Follow by Email

Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Obligatory New Year Message 2017

It's been a busy 2016 - I launched myself on Patreon and started to seriously move in a more organised way online in audio terms.  I popped into London to see how the fringe has changed (not a lot) and (as per usual) lost all my money.
I've also been focusing on archiving and updating - soon the Milk Bottle website will be all up to date with huge amounts of info on past shows as well as acting as a proper delivery system for new and old audio.  There's already a fair amount up, more coming throughout January.  Thanks to Keith for all his hard work on making the website look so good and hold so much.

So, what projects are on their way?  Well, I've been aside a lot of time the next month or so to record versions of my older monologues - so these will start coming out soon.  But the next exciting audio project is Investigate Me? which I've promised for about a year to produce.  It's going to be a huge full length radio play and I'm really exciting about it.  More very soon.
Live from the Get In! returns in March and I've lots of ideas for the next two shows.  I'm really pushing the boat out for them and hoping to have some great new talent on board as well as the regulars.
I'm directing The Time Machine in April.  It's going to look amazing and be a real departure from some of my usual work.  I'll be writing in detail about what the show is going to be like in the next month or so, but, trust me, book those tickets NOW.  There are only three shows happening and it's going to be amazing.  Book those tickets at www.quaysudbury.com
And I'm also directing As You Like It by William Shakespeare for Lavenham Players in July - tickets will be on sale soon.  We've a fabulous cast and I'm really looking forward to getting down and dirty with the text.

I'm also going to be announcing some dates for an occasional show I'm doing with Michael Fouldes - The Museum of Tat Roadshow - based on our radio show.  It'll pop up here and there over 2017.  Like a harmless but slightly annoying rash.
So, basically, 2017 is all about more recordings of old shows, more audio, and a few live bits and bobs.
And the huge secret project I can't tell you about.  There's that as well.

***

My work couldn't happen without the support of my patrons - if you think you could contribute to the work I create, go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton and see if you can help.

Also, as there's a lot being planned at the moment, if you want to keep up to speed, why not join my mailing list.  I know, so last century. 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Saturday, 10 December 2016

When is a joke not a joke?

When is a joke not a joke?
When it's from a Christmas cracker.
For our Christmas Special of The Museum of Tat we reviewed some Christmas crackers - if you haven't listened yet, skip below and listen before you read the following...

***

The Remains of the Day...
So, the crackers held four jokes in all - and they were not only not very good, some of them weren't really jokes.
Here's the first joke:
What do you get if you cross Father Christmas with a detective?  Santa Clues!

Right... it looks like a joke, it's structured like a joke, and if you don't hang around you might not notice that it isn't.
So, the joke looks like it's a simple bit of wordplay - it should end on a pun...

What do you get if you cross Father Christmas with a detective?  Santa [Insert Pun Here]
Unfortunately, Clues doesn't rhyme with Claus.  I don't think alliteration is enough to provoke a laugh response.  It's a half joke, it's got the right idea, but doesn't actually deliver.

Next joke from the cracker:
What do you call a man who claps at Christmas? Santapplause!

Where to start... well, on the surface this looks like a better joke than the last, because it does contain a functioning pun, justifying the term joke when describing it.
However, dig just a little deeper and you immediately see the joke doesn't function properly.  You see it now?  Of course you do.  The joke is only funny if the man referred to in the joke is Santa, but the set up doesn't really push you in that direction.  Statistically speaking, a man clapping at Christmas is almost certainly not Santa for two reasons.
1. The population of the world is approximately 7.4 billion and the odds that one of those 7.4 billion, who identifies as 'a man', is going to be a specific person (Santa) is so improbable as to be practically impossible.
2.  Santa doesn't exist.
Beyond setting up the approximate timing of the event in question - clapping at Christmas time (somewhere between early December and early January potentially) - the joke doesn't give any clue, even half hidden, that the identified man would be so improbable (nay imaginary) a figure as Father Christmas.  It just refers to him as a man.  So when the punchline turns out to be a pun on Santa Claus, it delivers no punch, no satisfactory payoff.
Additionally, the answer makes no sense.  If you saw Santa Claus clapping, you'd be receiving Santapplause, but you wouldn't call him that.  So, perhaps it should read.

