award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton. 
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”: including the tale of a poltergeist hamster and the pub that cried ghost.

Running Tuesday to Sunday from 27th November 2012 to 6th January 2013
Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm – Doors Open at 7.15pm
Sundays at 6pm – Doors Open at 5.45pm
No performances on Mondays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Years Day
Tickets: £12 / £10 concessions
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14 9HR
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

Writer and Performer - Robert Crighton

Robert Crighton is a multi-award winning playwright and performer and the only entrant in the 25 year history of the Lost One-Act Festival to win three awards in successive years. 
Robert graduated from Middlesex University in 2003 with a degree in Performing Arts: Drama which he occasionally uses to bolster his self esteem.  On leaving he immediately set up a residency with his company Milk Bottle in various studio spaces in Suffolk where, apart from occasional touring work, he has been based ever since. 

With Milk Bottle he has produced a mix of work, from classical drama to new plays, swapping roles from production to production.  Sometimes writer, director or actor (always designer – he does all the design work on his posters, including painting the picture of the cat) he has stamped a distinct and simple playing style in the Milk Bottle repertoire. 

For Milk Bottle he has written and often performed in The Natural History of Trolls, 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.

***

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
The Fantasy Terrorist Variations
Written by Robert Crighton, performed by Keith Hill and Simon Nader

A series of stories spun from the award-winning ‘Fantasy Terrorist League’.  A man is interned as a terrorist on the flimsiest of grounds, a chancer looks how to make money out of counter-terrorism and the story of the non-existent artwork that might get people killed. The Fantasy Terrorist Variations is a powerful account of fear, the policeman on our streets and the ones in our heads.

Running Tuesday to Saturday from 27th November 2012 to 5th January 2013 at 9pm
Tuesdays to Saturdays Only at 9pm – Doors Open at 8.50pm
Tickets: £12 / £10 concessions
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14 9HR             

The Cast

Keith Hill:
Keith, has seen a lot of Milk Bottles over the last few years, but has never managed to get into one until now. He was cast after a campaign lasting four years and a promise not to play his accordion. Stage work has included Lucifer and others in The York Mysteries , two productions of Road, Vaudevillains for Les Enfants Terribles, Feydeau farce for DeadAnt, Torben Betts’ The Error of Their Ways (then a UK premiere) for Eleanor Rhode. And now this.  The one person he has played in the last few years who is not homicidal, deluded, drunk, or all three, was the leading Miscarriage of Justice campaigner Paul May in Someone to Blame earlier this year at the Old King’s Head for David Mercatali.  Film includes The Last Time I Saw You; Exit with Julian Glover, an anthropophagite home chef in the forthcoming Valentine’s Day for Benjamin Taylor and most recently The Maid for 721 productions, which is nearing the end of post-production. Keith has also recorded a number of audiobooks, ranging from The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ to the enormous social history of post-war Britain: Austerity Britain, by David Kynaston

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 Blister, Billy Blister’s Circus (Watford Palace Theatre); George, Of Mice and Men (National tour); Colin/Policeman, Maggie’s End (Shaw Theatre); and most recently Qudz at the National Theatre Studio venue The Yard. Feature Film work includes The Dead Inside as Wayne Andrews and Guildenstern in Fodor's Hamlet (2006).  Radio includes BBC Radio 4’s The Chess Girls, whilst recent TV appearances include a recurring role in The Borgias and follow up to multi-award winning series Pillars of the Earth: World Without End.

THE COMPANY: Milk Bottle Productions

Milk Bottle was founded in 2000 by Robert Crighton and has been performing a constant stream of small scale, high quality theatre productions.  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. 

What is Milk Bottle?   It's a name, it's a way of life, it's a flower in a storm, it's Robert Crighton. It's weekly repertory, storytelling, book publishing, epic theatre, tiny theatre, three times award-winning theatre; it's singing cats,  dancing flowers, blind men and magic shoes.
Since 2000, Milk Bottle has produced dozens of new plays, old plays and other stuff.  It has been the management under which writer and performer Robert Crighton distributes his work. It is based in his head most of the time, but when it leaves there it visits Suffolk and London on a semi-regular basis.  Come and join the fun.

REVIEWS:  Praise for Robert Crighton and Milk Bottle in previous Productions...

