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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Shit Shakespeare

I'm trying to find a shit bit of Shakespeare.  It's really difficult.  I need to find one line - one line that is irredeemably second rate.  Something that leaps off the tongue like an elephant in a swimsuit that plunges into the water of language with a booming untidy SPLASH!
It's for a one line gag in The Shakespeare Delusion which I'm performing in a little under four weeks time.  I just need one line of Shakespeare, which is obviously rubbish (or weird - I'll take weird) to punctuate the joke.  My choice of line for the first version which premiered a couple of years ago was so so - so I've asked the internet for suggestions.
So far I've had:

  1. To step out of these dreary dumps
  2. A maid and stuffed? Aye, there's goodly catching of cold.
  3. I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word; for thou art not so long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier swallowed than a flap-dragon.
  4. Betwixt Dravidian shores and linear five nine three oh one six seven point oh two, and strikes the fulsome grove of Rexel Four. Co-radiating crystal, activate!
Spot the obvious odd one out.  Some people just don't appreciate the seriousness of this mission (and this is a mission now) to find the worst lines in Shakespeare.  Google failed me - the best I got were overrated quotes - all of which were quite good.  So, come on people, we can do better!  Find me the worst lines from Shakespeare!  Bring me your clangers!  Bring me your typos!  Bring me the incomprehensible!  Find me shit Shakespeare!

The winner of my favourite shit quote will get a free copy of the published script with a thank you inside!  There, that's an incentive for you.  Either tweet me @RobertCrighton or email contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk

The Shakespeare Delusion is performing at the Quay Theatre on Monday 26th May, at the LOST One-Act Festival on Wednesday 28th May and later in the year at the Face to Face Festival. 



Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Juliet Inquiry Programme

Milk Bottle Productions...
Project Four: The Juliet Inquiry
Written by Robert Crighton, with additional material by the company
Performing at the Lavenham Guildhall, Wednesday 23rd April

Based on the story of Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
Specially commissioned to celebrate Shakespeare's 450th Birthday

CAST (in order of appearance)

CLERK OF THE COURT             –                      David Jenkins
PRESIDING QC                         –                      Robert Crighton
ROSALINE                                –                      Pamela Flanagan
LAURENCE                               –                      Michael Harding
ESCALUS                                 –                      Mark Holtom
BENVOLIO                                –                      Nick Elliott
LADY MONTAGUE                    –                      Annie Eddington
CAPULET                                 –                      Cecil Qadir

Audio Recording by Peter Morris
Website tended by Keith Atkinson








Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Charge! Or Not.

It's a busy day today - with The Juliet Inquiry tomorrow, but also with writing tomorrows episode of The Trolls Trilogy.  It's getting there, but I've also reached one of those crunch moments where I need to decide the precise structure of the next few episodes as we approach climax.  As it were.
But that hasn't been my biggest concern as in the last few weeks I've found myself caught in a trap of my own making.  I've set part of the story in the middle of the Crimean War.  This was established early in the story.  Sadly, the Crimean peninsula has got a bit hot over the last month and writing a section of the story set there (albeit in the fairly distant past) feels a bit wrong.  However, no one has complained and it's far too late to change now.  So, hopefully there won't be a world war and no one will notice.
Next episode tomorrow - but if you want to catch up then have a listen below.

THE TROLLS TRILOGY
PART ONE: The Natural History of Trolls


PART TWO: Lost Tribe of the Trolls

Monday, 21 April 2014

Rosaline

Following on from the last post, I've been deeply ensconced for the last 24 hours or so with writing the part of Rosaline for The Juliet Inquiry.  It's interesting to see what happens to a character as you start writing the words.  I don't think any writer really knows how they do it.  We all have different ideas about process, about structure and ideas, but we don't know how see sit down and produce a stream of words.  The process of creation has to be a kind of magic.  If you consciously think about it, the words start to fall apart in your mind, it becomes forced.  You may have very fixed ideas about how you intend to write or about how you will re-write (which is not the same thing) but the moment of creation is best left alone.  You don't want to kill it.
So, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted Rosaline to sound like, I had written notes and guidelines.  She was what I thought she would be.  Until I started writing and a different character emerged.  Stronger, perhaps; different, certainly.  And I don't know how it happened.  In the course of half an hours tinkering I had to stop, have a little look at what went before and take stock.  After a little thought, on I went, thinking my through the part to some degree, just letting it flow for the rest.
To be fair, there isn't room for a vast amount of character in the context of the inquiry.  The situation shuts down on certain behaviours, exaggerates others.  Rosaline would not be as open as she might be in another context.  Nerves and how they betray us are the most interesting mine to seam.  But, unlike other witnesses, she seems to be clear in her thinking.  A sympathetic witness even.  Though, that doesn't mean she's telling the truth - or even the half of it.
But that's for the audience to decide.
Right - back to the grindstone.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Juliet Process

