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Monday, 22 December 2014

The Christmas Schedule - Free Audio

This Christmas I'll be presenting a short burst of audio storytelling and drama - each audio burst will be published online sometime after midday (GMT) as per the schedule below.  All pieces will be on my audioboom feed - or on the homepage of my microsite which can be found here.

Christmas Eve: The Ballad of Gentleman Jim
A coda to Lost Tribe of the Trolls - this is the story of the rise and fall of Gentleman Jim, a mysterious character whose origins didn't quite make it into the text.




Christmas Day*:  Fantasy Terrorist Variation 5: A Little Learning
[*Delayed - due to editing problems - i.e. lot's a background noise I can't get rid of... sorry.]
A one-off short drama from my series of pieces exploring the fall out of the war on terror, which I started nearly ten years ago.  This is the story of a young girl kidnapped because she was receiving an education - lest we forget on Christmas Day those trapped in the wars, ideological and physical, that are occurring across the globe.

Boxing Day:  The Paper Moon Trolls - Part 1: No Introduction

27th December:  The Paper Moon Trolls - Part 2: An Unofficial Official Meeting with an Unofficial Official.

28th December:  The Paper Moon Trolls - Part 3:  In the Asylum

29th December:  The Paper Moon Trolls - Part 4:  A Conversation of Memes

30th December:  The Paper Moon Trolls - Part 5:  Peter Git in Conference

31st December:  The Paper Moon Trolls - Part 6:  The Death of Peter Git



And then in the evening of the 31st December I'll be performing my End of the Road Show at the Quay Theatre from 10pm till Midnight - to celebrate the end of my artist residency of 2014 and announce my plans for next year in some level of fullness.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Moomin Magic

I'm taking a short break from writing to write this. A busmans holiday of sorts.  The Paper Moon Trolls is finally pulling itself into shape, so a brief digression is allowed.
I mentioned the Moomins last blog post and I feel it's important to share a little about them.  I rediscovered them recently, having only vaguely had them on my radar when younger.  But I always liked them and I read them in a very specific way.  Normally I plough through a book.  I don't hang around, I'm a fast reader.  But I don't and daren't do this with the Moomin books.  This is partly because they aren't very long and there aren't many, but it's mostly that I like to nibble at them, like chocolate, a bit at a time.  The books do something very particular to my brain - it's difficult to describe.  A sort of numbed, peaceful, melancholic drift - which only a few other things manage to do.  It's like a magic spell and I read them, often just a chapter at a time, to keep that spell alive because I fear that if I read them again too soon, I will lose that magic feeling.  I suspect that this is the kind of spell that a magician like Tove Jansson would only allow to be weaved once - leaving us only with the melancholy.
Sadly, I'm running out of Moomin to read.  I'm currently re-reading Moominland Midwinter and I there aren't many left.  I think I'll be able to string them out for another couple of years - and then we'll see if the magic spell is lost.
Right, back to work, otherwise the Groke might come and sit on me.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Two Days of Writing

I've two days of writing.  Two days of solid writing.  I'm trying to keep my schedule clear, but it hasn't been easy - people have been very kind trying to keep my commitment to the Panto I directed this year light, but there's always something that drags you back to the theatre and I need to finish, I need to complete the work in hand.  It stops the brain from working, from doing the next job - even though the Panto doesn't really need my input anymore.
I took a day off from Pantoland the other day - or half a day off - and went to see a screening of The Crucible by Arthur Miller, as recorded at the Old Vic.  I've never liked Miller.  No, that isn't fair - I can't warm to him.  I don't see it is possible to write the sentence 'I love Arthur Miller' as I can write 'I love Shakespeare' or 'I love the Moomins'.  I can admire, I can respect - definitely respect - but love... not so much.
I lit a production of All My Sons the other year and I couldn't get excited by the play.  It functioned, it had power but... Even his truly great play Death of a Salesman (and it is a brilliant piece of work) is difficult to love, only admire.  The Crucible I've always given short shrift to, partly because we studied it at school (usually a killer) and partly because I've never seen a fully fledged production, only handmedown drama student work or film or audio versions which damaged the structure or the language.
In the documentary series Changing Stages Arthur Miller was interviewed and spoke about reading Shakespeare and marvelling at the construction, the density of language - copying it out to feel the weight of the verse or prose.  You can see this in The Crucible.  The language has a density, a layering which is above natural speech and yet feels real.  I had never appreciated this before and the production brought this clearly to the surface.
I mention all this because, as I tend to do when watching screened plays, I drifted.  I started thinking of my own writing, of the next projects and started writing in my head dialogue for a short piece.  It has been in my mind for a while, but the recent attacks on children in Pakistan made this piece urgent in my mind.  It was time to write and I sketched out the dialogue as I watched and wrote it down on the bus home.  It will be a short Fantasy Terrorist Variation and I will record it on Tuesday and release it on Christmas Day.
Of course, I should be finishing The Trolls Trilogy - I am finishing The Trolls Trilogy.  But this piece needs to come first - because it insisted, and who am I to argue with my brain.  I plan, over the next two days, to finish this short and the last work on Trolls ready to record on Tuesday.  I will then release these last stories each day.  The new FTV on Christmas Day, the new Trolls from Boxing Day through to New Year.
On New Year's Eve I'm performing a secret version of my Trolls stories which I plan to record and put out online next year and maybe I'll even release so of my End of the Road Show.  But we shall see.
Merry Christmas.  More soon.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Let There Be Light

Funny thing happened the other day.  I was in town, doing Panto stuff, having a blood test, drinking coffee.  The usual.  And I get home to a message.  Which I didn't believe was true.  I was being asked to turn on the Christmas lights in my town.  I assumed this was a joke.  But no, there was the number, there was the message and after a little phoning/emailing back and forth, yes, I was booked to blow the hooter that cued the activation of the magic light strings.
I've just got home from this little task.  It was slightly delayed by an accident with Father Christmas' sleigh (worry not children, Santa was fine) but due to the late arrival of the bouncy castle there was no PA system in place (don't ask) and I had to bellow my little speech to the crowd.  And then Father Christmas counted down from 10 and I blew my hooter and (thankfully) the lights all came on and Christmas was saved for another year.
But that wasn't the exciting part of the evening.  I then went to B&Q in search of a dustbin lid, which I need for the Panto I'm directing.  But I didn't need a bin, just the lid.  Which was lucky, because they didn't have any bins, only lids.  But there was no price for the lid, just for the bins.  So I asked really nicely for a good deal and they sold me the lid on its own for a rock bottom price and I went to get some chips.
So, thank you the lovely staff of B&Q (Sudbury) - you've saved Christmas.

[If you have any feelings of confusion about the content of this blog post or have suffered any emotional distress at its contents, please find a towel and wrap it round your head.  It won't help, but at least you won't have to read these words any longer. Ed.]