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF TROLLS - 2012
★★★ Remotegoat:  “It is admirable then that writer and performer of The Natural History of Trolls, Robert Crighton, is able to sustain the interest of his audience as well as a wizened comic and create a large-scale, convincing fantastical environment merely with his words. Although two talented and attractive actresses have been recruited to assist with the telling, The Natural History of Trolls is undoubtedly a one man show and Crighton, with his diction like John Gielgud and dressed like a sort of Dickensian sex pest, is an accomplished storyteller...  His story is a charming and original one that, as an audience member, made me yearn to be sat at my Grandfather's knee, listening to a similarly tall tale of a world beyond our own.”

THE COMPLETE SHERLOCK HOLMES - 2010 / 2011
★★★★  London Theatre Network: “Crighton is an accomplished story teller... Immersive, enjoyable and cosy, you will leave the room with a satisfied smile on your face, as if you’ve just visited some old friends.”

★★★★ Remotegoat: “Robert Crighton gives you a unique evening of storytelling... It is easy to see why Robert Crighton has won awards for his performance.”

TEACHING GODS & OTHER STORIES... - 2009
Fringe Report: “Verdict: Funny, fast-paced, with depth... There are a lot of good reasons to see the show. It's funny, fast-paced... surreal fantasy, with an edge of revenge... Robert Crighton performs with great energy and no little charm... well viewed after a drink, before a bigger one and some cheese, in celebration perhaps of strange dreams and the campus cat.”

Website:  www.milkbottleproductions.co.uk
Facebook: Robert Crighton: Storyteller                                 
Twitter: @RobertCrighton
Blog: robertcrightonstoryteller.blogspot.com
Youtube Channel: TheRobertCrighton
Shop: www.lulu.com/spotlight/robertcrighton

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Behind The Fantasy Terrorist Variations

[The play The Project After discussed below can be heard as an audio recording here. http://www.frequencytheatre.co.uk/play/the-project-after/ - Updated 2016]

I'm a person who can get a little carried away.  I'm aware of this.  In fact, the awareness of the fact has made me a little careful of late.  Whereas my younger self would run with something and promptly fall off the edge of a cliff, I have of late hung back.  This was not inherently a bad thing at times, but it isn't a habit to get stuck in.  In the past I have taken on projects simply because they were there.  A few basic plans were made, but there was a lot of running blind and going on instinct.  With the exception of a few notable disasters this has steered me into interesting and successful territory.  But this impulse has faded.
Well, it did until I fell ill.  There's nothing like sitting around feeling sorry for oneself to help get your convictions set out in a row.  But I'm careful not to let my personal convictions get in the way of the work.  Which is what leads us to my current project and my fear of getting carried away, of causing offence, of letting my convictions stand too proud.