What do you get if Father Christmas is particularly pleased with you? Santapplause.
Not perfect, some additional context, say that you're an Elf in Santa's seasonal Pantomime at the North Pole, might help make the joke function better.
Though, it still isn't really very funny as it's just a basic pun.  There's only so much of a laugh response to be expected from basic joke structures.

Next cracker, next joke:
What do the reindeer sing to Father Christmas on his birthday?  Freeze a jolly good fellow!

This joke is the only one we recognised from a previous Christmas/Life and were happy to move on.  Yes, the manufactor lost points for so unoriginal a joke, at least it functioned, which was something of a relief.  Beyond the improbability of reindeer singing, especially when there are plenty of Elves available, it works well.

We therefore come to the issue of the final joke of the Christmas Cracker set.  Two jokes per cracker, unfortunately the same two joke slips were replicated throughout the set.  Epic fail.

Father Christmas wins a saucepan in a competition.  Now that's what you call pot luck!
The problem with the joke is simple - whilst it does work as a play on words [saucepan - pot luck etc] the connection to Christmas is tenuous in the extreme.  This is an example of a cut and shut joke.  As with cut and shut cars, where the front end of one car is welded to another, this joke has been bodged together by some cracker cowboys.  Who the original joke referred to we may never know, but it almost certainly wasn't Father Christmas.  As my colleague Mr Fouldes said on the show, in the character of Colin, it feels like something from a stand up comic's set performed in a working mans club in the 1970's.  The Mother-in-law won a saucepan in a competition the other day... [pause] Now, that's what I call pot luck.  Which reminds me, I'm next on the snooker table... 
Whilst I'm all for the occasional resurrection of an old joke, this bodged restoration of a not so classic gag has left me flat.
On top of all the other problems with the crackers in question, these jokes really were insult after injury.

The Museum of Tat Christmas Special can be heard below... Enjoy.


My work couldn't happen without the support of my patrons - if you think you could contribute to the work I create, go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton and see if you can help.

Also, as there's a lot being planned at the moment, if you want to keep up to speed, why not join my mailing list.  I know, so last century. 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Friday, 9 December 2016

The Museum of Tat Christmas Special

The Museum of Tat Christmas Special has gone online - enjoy!


My work couldn't happen without the support of my patrons - if you think you could contribute to the work I create, go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton and see if you can help.

Also, as there's a lot being planned at the moment, if you want to keep up to speed, why not join my mailing list.  I know, so last century. 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Editing the Museum

Myself and Michael Fouldes...
I'm currently buried deep in the edit of The Museum of Tat Christmas Special.  We had lots of fun recording it, producing seventy minutes of content.
Those are always worrying words - "we had lots of fun" - usually the death of comedy.  Never trust any production where the cast had too much fun.
But why am I doing down my next show - well I'm not really.  The point is The Museum of Tat has always been a very wasteful process and a lot of the show comes out in the edit.  Seventy minutes of incredibly self indulgent wittering by Michael Fouldes and myself, will amount to about twenty minutes of comedy.  I'm currently on the second wave of the edit - the first wave I go through the material fairly quickly, cutting out the big chunks of unfunny/slanderous/sick material and maybe trimming the odd bit of breathing/coughing/urming as I go.  After that first wave I've got about thirty minutes of material.  It was easy to do.
Now I've got to get tough.  There are funny sections that will now get cut, because I'm shaping a show and some bits, funny in themselves, which no longer fit the grand scheme.  Then there are the structurally important bits that I can't cut but which might not be very funny in of themselves.  I have ways of inserting material into these sections for cheap laughs, but it's going to take hours to get a one or two minute section to be moderately amusing.
Unlike the Live from the Get In! shows, The Museum of Tat isn't scripted - it's almost entirely improvised and that creates a messiness to the recording that is also a bitch to cut up.  But it's worth it.  I'm really very fond of MoT, and I'm looking forward to creating a touring version next year.  That said, there is also a sense that there is also a limit now to how many more shows we can create.  We're moving from radio to live shows to shake it up and because in a different medium the jokes work differently, but the format has a limit and after two seasons and few one offs, we know the radio version has only a few more shows before we start repeating ourselves.
So 2017 maybe the last year for the Museum.  But there are always more adventures to come.

