Follow by Email

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Obligatory New Year Message 2014

Firstly, HELLO RUSSIA, Hello America, hello uk...
Yes, they may have an appalling President, terrible human rights issues and a disgusting state attitude to human sexuality, but Russia is currently the country reading this blog the most.  Second comes America and then, occasionally, my home country comes third.  Sometimes we're beaten by Greece.  Or Latvia.  Come on guys, this is embarrassing.
Secondly, the hit rate on my blog has gone through the roof since I fell dangerously ill.  This might be because of world sympathy, this might be because I've started an exciting new phase of work, but it's more likely because I stopped posting things very often.  Then I looked at the data and found, silly me, it's because even more of you are looking for porn.  Nice to know porn for porn outreach has travelled so far.  Obviously a lot of Russians are vigorously jerking off until they reach my blog and lose their rhythm.  Sorry.
So here's a run down of some of my favourite (largely non porn) internet searches this year that have lead people to my blog.

the room of trolls
couple having sex in nottingham (very specific, is there a local landmark in shot?)
dormouse slovenia
understanding beards
tinkerbells lines and speeches
and my personal favourite...
evil bagpuss

2014 is a year of many things. Ten projects await - the first part of Project One has just been posted (see below) and you just need to look at my last post to see how to get involved with Project.  But it is also the year that I have been transformed.  Yes, I realise now that my illness was in fact a symptom of my metamorphosis.  I have become... a genre.
Many of you will have suspected it for sometime, many of you have listened to my wittering on at a party say and thought to yourself, he's a whole new genre.  Or a cock.  One of the two.
It has been proven by the Quay Theatre, where I am Artist in Residence, whose What's On doesn't list me as drama or music or film or lecture, I am listed as Robert Crighton.  I am a medium in my own right!  Soon there will be special courses at University devoted to the Robert Crighton genre - there will be various schools of Robert Crighton with competing ideologies as to how a work in Robert Crighton should work, there will be children telling their parents that one day they to will work in Robert Crighton.
It's that or the What's On was compiled by a moron.  One of the two.
And now, the promised first episodes of Project One - Lost Tribe of the Trolls.
Happy New Year!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Watching Open Rehearsals...

Well, the starting line for Project 10/52 is getting close.  The first of January approacheth and the online You Have Been Watching.
world of the project begins.  But the bit that is more exciting, because it interacts with you real people, is Project Two:
This is a show that will be guided by the cast, by the people who want to get involved in rehearsing it.  It probably won't be a traditional play, though I have written material that could be presented this way.  It might end up more an installation, more performance Art, than pure theatre.
Which brings me to a question often asked about my residency: why am I an artist in residence.  Why not actor, or writer, or director... or...
Well, it's because none of those three titles covers the work I do very well.  I am doing all three, of course, and also working on visual art, set, lighting, costume - the totality of the work.  But not only have I rejected those other titles because none of them covers the work accurately, I have chosen Artist because the boundaries between Art, Performance and Theatre have never been more porous.  The techniques I may choose to explore in YHBW may not be theatrical in a traditional sense, but may involve set ups which are more akin to an art gallery than a theatre.
Then again, I may not.  But it's nice for one's title not to drag one down in one direction.

Anyway, what I want to do with YHBW is make it largely interactive - taking a cue from art practice - but the interactions will be largely theatrical.  I don't think I can describe the piece as immersive, that catch all participatory slogan which is very now, because I will never have such total control of the space/s we'll be using.

This is all starting to sound a bit wanky, let's move away from the arty bollocks for a moment.

What I'm doing at the moment is creating material for a show whilst at the same time devising exercises and games to play with the 'cast' which will probably destroy said material as we rehearse it.
No, still sounding wanky.  Oh well, I tried.

The rehearsals will be public, completely open to anyone who wants to be in the 'cast' or just watch.  It will be in a public space and so we will interact with people if they happen to come in, partly because the work will do this when finally 'performed' and the 'cast' will need a chance to practice this.
It isn't a work which requires many traditional actors as many action to be performed will not be acting as such - so anyone can get involved.  People will have tasks, some fairly simple, some what you might call acting, having a text to perform.
There will be two initial open rehearsal/auditions (I call them auditions, more a sorting hat process than ruthless culling) on Sundays 12th and 19th of January from 1pm at the Quay Theatre, lasting around two hours.  Everyone will get a chance to perform, do exercises, help create the work - but for those two sessions I will not know precisely how it will look.  We will test out material and ideas and then I will have a play and see what I want to do with everything/one.  Then there will be three more group rehearsals with whoever came to the first two sessions (plus extra rehearsals for individuals) before the final performance on Monday 17th February.
So, if you'd like to get involved, or you know someone who would, do come / force others along.  Or if you'd just like to watch, come along.  Full schedule below.

You Have Been Watching - basic rehearsal / performance schedule
(Will include additional rehearsals at discretion of participants.)

OPEN REHEARSALS / WORKSHOP - Sundays 12th & 19th January from 1pm at the Quay Theatre
Anyone can turn up and get involved or just watch.

GENERAL REHEARSALS
Specifically for those who came to the first two sessions or collaborators - anyone who didn't get to the earlier sessions maybe allowed in if they ask me nicely.
Sunday 26th January from 1pm: first trials of devised/text work
ONE WEEK BREAK TO ADJUST / LEARN MATERIAL
Sunday 9th January from 1pm: adjustment and revision of devised/text work
Sunday 16th January from 1pm: technical runs
Sunday 17th January: performance in the evening - tickets available now!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Free Stories Online - A Troll New Year

It's that lovely period of silence between the hullabaloo of Christmas and New Year, when little trolls come out to play.  Over the next few days I will be uploading the complete audio book of The Natural History of Trolls (see blogs en passum) as a prelude to my first project of Project 10/52 - the next two stories of what is not The Trolls Trilogy... or trology, if you will.
In fact, I'm a day early, but we'll see.  Hopefully there should be four series of episodes released each day between the 28th and 31st December, so that you're all up to date when I start releasing the next story in weekly episodes every Wednesday - starting on the 1st January 2014.  So, here, hopefully, are all six episodes of the prologue of The Natural History of Trolls - and probably much much more.
Happy between Christmas/New Year!