I have mentioned, in passing in this blog, the new show The Fantasy Terrorist Variations.  It is a work in progress, probably always will be, dealing in short plays with the issues of terrorism, politics, civil liberties and religion.  And it is the religious part that causes me trouble - not in the sense that I have much doubt about the nature of religion, my personal convictions are quite clear; not in writing the plays, not in producing them - but in the presentation of them in publicity.  If you've seen any of my plays you will have noticed that gods and magic get a fair amount of time on stage.  This is because this is where gods and magic belong.  In fiction.  They are lovely plot devices, ways of testing the mettle of your characters and shouldn't be seriously applied to the real world.
This is not a particularly safe opinion to hold, historically.  For most of history, professing this view of the universe would have got me killed.  In some parts of the world, it will still get me killed.  And you will have noticed, if you haven't been living under a rock, that the world and religion are having issues at the moment.  Offence is being taken across the globe and any additional opinion, any debate, does not necessarily go down well.  I've been sitting on a press release for The Fantasy Terrorist Variations for a month now as one of the plays plays with ideas of belief and religious belief and fear and lots of stuff, and so, not particularly inclined to add fuel to the flames or, more importantly, to look as if I were trying to profit from them, I sat on it.  Adjusted it.  Watered it down.  In the Middle East people have died, there are enormous issues at stake, and a small late night fringe show should not attempt to elbow its way into the limelight by jumping on the back of what is happening.
BUT... but... is that the real reason why I haven't told anyone about a play, The Project After, 1/3 of the show FTV, that deals with the prophet Mohammed?  Am I doing this to avoid being a cynical callous bastard, trying to sell tickets off the back of many deaths and the news scrum that ensued, or... am I doing this (not doing this) because I'm afraid.  Because of THE FEAR.  I mean, I have to publicise this show eventually, don't I?  I have to tell people sometime.  So why... weeks after the riots in Libya etc. have I not sent out anything?  I think it's because I'm afraid.
We, dear readers of this blog, can discuss this issue, can't we.  We can talk about it here.  No one is watching.  I can always cut out all the dangerous sounding religious stuff from the press release and talk about this stuff here.  Some kind of publicity can go ahead.  The safe, unnoticed kind.
The Fantasy Terrorist Variations has its starting point in a play I wrote in 2005.  The play Fantasy Terrorist League was about internment, about how someone like me - explicitly me in the first version - would cope with being locked away without trial or any human rights.  This examination of injustice, bald, clear cut, was balanced out (so as not to be agit-prop) by centring the piece on a love story, by making all the actions personal, by making the centre character just a bit unreliable and the whole nature of what happened to him debatable.
It was this blurring of lines that has led to the Variation project.  Looking at ideas circling the 'war on terror' as it was once called, from different perspectives, questioning the value of the speaker, displaying their bias, known or unknown.  The important element of that play, and the others that make up The Fantasy Terrorist Variations, are that they are full of people who are human, unreliable, that any message included in the work is seen through the prism of the human, not social theory.  That means that I have to be brave enough to introduce characters who undermine their own argument, to make people act like people and so say things quite casually, which leads to them saying things which border on the sexist, racist and intolerant.  These people may not really mean to be so, they would be horrified to be thought of as any of the above - but how many of us haven't been caught out saying something casually, whilst a little worse for drink perhaps, what we really think, which challenges our own perceived beliefs about what we think we think.  These little Freudian slips drive these play and hopefully gives them power.  Of course, they also open up the danger of misinterpretation.
The second play of the trilogy (currently it's still a trilogy, but I can see at least three more variations on the horizon) is Keynote Speaker whose central character is fairly unreconstructed.  He's a bit of a geezer, even if he has gone up in the world, who can't quite see the ironies inherent in some of the things he says.  His variation on the original story is to take internment and attempt to make money out of it.  He actually plans to get interned so that he can claim compensation - he even converts to Islam to make himself look like a better terrorist suspect, because in his eyes all Muslims are terrorists.  Whilst he whizzes from one generalisation after another, the Muslims he encounters in this story, rather than being terrorists, are the only people who act decently.  He is quite disappointed in this fact as it slightly ruins his plan.
This is where we reach the difficult play of the trio in FTV, the one that could appear to cause offence.  This is the play about fear.  My fear of offence.  Even though it shouldn't cause offence.  It isn't offensive at allThe first play was about government power and it's abuse.  The second play turns this power on its head, making those who we are told to fear into the closest we get to heroes.  But variation three, The Project After, is about another side of this world of 'terror'.  It is about the fear.  It is about the fear that drives western liberals when facing (or not facing) up to the world of fundamentalist Islamic belief.  The 'War on Terror' and the government reactions to it are reflected in plays 1 and 2.  Play 3 is all about the fear that drives these reactions and how we relate to it.  Because we (massive generalisation here, but we'll move on) in the West do fear fundamentalist attitudes, we fear to debate these issues, because we see what happens to people who do.  Because there are a great number of people in the world who do not discuss, do not debate, people who will and do kill to protect their God.  A small fraction of people who hold this view have attempted and succeeded in killing people who hold the same views as I do.  I.e. That freedom of speech is more important than offence.  And somehow I have to write a play about this and not get trapped in the fear itself.