The complete series one and two of The Museum of Tat can be heard, for free, here.
Episodes of Live from the Get In! (featuring special live episodes of The Museum of Tat) can be heard, for free, here.

My work couldn't happen without the support of my patrons - if you think you could contribute to the work I create, go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton and see if you can help.

Also, as there's a lot being planned at the moment, if you want to keep up to speed, why not join my mailing list.  I know, so last century. 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Why Not Subscribe?


There's a lot being planned at the moment - if you want to keep up to speed, why not join my mailing list.  I know, so last century. 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful

What have I done this year?  It's nearly Christmas, so time for a recap.

In the realm of free audio I've produced...
Two episodes of Live from the Get In!
A radio version of the award-winning play Fantasy Terrorist League
A re-imagined production of the follow up play, Keynote Speaker, with Simon Nader.
A documentary series using an archive recording of a veteran of the First World War, Wartime Memories.
A reedited version of the comedy Hang
A recording of John John by John Heywood for my other blog - any day now!
The odd totally random thing...
Most of which can be heard below.

And I've also produced the odd bit of live theatre:  returning to London with Undead Bard - including Shakespeare: The Ever Living! and a revival of The Shakespeare Delusion - which will be online for free as a radio adaptation very shortly.
And finally, I directed by good friend Anthea Halstead in the well received adaptation of The Yellow Wallpaper.

Actually, this is a bit of a lie.  It didn't happen in a year.  It was nine months.  And none of this could have happened without my fabulous patrons who've all supported my work.  Phil Hope, Sara Knight, Fiona Dinning, Sharon Buckler, Pete Richmond, Alan Scott and my family.
And I could do more - with your help.  Could you pledge just $1 a month - $12 a year?  It's so easy to do and makes such a difference.
And it's so easy with Patreon to give and help my work happen - just sign up and pledge - and you'll get my online audio work before anyone else! And if you pledge more, then you'll get extra special surprises too.
Have a listen, make a pledge, help make next year even more exciting!  After all, it is Christmas*.




*It is now the 1st December and so perfectly legitimate to reference Christmas, nay it's practically an obligation. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas! So there.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Hang - about time too!

And, at last, Hang is available to listen for free online.  It was recorded ages ago, released as a download, and now I'm biting the bullet and just putting it out for free.  It's a shame to hide it behind a paywall and you could always become a patron if you feel you want to contribute.

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 wants to be a zebra can't quite fit into this brave new world.
Live Streamed on Monday 31st March 2014 at the Quay Theatre

Starring Robert Crighton,  Pamela Flanagan & Gillian Horgan
Sound Recording: Peter Morris
Post Production: Robert Crighton
Original Live Stream: Tim Regester

Online Comments from the Live Stream: “... it really stands out as something effecting the times we live in...  This is really well acted. I like the style and the humour is right up my street - and I live on really funny street...”



My work couldn't happen without the support of my patrons - if you think you could contribute to the work I create, go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton and see if you can help.



Or if you prefer it as a video on YouTube - here you go!



And the original trailer for the show - which is very silly, but fun.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

In the Darkness... Waiting

As the darkness creeps ever more over the Northern Hemisphere, I retreat further under the duvet.  It's not a depressed thing, it's a planning thing.  Most of my projects are now done for this year.  They're edited, or soon to be, they just need to be released.  Coming up over the next few weeks are...

Hang - the radio comedy that started it all, the story of an ordinary man who wants to be a zebra. Released to none patrons next week.
The Museum of Tat Christmas Special - because you deserve to know what horrors await you.
And perhaps a few surprises...