#Nov 2014 - Audio streams for the stories can now be found at http://robertcrightonstoryteller.moonfruit.com/

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Retreating

I've been a little quiet of late.  It's winter, it's cold, I'm comfortable, go away - can't you see there's snooker on?
I'm currently in retreat in Aberdeen, visiting family, and in theory writing.  I'm currently working on Project One - The Trolls Trilogy - or Trology if you will - and not exactly rushing.  As I say, it's cold outside and there's snooker on.
But, the deadline is looming, so I have to get something done now, or I won't be ready to record.  I'm working on the second part of the trilogy, Lost Tribe of the Trolls, which will start premiering on Wednesday 1st January 2014.  It's quite a task ordering the material into shape - for this is a piece controlled by it's structure.  It's being broadcast once a week for half the year, so that's twenty-six episodes - not only that, each episode needs to be only three minutes long, maximum - so that the final story orbits 75-80 minutes in length.
It's a matter of trying to create a straightforward narrative but also one that breaks into recognisable self contained chunks.  This is rather fun and very important - because the text will need to be turned into a live show at the end of 2014 and so must remain active.  What do I mean by this?  It has to move, have action, change of direction, because though a story it has to be a story told, something that has potential theatrically, as well as narratively.  So, condensed, engaging three minute chunks work well - and looking back at the basis of some of my more successful monologues.  Teaching Gods is similarly episodic (though closer to five minutes than three) and moves the action along by jumping between characters - as was, to an even greater degree, Cuckold's Fair.
I'm using the same story structure to the first part of the trology The Natural History of Trolls, in that there is a prologue, part one of the main story, an interlude, a part two of the main story and an epilogue.  So, the three minute episodes are similarly connected together in wider chunks of story.
So, what is Lost Tribe of the Trolls about?  Well, it all started when I was on the tube on Remembrance Sunday and I saw a woman, chest bristling with medals, sitting almost opposite me.  She was mute and relaxed until suddenly she realised she had lost something... and that set off a chain of thought in my mind.  What if she had lost a medal?  What if the medal she had lost wasn't a normal medal but something greater?  That each medal represented a war and captured the experiences of that war - that she was not ex-service, but a Recording Angel, collecting the memories of those who had survived the wars of the world.
It wasn't a hung leap to think this might connect well with the world of the Trolls I had created in The Natural History.  And she has lost the Crimean war.
To find it she calls on her adoptive family, who are the lost tribe of the title.  We assumed that the Trolls we encountered in the first story were the only ones - but another tribe have lived a different, parallel life.  These Trolls are not the quiet, semi-religious, victims of before; these Trolls have abandoned their past and become part of the modern world, they are wheeler dealing neoliberals and love the marketplace.  They are the Noble Guild of Trolls (Luton Branch) and they'll sell their grandmothers if it'll make a profit.

All this, as usual, is subject to much change - the plot has already shifted twice this week - so don't expect it to remain exactly the same.  Off to work.  Ta ta.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Less Historic, More Ancient Crimes

The halfway mark (depending how you want to judge it, it's not quite a linear year) for Project 10/52 (starting v. soon) is Project Six - Historic Crimes.  It's a serious play - a funny in places, but also very dark.  It's based, in part, on the current scandals rocking British broadcasting, schools - anywhere where people in positions of trust have been found to have abused their positions - where people in whom we have invested public affection turn out to have dark secrets in their pasts.
I think the two possible reactions can be summed up neatly thus - when Jimmy Savile - DJ, television presenter and clearly a seriously dodgy bloke, turned out actually to be a sex offender, everyone sort of already knew or were not in the least bit surprised and so went - NO SHIT, SHERLOCK.  However, when another celebrity was accused of a similar crime, (accused, not convicted) the reaction among all my friends was - NO, NOT HIM!  This was because we liked him, liked his work and we don't want his work tainted by accusations or, if prosecuted, convictions.  (Note my careful wording to avoid libeling anyone.)
And these are the reactions to minor celebrities - what would happen if it was someone really important, someone who had real cultural capital?

Happy Birthday Shakespeare.

The play's about how a group of people would act if they found out that the secular god that is Shakespeare was guilty of some very historic crimes?  Would they tell anyone?  Would they let the truth out or would they keep silent?  If a crime is committed in the distant past, is it our duty to stand up for the victim (who cannot be helped) or leave well alone?
It is one of a long line of plays that I have written which I would call morality tales.  I tend to be a very moral writer - though only in the subject, not in the action of the plays sometimes.  To write a morality you often have to show very immoral things - show the things that the audience must judge (or not judge) as right.  Incidentally, this play will not show any of the crimes I'm forcing onto the greatest writer of all time - it will deal mostly in ideas, characters, emotion and Norman Wisdom (who will, I must assure fans, be a force for good - not that I can't libel him, he's dead - I just wouldn't, that would be mean).

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Good and Bad Deeds of Everyone

It's been a week of Everyman action - with a fundraiser show at the Quay Theatre and then a couple of performances at Essex University for their first years.  As followers of this blog will know, I get the audience to write out good and bad deeds before the show.  Here are most of the entries, some are specific things people have done, some are abstract, some are rather moving, some are a bit disgusting... and my favourite less than perfect good deeds/bad deeds are listed at the bottom of each list.