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Why Are Panto Posters So Terrible?

It's that time of year where you see in the press, on Twitter, all around town and city centres, millions of truly terrible Panto posters.  And I ask myself, how did this come about?
I mean, if it were any other product we would run a fucking mile from them.  We wouldn't countenance spending money on something which is sold in such a shoddy manner.  And yet, we do.
The Panto poster template is simple.
Step 1: photograph members of the cast six months in advance in front of a blank background in a dodgy hired costume/the stock costume you have set aside every year.  Depending on the Panto these cast members will either be: minor celebrities/nameless models who look cute.
Step 2:  Photoshop said photos to death, adding a colourful (see eye blindingly painful) background and AS MANY SPARKLY EFFECTS as your computer will allow.
Step 3:  Chose a swirly, unreadable font and make it even more unreadable by covering it in AS MANY SPARKLY EFFECTS as your computer will allow.
Step 4:  Cry.

And it's not that I'm against glittery posters, or happy smiling pretty plastic people.  It's that it never ends - it's the laziness of it all - it's that it's the same poster EVERY YEAR, reproduced across dozens of different Pantos across the WHOLE COUNTRY.
Now, it isn't just that Pantos are often produced centrally by a few big companies - who favour a template and a straightforward marketing package, this is understandable - it's that everyone does it.  Even theatres with long histories of making Pantomime and who have a little more time to think of a slightly more original marketing strategy.
So why do it?  Because it works.  So why bother changing it?
It is assumed that children like glitter, so everything must be glittery.  And they're probably right.

But there is, I suspect, another reason.  Pantos tend to sell themselves.  People just book to see Pantos, like animals migrating to spawn at the same spot every mating season.  They don't know why, it's just expected.  So long as you do a basic job of putting out posters, doing some press, getting the right star name - then there isn't a great creative job that's needed to sell it.  Do the same thing every year, with the odd twist, because it's not going to swing sales more than a few percent.  And that includes the poster.

But... but... but... is that an excuse?  Is that really enough of an excuse for filling public space with acres and acres of migraine inducing imagery that doesn't just offend the eye, but actively burns the retina?  Come on, people of Britain, we can do better!  We can create something less plastic, more human, more alive then these never ending walls of glittery laziness.
We just probably won't.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Not Writing

I'm not writing at the moment, I'm directing a Pantomime.  That isn't to say I can't write or that I'm blocked, I'm directing a Pantomime.  I'm more a coiled spring, waiting till I'm no longer (altogether now) directing a Pantomime.
Which should be in about a week.  Then I will leap into action.  Well I'll have to, I'll only have a couple of weeks to finish off the final part of my Trolls Trilogy and finish my end of the year show.  These jobs will be mostly editing or tidying.  I've got SOOOOO much material for Trolls, just little idea how to structure it.  I've decided it will be released in daily episodes over a week and I suspect it will be more fragmented as a story, rather than a clear forward seeking narrative.  We shall see.
But then, then there are the new plays and the old plays which haven't been scheduled for performance and so sit on my computer, lonely.  There's a new piece I've sketched out in my mind called Happathy.  Which is a happy story about the end of the world - it's fairly short though.  And a sketchy one-to-one piece called Just Say Yes which I could probably throw together in an afternoon, if I were so inclined.  Then there are the two long format plays I've been toying with for years and probably blogged about previously, so I won't go on about them.
Then there's the play with no story.  No logic.  There's a play in my head and it's just a scream.  That's all I can see, a scream.  Lots of screaming.  Or, at least, it ends with a scream - because there's no where else to go.  I think.  I just don't know yet.
But I can't see any work happening on that till after the Pantomime and mundane thoughts about blocking and sound effects and schedules are banished from my brain.
Not that I dislike Pantomime - I really enjoy directing Pantomime, but it does tend to get in the way of my other work and it is, essentially, a commercial product.  I've had some success with commercial theatre - one of my happier productions was directing a production of House Guest by Francis Durbridge.  It's a bloody awful play, frankly, trapped in the 1950's (despite being set in the 1980's) and full of unhelpful repetitions of character names, to the point where you can't remember anyone's name because every sentence seems to contain a name and you end up with snow blindness.  And I chose to do it, rather than Uncle Vanya.
So I cut it.  I hacked it.  A play that was in danger of running two to two and a half hours was culled down to ninety minutes.  If I could have got away with it, I would have cut more and run it without an interval.  (This was, it should be added, quite against the license, but no one checked!)  It contained three deaths, each of which were staged with care.  It had stacks of tension and atmosphere.  My only complaint with the production (apart from the odd lighting and set issue) was the ending.  The ending of House Guest is terrible.  I wish I'd gone a bit further and, rather than just cut down, I'd actively changed the ending.  A final shoot out with the villain blasted through the french windows, sugar glass flying, would have been fab.  But I didn't.  Hey-ho.
Ironically, as a piece of commerce it was a total failure - in that, it didn't actually sell any tickets.  But as a fun, thrilling, suspenseful piece of balls - it was great.
So, as I say, I like the odd bit of commercial directing work - but it does stop me from writing much.  But I can wait.  I can wait.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Contradictions of Sharing

I try to share as much of my work online.  I write a semi regular blog, I post audio files, photos etc.  But there are difficulties - the problem being, when I'm creating new work I don't want to share.  The sharing comes afterward.  But, for people to see and know about the work you need to share before it goes out.  And I do struggle to do this.  Regular visitors to this blog will notice a pattern, that the closer a show gets, the thinner my posts.
Sometimes it's a straightforward problem of not wanting to tell people too much about the story, because if you share too much, why come and watch the show?  But it's usually more about mental energy and time.
I've just finished a long and exhausting process of rehearsing in Waiting for Godot.  There were so many things I could have shared about that experience.  I probably will, eventually.  But there was no way I was going to produce anything coherent for you during that process.  And now I'm worried I will forget it all before I get the time to write it up.
Part of the problem is my lack of connectivity.  I have a laptop.  It, in theory, is portable.  It so isn't.  I also don't have a smart phone - so sharing on the hoof isn't possible.  I have to get home, boot up, connect the camera (if I've taken pictures) download, upload and... well, you get the picture.
This I plan to change - next year I've got projects that will need to be shared instantly, so I will put in place materials and systems to make this happen.  Whether, mid project, additional technology will help clear my addled brain, I don't know - but that we'll see.  But I will try harder.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Alternative Spaces - Part Two

I'm looking for a room.  I need a room - it needs to hold about twenty/thirty people, seated, with some space to perform but it must all be one level.  I don't want a theatre - I need a room.  But it needs to be accessible, easily accessible, to the general public.  And I'll be looking to hire the room March/April 2015.
What is the room for?  Well, I'll be announcing that very soon. But it's good.
The show would be Pay-What-You-Want and, but I'll happily hire the space, or I'd split the box office if there's interest.  It needs to ideally be in the East of England or London - but I'll be interested in moving out to different parts of the UK.
Suggestions or offers to me please - either email contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk or Twitter me @RobertCrighton