But mostly I'm planning.  I'm planning a production of The Time Machine for next April; I'm planning a production of As You Like It for July; I'm planning the next two Live from the Get In!s; I'm planning and writing and typing up notes on dozens of audio projects for next year and beyond; and I'm planning a mini tour of The Tat Roadshow, the live version of our radio show.

And I'm planning something else.  Something a bit different.  Something I will need collaborators for.  
Next year I need comics, storytellers and blessed lunatics for shows - all need, ideally, to be based in Suffolk/Essex, for a paying job or eight.  If you've got a project that you're interested in pursuing, be it comedy, drama, storytelling - then I'm looking to produce it.  
Get in touch by email and we'll talk: contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk 

In the meantime - here's some draft artwork for the next Live from the Get In! Tickets are on sale for the next show - 4th March - at www.quaysudbury.com


My work couldn't happen without the support of my patrons - if you think you could contribute to the work I create, go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton and see if you can help.

Friday, 18 November 2016

New Comedy - This Year and Next

It's been a busy year for comedy and next year there will be more!
Not only have I finally finished the new edit of Hang - a comedy I recorded in 2014 - but also the first two Live from the Get In! shows.
You can listen to the Live from the Get In! episodes now in the players below, and Hang will be available soon - my patrons get first listen to all material, because they help keep the wheels turning on my work (you can become a patron by visiting www.patreon.com/robertcrighton).
And there's more to come - we have confirmed dates for another two Live from the Get In! shows for next year.  The show broadcasts/records from the Quay Theatre on Saturday 4th March at 7.30pm and Saturday 6th May at 7.30pm - it's always so much fun to catch the recording.  Tickets can be bought from the Quay website now www.quaysudbury.com

Live from the Get In! Episodes One and Two:

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Yellow Wallpaper

This weekend was quite a busy one.  I finished doing a bit of acting in a short film and then went to get in a production of The Yellow Wallpaper, a fascinating work by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  It was a sell out two night run and turned out really rather well - we're looking to do something with it in the future.  As per my usual habit, here's the basic programme information from the night...

Quay Productions Presents…
The Yellow Wallpaper
By Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Performed by Anthea Halstead
Directed by Robert Crighton

This is an intimate staging of a classic piece of feminist literature - telling the story of a woman isolated in a house in the country, trapped by her husband and family, and forbidden to work, or even to write. All she has to think about is the room she’s in – and the yellow wallpaper.

Performed Monday 14th & Tuesday 15th November 2016 at 7.30pm in the GKR at the Quay Theatre, Sudbury
‘Director’s note:
Though I’m credited as director and Anthea as performer, it isn’t quite so clear cut as that. Rather than choosing a piece, laying out a vision and casting accordingly, Anthea brought the original story to me and suggested we create something from it. Together we’ve pieced together a way of telling this story. Originally written as a first person, in the moment, journal account of events, Anthea wanted to tell the story as an older woman looking back. With this as a starting point we’ve worked together with the text, editing and adapting the piece as we went along. It’s been a long process, nearly six months have passed since we first starting playing with the text, and a number of ideas about how to realise the story have come and gone. This might not be the final version either - the show you’re watching tonight may yet be the start of our next exploration of this text.
Thanks to Alan Scott for lending the lighting, as well as everyone at the Quay for supporting new work like this.

My work couldn't happen without the support of my patrons - if you think you could contribute to the work I create, go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton and see if you can help.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Making Waves

Boy has it been a depressing day in theatreland - I've been trying to work all the angles of the conscious uncoupling of the Globe and Emma Rice, and I can't see how this could have been done worse.  Everyone's unhappy - even those who don't like her work are worried about how it all looks.
I'm not going to talk too much about the artistic logic of modern dress v original practices, and the other careworn non-arguments that were news in the 1900's and rather tedious now, and focus initially on the logic of the committee.  The Globe is an interesting beast, built slightly too late to fulfill a dream, run to be artistically and educationally interesting and always in danger of being a tourist trap.  At the top of all this is the obligatory board/trustees... a committee.  (I don't know precisely how it's constituted, but a committee is a committee whatever the constitution.)  
The board/trustees/committee obviously realised that the status quo would have to change - after two directors who played with original practices and the odd discrete experiment, director number three had to be different.  Thus did the board/trustees/committee create one hell of a Heffalump trap for themselves.  I think I can see how this might have happened, having met a few boards in my time.