Good Deeds:
Saving someone from walking in front of a car...
Bought a homeless person a coffee and a cake...
Payed for my friends match fees...
Bought my flatmate her shopping when she forgot her purse...
Look after my friend who's having a bad time at the moment...
Help an old person across the road...
Helped a lady lift her pram up the stairs...
Helped an old woman find the car park where she parked her car...
Took in a stray cat...
Visit an old lady once a week so she has company...
I helped an old lady across the street...
I returned a man's hat to him...
Gave someone a penny in Tesco...
Gave someone change on the bus as they were short of fare...
Helped at a homeless shelter...
I saved my dog being attacked by another dog...
I once helped a lost child find its mum...
Saved a man from walking in front of a car...
I gave money to a person once...
Lending money to a friend in need...
Teaching my little sister how to speak and read...
Made exam notes for my friend...
Charity work...
I made [someone] Star Wars cupcakes...
Look after my family...
I looked after an old dude before he died...
Cut an elderly relatives toenails...
Being supportive and being generally lovely to all!
Save someone's life...
I once performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on someone...
Visiting very talkative elderly neighbour...
I write to my sisters...
Gave neighbour a load of logs...
Listened to a friend...
I do the ironing (but not well)...
Cleaning out the Quay bogs...
I took flowers to Mum-in-Law...
Gave a stranger a lift - when she was waiting in the snow for a bus...
Being nice and understanding towards a grumpy neighbour...
Rescue dogs...
I go to my granddad's often and sit and speak to him for most of the day and go to town with him, as he lives alone...
I saved a spider from my bath...

And the less good, good-deeds:
I give my good ideas away and I let others take the credit!  (Is this a good deed? Really?)
Not being horrid to irritating small children... (I hear you brother!)
Taken women out for dinner... (hmmnn, depends very much on the motive!)
Buying my sister 1D tickets... (A bad deed, surely?)
I make other people feel better about themselves by being terrible at absolutely everything!
Did stupid shit to make people laugh...

Bad Deeds:
Forgot to feed my sisters hamster when she was away for the weekend...
I did not clean up my dog's poo...
Day with then girlfriend - told work I was sick...
Broke a plate and blamed it on my little sister...
Caught in a compromising position by my nan...
Ate chocolate bar - put wrapper in brothers bed...
Stole an old woman's seat on the bus...
I stole a necklace...
Punched a friend in the face...
Being irritable...
I stole two glasses of wine...
Objectifying women...
Public masturbation...
Bestiality...
Smoked too much pot...
Sniffed Ketamine...
Scrapped an idiots van...
Killed a fly...
Trod on a snail...
Committed murder...
Farting and blaming someone else...
Getting so drunk I can't remember much in the morning...
Arrested for indecent exposure after Rocky Horror Picture Show...
Cheating at French...
Told a fib to the council...
Road killing a rat...
Slept with a married man...
Pushed an old lady down stairs...
Stole a 1p sweet...
I found £15 in a puddle and took it...
Stealing milk that's not mine...
I judge...

And if you've lost faith in human nature then there are a couple bad deeds that I rather like...

Was a banker...

And...

Voted Lib-Dem in the last election...

Friday, 1 November 2013

Beware of the Blob

I love B-Movies.  I've loved them for years.  The general cheapness, the lack of a decent script, the poor acting, the sense that they were filmed in less than a week.  They're often a bit boring, but luckily don't last too long and so don't outstay their welcome.  This was entertainment often created title first, everything else second.  "IT CONQUERED THE WORLD!"  Great title.  Terrible film.  Especially as IT doesn't really conquer anything very much, beyond a small cave.
I've been influenced by these films more than I'd perhaps like to think.  I've been guilty of creating a title first and show second a number of times.  This isn't one of those instances.  I came up with the plot over Christmas last year, sketching it out on long train journeys to and from London.
The Blob isn't quite a proper B-Movie, partly because it's in colour, has Steve McQueen in it and has reasonably good special effects.  It is a B-Movie in so much as it's a bit dull in many places and the script needs work.  But it is the film I will be homaging in Project 5, Beware of the Blob.  
It isn't a remake and it doesn't feature any material from the film - I can't afford it for a start.  The Blob of my story is something quite different and, though featuring a blob of sorts, it's a very different kind of blob.  It's a lonely blob.  A blob which sings.
In fact, much of the show will be sung - the protagonist and the blob itself will have a number of solo songs.  And the audience will very much be involved - for the most part blowing up balloons, which will be the body of the blob throughout the show.
If you haven't already got it by now, this is going to be a funny, silly, knockabout show - with singing, maybe dancing and a lot of balloons - something I feel most B-Movies have lacked.
Oh, and possibly some Elvis.  Not sure yet.
I'll also be performing a parallel piece as part of my Saturday Storyteller slot on Saturday lunchtimes.  It's a homage to another B-Movie, the wonderfully terrible The Brain Eaters.  Here is a blog that will tell you everything you need to know about the film, and some good detail about B-Movies themselves.  My story is a little different - a mix of B-Movie silliness and the story of someone whose brain is literally being eaten.  Whose words start fail to sense as eaten brain is what ah help.
So, that'll be on sometime in May ish 2014.  It won't be streamed online I'm afraid and tickets will be very limited in number so to be put on the waiting list for tickets email me now at contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Monday, 28 October 2013

Out and About With Death

The other day I, and a few friends, did a bit of a photoshoot.  It's for a Storyteller Saturday show called An Audience with Mors De'ath.  So, I sent a lot of time wandering around Sudbury, Suffolk, dressed a bit like Death.
This elicited a number of responses - from laughter, confusion, wry smiles, open hostility ("what a weirdo") and a near fatal heart attack.  (Okay, it wasn't as bad as all that, but the nice old lady who saw me didn't half jump.)  Interestingly a number of people wanted to take pictures with me.  Quite a lot of people.  So, I'm incorporating a 'have your picture taken with Death' booth to the show.
But that's not for another couple of weeks - still got Problem Tree and The Summoning of Everyman to go before then and another exploration of the Chester mystery plays.  So I'll leave you with the first batch of pictures of poor Mors De'ath - taken by Mark Pavelin, who was documenting the taking of pictures by John Bethall, whose pictures will go up next week.