Friday, 21 November 2014

Alternative Spaces - Part One

I'm looking for an office.  Somewhere public.  I've written a new one to one piece and I don't want to do it in a theatre - I need an office.  But it needs to be accessible, easily accessible, to the general public.  Ideally, I need a waiting area and then a small office space, a cupboard sized one that will fit two people.  The show is called Just Say Yes.  It's about job interviews.  Hence the need for an office, but one which people can find easily and which won't interfere with people around it.
That said, I'd happily bring the show to a business - the staff could all come in one at a time.  That would be interesting.
The show would be Pay-What-You-Want and I'd split the box office with whoever lends the space.  I couldn't hire the space outright.  It needs to ideally be in the East of England or London.
Suggestions or offers to me please - either email contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk or Twitter me @RobertCrighton

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Love Theatre

God I hate theatre sometimes.  I just hate it.  I mean it's such hard work.  You can't just wander in and sit and stuff happens at you, you have to be engaged.  You have to listen.  And look.  Looking is the worst.  You have to decide where to look.  Because, it's not as if there's a camera or anything to tell you where you're supposed to look.  Awful.
And then there's the sitting down.  All that sitting down.  And the seats are never as comfy as in a cinema.  Never.  Even if they are, all that attention you're giving to those people doing stuff makes you tense up a bit so you never get comfy.  And seriously, isn't that what seats are for?
But it could be worse, you could be standing.  Standing!  For hours.  Watching people, doing stuff.  With all these other people, standing.  And that's just awful.  I can stand at home.  For free.
And then there's the plays.  I mean, who goes to see plays?  We've got YouTube now and that's so much easier to get on your phone.  Cos you can watch a cat do something cute at anytime you like on a tiny screen and that's so much better than seeing an actual event through all your senses.
Or dance?  I mean, what's all that about?  All that dancing and moving - and the floors squeaking.  Cos they do.
And opera, with all the singing and the singing and they're all fatties anyway, singing in their fat way.
God I hate theatre.

Except when it's brilliant.  Then it's okay.
I mean, sometimes it's really exciting and stuff.
Someone sings or gets stabbed and you just didn't see that coming.
Or you watch a Shakespeare and it wasn't really, really boring, like at school.  Probably cos it's not at school.
Or when it goes all dark before the show starts and then it starts.
Or when you forget that your bum aches or your feet hurt or the price of the ticket and you cry and you go out into the night after the show thinking and happy or happy and sad or just different.  Actually a slightly different person.
Or something similar.
Then it's okay.  It can stay.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Coming Soon to a Bar Near Me

Well, we're reaching the end of my Artist Residency at the Quay.  [Oh no he isn't, OH YES HE IS! - sorry directing a panto at the moment]  I've got two big things left to complete, but otherwise we're nearly at the end.  One is the last part of The Trolls Trilogy which has been brutally delayed - sorry everyone! - but I wasn't happy writing it in short chunks, it was doing something to the flow I didn't like by the end of Lost Tribe - so it'll be released in longer chunks in the last few weeks of the year. *  So far Paper Moon Trolls (an unfortunate acronym) is coming along nicely, so I think I made the right decision.
The end point for Trolls will be the promised live performance.  But this isn't going to be a big show and it won't be quite the same as the full length online story.  It'll be shorter, tighter and secret.  It'll be a pop up show for my funders and loyal supporters only - though I might squeeze you in if you ask nicely.
But before I finally reveal the final show of the year, let's give you a run down of events so far!
1.  The Trolls Trilogy - under construction.  Well received so far online, over a thousand people have listened so far...
2.  You Have Been Watching - 'sold' out installation.  Surprisingly good response.
3.  Hang - radio play almost universally loved by all.  Available as an audio download and script.
4.  The Juliet Inquiry - a public inquiry version of the Shakespeare play.  We got such a good reaction to the play that it was revived in October and I've future plans for it either next year or for the 2016 Shakespeare death anniversary. So far only available in script form.
5.  The Shakespeare Delusion - the second (or first, depending on your point of view) play of my little Shakespeare trilogy.  Again very well received - streamed live online as well as London revivals at the LOST Theatre.
6.  Complicated Pleasures - the big misstep of a project.  Liked by many, loved by many, hated by many.  A long post about this is long overdue, I just haven't had the strength to write it.
7.  Attack of the Christmas Squirrels - was this number 7?  I forget.  The projects have changed over the year and this was, ironically, the second show to be completed.  This is a home storytelling show open to anyone who wants to see it.  Just get in touch, it won't go away.  Well received at the premiere.
8.  Historic Crimes - another radio play, live streamed and with a great critical response.  The final play in my Shakespeare Trilogy, making that a nice little hat trick.  Soon to be available as an audio download and script.
9.  The Museum of Tat - audio comedy series with my good friend Michael Fouldes.  Still available to listen to now.  Generally well received, but not enough feedback yet. Listen again here.
10.  THE END OF THE ROAD SHOW!  This will feature as it's centrepiece Beware of the Blob - a very silly story about my love of B-Movies and featuring a lot of balloons.  There will be singing, dancing and a bar.  A great way to end my residency and good fun for all.  I would live stream it, but who'd be listening?  It's New Year's Eve!


Also I did a bit of audio work, trying a radio show, which didn't really work as no one listened.  Except for one person who did and was really hurt that I didn't tell anyone when I stopped doing them.  Sorry.  I've also added a few recordings to the Before Shakespeare project, wrote a short monologue about political opportunism and backed up a lot of data.  On top of acting in three plays for other people (She Stoops to Conquer, The Importance of Being Earnest and Waiting for Godot) and directing a Pantomime.

*I wrote at the time, in earlier blogs, that the structure was working - but I was so wrong.  Sometimes you can delude yourself into thinking things that so not true.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

An Historic Day

Another project over - another show down.  Historic Crimes went live last night as an audio play, performed in front of a live studio audience.  Which is a slightly odd way of recording it, as the show wasn't a comedy (there were a few jokes but mostly it's serious) so a live recording with an audience would perhaps be a bit pointless.  Well, not so, because I needed an audience to pay for the recording / live streaming / cast - so they were all part of the same package.
We all met up in the late morning and, after a brief hiatus printing the final script, got down to work.  My fantastic cast were Pamela Flanagan and Philippa Tathan - who I have occasionally worked with before.  A read through, some general exposition about the play and the characters and then a break.  After the break our tame photographer John Bethell arrived and took some completely unfaked shots of us rehearsing.