Now, even positing such a simple point I'm already engaging in generalisation - people will and do argue that Islam is a peaceful religion, that there are plenty of moderates around the world.  I am, of course, not worried about the moderates.  Moderates will just talk to you sternly, they don't stab your translator or shoot your publisher.
And, with that qualification about moderates you can see I'm already reacting to a pressure not to say something inflammatory.  I'm reacting to the fear, the fear that these words and the ones that follow, the ones that I will put into a play, will get me threatened and or killed.  Regardless whether this will happen or not (and I doubt it will) the fear is there. There is part of me that is trying to stop me from engaging an idea.
Sadly, ideas are often not welcome in this world.  If I lived in Pakistan I could be under sentence of death for writing The Project After or for mentioning out loud many of the views that I hold.  This isn't exaggeration.  There is a blasphemy law in Pakistan that makes the expression of the ideas I hold punishable by death.  And it isn't alone in the world in this regard.  It is somewhat ironic to find myself writing a play about fear of offending Muslims, whilst actually fearing the consequences.  And it's not as if I'm actually attacking the religion.  I'm just debating how far fear can go to stop us thinking.
I am, speaking personally, an arch atheist.  I believe, pretty strongly, that I and everyone else in the world is probably wrong about most things and that we shouldn't worry too much about it.  This is especially true of religion, about which everybody is even more wrong than everybody else about, precisely because they are so convinced that they are right about it.  I, everyone, should be able to live in a world where such thoughts expressed should come as no surprise.  It is self evident to me that the world of religion is a bubble that has been comprehensibly burst, that many terrible evils are still needlessly committed in its name, that it is my duty to the future and our present to not be beaten down by fear and not speak out.  In the case of this play the religion has to be Islam, because that is the religion we fear, that is the religion which was engaged with in the 'War on Terror'.  If I get round to writing another variation on the war on terror from the American viewpoint, well let's just say right wing Christians will be in as much of a spotlight.  Except I'm considerably less afraid that a right-wing Christian would kill me for doing so.  Though this is not unknown either.
All this aside, as a playwright I don't write polemics.  I write people.  They maybe caught within morality tales, but their actions should not necessarily be moral, the outcome needs not come out in any pat moral way.  Both Fantasy Terrorist League and Keynote Speaker are coloured by the very real possibility that both narrators are lying.  That we should not take their side absolutely.  In FTL this is because the subject of the piece is slightly unreliable, in Keynote because the man is a shyster.  In The Project After the characters are an artist and his dealer, two people with radically different opinions as to the purpose of art and so take different positions in the debate.
And so we return to the question of fear - fear of offence, of breaking a taboo.  And the most obvious taboo of our age is talking about Mohammed.  People die on a regular basis for this man, either because they said something against him or because they have suggested that his life story is not wholly consistent.  It doesn't actually matter to me if he did exist (someone like him probably did) or whether he had a hot line to God (I don't believe that he did) what does matter is that no one should die because they question him or, as the most obvious example points out, depict him.
Let me make it clear, The Project After does not depict Mohammed.  In this, I suppose, I'm a coward as it is a concession to fear.  (Why shouldn't I draw a picture of him, it won't actually harm anyone?)  The play does, however, deal with an attempt to depict him.  It's a play about art and about an invitation to draw a picture of Mohammed.  As a situation it feeds on fear - the fear of the cast, the fear of the author, the fear of the audience.  No one does draw a picture of Mohammed.  This isn't because I'm a coward, but because I'm not performing the play myself.  It's one thing to write something that will question belief systems and so set oneself up for opprobrium, it is another to incite my cast to do it for me and so put themselves in the line of fire.  It's hardly sporting.
The play is entirely driven by conceptual attacks on religious certainty, and is an attempt to make people think, rather than a physical provocation.  Even within this form it was enough for one of the cast to cry out (rather inappropriately): "Oh Jesus Christ!" when the nub of the dilemma is laid out.  Fear again, plus a sense of exhilaration at seeing something that questions, that is rightly probing.
I don't want to go into too much detail of the content of the play (as otherwise what incentive would you have to watch it?) but here is the untrailer for The Project After, play 3 of The Fantasy Terrorist Variations.  It covers the thrust of the argument of the play.