Friday, 25 October 2013

Enquiring after Juliet

To enquire or inquire - that is the question.  I think the difference between the two words is that to enquire is
a more day to day activity, I enquire after your health - whereas to inquire is more formal.  I'm not saying that this is a dictionary definition - I'm fairly certain they are just alternate spellings of the same word and have the same meaning, that's just a personal touch of spin.
The reason I waffle on about this word is to introduce you to the difficulties I had titling Project Four of next years Project 10/52.  I say next year, technically it will start in December, but let's no quibble over a couple of weeks.  It's a 2014 thing.  Anyway, Project Four is call The Juliet Inquiry only after I faffed around looking at the different spellings of the word e/inquire.  In the end inquire won because it was the spelling used in various high profile public inquiries over the last decade or so, and a public inquiry is what it is all about.
Basically, and not very originally I will add, The Juliet Inquiry is my version of Romeo and Juliet presented as a public inquiry.  I say not very originally as I'm sure someone has done it before.  However, I have a few spins going on which should make it different.  Firstly, though it will include bits of Shakespeare, it is a modern play and won't follow the original very much at all.  Secondly, I've turned the story upside down a bit, by having the families being the best of friends until the couple get together, rather than bitter enemies.  The love of Romeo and Juliet is destructive, not healing.  It will also question their relationship by having Romeo older than the teenage Juliet, echoing various scandals that have hit the headlines in the last few years.
So, beyond hints to the original, it is quite different.
It is, also, one of two works this year that will touch on Shakespeare - beyond my recordings of his poetry which will go out online - as the June project will also feature the bard - though more literally.  Well, it is his birthday.  Though he might not like the presents he'll get from me!
The Juliet Inquiry will also be the first project to not appear at the Quay Theatre - being part of my Out and About programme.  It's performing at the Guildhall in Lavenham on Shakespeare's birth/death day - Wednesday 23rd April - as it's the kind of public space that an inquiry might turn up at.  Tickets aren't available yet, but you can email me to be put on the reservation list - first come, first serve. Email: contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Storyteller Saturdays

I've been testing out a regular Saturday slot for storytelling down the Quay  (where I am Artist in Residence don't-ya-know) and have been very pleased with the results so far.  So, I'm going to keep it up.  It's now called Storyteller Saturdays and, excepting the the odd week when it won't happen (like this week), I'll be down the Quay Theatre every Saturday lunchtime performing stories, many of them one-to-one, some not.  It'll be mostly for those who pre-book, just send me a message via email, twitter, text or even by phone, though if I have gaps I will take anyone who's in the building - and it's all Pay-What-You-Want, so no pressure to break the bank. 
Each story will be around 15/20 minutes long and will utilise different techniques - both the stories I'm telling for the rest of the year will use a lot of technology to work, but next year I'll be going commando... technology wise.
So, two stories for the rest of the year - the very well received (see audience feedback below) Problem Tree returns for another two Saturdays in November, then a world premiere of a new piece, An Audience with Mors De'ath, which features one very sad figure who is not unlike the grim reaper - who is not only Death, but also deaf.  It's the bane of his odd existence.
Next year I'm planning to tell a number of stories - a new version of Sleep Inc. which I've only performed a couple of times and never got round to tidying up.  It's a doctor's appointment with a difference, where the patient finds that his sleep has been stolen from him and he'll have to pay to get it back.  I performed it earlier this year and I want to make it a bit further, darker - though it is largely a comedy.  Then there will be a piece currently titled Ambassador for the Future, which it literally what it is about - an embassy building over a hole in time and space, where the future holds court with the present.  
There are other stories and I'll probably ring the changes every month or two - depending on the audiences over the year.
The bar is open, there is often food, it's a lovely way to waste a bit of your afternoon.

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
Storyteller Saturdays
Lunchtime Storytelling at the Quay Theatre
Problem Tree
Performing Saturday 2nd & 9th November from 12.20pm
“My father was a lovely, kind, reserved...
Nut job.  I say this in the nicest possible way.
When he died he believed that he was both fifty
and a hundred at the same time...”
Problem Tree is the impossible story of one man’s father and a tree that can’t exist.  A story of the First World War, of running away from your past and hiding in the future. 
The World Premiere of...
An Audience with Mors De'ath
Saturdays 16th, 23rd & 30th November from 12.20pm
Mors De'ath has an odd life – being Death and all.  But really he just wants to be understood.  This is his story.
All stories written and performed by award-winning storyteller Robert Crighton, Artist in Residence at the Quay Theatre.  Let Robert guide you through his alternative vision of the world in the genial environs of the Quay Theatre. 
All stories performing at 20 minute intervals from 12.20pm
Book your story by calling 07704 704 469
or email contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk
The Quay Theatre, Quay Theatre, Quay Lane, Sudbury, CO10 2AN
Praise for Storyteller shows – Problem Tree (2013)
“How fabulous!  Thank you Robert.  I will keep thinking about aspects of that story or two stories!  Truly wonderful!”  - Jacqueline Cooper Clarke
“Absolutely brilliant!!  Light and airy, dark, happy, sad, perfectly crafted and enjoyed every minute.  Bravo!” – Peter Day
“Funny, weird, intriguing, enthralling.  That’s the story.  The storyteller, knockout.  Beautifully delivered.  A thoroughly enjoyable experience.” – Kevin Roychowdhury
“Totally brilliant!  Mesmerising, intriguing, I could have sat for another 20 minutes!  Thank you!” - Marion Tuke
“Strange – atmospheric – absorbing...” Peter Walker
“Keep on inventing, please.” Maria Walker
“Transported to another world – interesting and totally relaxing!”  Liz Cole
“Superb piece.  Interesting concept and staging.” Alan Scott
“Really enjoyed this story, a truly original and bizarre tale told very well.”  Jo Brooker
“Mesmerising experience, the story and the telling.  A worthy experiment of form, pleasing, disturbing, absorbing.  High recommendations.” Cecil Qadir
“A lovely experience, both soothing and stimulating.  Highly original – well performed – transported to another world.”  Anthea Halstead
“The Shanachie lives!  A weird and wonderful experience!” Denis Brogan