Philippa Tatham, Robert Crighton and Pamela Flanagan
Then a slow run through of the play, stopping and starting - adjusting timings and generally tightening up reactions to specific lines.  I tried to compress a lot of info for the cast quickly - there's a lot going on in a play of about 45/50 minutes, so we had to turn some sharp corners in terms of emotion and argument.
I suppose I should elucidate to you what the play is.  If you want a one line pitch, I'd say it's the script I'd write if I were writing for Black Mirror - albeit for a radio version of the series.  (In fact, while we're here, come on Charlie Brooker - I could write you a treatment for it if you're interested?  Oh, you've got that covered?  Well, worth a shot.)  The play is as much about technology and the implications of it as it is about Shakespeare and the cultural capital we have tied up in him - so perhaps you could call it science fiction.  It's filled with references to sci-fi, but then I usually hide a few in jokes into my plays.
Anyway, back to Monday.  Evening approached, so we set up the space and Peter Morris, our sound engineer, set up the mics.  We then recorded a dry run of about two-thirds of the play, before running out of time as the audience were arriving (pesky audiences, arriving on time).
And they were a lovely audience, they listened - and that includes the online people, one of whom listened twice.  Some audience comments: "Historic Crimes, a very enjoyable event." "Most enjoyable evening. Glad it was only conjecture!! Well done to you all." "Excellent presentation, keep the shows going, thoroughly enjoyable."
Eventually I will tidy up the recording and make it available as a digital download - but for the next month (until 13th November) the live stream will be available to listen for free here. [No longer available - but should have it available for download asap. Rob]
I'll be publishing the script of the play shortly, as well as a combined edition of the complete Shakespeare Trilogy.  I have to say that of all the projects this year, most of which have been a success, this trilogy of plays have made the biggest impact and I am quite proud of them.  I hope I might be able to stage them all together next year, probably not on one night (it would be a looong evening) but maybe a mixed bill in rep.  But we'll see, the Seldom Plan might strike again.  It usually does.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Once, twice, three times a bard...

I'm currently in bed pretending to write words, taking drugs and trying to learn lines.  It's been such a nice couple of weeks and being ill is very annoying.  Last week was the first revival of The Juliet Inquiry which we first did in April.  The cast were keen to do it again and a couple of venues came up so off we went on a two day mini tour of village halls.  The first was in Lavenham, where we were in competition with the local cub scouts.  The minutes silence at the beginning of the show was less effective with the herds of elephants next door and above us.  After a while they calmed down a bit and it was business as usual.  The next day we played Offton, which also went well (everyone was very welcoming) and we left with promises to return one day - so that's got me thinking about doing a bit more touring.  There are a lot of towns and villages in my part of the world that don't see theatre, live theatre, on their doorstep.  It'll probably be a pain to organise, but I see big rewards artistically.
The Juliet Inquiry is a bit of a beast of a show to organise, as it requires a lot of equipment - projectors and television screens.  My next revival, The Shakespeare Delusion, is quite the opposite.  I can tour the show with a small bag and have done.  This I'm doing on Saturday in London (Dr Theatre will be on call) at the LOST Theatre for the third time this year.  Then I whizz back to Suffolk for a Waiting for Godot rehearsal and the world premiere of Historic Crimes on Monday.  These are the three plays that make up my Shakespeare Trilogy (excluding Godot, obviously) and, all in all, I'm very pleased with them.  And if I wasn't ill, I'd be making a bit more of a fuss about them all.
One thing I did do, whilst updating my CV, was have a little look at how many plays I've ever written.  I've never counted them before.  So I did.  Historic Crimes will be number 42.  Now, some of these plays are shorts, so we have to knock that number down a bit, (if we were to say how many evenings entertainments I have created rather than individual works) and a good quarter of them are either shit or lost (or both) - but if I were to curate a season of my work I could happily programme a full three week schedule with a different play / cluster of plays each day - without too much shite.
When the fuck did I get round to doing all this writing?  Seriously, I've only really been doing this properly for ten/twelve years.  There are a couple of pieces that pre-date that, but I found my voice around 2003 when I sat down and adapted four or five Greek tragedies in the space of a month (workman like, but not without merit in places) and haven't looked back since.  Except now, now I'm looking back.  This year I've written half a dozen plays - mostly one-acts - and I've got at least two full length plays drafted to write next year.  But now I'm worried about my style.  I'm worried about my dialogue, I'm worried that there are a few too many patterns.  If I were to (don't worry, I won't) put all my plays back to back, how long before the patterns show up in a bad way.  Have I got lazy?  Am I set in my ways?
I've tried to avoid that by dancing from one genre to another - by changing the kind of play you write you have to change your style.  But there are only so many genres and even then... I can see tropes returning.  Cut, cut, cut.  Freestyle it.  Start again.  But should I start again, destroy a draft, just because it is similar to something gone before?  Just because it is replaced by something new, doesn't mean that new is better than the old.  Maybe I'll kill good work just for form.
These are the thoughts dancing around my fevered brain as I try to put the last polish on Historic Crimes.  I know I can't take it much further - so I mustn't mess it up by playing around too much.  But the next play?  Who knows?

Milk Bottle Audio Presents...
Historic Crimes
World Premiere By Robert Crighton – the Quay’s Artist in Residence

What would you want to see if you could look back in time and watch famous events in history?  And what would you do if they greatly disappointed you?  Or you discovered a hidden crime?  Would you tell the world if you discovered that Shakespeare no less was guilty of the worst of crimes?  Could you ever read his plays again?  Or allow them to be staged?  World premiere of a modern morality tale about Bardolatry, sex and lies – staged as a live radio broadcast and streaming live online at www.ustream.tv/channel/robert-crighton-storyteller
Performing at the Quay Theatre, Monday 13th October at 7.30pm - and live streaming online.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Encore Thoughts