Once Upon A Time... I remember pitching a big project to a board once.  The project was big, exciting, mad and I didn't expect anyone to go for it.  Much to my surprise, they did.  Project announced.  Then, when we met again, I presented how I would make it happen and the room went a bit quiet and awkward.  In a flash I realised - they hadn't believed me when I said I actually wanted to do something big, exciting, and mad, they assumed I was just saying it.  It was clear that the project was doomed because, though they liked the idea of something big, exciting, and mad, they sure as hell didn't want the project to actually be big, exciting, and mad.
I suspect this is what happened at the Globe.  Emma Rice pitched a big, exciting, mad change of direction and they bought into the idea.
Then, fuck me, she actually went and did it!
And worse, it seems to have made a fair bit of money.

Why do I say worse?  Sometimes a huge success is as dangerous to an institution as a failure.  A board likes a stable balance sheet, likes to see trends and an audience it can predict.  I suspect the statistics on box office showed a boost of new and younger people and a signification drop in the regular audience.  Let's not pretend that a lot of people were right miffed at the change in format (LIGHTS!)  I suspect that the board/trustees/committee feared losing that regular audience and that they wanted to reassure them that normal service will be resumed asap - hang in there guys, we'll get her out as soon as we can!  Because no one wants to lose an audience of regulars who will come to another bog standard production of Measure for Measure rain and shine.  Those fickle new audience might only come for the five star reviews - and you can't guarantee those.
Of course, I speculate.
There is another issue at play as well - those who have an emotional connection with the founding of the theatre as a recreation of the original, as a place to act the plays as composed.  I understand that feeling, whilst intellectually it has to be dismissed.  Beyond the obvious problems with performing plays 'as they were originally' which is impossible without an actual time machine, this project of the original was taken away from the Globe before it was erected.  If had been built when it was first conceived then it would have been unique and valuable.  Built when it was, it isn't quite.  The building itself is deeply flawed as a recreation of the Globe, or any playhouse of the period.  Ironically, considering how long it took to be made, if it had been built a little later it might have been based on actual archaeology, as we now have a lot of the footings for the original playing spaces.  It also isn't even unique anymore - there are now plenty of other recreated spaces in situ or planning around the world which do the same or similar jobs.
That said, it has had success in advancing our understanding of original practices, but there is increasingly a sense that there isn't much left to be done there - which is probably why the Globe chose Emma Rice in the first place.  The Globe has now staged the complete canon of Shakespeare, largely in original practice form or similar, and filmed many of them.  Whilst there is room for doing more of the same, it starts to get a bit reductive.  If there are any plays to be staged in original practice form - and there are plenty - they aren't ones by Shakespeare.  Shakespeare is the last person of the period who needs to be staged this way.
But, still, I understand the emotions around original practice, or OP lite as we've had for the last few years.  Quite reasonably the Globe started only paying lip service to OP once it stopped being interesting - it's gone from solid research to house style very quickly.  But the house style is nice and safe and I'm sure the regulars love it.

But perhaps we're being unfair to the board and the audience that they prefer.  Perhaps it was too much to ask of the audience they had (of the people who built the space, who invested money and emotion in it) to see it handed to someone who wanted to do something very different.  To open their space to a different style and different audiences - to not just talk about different audiences, but have the fuckers actually TURN UP!  To have a different audience come, to have them not just enjoy the shows, but enjoy them in a different way - a way that feels uncomfortably like how it might have been in Shakespeare's day.  As a contemporary event.  Perhaps there's an emotional lashing out because Emma Rice has connected to the spirit of Shakespeare at done it better than any doublet and hose ever could.  That might stick in my craw a bit, if I spent my life trying to recreate something and watch someone else do it better, without literally recreating a fucking thing.  How dare she?
So, the rejection of Emma Rice isn't just about a rejection of a more modern way of staging, of using lights and sound, or any of the other elements in this little mess (and I haven't even got to the sexism!) it's about a rejection of an audience, of an idea of what the audience and a space can do together, it's a rejection of feeling something bigger and bolder and brighter, it's about settling for something just a little bit safer, something that might be more manageable, something that doesn't make so many waves.
And that's possibly what the trustees/board/committee etc. want.  They might not say it, they might not realise it, but their established audience are fairly predictable on the balance sheet, and they don't make waves.