Needless to say (if you've read the above properly and I've done my job effectively) the characters that are caught up in this issue are not perfect.  Their debate is flawed because of their own interests, their class, their humanity.  The worry is that people watching will react to them and not the play, confusing the medium for the message.  But that's just a risk I will have to take.

But then again, it's a risk I have already taken, having dealt with the evil of blasphemy laws before.  In 2007 I wrote a one-off monologue called The Bear Named Mo- which was written is response to an incident in the Sudan, where a teacher, Gillian Gibbons, was arrested for naming a class teddy bear, Mohammed.  It didn't matter that it was a member of the class who named the teddy bear or that Mohammed was the inevitable choice a. because it was the boy's name and b. as it's a pretty prevalent name in those parts, she was arrested.  Her punishment could have been a prison sentence or forty lashes. Crowds of thousands of people gathered after Friday prayers demanding that she be put to death.  She was, eventually, released.  The school where she worked was then closed down.  Considering that the person who allegedly spoke against her to the authorities worked at the school and disapproved of how it operated (teaching by and for women for example) you could say the closing of the school was the primary aim of the whole affair.  The forces of ignorance really won out that day.
My response was comic - the same story, but where the teddy is a. actually alive and b. where the bear was in fact named Mo Socks III and a member of the teddy bears picnic club, whose members would go on to attempt to rescue him.  The same fate of arrest awaited my heroine, though in my version via a misunderstanding.  In the course of the public cries for her death and the destruction of the teddy (we never did find out what happened to the teddy bear in the real case) leads to a pyre being made of children's toys, all ripped from the hands of infants, as a cleansing act.  The pair are only saved by the children turning on their parents, en masse and asking why?  Why were they doing this?  It didn't make sense?  Wishful thinking, of course.
Of course, to many millions of people, this simple tale of a teddy bear is probably enough provocation to see them wish me dead or at least silenced.  But that isn't to say the play was provocative.  It, again, never named the bear as Mohammed, it wasn't disrespectful of Islam at all, placing the uproar more in the hands of a corrupt government (more true than I thought at the time).  But the point is that the discussion is the blasphemous part.  To even ask a question, in ignorance, can and has been enough to put people behind bars.
None of this isn't, incidentally, why the script wasn't published or why I didn't perform it again.  It's because the piece heavily features various fictional bears, which would require far too many literary clearances to make it worth my while.  I've nearly gone to the trouble more than once, but it was also based on a very specific case and much of it only worked as a specific satire of the time.  I haven't found any follow up about the case - perhaps Ms Gibbons, reasonably enough, hasn't wanted to revisit the incident.
But it was a good example of how my principles came second to a sense of self preservation.  A week before the piece was to be performed I got a call from Look East, the local B.B.C. news programme for the eastern counties.  I was naturally delighted, publicity like this does not come to theatre often.  And then they started asking if I was insulting the prophet Mohammad?  Would it cause offence?  (That word offence again.)  And I was grovelling in my attempts to make it clear that there was nothing, nothing at all, no, just no, it couldn't possibly be interpreted that way.  Which, naturally, nulled any news value and I heard nothing more.  Within days the teacher was released and my little satire was no longer news.  I performed to a nice local audience, no one complained.
I was suitably ashamed of myself.  It's not that I wanted to insult people, but the knee jerk 'don't offend anyone' response was pathetic.  My response was driven, not by the accurate description of the piece (which it was) but by fear.  And fear is not something we should have to deal with.
So nuts to the fear, nuts to my own imagined terrors and nuts to those who wish to impose their views on others through violent means.  The Fantasy Terrorist Variations will deal with the issues I wish to deal with, it may or may not cause offence, and I will not change a word because of the fear.
Now I will await your indifference.

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
The Fantasy Terrorist Variations
Written by Robert Crighton, performed by Keith Hill and Simon Nader

A series of stories spun from the award-winning ‘Fantasy Terrorist League’.  A man is interned as a terrorist on the flimsiest of grounds, a chancer looks how to make money out of counter-terrorism and the story of the non-existent artwork that might get people killed. The Fantasy Terrorist Variations is a powerful account of fear, the policeman on our streets and the ones in our heads.
Running Tuesday to Saturday from 27th November 2012 to 5th January 2013 at 9pm
Tuesdays to Saturdays Only at 9pm – Doors Open at 8.50pm
Tickets: £12 / £10 concessions
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14 9HR             
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)
No performances on Mondays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Years Day