I went to see Medea today - an encore performance of the National Theatre production at my local cinema.  I've watched a lot of theatre this way now.  I rather like it, as I've posted before.  But...
I seem to drift.  My thoughts are almost always pulled elsewhere.
Now, this was a very good production, mostly great performances (wasn't convinced by some of the smaller roles) and I did enjoy it.  I don't think, if I'd been in the room, that I'd have drifted.  But I noticed, often, that instead of fully engaging with the work, I was thinking about something else.  I stopped listening to the words and would snap back with a jolt.
I think this isn't because of the show, I think it's the format.  I had the same thing with Macbeth last year and many operas.  I didn't have this with The Audience or Skylight.  But they had a lot more humour and it's harder to drift if you're laughing.
That isn't to say my drifting ruined the event for me.  I drifted to a purpose, as I basically planned out a complete production of Oedipus the King in my head.  I had no intention of doing so before I went, I just started thinking and reacting to the play (which I last saw over ten years ago but have never staged) by thinking about a play that I have staged many times.  In part or in whole three times.  I used to stage a lot of Greek tragedy, or at least, a simplified sort.
I've never fully staged a production with a proper chorus.  It's always been chorus light.  This has largely been for practical reasons - not having enough people - but also because I didn't really know how to do it.  I liked to get to the bare bones of the drama, rewriting the plays so that the chorus was a singular figure.  But watching Medea I started again, in my head.  Not that I wanted to copy the dance work or the idea of chorus used in this production.  I had an image of something quite different in my mind, something from a dance piece elsewhere, that hit me.  And then I was designing the set, looking at a rehearsal structure, thinking back to the texts I've used in the past.
And yet I was still watching Medea, still enjoying (if that's the right word) the event, still engaged - if fitfully.
Then I remembered that this is how I write sometimes.  I'll get a DVD of a Shakespeare or other classic text and half watch / listen to it, while notebook in hand I dance shapes of dialogue about a page.  Sometimes I'll watch, sometimes I'll work, sometimes I'll get myself a cup of coffee.  There is a term for this kind of viewing.  Selective inattention.  And it's just how my cookie rolls.
So, you might be in for a bit of Greek tragedy from me again.  It's been quite a few years since the last one and I think it's time to go back.
But, for the moment, I need to finish writing Historic Crimes for next month.  It's nearly at a first draft stage.  I've been pulling all the threads of my notes together and am very nearly there.

But till then - here's a new episode of a comedy thing I've been working on.  The Museum of Tat.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Milk Bottle Autumn Newsletter 2014

It's a busy couple of months for Milk Bottle - with several projects happening at once.  Robert is down to his last three projects of Project 10/52, with two being ticked off by October - the new audio comedy series, The Museum of Tat and a new play Historic Crimes which will be live streamed online as part of the first performance.  There's also a revival of a favourite project from earlier in the year The Juliet Inquiry which was hugely successful.  Book now, listen now, get involved.


Milk Bottle Audio Presents...
The Museum of Tat
Devised by Robert Crighton with Michael Fouldes
The Museum of Tat is the repository of all things tat. New tat, old tat, the useless, the cheap and the ugly. The first episode of this six part audio comedy is available to listen now. Just click here!You can even get involved as photo submissions to the museum are welcome. Post them on our twitter feed @MuseumofTat or facebook page The Museum of Tat. Guidelines for submission can be found here.


Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
THE JULIET INQUIRY
By Robert Crighton
Based on the story of Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare 
Specially commissioned to celebrate Shakespeare's 450th Birthday

A complete re-imagining of the play where the story of Romeo and Juliet is told as a modern day public inquiry.  In this version the Montagues and the Capulets were once close families - until their children fell in love. This is the story of how love can tear apart, as well as heal, and how that love can seem when put under the public gaze.

Performing on Friday 3rd October at 7.30pm at the Lavenham Village Hall 
Performing on Saturday 4th October at 7.30pm at the Offton Village Hall

Milk Bottle Audio Presents...
Historic Crimes
World Premiere By Robert Crighton – the Quay’s Artist in Residence
What would you want to see if you could look back in time and watch famous events in history?  And what would you do if they greatly disappointed you?  Or you discovered a hidden crime?  Would you tell the world if you discovered that Shakespeare no less was guilty of the worst of crimes?  Could you ever read his plays again?  Or allow them to be staged?  World premiere of a modern morality tale about Bardolatry, sex and lies – staged as a live radio broadcast and streaming live online at www.ustream.tv/channel/robert-crighton-storyteller
Performing on Monday 13th October at 7.30pm at the Quay Theatre, Sudbury
Tickets Pay-What-You-Want - can be reserved via the Quay Theatre Box Office
Telephone: 01787 374745 or online at www.quaytheatre.org.uk

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Opening the Doors

Later today I'm going to be doing a bit of recording. The first installment of a new audio series to accompany one of my projects for the year - The Museum of Tat.  We're going to be improvising the text and, though I have some idea where I want to go, it could move in almost any direction.  Most of the material for this project will go on the sister blog - Museum of Tat - but I will talk about how the production side of things happen here.
What is the The Museum of Tat going to be about?  Well, it's about our culture, it's about how we cherish somethings and hate other - by using the word tat, we make a value judgement.  But is what we call tat something really worthless?  Some people love their tat.  They can't get enough of it.
And then there's the question - how do we define tat?  As opposed to, say, kitsch.  Where do the boundaries lie?
And then there's the other question - what is the price of tat?  Because, to give us our tat, resources are spent, workers exploited, people - literally - die to give us it.
And then there's the straightforward fun in wandering round charity shops looking for tat and just wondering - what the hell were they thinking?
So, lots of angles.  We'll see where we go.
More soon...

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Just When You Think You're Out of Date...

About ten years ago I wrote a short play called Fantasy Terrorist League about the changes we were making in the law that would damage our democracy.  It seemed topical at the time.  I expected it would have a short life span.  I have officially retired it as a piece of my acting repertory a few times now, primarily because the play was giving me crows feet (the play involves a lot of rictus grinning).  But it just won't bloody die.
I wrote couple of follow up pieces, variations on a theme, if you will, which I had performed with it a few years ago - I called this The Fantasy Terrorist Variations.  I then thought, enough, and put it to bed.
And then Boris Johnson piped up and started the ball rolling again.  http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/aug/25/boris-johnson-britons-visiting-iraq-syria-presumed-terrorists
In response to the crisis in Iraq and Syria, to the numbers of British citizens travelling abroad to support terrorism, he wrote that: "The law needs a swift and minor change so that there is a 'rebuttable presumption' that all those visiting war areas without notifying the authorities have done so for a terrorist purpose."  Basically, shift the burden of proof - if you return from a terrorist state then you are automatically presumed to be a terrorist and you must prove you aren't.  Which is exactly what my plays have been about - a shift towards a presumption of guilt.  Once again, they are no longer a bit out of date.
The governments response was swift and dismissive (thank goodness) but I wonder whether this was just because they saw it as a genuinely stupid idea, rather than a knee-jerk response to anything Boris says - i.e. that the response was more about domestic politics than good governance.  I hope it was both.
So, what is my response?  Well, we shall see.  I have a project in hand this year.  In fact I have written a new Fantasy Terrorist Variation to add to my collection.  It is called A Swift and Minor Change. And I'm about to record it now.

Additional - I've just posted my response online.  You can listen to it below.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Two new books out...

Well, that's not quite true - one is new, the other is a repackaged book (The Shakespeare Delusion had a couple of typos and an odd error on the cover that irked me).  So, here's the links.  Have a gander.