I've written a little about the process of The Juliet Inquiry in an earlier blog post, but here's a little update.  I've been rehearsing/writing with my cast for the last few weeks now and we're reaching endgame.  Three more major rehearsals with witnesses and various smaller meetings.  It is a deceptively simple play to produce.  The witnesses are guided by the senior QC (in this case me) and, because there are no scenes with more than a couple of protagonists, you rehearse quickly.  I've been working, to different degrees, with the cast to mould how each character speaks.  I presented each actor with a basic synopsis, then we read the rough 'script' a few times, looking for new questions.  Then I'd ask those questions and see what the actor would improvise.  We'd then move to a big screen television and link it to my laptop and rewrite as we went along.  Each witness has around ten minutes of evidence to give, so we can run the new script several times.  I then sent them away for a week or so and reworked their testimony based on what the others were saying.  And the process began again.
Then, last week, I realised I really needed a new character.  There were several reasons.  The story was becoming one sided, I needed someone to balance the bias.  Also, the story, being based on Shakespeare, was a bit too male (both dead and alive) and (partly because I have a policy of positive discrimination for women) I needed at least one more female voice.  I also really liked the idea of giving a voice to the unseen character Rosaline from the original play.  Just who is it that Romeo first thought he was in love with?
But this is with a week to go and though I knew exactly what I wanted to do, I did need to find someone to play the part.  Which I finally secured yesterday - so now I'm off to write Rosaline.  It'll be interesting to get to know her.
Only three days before the show goes up.  Is that cutting things a bit fine?

Friday, 18 April 2014

The Seldom Plan Strikes Again

I've written often about the Seldom Plan - how my plans seldom happen in quite the way planned - so some changes have occurred to the projects of Project 10/52 - different order, different system...
Basically, I've had to take on other work in places to help make the finances balance, so I've had to shift a fair amount of what I'm doing to different parts of the year and this means some projects from the original plan are no longer viable.

So, here goes...

Projects 1, 2, 3 & 4 are unchanged - nay, nearly complete.  After that, it's all different.


PROJECT FIVE is now...
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!
This is performing at the Quay Theatre on Monday 26th May at 7.30pm
Box Office: 01787 374 745

PROJECT SIX is no longer HISTORIC CRIMES though this hasn't been dropped and is now project nine and will be performing sometime in September rather than June.  This was supposed to complete a three month trilogy of Shakespeare plays to celebrate his 450th birthday, but there's another Shakespeare thing down the Quay in June (which I also happen to be in) so that's why it's now later in the year.

So PROJECT SIX is now... are you keeping up?
Complicated Pleasures
An All New Comedy by Robert Crighton
Matthew has won the lottery, so he dumps his girlfriend because “he can do better”.  She rebounds on a single parent whose child is blackmailing him for lollipops.  Set in a not too distant future, this is a hilarious sex comedy about messy relationships, the balance of power between the sexes and the consequences of not giving a child a lollipop.
Performing at the Quay Theatre on Monday 21st July at 7.30pm
Box Office: 01787 374 745

PROJECT SEVEN is still...


ATTACK OF THE CHRISTMAS SQUIRRELS - because I couldn't be arsed to renumber it - it has essentially already happened and can happen again whenever you like.

Which means that the old PROJECT EIGHT is... (thankfully) still PROJECT EIGHT and is still METAL HARVEST and is still planned for August.

PROJECT NINE, as has been mentioned above, is the old project six, HISTORIC CRIMES.  Unless I swap it with project ten.  Not sure yet.

And then there's PROJECT TEN... well this is a bit more complicated.  Because I have a new piece I want to do which is currently titled SWITCH.  But I also have three other bumped plays fighting for inclusion in one of the slots this year.  They maybe held over till next year, but it will not be the last you hear of Beware of the Blob, The Single Source of All Filth or Shiny Medusa... 