Behind Ghost Storyteller

Ghosts.  Let's just point out now - I don't believe in ghosts.  It's nonsense.  Sorry.  This is an opinion - based on factual evidence - that upsets people bizarrely.  I don't believe in unsubstantiated stories that smack of bollocks.  I really just can't.
There are lots of reasons why ghosts don't exist - they're mostly to do with how we're really credulous animals.  We'll believe anything and once we start believing in something we then start seeing it too.  We love creating patterns out of the world, even when they aren't there.  So, there are no ghosts, we're just seeing stuff because we've convinced ourselves that there's something spooky about the room we're in.
To put it another way - I believe in people getting spooked, not in actual spooks.
For those interested in a more detailed look at why the supernatural doesn't exist have a read of Paranormality by Professor Richard Wiseman.  This isn't necessarily the best book on the subject, but it is freely available (I saw a copy in WHSmiths the other day) so it is the easiest by far and a fairly easy read.
I've written before about how people have been a little angry at the absence of 'real' ghosts in the show, about my heckler.  But most people come out very happy - because they really come for the storytelling element - which I hope I don't disappoint on.  It's a bit like a wedding: are you there for the bride or the groom?  Are you there for the ghosts or the storytelling?  Most people, in a quick survey of the audiences this year - the fabulous Swindon audience and the ever dependable people of Sudbury - have come for the storytelling.  Ghosts do not figure largely in their lives, probably because they don't exist.
My work has a thread of darkness running through the centre of it.  Squeeze my plays and stories and there is a puckish instinct for naughtiness that seeps out.  Even when I'm writing an, essentially, harmless story for the Ghost Storyteller show, I can't help but stick the knife in, just a little bit.  However, I am always careful to draw it out again and reassure the audience that I didn't really mean it, just in time.  This comes as a real problem when people ask me, as they did in Swindon, is this show suitable for children?  At which I ask, how old?  Then get myself tangled in knots.
Children get taken to storytellers because parents think that's what they are for.  Unless you put a big 18 certificate on the poster it is impossible to stop them, and often unsuccessful even if you do.  At both tryouts for Ghost Storyteller there were children, aged around 11 years, some possibly younger.  Now, the piece (luckily) does not feature any swearing at all.  How this happened, fuck knows.  The piece is dense enough textually to make people work, but simple enough to stop people getting lost, so - whilst the young ones might get bored (and actually I'm never noticed a great deal of the poor attention span people speak so often of.  Nothing like being surrounded by attentive adults to make the little buggers pay attention.) the real fear is the content.  There are, carefully de-sexed sex scenes (featuring a few euphemisms and coy, coy mistresses) and also references to eating disorders and self harming.
Yoiks, I hear you cry.  But so far, not a complaint.  Possibly this is because they think these references whooshed over the heads of their little darlings like a deadline passing the late Douglas Adams, or because I made (for my sins, I'll go to Hell, if I believed for a second it existed) eating disorders into the centre joke in a ten minute section.  Just because something is serious, doesn't mean it shouldn't be lampooned.
The problem (and it isn't a problem, so far) is that I don't like to self censor.  I follow the logic of the story and the story sent me in that direction.  And it works - it gets a laugh every time.  So, am I sick, or is it the heartless bastards in the audience?
Speaking of audiences - both tryouts were very responsive.  Swindon laughed judiciously - I never felt that they needed calming down, just a good number of regulation titters.  The Sudbury audience were a little too enthusiastic in places, especially when I was trying to turn the mood to serious for a moment.  I did feel the sense of turning a corner just that little too fast, really holding that steering wheel hard and hoping for the best.  Seemed to work.
This is all a roundabout way of saying - buy tickets for Ghost Storyteller - it's rather good, if I say so myself.
And do bring children, so long as you don't mind my playing with their tiny little minds.
(Actually don't, really can't be bothered with children.  Young adults, that's okay, but they really need to have developed genuine people personalities and mastered toilet training.)
TICKETS ON SALE BELOW!



He looks a handsome devil...

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
Ghost Storyteller
Comic Ghost Stories Written and Performed by Robert Crighton

Returning this Autumn / Winter following the success of the run last year!  Ghost Storyteller is a lightly comic selection of ghost stories written and performed by award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton. 
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”: including the tale of a poltergeist hamster and the pub that cried ghost.

Running Tuesday to Sunday from 27th November 2012 to 6th January 2013
Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm – Doors Open at 7.15pm
Sundays at 6pm – Doors Open at 5.45pm
No performances on Mondays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Years Day
Tickets: £12 / £10 concessions
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14 9HR
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

Box Office:  0844 8700 887
(Telephone box office hours 9.00am – 7.00pm Mondays –Fridays (excluding Bank Holidays) and 9.00am – 5.00pm on Saturdays.)

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The October / November 2012 Newsletter

The Milk Bottle October / November Newsletter

First off - barely a week to go before Ghost Storyteller comes to the Quay Theatre - book your tickets!  Okay, we'll calm down now.
It's been a busy month, with the world premiere of The Shakespeare Delusion (it went jolly well, if we say so ourselves), the writing of a new play and preparations for the Christmas run coming together.  In but a week or so the first performances of the new version of Ghost Storyteller will be appearing, and rehearsals are well in hand for both that and The Fantasy Terrorist Variations - the trailer for which is below.
And, as if Robert wasn't busy enough, he's already working on another couple of plays.  Details of those will appear in the future.  Probably.