The Juliet Inquiry 
By Robert Crighton
Based on the play 'Romeo & Juliet' by William Shakespeare 
Specially commissioned to celebrate Shakespeare's 450th Birthday

A complete re-imagining of the play where the story of Romeo and Juliet is 
told as a modern day public inquiry.  In this version the Montagues and the 
Capulets were once close families - until their children fell in love. 
This is the story of how love can tear apart, as well as heal, and how that 
love can seem when put under the public gaze.
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.


The Shakespeare Delusion
By Robert Crighton
Professor Ashborn invites you to share in his latest discoveries and lead you through the terrible secrets behind the man people call Shakespeare.  Did he really write the plays?  Was he really bald?  Did he like cheese?  Using recently uncovered documentation Professor Ashborn can finally tell the true and completely true, truly true, utterly true, true story of the Shakespeare delusion!
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Two down, one to go...

At last, I have posted the final episode of Lost Tribe of the Trolls - which means I'm two thirds of the way through my trilogy.  The final story is The Paper Moon Trolls - which thanks to upgrades on audioboo, can now be released in longer episodes, will be in six to eight parts, released every couple of weeks or so across the year - the final episode on Wednesday 31st December to mark the end of my artist residency at the Quay Theatre.  So, if you've missed out on the story so far then have a listen on the players below.
Enjoy.

Part One:  The Natural History of Trolls


Part Two:  Lost Tribe of the Trolls

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

March of the Shakespeare Trilogy

I didn't quite intend to spend so much time on Shakespeare this year.  I planned to do a piece or two that touched on him, I planned to perform his narrative poems (one down, one to go) and that was about it.  But for some reason my Shakespeare-ish-based plays won't go away.  In fact, they have morphed into The Shakespeare Trilogy.  First up was The Juliet Inquiry - a straightforward project, a one off.  Except it went so well, we're doing it again.  In October.  Twice.  (Details below.)  It's entirely possible we'll keep doing it.  It was very well received, it was interesting to do, there is still room for improvement.
Then there was a new version of an old play The Shakespeare Delusion which I put into the schedule because it timed well with the LOST One-Act Festival.  It didn't win, but it did then return for the Face to Face festival and is returning to London again.  In October.  This is a play that is definitely not going away as I plan to try a tour it next year and would love to take to the festivals.  
And now there's Historic Crimes.  Which is being staged in... October.  I don't know how well it will go, I haven't finished writing it yet, but it will now cap off a season of work, playing with Shakespeare.  The Juliet Inquiry, though technically a version of Romeo and Juliet, was as much about how the contrast between an old story and the new world.  How they exist in very different worlds.  The Shakespeare Delusion is about the ridiculousness of the so called authorship 'question' - where the question is asked by a madman.  Historic Crimes is about how society changes, how things once considered acceptable change and what would happen to the Shakespeare industry if he fell from grace - basically it's about Bardolotry.  It's a loose trilogy, but there is now part of me thinking it could be presented as a whole.  Three plays, one after the other.  An unit of thought.  I don't know.
Either way, I'm hoping that all three plays, over October, will be available in some format online.  Either live streamed as audio and even possibly video (watch this space).  So, wherever you are, you can catch a bit or all of my accidental Shakespeare Trilogy.

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
THE JULIET INQUIRY
By Robert Crighton
Based on the story of Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare 
Specially commissioned to celebrate Shakespeare's 450th Birthday

A complete re-imagining of the play where the story of Romeo and Juliet is told as a modern day public inquiry.  In this version the Montagues and the Capulets were once close families - until their children fell in love. This is the story of how love can tear apart, as well as heal, and how that love can seem when put under the public gaze.

Performing on Friday 3rd October at 7.30pm at the Lavenham Village Hall 
Performing on Saturday 4th October at 7.30pm at the Offton Village Hall
Tickets Pay-What-You-Want

Milk Bottle Audio Presents...
Historic Crimes
World Premiere By Robert Crighton – the Quay’s Artist in Residence
What would you want to see if you could look back in time and watch famous events in history?  And what would you do if they greatly disappointed you?  Or you discovered a hidden crime?  Would you tell the world if you discovered that Shakespeare no less was guilty of the worst of crimes?  Could you ever read his plays again?  Or allow them to be staged?  World premiere of a modern morality tale about Bardolatry, sex and lies – staged as a live radio broadcast and streaming live online at www.ustream.tv/channel/robert-crighton-storyteller
Performing on Monday 13th October at 7.30pm at the Quay Theatre, Sudbury
Tickets Pay-What-You-Want - can be reserved via the Quay Theatre Box Office
Telephone: 01787 374745 or online at www.quaytheatre.org.uk

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Kraken Turns Off the Snooze Alarm

And I'm back in the room.  It's been a while and I can tell you've missed me.  Well, from Wednesday I will be six and a half projects down out of the ten of the year.  That will see the last episode of Lost Tribe of the Trolls release and the writing of recording of the final story of The Trolls Trilogy for release over the next few months.  That leaves three projects.  But what are they going to be?

Well, here the Seldom Plan hits again (see past posts ad nausem) - there be changes afoot.  I'm still going to be presenting the oft mentioned Historic Crimes in October - this will be a live streamed radio drama, tickets for the recording will be available from the Quay Theatre box office.

Otherwise, the last two projects are going to be more internet based and have no specific timetable.  I have already started one.  It is called The Museum of Tat - and it has a blog all of its very own.
http://themuseumoftat.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/welcome-to-museum-of-tat.html
This will be an evolving project, but in the short term it will mostly be made of photography and video pieces - which will be published online.

Then there is another work in progress I'm calling Just Say Yes (no affiliation to a rather dull Snow Patrol song, youth empowerment companies or fascist organisations etc)- which will be created at the Quay Theatre (probably) on the fifteenth of September.  Or not.  It will be a one-to-one piece, but later a video work.  Or not.  More later.

Otherwise, two of my other projects are still alive and well.  The Shakespeare Delusion is performing again in London in October, as will the very popular The Juliet Inquiry, which I might be able to stream live (details to follow.)  So, this is very much the year of my Shakespeare Trilogy - which Historic Crimes will complete - all three pieces performing in close succession.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Lateness of the Trolls

Or perhaps I should call this post, lateness of everything.  I haven't posted anything of substance for a while because I hit a crunch period.  You can tell this because my posts petered out and they started sounding a bit... depressed.  I was tired, I was worn out, I needed a rest - but I was in the middle of performing in three different shows, almost all at once, as well as all the other planning of stuff.  So, I had a bit of a reboot this weekend and am now back in the room, as the hip kids say, in some other universe.
Which brings us to Trolls.  Didn't I say there would be a new episode of Trolls, every week, on a Wednesday, without fail?
Well, two things changed that prompted a change of plan.
1. I had got to the ending quicker than planned (for Lost Tribe anyway) and...
2. Audioboo, whom host the audio stuff I do, extended the length of free boos from 3 minutes to 10.
Despite claims to the contrary on an earlier blog, the three minute length of episode was cramping my style.  It was just that little too short, ruining cliffhangers and generally being unsatisfactory.  I was also finding the strict timeline a bit frustrating at crunch moments, as I had to rush some episodes out.
So, tomorrow (touch wood) the last episode of Lost Tribe of the Trolls will be released and then I'll be releasing episodes of the next story Paper Moon Trolls in a more holistic, bi-weekly ish set of 6-10 minute long episodes.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Post Shakespeare Post