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Problem Tree - First Performances

Before I begin, I'd just like to say YAY! this blog has now been read over 10,000 times.
And, back in the room...
Last week I performed the first of my one-to-one performance encounters, Problem Tree, and I was amazed how will it worked.  I knew it was a story that worked, having included it in a Teaching Gods & Other Stories... show a few years ago, but I'd never tried it myself in an one-to-one environment.  The one-to-one storytelling idea has hit some... shall we call it... consumer resistance.  When I announced it at the launch of my residency, I was surprised how many people really didn't warm to the idea.  "What, one-to-one?  Don't like the sound of that."  It got considerably fewer sign ups than The Summoning of Everyman which is a morality play featuring Death.  So, we can assume that people prefer confronting Death to sitting opposite another human being... which gives me an idea for a show, which I'll post about later.
Anyway, some people went for it and I performed the first shows on Saturday and it went rather well.  Each performance was different - more so than in any other performance situation I've worked in before.  Some sat and decided not to look at me.  Most looked into my eyes throughout.  Many found the normal cues of conversation kept coming up, making the usual noises you make when you're talking to someone.  Little smiles, ur-hums, nods.  But then, after a few minutes, they stopped... just listening... focused in a way that you don't always get in theatre, if nothing else because drifting off would seem rude.
I'm looking forward to seeing how the next set of audients react this Saturday - there are still some slots left, email me contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk or call me 07704 704 469 to book your place.  And if you're not convinced - well, here's some of the feedback from last week...

“How fabulous!  Thank you Robert.  I will keep thinking about aspects of that story or two stories!  Truly wonderful!”  - Jacqueline Cooper Clarke
“Absolutely brilliant!!  Light and airy, dark, happy, sad, perfectly crafted and enjoyed every minute.  Bravo!” – Peter Day
“Funny, weird, intriguing, enthralling.  That’s the story.  The storyteller, knockout.  Beautifully delivered.  A thoroughly enjoyable experience.” – Kevin Roychowdhury

“Totally brilliant!  Mesmerising, intriguing, I could have sat for another 20 minutes!  Thank you! J” - Marion Tuke

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
The Storyteller Will See You Now
One-to-One Storytelling in the Quay Theatre Bar

PROBLEM TREE
Written and Performed by Award-Winning Storyteller Robert Crighton
Artist in Residence at the Quay Theatre

“My father was a lovely, kind, reserved...
Nut job.  I say this in the nicest possible way.
When he died he believed that he was both fifty
and a hundred at the same time...”

Problem Tree is the impossible story of one man’s father and a tree that can’t exist.  A story of the First World War, of running away from your past and hiding in the future.  Let storyteller Robert Crighton guide you through his alternative vision of the world in the genial environs of the Quay Theatre – one-to-one storytelling, just for you.  Get yourself a drink and perhaps a bite to eat, sit back and relax for twenty minutes of you time.

All Performances Pay-What-You-Want

Performing Saturday 19th October 2013
at twenty minute intervals between 12.20 and 2.40pm

The Quay Theatre Bar, Quay Theatre, Quay Lane, Sudbury, CO10 2AN

Book your one-to-one encounter by calling 07704 704 469
or email contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk
www.milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Sunday, 13 October 2013

New Knowledge

Now that I have a blog dedicated to plays before Shakespeare, I'm a bit torn on where to post about The Summoning of Everyman.  I started here, with the one man version I performed over Easter which I am currently reviving.  I've decided to keep any active rehearsal of play posts on this blog, to continue the narrative, and write a compilation meta post for the other place.
So, I'm now into full rehearsal for Everyman again and it's good to be back.  Less than two weeks now before performing in London and I'm overhauling the whole text, going back to originals, looking at line readings and looking to see if there's any material I want to put back into the show.
I've cut, for the most part, very little.  As it's for one person, I've tried to rationalise some of the dialogue, making some of it into longer speeches, rather than back and forth.  There are only a couple of bits that I'm thinking of putting back in, but maybe only for a later performance, as I don't want to throw myself this close to the first show.
However, I did make one huge cut.  It's towards the end of the play, where Everyman is encouraged to see a priest and receive last rites and forgiveness before heading to his grave.  As he does this, two other characters discuss the goodness of this act and of priests in general.  There were three reasons why this had to go.
1. I spend most of the play as Everyman, stepping into other parts.  The idea that I could feasibly work a scene where he isn't technical present was too much to ask the audience to swallow.  Clarity was important.
2. One of the characters speaking was Knowledge - who I cut as a speaking role.  Knowledge became a visual symbol, a book that Everyman is given - and much of his dialogue was reassigned.
3. It's one thing to have a play that discusses the morality of doing good through a Christian lens, it is quite another to present what reads as direct propaganda.  It was just too obvious an exhortation, telling not showing, and had to go as it stood in the play.
So cut it was, and, also being very worthy and so the dullest part of the play - there is nothing at stake in the dialogue - it wasn't missed.  But I hated taking out such a large chunk of the play, even for good reasons, and I kept thinking about it.  And then I had an idea.
Irritatingly it came as I was watching an encore cinema broadcast of Eugene Onegin, which I was enjoying very much, until my brain defocused from the drama and played the idea around in different variations.

Play the text as a pre-show performance, play it as a street preacher, play it as speakers corner.