And then there's the completion of PROJECT ONE (the year long project) - The Trolls Trilogy.  This will be an end of the year show, working title of GETTING TROLLIED, and rather than a straight performance of the Trolls Trilogy, I'm going to be creating a whole new show based on the material, with the emphasis on fun and laughter, as a New Years Eve show.  If you want to be put on the waiting list for tickets for the maddest of New Years parties then email me contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Hang Script

Yes, at last, the script for Hang is available.  I know, you want to know when the CD/download of the show will be available - but it does take time to process.  The script, however, only took an evening to pull into shape.  It differs only slightly from the broadcast version, one line is different, but otherwise I haven't been tempted to make any cuts - there are a few I have in mind - trusting a future producer to use their intelligence.
So, if you want to purchase a copy, it's out now here - it should also be available as a download, but this doesn't always happen straightaway.

Hang 
A Comedy by Robert Crighton
The world is turning inside out - people are starting to turn into animals and no one knows what's normal anymore. Even the man who actually wants to be a zebra can't quite fit into this brave new world. Dating is complicated enough when everyone's human. Cast doubles for three, or more.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Inquiring After Juliet

Cecil Qadir as Capulet - looking very cross...
Rehearsals have begun for The Juliet Inquiry, my next short form drama for Project 10/52 (Project 4 no less) and it's a slightly different process.  Instead of presenting my cast (or witnesses rather) with a finished script I'm present them with the scenario (not quite the same as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet) and a rough script, which we read through several times, looking for ways into the character.  Then, with a live monitor connected to my computer, I'm rewriting the show as we go along.  I'm the chief QC running the inquiry, so I present them with questions and together we create answers.  It's not quite as collaborative as it sounds, as I'm doing most of the physical rewriting, but it is nice to do a show where my vision is less prescriptive, where I haven't made all the decisions in advance.  And with such a fabulous cast - see angry Cecil photo as evidence - it is a joy to do.
The final show will be recorded (touch wood) and will be available to buy later in the year.  Those who wish to see the show, email me now, as there are very few seats available (about 23 at the last count) and it will sell out.

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
THE JULIET INQUIRY
A World Premiere Written by Robert Crighton
Artist in Residence at the Quay Theatre
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.

Wednesday 23rd April at 7.30pm
Tickets: Pay What You Want
Performing at The Lavenham Guildhall - doors open from 7.00pm
Tickets can be reserved by phone on 07704 704 469 or via email at contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk or from the Lavenham Guildhall during opening hours

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Hanging Up

Let me tell you the story of Hang.  Like all good stories it has a beginning, a middle and an end.  And a zebra.
Once upon a time a distracted child listened to Radio Four.  This has been known to have terrible long term consequences for future sanity.  The child listened to Alan Bennett reading The Wind in the Willows and this was good.  Then the child grew up and decided that the story of The Wind in the Willows cannot have been set in a nostalgic past, but in a Dystopian future where animals and humans have evolved a co-existence society.  He then decided one day he would write a play explaining how this would happen.  He did this for two reasons...
One: it seemed like a good idea at the time
And Two: it was an excuse for a number of very baaaad animal jokes.  (Cue SFX: horses hooves.)

So, when the child grew up to be Artist in Residence at the Quay Theatre, he put this idea forward as project three of ten and proceeded to tell no one what the play was actually about, pretending it was a serious piece of dramatic comedy about perceived norms (which it was, just secondary to the primary purpose of telling very bad jokes.)  He didn't tell anyone it was narrated by a Mole or that the title came from the famous line "Hang spring cleaning!".  This he considered deeply amusing and gained much pleasure from not telling anyone the true nature of the tale.  He needed to get out more...

And so it came to pass that this play was booked to perform at the Quay Theatre on Monday 31st March in the GKR upstairs, a little room for a little play.  Except, just as the What's On for the Quay Theatre came out his brother told him about his (the brothers) impending marriage was to be the day before the show.  Cue much panic.  So the author decided he would set the show up as a radio play and live stream the result.  This meant he could rehearse the play on the day itself, having commuted from the wedding the day before that morning.  This he duly did (in his exhaustion leaving his luggage on the train to collect the next day from lost property!) and he and his amazing cast rehearsed all day... until the wasps invaded the GKR.  Now, knowing that buzzing tends to ruin a true recording of sound, the cast decamped to the main Quay auditorium - which was doubly helpful as it meant escaping the wasps and releasing extra seats for the already sold out show!