It is frustrating that the time when I should really be blogging the most is at the time when it sooooo isn't going to happen.  Production week - when people might actually be interested in the work, when interesting things are actually happening - is dead to this blog for the most part.  I'm just too tired.  And it doesn't get any better at the end of the week (i.e. now) because I've forgotten all the interesting stuff.  It just leaked out of my brain, probably at the same time I drank all that alcohol.  Hell, there aren't even any photographs, so I can't even show you them!
So, The Shakespeare Delusion went up this week.  Version 2, that is.  Version 1 went up two years ago and then went into hiatus with my colon.  It's a leaner, meaner, shorter, punchier version - though fundamentally the same in overall shape and structure.  On Monday I performed it at the Quay Theatre as part of my residency and then on Wednesday I took it to the LOST One-Act Festival in good old London.
Both shows went well, comments were positive, money was taken, scripts sold.  I now await my fate as to whether it will win anything at LOST.  Fingers crossed.
Now, hopefully, Delusion will go on the road next year.  I'm seriously thinking of doing so kind of tour, look at doing some festivals, generally get my arse in gear.  But, then I remember the downside.  It's the same problem stand ups have.  Touring a solo show is incredibly lonely.  You finish the gig and go to the bar and then there is no one to talk to.  This isn't quite fair - there will be audience members who will want to have a natter and it can be jolly nice.  But, this isn't guaranteed.  Often, especially with a dramatic piece, rather than straight up comedy, people don't.  And you can't throw yourself at people, because then you sound a bit desperate.  Which, after going to a hotel room (if you're lucky) alone for a few days, you might very well be.  What else to do?  Sit and drink a post show pint by yourself?  Read a book?
It wasn't too bad this week, because at the Quay I knew people.  At LOST I knew the organisers, I've performed there a number of times, but I didn't know anyone in the audience.  But out on tour, gulp, that doesn't bode well for my sanity.
Which is why I prefer my home touring model.  Storytelling for parties, telling stories to real people, not audiences, and then kipping on their sofa before moving on.  It's so much more human.  Just need to get that one together as well then.
**
But that's next year, next year is next year - I've still got this year to get through.  I've now reached the halfway mark.  Delusion was the fifth of ten projects.  Well, technically I've already done one of the later ones, so I'm six down.  Except I'm only halfway through the first project, so five and a half then.  So, now I need to de-clutter and plan the rest of the year.  I've got two looming projects that need writing.  Metal Harvest which is about the First World War, and which is changing daily in my mind, and Historic Crimes which is about Shakespeare as a sex offender.  These need to be shaped, written, planned.  And now that the fog of war has faded on Delusion I can now start on them. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Shaking the Delusion

I rehearsed The Shakespeare Delusion yesterday.  Well, that's hardly news, is it?  I've been rehearsing daily for weeks.  But yesterday I rehearsed it in London.  With Colin.  Which was a very nice change.
Now Colin runs a thing called the Face to Face festival - aimed at showcasing solo performance - which I've performed at a couple of times and have been invited to do again this year.  Not only that but Colin agreed to give the show a once over.  Which was very helpful.
As well as, a little bit, painful.  But pain is good, pain is growth, pain is just ego having a tantrum - because what Colin said was true - page x needed a trim.  It wasn't flowing.  It stuck out like a sore thumb and lost him.  So we cut it.  Almost the whole page.  Which was painful, as it does feature some of my favourite jokes.  But the show isn't just about cheap laughs, so sometimes you have to get rid of them.
Not only that, but when we ran it again, sans page x, not only did it run smoother (WHOO-HOO!) but we also discovered a lovely bit of physical action that makes the ending far sadder.
Only now, I've got tonight and tomorrow to learn the reworked pages around page x.  So, pain.  But also joy.
Thank you Colin.

The Shakespeare Delusion
Written and Performed by Robert Crighton
Professor Ashborn invites you to share in his latest discoveries and lead you through the terrible secrets behind the man people call Shakespeare.  Did he really write the plays?  Was he really bald?  Did he like cheese?  Using recently uncovered documentation Professor Ashborn can finally tell the true and completely true, truly true, utterly true, true story of the Shakespeare delusion!
Performing at the Quay Theatre on Monday 26th May at 7.30pm
To listen to the Live Stream on the night go to www.ustream.tv/channel/robert-crighton-storyteller
Also performing at the LOST One-Act Festival in London on Wednesday 28th May at 7.30pm


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Other Irons in the Fire

I suppose I should, with less than a week to go, go on about The Shakespeare Delusion but I've gone over that so many times, it's not news.  It's on next week, book tickets, ya-da-ya-da-ya-da.  So, I thought I'd post about some of the non-Milk Bottle productions I'm involved in.  At present I'm reacquainting myself with a play I've loved ever since I first appeared in it in 2001 - the delightful The Importance of Being Earnest - which I happen to be in.  It isn't perhaps something I should admit publicly, but think I was possibly born to play Algernon Moncrieff.  He's a self obsessed glutton with few moral scruples and I would hate to think I were that bad.  However, the part does slip on me like a well worn and insanely comfortable pair of shoes.
I first essayed Algernon when I was but a youth, back for the summer from University.  It was September and term was about to begin again.  And on Tuesday 11th September we had our dress rehearsal.  I remember discussing the terrible events of the day before getting into the dressing room and on stage to eat a lot of muffin.  The run was, a recall, well attended.  I have wondered whether we picked up audience because people wanted to escape to a safer world.  But then again, Earnest is rarely poorly attended.
I'm acting in this production for my local amateur company, the Lavenham Players, partly because it keeps the juices flowing, partly because it's good for business, but largely because I'd happily play in Earnest at least once a year anywhere that it came up.
I was chatting with a friend who has directed a number of Wilde's plays and we got onto the subject of the content of the plays.  That of the four plays that deal with society Earnest is the one with the least content - that unlike the other three, which are dramas with some wit, Earnest is only interested in laughs.  I couldn't agree with that.  The play is a satire and it's razor sharp.  It is also very fun, light and frothy.  It is an example of a play that can be both a deeply subversive work - full of class satire and gay subtext - and a play that middle England will sit down and happily enjoy.  I forget the name of the fictional aunt that Terence Rattigan claimed he wrote plays for, but it's something very much for her.
Perhaps there is an argument that we shouldn't be reviving such staples of the repertoire so often - unless we have something new to say about it.  I've been involved in four productions in thirteen years and that's without really hunting the play out.  But it still delights, it still sells and, frankly, if I can't be involved in a revival of the odd classic amongst the dozens of other new works I'm creating, then life would be very dull indeed.
Earnest aside I'm also in two other community productions this year.  I'm doing a bit of Shakespeare in June, a compilation show called Shakespeare Undressed which has been great fun to rehearse so far.  A bit of Benedick, some Fool, some Robin Goodfellow and home in time for tea.  And in November I'm performing in Waiting For Godot - but that's a whole other blog post.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

"Get a handle on the dialogue...