This adds two benefits - one, if gives the audience something to watch whilst some of the fiddly pre-show business is sorted (they have to write down their good and bad deeds) and two, it gives the speech bite - because then the character has a reason to be giving the speech, beyond discussing theology with someone else.  He is exhorting people to save their souls.  He cares.  We, the audience, however, are distanced.  The speech stops being worthy, it becomes something else.  It'll say something about a character, albeit one who is not in the play - unless I make him the same character as the Doctor who opens and closes the play, which I will look at when I rehearse it.
I haven't finished cutting the two speeches into one yet and I won't be using it in London on the 26th October (probably) and I may give up on the idea - but I think it has legs and it will restore to the play the full (ish) text.
Of course, I'll have changed the nature of the text, but the live shows are not about rigid conformity to the original source.  That is, to some degree, what the online Before Shakespeare project is about.  And that's why this post is on this blog, not in the other place.


Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
The Summoning of Everyman
An Immersive Theatre Production
Adapted and performed by Robert Crighton

The Summoning of Everyman is a powerful morality tale, written by an unknown author in the late medieval period, telling of the struggles for one man, for every man, to let go of his life.  This interactive performance brings this struggle directly to the audience, asking them to become part of the story, asking them to stand in the footsteps of Fellowship, Good Deeds and even Death himself.  It’s a question that each generation has to answer: can you really take anything with you after death?  Moving, beautiful and thought provoking – ultimately the Summoning comes to Everyone.

This is an immersive performance, everyone will be asked to help create the show in various simple ways.  Don’t worry this isn’t Pantomime, there are no songs or catchphrases.  The audience is moved around the space by Robert as characters in the story – the performance is personally addressed to you.  No acting skills required, just to stand, sit and be yourself, guided by Robert through the story.

Tickets are Pay-What-You-Want, so you choose at the end of the show how much you want to give for the show at the end.  For general booking enquiries us at contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk – or call 07704 704 469.

Performing Saturday 26th October at 7.00pm
Doors open 6.30pm, show starts 7.00pm – NO ADMITTANCE FOR LATECOMERS
The London Theatre - New Cross, The Lower Space, 443 New Cross Road, London, SE14 6TA
Tickets Available from wegottickets.com - http://www.wegottickets.com/event/236696
Website:  www.milkbottleproductions.co.uk

WHAT THE AUDIENCE SAID: Guildhall Lavenham, Easter 2013

“We were so impressed... Robert Crighton is a one man tour de force he has you gripped from start to finish.”  DC Starpop

“A rewarding experience both as an audience member and a participant!  A fascinating interpretation of this medieval morality tale and I recommend it highly... a compelling one man show.”  Nick Elliott

“Touching and inspirational.”  Phil Hope

“With absolute ease he made the text accessible to a contemporary audience...” David Owen-Bell

“I would certainly recommend Robert and this 5 star performance to Everyman and Woman!!   A truly sensational performance by Robert!”  Dan

“... a compelling and engaging piece of storytelling...”  Annie Eddington

"A veritable tour de force..."  Rev. Stephen Earl

“Great acting, and what a memory!”  Arthur

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Hanging Around

The third project of Project 10/52 will be the curiously titled Hang.  I say curiously, because I have no intention of explaining why it is called Hang.  You'll have to come and see it.  Or listen to it.  Yes, we plan to stream this play live as a radio play and this will live online for free for the rest of the year - after that it's all pay-per-listen.  There will also be a published script of the play, probably not available on the show night itself, but shortly afterwards.

So, what's it all about?  It's going to be series of short scenes, lot's of variations on a theme, one of which is the story of Brian, who wants to be a zebra.  He is, at this time, the only recurring character - though this may change.  You'll meet him at the beginning of the play as he is interviewed about his lifestyle choice and follow him through the great changes that hit the world around him - namely, a bio-genetic plague which starts turning people into animals.  Brian's big chance you'd think - no, it doesn't turn out well for him.  Or for much of civilisation largely.

It is a play, a straightforward, people talking to each other play and it is roughly scripted at present.  There are whole scenes written, some sketched out and the general shape and tenor of the play exists in my mind - as well as outsourced on some memory storage devices known as scraps of paper.
Much of it is a comedy, but it is a play dealing with serious ideas and themes - specifically, how we define 'normal'.  Brian is considered a freak at the beginning of the play because it isn't normal to want to be another species.  By the end of the play he is part of the norm, because the world of the play has changed.  It doesn't take a genius to see the moral point of the play, so I'm going to not try and ram it home too obviously.
Tickets for the show will be available for reservation later in the year and payment is Pay-What-You-What on the night.  The number of tickets available is currently only twenty - part of the reason we'll stream online is so that more people will get to experience it - though the number of tickets available will increase on demand.

Hang by Robert Crighton will be performing at the Quay Theatre, Sudbury on Monday 31st March at 7.30pm.  All tickets Pay-What-You-Want - strictly limited seating - call the Quay Box Office on 01787 374 745 or book online here.

Please, I just want to be a zebra!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Watching Over You

Continuing my (almost) weekly expansion of the work I'm doing next year, we're onto Project Two of Project 10/52 - You Have Been Watching.

Now, unlike Project One, (see below - as opposed to in a book, above) which is developed to a reasonable degree, Project Two (YHBW) is positively unprepared.  If Project One is six months pregnant, Project Two is barely picking up it's clothing, wondering how much it drank last night and trying to remember if it used protection.