GHOST STORYTELLER - PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY:

Not only is Ghost Storyteller coming to life in a couple of one-off performances this October, but there will be a combined programme and script on sale.  We're hoping that it will retail at only £3, (though it may be £3.50, we're not sure yet) and if you would like to pre-order a copy for your visit to the show then send us an email and we'll reserve a copy for the night.  Contact us at the usual address - contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Milk Bottle Productions Presents... 
Ghost Storyteller 
Comic Ghost Stories Written and Performed by Robert Crighton
Ghost Storyteller is a lightly comic selection of ghost stories written and performed by award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton. 
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”: including the tale of a poltergeist hamster and the pub that cried ghost.
Performing Friday 26th October at 7.30pm
Quay Theatre, Sudbury, CO10 2AN – Box Office: 01787 374 745


A COMPLICATED READ THROUGH:

On Saturday 15th September a brave band of fearless warriors joined Robert to read through his latest play, Complicated Pleasures
Our fearless read through warriors...
Coffee was drunk, silly voices were performed (there weren't enough ladies so the men did their best) and puppets were ritually abused. 
Our thanks to everyone who helped make the second draft of the play much better. 
When will you see this play exciting new play performed?  Watch this space.

VARIATIONS ON A TRAILER:

The first of a series of un-trailers for The Fantasy Terrorist Variations has been launched on YouTube.  It's an un-trailer because it doesn't show any part of the show - what it does do it deal with one of the themes of the third play of the show - The Project After - a new piece to compliment the other two more established plays. 

The Project After isn't controversial, though it does deal with supposedly controversial issues: free speech, religious extremism and fear.  This un-trailer wraps up the issues fairly neatly.  Enjoy.




STORYTELLER 2012

Six Weeks of Storytelling at Barons Court Theatre - Christmas 2012/13
A selection of (mostly) comic stories and storytelling from award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton and his friends.
All Shows - Tickets: £12 / £10 concessions

Tickets for all shows at Barons Court can be bought online at




Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
Ghost Storyteller
Comic Ghost Stories Written and Performed by Robert Crighton

Returning this Autumn / Winter following the success of the run last year!  Ghost Storyteller is a lightly comic selection of ghost stories written and performed by award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton. 
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”: including the tale of a poltergeist hamster and the pub that cried ghost.

PRE-LONDON DATES:
Wednesday 24th October at 7.30pm
Swindon Arts Centre, Devizes Road, Swindon, SN1 4BJ – Box Office: 01793 614 837

Friday 26th October at 7.30pm
Quay Theatre, Sudbury, CO10 2AN – Box Office: 01787 374 745

SIX WEEK BARONS COURT RUN
Running Tuesday to Sunday from 27th November 2012 to 6th January 2013
Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm – Doors Open at 7.15pm
Sundays at 6pm – Doors Open at 5.45pm
Tickets: £12 / £10 concessions
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14 9HR
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

No performances on Mondays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Years Day

Box Office:  0844 8700 887
Or book online: www.ticketsource.co.uk/milkbottleproductions
(Telephone box office hours 9.00am – 7.00pm Mondays –Fridays (excluding Bank Holidays) and 9.00am – 5.00pm on Saturdays.)

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
The Fantasy Terrorist Variations
Written by Robert Crighton, performed by Keith Hill and Simon Nader

Three Plays - One Subject - Boom!
A series of stories spun from the award-winning ‘Fantasy Terrorist League’.  A man is interned as a terrorist on the flimsiest of grounds, a chancer looks how to make money out of counter-terrorism and the story of the non-existent artwork that might get people killed. The Fantasy Terrorist Variations is a powerful account of fear, the policeman on our streets and the ones in our heads.

Running Tuesday to Saturday from 27th November 2012 to 5th January 2013 at 9pm
Tuesdays to Saturdays Only at 9pm – Doors Open at 8.50pm
Tickets: £12 / £10 concessions
No performances on Mondays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Years Day
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

Box Office:  0844 8700 887
Or book online: www.ticketsource.co.uk/milkbottleproductions
(Telephone box office hours 9.00am – 7.00pm Mondays –Fridays (excluding Bank Holidays) and 9.00am – 5.00pm on Saturdays.)