... it's a one man show, it's a monologue..." as a wise woman once said.
I do a lot of monologing, as anyone who's ever attempted to have a conversation with me will tell you.  It's a frustrating process, because you're largely dependent on yourself.  You may have a team around you, people to help with lines, directors, crew etc. but basically you need a brain to hold all those words and actions together.  And so you sit and you fuss and rehearse and go over lines and tweak, and rewrite the lines, because you suddenly hate them, and that bit never flowed, why didn't you change that weeks ago, shit there's only two weeks to go, you should be running it by now, agggghhhhh! 
Because, unlike a play, it seems to take ten times more work to get the damn text to flow right.  You're faffing with tenses and clauses and stuff that my education has wholly failed to prepare me for.  And the closer the deadline gets the more you suddenly want to change, but then there isn't time to learn those changes.
Of course, it's different if it's someone else who's performing the text, or if you're performing another persons play, but when you're doing all the creating it drives you a bit loopy.  And I know, I just have to lock myself away for a few weeks and it'll be fine.  And it all will be fine.  All will be well, all manner of things will be well.  Or something similar.
Basically, what I'm writing here, isn't an attempt to tell you want it's like rehearsing The Shakespeare Delusion or other of my monologues.  It's an attempt not to rehearse yet, because I'm writing a blog post.  Don't make me do it AGAIN!  
Oh, all right, if you insist.
Or I could prepare my Radio show for tomorrow.  Yes, I need to do that now.
No I don't, that's for after rehearsal tonight.  
And so this displacement activity ends.
I believe you're supposed to write lol or something similar at this point.

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Shakespeare Delusion - Press Release

The Shakespeare Delusion – Press Release
 
New comedy drama by the Quay Theatre’s Artist in Residence Competing in London
Live Streaming Across the World
 
As part of Milk Bottle’s Shakespeare Trilogy – three plays on a theme of Shakespeare to celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th birthday – Robert Crighton presents his mock lecture, The Shakespeare Delusion.  Not only is it premiering at the Quay Theatre on Monday 26th May, it is also competing for the prestigious LOST One-Act Festival in London, as part of their 30th anniversary season.  Robert is the only competitor for the festival in its history to have won three awards in three successive years – he only stopped entering when he was no longer eligible to pass the age restrictions.  The age limit has been dropped this year, so Robert is eager to win a fourth award if he can.

The play is about the so called 'Shakespeare authorship question' which is ruthlessly satirised throughout.  "It's the worst of all conspiracy theories because there is literally no evidence at all to suggest Shakespeare didn't write the plays and vast amounts of evidence to say that he did.  Some of the theories are so absurd it's almost impossible to satirise because anything you try to make up has to be crazier than that which has already been suggested."  Robert Crighton
 
Robert is also appealing for help in writing the play – looking for the worst line from all of Shakespeare.
“I need the worst line I can find – either incomprehensible, weird or just awful.  It isn’t an easy thing to find - he was generally speaking, a brilliant writer.  The winner of my favourite quote will see it featured in the play, and will also get a free copy of the published script with a thank you inside!”
Entries can be sent via tweet @RobertCrighton or email contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk
 
The play is being live streamed as well – the last play Robert streamed, Hang, was listened to around the world.
“With the advent of the world wide web, theatre need not be tied down to one location.  Now, even a small arts centre can produce, not only world class drama, but show it to anyone around the world.  We are no longer bound but the traditional ideas of what is rural theatre or cosmopolitan theatre – there is only theatre, drama, comedy – the excitement of the new.  We are just as important as any other broadcaster and can be judged, not on our location, but on our content.  That is an exciting change in the world.”  Robert Crighton
 
Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
The Shakespeare Delusion
Written and Performed by Robert Crighton
Professor Ashborn invites you to share in his latest discoveries and lead you through the terrible secrets behind the man people call Shakespeare.  Did he really write the plays?  Was he really bald?  Did he like cheese?  Using recently uncovered documentation Professor Ashborn can finally tell the true and completely true, truly true, utterly true, true story of the Shakespeare delusion!
 
To listen to the Live Stream on the night go to
Performing Live and Online on Monday 26th May at 7.30pm at the Quay Theatre, Sudbury
Tickets: Pay-What-You-Want
Box Office: 01787 374 745
 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Writing Head

I've been trying to get my writing head back on.  It's difficult at the moment because I'm doing a lot of line learning or performing and they are very different mindsets.  Last night I was sat, listening to music, notebook on lap, trying to get something flowing.  Nothing specific, just general words.  And it's not that I haven't written anything for a while.  I only finished The Juliet Inquiry a few weeks ago, and Hang a few weeks before that.  But most of the writing I was doing was really editing.  Rewriting.  The ideas, shapes, notes, plans for those plays were done earlier.  And I've also been writing The Trolls Trilogy each week.  But still, it's not the same.  Letting the imagination flow, letting new ideas in - so that the next 'generation' of plays can be written - is really important.  I know that once The Shakespeare Delusion is done (I'm learning it now, and with monologues like that there is always some rewriting to do as you learn) I have to be ready to write the next two shows on my project list - Metal Harvest and Historic Crimes.  I need to get my head together for that.  Hence the sitting with the notebook.
Not a lot came.  Nothing useful, anyway.  It was mostly self pity, which was interesting.  Meditations on memory, which is something I'm preoccupied with at the moment.  I have noticed that my brain is not as good at things as it used to be.  This is probably temporary, following on from last year and my spell of not-well-ness and I'm learning lines alright.  It's more trivial things.  I've noticed a certain lack of sharpness to my thinking, where I do like to be precise.  Added to that, the discovery that after drinking alcohol, I no longer have total recall of events.  I used to be brilliant at remembering things the morning after.  It was so useful when others were hazy.  But now - a disturbing blur, with occasional flashes of lighting.  It's rather like watching Abigail's Party with the sound off.  Underwater.
That's new.  Interesting.  And like all experiences gets filed in the box of things to put in plays - both as writer and actor.  Because that's how artists think.  We use our lives as material.  Sometimes I suspect I don't actually live my life, I merely use it.  And then I remember that's just bollocks and make a cup of tea.
Now, time to do some line learning and later to sit and pretend to write again.