Okay, I exaggerate for effect - YHBW is not completely unprepared.  I haven't just plucked a title out of the air and hoped for the best (though I do have form in this regard - it is not uncommon for people to ask me if I've written the show yet just before curtain up).  I want to explore surveillance culture, the modern world of electronic everything and I have some material to start from.  I started a monologue many years ago about someone trying to live off grid.  Unobserved, undatabased.  Or undatadebased.  As it were.  This material will be the starting point, but it may get jettisoned.  I want to spend the four/five/six weeks rehearsal time developing material, working with people to collect data and ideas.  I want to identify every single camera in the local area and will ask people to help me do that.  I want to find other stories, other angles to the way technology effects us.  How a new generation is changing/is changed by the new ways of communicating.
It may not end up as a play.  Hence the probability that I will jettison past material.  I see it as an installation, a series of images, actions, discussions... half formed ideas are battling for control of the project as I type.
I know also what I don't want it to be.  There are many cliches and obvious routes that do not need to be trod.  I don't want it to be a straightforward technology bad, technology good debate.  That would be tedious.
I will need help from the audience to make this happen as well.  I want every audience member to document the show, to use their camera phones to film it, take images of it etc and post them online.  These files will then be available to anyone who wants to use them - I intend to create a video version of the show out of the recordings.  That way there isn't one version of the project, there are, if not an infinite then, a very large finite number of versions, depending on how you wish to view the material.
I'm hoping that most people will have their own cameras, but I will be supplying a number of small cameras for use in the show.  You are the camera, you are the director, you are the show.
That's sort of the idea, at this distant stage.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Cuckold's Art

I'm on the cusp of recording the audio book version of Cuckold's Fair, a storytelling play that I wrote in late 2009 and I'm looking for some helpers to be in the artwork as the original design work isn't really doing it for me anymore.  Basically I forced one of the cast to put a flower in their mouth and I took a rubbish picture which I then added a rubbish effect over and sort of got away with it.  So I want to create something new for the audio book and a re-issue of the book cover.
It's based, though not literally, on a nightmare sequence in the play that reads something like this...

They saw... a wall... and there were the Foliate figures
Building the wall, stone by stone.

            “It’s an ancient art, dry stone walling,
You need to examine the gap and then look and
Choose a piece that will fit the space perfectly.”

The dreamers watched these human shaped plants
Picking up the stones, examining them, but they
Didn’t seem to place them with any real care,
Just plonked them in, pushing other stones
Aside if they didn’t fit properly.

 “Man likes barriers.  This need to build
Barriers, boundaries, it’s something we don’t understand. 
Don’t respect.  We have no need for these things. 
These walls, these...”

And a Foliate Woman threw one of the stones
Across to the dreamers.  But it wasn’t a stone anymore.
It was a skull.
The dreamers silently screamed, a hoarse silent cry
Of dream-sick despair as the Foliate figures built
A wall, stone by stone.  Skull by skull.  Face by face.
Laughing, passing the skulls of mankind, the Foliates were many
With endless others building a great wall infinitely long.

 “It goes round the globe.  It’s our greatest work.”

And from the empty eyes, the millions of skull-sockets,
The shoots sprouted and crept and bushelled and expanded.
The dry skull wall burst into terrible life,
From dry skull to coppice in seconds.

 “This is our world and we want it back.”

And the dreamers felt the Foliate figures tear their heads off,
Felt their heads being added to the wall.  And the foliage forced
Its way out of their throats, eyes, ears and noses

And at last, when all breath was impossible, they woke up.

A cheerful image, as you can tell.  And for the artwork I want to create something similar, but different.  I'm fond of the covers for Asimov books which often bore no relation to the content literally, but captured something of the grandeur of vision.  
So, I want to create the image of a wall of, if not skulls, then heads, wreathed in foliage.  
And for that I require heads.  
Your heads, if you're willing.  
I'm going to organise a photo shoot for the image and if you're free and can make it to the bar of the Quay Theatre from 12.30pm till 2.30pm on Saturday 28th September I'd like to take a picture of your head.  
Just your head.  
It'll be fun.
You'll get to sit in a comfy chair, be lit interestingly and I'll take a selection of pictures.  It'll take a few minutes and then you'll be free to enjoy the benefits of the nearby bar or just the joy of freedom.
And, with some luck, you'll be one of the heads in a wall made by the foliate spirits.
I will use the image to create, not just an LP cover, but also a final work of art which hopefully will be displayed and available for those who helped make it happen - and I can send you copies of the originals if you want.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Return of the Trolls

Time to start giving you some details about what's coming up next year.  I've given you the broad outline, now for a little bit more.  The first project for Project 10/52 begins on New Year's Day 2014 and continues online for the whole year.  In fact, a bit of it will start in the fag end of 2013, but that's the old material, so it doesn't count.

The Trolls Trilogy
An Overview

It all started two years ago, when I decided to write a piece of storytelling over the course of a year.  I would vlog and blog about it, premiere it towards the end of the year and then do a run over Christmas.  And then I promptly killed that idea off by booking it into performance in July.  This was The Natural History of Trolls (NHT) - which appeared at the New Wimbledon Studio July 2011 and then in Suffolk and London again in late November the same year.  For full info on the 'journey' of the production of this show go to this blog post and work your way up forward in time, or watch the vlogs - the first one is here.
I've been coming back to this story every so often, as there seemed to be more directions to take it.  Slowly, two other stories came to me, mixed in with all the random material that didn't get used the first time.  So, in line with the original plan for NHT I thought it appropriate to write the next two stories over the course of a year, ending with a masterwork epic showdown in December.  Only this time the story will be 'broadcast' online in weekly installments - so you get to follow it as it goes along.

Part One: The Natural History of Trolls - revisited
Because a trilogy tends to work best in three parts and not everyone who might listen to the weekly show will have seen the first part, I'm going back to NHT and recording it for free online release this December.  That way everyone gets a chance to listen to the story from beginning to end.  However, this recording will only be in four episodes, not strung out over months, so a more involved listen.
I have made changes to NHT over the course of its life and the audio version will have a number of minor revisions.  I'm going to change a couple of names and slightly alter the way the second half works - but it will still be in essence the story of Bernard, Vicki and a mass chorus of orange penguins.
The Natural History of Trolls - the first part of The Trolls Trilogy - will be released online daily from the 28th to 31st December 2013 on my audioboo board, latest by 12pm each day.