The show was an enormous success with the live audience - who all paid handsomely for the privilege of watching - and with the online audience who were numerous and left helpful comments on the live stream chat page like "I like how silly this is but it really stands out as something effecting the times we live in..." and "This is really well acted. I like the style and the humour is right up my street and I live on funny street..." and more worryingly: "that licking balls joke was lols".  
The cast all went home tired and the audience didn't try to kill the author for the lengthy shaggy dog story he told.  Now to edit the audio recording to produce a CD / download version of the show... but that's another story. 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Hanging Photos

Still far too knackered to write about Hang on Monday - so instead some totally faked shots of the cast and set up.  Thanks to Phil Hope for taking the less blurry of the images.

Gillian and Pamela pretending to smile...

Robert, Gillian and Pamela - spot the odd one out...

Robert awkwardly pushes himself into shot...

Pretending to rehearse...

Pretending no one was pointing a camera at them...

Completely staged shot - this never happened...

Taken after the show - completely fake.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Hang Programme

For those who didn't make it to see Hang on Monday - here is the text from the programme (with amendments).  Photos and actual info about how the show went will follow shortly...

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
HANG
World Premiere of a New Comedy by Robert Crighton

The world is turning inside out - people are starting to turn into animals and no one knows what's normal anymore.  Even the man who actually wants to be a zebra can't quite fit into this brave new world.  Dating is complicated enough when everyone's human.
Performing as a radio comedy before a live audience and broadcasting online as a live stream on Monday 31st March at 7.30pm

ROBERT CRIGHTON:                            NARRATOR
                                                            BRIAN
                                                            MR CARROON
                                                            JOEY
                                                            MINISTER
                                                            CRAB

PAMELA FLANAGAN:                           FIELD MOUSE 1
                                                            AMANDA
                                                            DOCTOR CAMERON
                                                            DOLLY
                                                            WILLOW

GILLIAN HORGAN:                                ANNOUNCER
                                                            FIELD MOUSE 2
                                                            DAISY
                                                            MEDIA SPOKESWOMAN
                                                            SHOPKEEPER
                                                            SANDRA
                                                            REVEREND
                                                            CATHY

Website tended by Keith Atkinson
Thanks to Joe Fawcett and the Quay Theatre
Individual Sponsors:  Without whom Project 10/52 could not happen
Helen & Neil Arbon, Roz & Denis Brogan, Sue Clark, Jacqueline Cooper Clarke, Heather Clayton & Richard Fawcett, Cecil Qadir and Adam Webster
Robert Crighton is the Artist in Residence at the Quay Theatre...
Project 10/52 is the result – ten projects in fifty-two weeks...
To find out more about Robert, or for more information about the making of this show visit the Robert Crighton blog... http://robertcrightonstoryteller.blogspot.co.uk
Or follow Robert on Twitter @RobertCrighton
Or just go to the milk bottle website... www.milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Pamela Flanagan
Pamela hails from Dublin and came to London to attend the Academy Drama School. Since graduating she has toured extensively through the UK and Europe. Theatre roles include: Landlady in Two, Octavia in Anthony and Cleopatra, Nancy in Dance Hall Days and Pegeen Mike in The Playboy of the Western World. She previously worked with Milk Bottle Productions on The Natural History of Trolls. 

Gillian Horgan
Gillian Horgan is from Cork, and trained at Drama Studio London. Theatre credits include: “The Inner Life of Veronika Zabenko”, "The Natural History of Trolls” at the New Wimbledon Studio, “No Dogs” at the White Bear, “Susanna” at Theatro Technis, "Tilt" at the Cockpit Theatre, "Famine" at the Old Red Lion, and "Monsieur Venus" at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Screen credits include: “Wounded”, "Three", “Forget-Me-Not”, “Camden Calling”, "Verge", "Black Coffee" and "The Boat That Rocked".

THE NEXT PROJECT OF 10/52
Project Four:  The Juliet Inquiry
A World Premiere Written 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 Montaques 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.
Wednesday 23rd April at 7.30pm
Tickets: Pay What You Want
Performing at The Lavenham Guildhall - doors open from 7.00pm
Tickets can be reserved by phone on 07704 704 469 via email at
contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk or from the Lavenham Guildhall