Part Two: Lost Tribe of the Trolls
The first part was all about a rather buttoned up tribe of trolls, trolls with a Victorian view on life, who were trapped underground for much of the 20th Century.  This story (LTT) is all about the trolls that got away, about The Noble Guild of Trolls (Luton Branch) who adapted to the modern world and (to some degree) lost their souls.  In it a person called Robert (who's remarkably like me) is guided by a character currently known as the Recording Angel, who collects memories, specifically of war.
It's a story about how the old world changed into the present, about how we remember the past and how much that we think is new is just repackaged.

Part Three: The Paper Moon Trolls

I won't abbreviate the title of this show as (even with the late addition of a The) the acronym is most unfortunate - but it's such an apt title I won't change it.  This is the final chapter in the lives of the trolls, creatures who change at the will of others, who are effected physically by ideas.  The guide character in this story is Peter Git - a bio-engineer and theorist - who is trying to find a way of splicing troll and human DNA.  It's a story about ideas, about changing the world by changing the way you see it, and about what the dark side of the moon actually looks like.  It is also, as eagle eyed observers will have gathered, partly a homage to Peer Gynt.

So that's the outline of Project One - appearing on a laptop near you.  This project is the opening and close of Project 10/52 in that the final live performance of the trilogy will mark the end of the season.  It'll be a big performance and a closing party, hopefully with food and drink and laughter and thought.  I have a feeling I might be quite tired by the end of it all.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Damn You - That Was My Idea! Except, it wasn't really...

I had this really great idea for a show about five / six years ago.  I can't prove this, there are few decent notes and no witnesses.  I was going to get recordings of a famous production of Hamlet and get a modern cast to exactly copy the performance from the recording and put that on stage.  It was going to be great.
And then I found out The Wooster Group had done it this year.
Bastards.
How dare they? I thought.  That was my idea!
Bastards.
Well, no, that's not fair, it's not their fault.
Bastards.
Ideas are cheap, ideas are easy - it's not that I'd told them and they nicked it.  I'm sure loads of people had the idea.  It's just they did it first.
Bastards.
No, look, they're not bastards.  They're not.  They took an idea and they ran with it.  Good on them.
Bastards.
Okay, now I think it's clear that what's really going on is that I'm beating myself for not doing it first, externalising irritation with myself and projecting it onto The Wooster Group.
Bastards.
Nope, still haven't dealt sufficiently with this yet.
To be fair, my idea would have been staged a bit differently.  I didn't catch the show, so I can't be certain.  I was going to have the "To be or not to be" speech done as a showdown between different actors, just like that bit in Zoolander when David Bowie turns up for no readily apparent reason.
That would have been cool.
Oh well.
Never mind.
Think I've calmed down now.
Or maybe I'm just glad I dodged a bullet as many of the reviews said it was a bit dull.
I think the point I'm attempting to make is that you shouldn't sit on an idea for too long, because anyone can have an idea.  However, not everyone will make that idea come true, and if you've had the idea you should get off your arse and make it real.  This is what next years Project 10/52 is all about.  I'm clearing out some of the ideas, the ideas that are sitting about, not really doing anything.  They're not fully fledged plays, many of them will never be born into the world as such, but they might make it into something special over the ten projects I've got lined up for next year.
And if they get written up, recorded, performed or published then no one is going to get to those ideas first.  They'll be my ideas, made manifest.  So there.  And then perhaps someone will write a blog about how some bloke called Robert Crighton got to their great idea first and call me a bastard.
Except you can't, because I've already had that idea and written a blog about it.
This'll be the point where someone emails me a link to a blog/book/thing that's said this same point already, then I'll look pretty stupid.
So, just in case this happens, I'll get in an early...
Bastards.

The Storyteller Will See You Now

Coming up as part of my Artist in Residency...


Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
The Storyteller Will See You Now
One-to-One Storytelling in the Quay Theatre Bar

PROBLEM TREE
Written and Performed by Award-Winning Storyteller Robert Crighton
Artist in Residence at the Quay Theatre

“My father was a lovely, kind, reserved...
Nut job.  I say this in the nicest possible way.
When he died he believed that he was both fifty
and a hundred at the same time...”

Problem Tree is the impossible story of one man’s father and a tree that can’t exist.  A story of the First World War, of running away from your past and hiding in the future.  Let storyteller Robert Crighton guide you through his alternative vision of the world in the genial environs of the Quay Theatre Bar – one-to-one storytelling, just for you.  Get yourself a drink and perhaps a bite to eat, sit back and relax for twenty minutes of you time.

What the Audience Said: Saturday 12th October 2013
“How fabulous!  Thank you Robert.  I will keep thinking about aspects of that story or two stories!  Truly wonderful!”  
Jacqueline Cooper Clarke
“Absolutely brilliant!!  Light and airy, dark, happy, sad, perfectly crafted and enjoyed every minute.  Bravo!” 
Peter Day
“Funny, weird, intriguing, enthralling.  That’s the story.  The storyteller, knockout.  Beautifully delivered.  A thoroughly enjoyable experience.”
Kevin Roychowdhury

“Totally brilliant!  Mesmerising, intriguing, I could have sat for another 20 minutes!  Thank you! J” 
Marion Tuke

All Performances Pay-What-You-Want

Performing Saturday 12th & 19th October 2013
at twenty minute intervals between 12.20 and 2.40pm

The Quay Theatre Bar, Quay Theatre, Quay Lane, Sudbury, CO10 2AN

Book your one-to-one encounter by calling 07704 704 469
or email contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Available Slots
(NB: This list is updated as bookings come in, though it is possible we'll get behind and some listed slots may have been taken)

SATURDAY 19th OCTOBER


12.20
BOOKED
12.40
AVAILABLE
1.00
BOOKED
1.20
BOOKED
1.40
AVAILABLE
2.00
BOOKED
2.20
AVAILABLE
2.40
AVAILABLE