Emma Rice makes wonderful waves.
She had to go.

New People Wanted

Hello Lovely People!
Live from the Get In! prep continues apace.  This second show is all ghostly - so I'm hoping you all dress up in your finest Halloween gear, though, let me make this clear, no scary clowns.  They are not allowed.  So, silly costumes please.  Especially as, at only an hour, you can still go out to a good party if you so wish.

Anyway, Live from the Get In! has been renewed for further shows next year - woohoo - and I'm looking for new comics to join us.  I want to find new local comics from the Sudbury area and beyond for next year.  If you think you’re funny, write your own material, or want to perform someone else’s, then I want to hear from you.  It won’t be a turn up, open mic show, the event will be curated and I want to help emerging comics hone their craft and make sure the audience get the laughs for their bucks.
Anyone interested in performing on the show next year can contact me at contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk or see me after the next show, this Saturday night.

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
LIVE FROM THE GET IN! 
COMEDY GHOST NIGHT
An hour of radio comedy and sketches with a Halloween Theme
Ghost’s are funny, especially because all they do is play dress up in sheets and creak the odd floorboard. New material, sketches and monologues – it’s an hour of laughter, curated by award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton and streamed live as a radio show from the auditorium of the Quay Theatre.

Tickets £5
Saturday 29th October at 7.30pm
Box Office: 01787 374 745 
Or book online at www.quaysudbury.com
Live audio streaming on the night can be heard at www.ustream.tv/channel/robert-crighton-storyteller


My work couldn't happen without the support of my patrons - if you think you could contribute to the work I create, go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton and see if you can help.


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Live from the Get In - Ghosts

Hello!  The next show is going to be a cracker, I know, I'm writing it now.  Live from the Get In! will be live streamed in two and a half weeks time, and tickets are on sale now for the live experience.
It'll be like the last show - available to listen below! - but different... as it's all about ghosts... whoo... or possibly scary clowns (there will be no scary clowns)... 
First of all, if you're coming - dress up!  I want to see lots of silly costumes.  Especially as, at only an hour, you can still go out to a good party if you so wish (I know it isn't actually Halloween, but it's the Saturday before, that's as good!)
So, lots of good silliness.  And then ghost comedy.  Because, and I know it's possibly an unpopular view, but ghosts are stupid and deserve to be mocked.  I've been watching lots of supposed ghost shows on television as research (sitting in bed watching daytime tv is research! honest! stop looking at me like that!) and, seriously, they're unspoofable.  Because they are their own spoof.  
But I'm having a go anyway.

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
LIVE FROM THE GET IN! 
COMEDY GHOST NIGHT
An hour of radio comedy and sketches with a Halloween Theme
Ghost’s are funny, especially because all they do is play dress up in sheets and creak the odd floorboard. New material, sketches and monologues – it’s an hour of laughter, curated by award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton and streamed live as a radio show from the auditorium of the Quay Theatre.

Tickets £5
Saturday 29th October at 7.30pm
Box Office: 01787 374 745 
Or book online at www.quaysudbury.com
Live audio streaming on the night can be heard at www.ustream.tv/channel/robert-crighton-storyteller



My work couldn't happen without the support of my patrons - if you think you could contribute to the work I create, go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton and see if you can help.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Soooo... I'm quite poor now

Continuing the theme of my last post, the problem with doing a piece of theatre, an act defined by the relationship between the performer and an audience, is that without an audience the whole shebang falls apart somewhat.  And, more importantly, you end up being quite poor.
Let's not be vulgar and discuss precise amounts of money - but here's how the balance sheet stands.

Income:  Ticket sales - about eight sold over the run (three pre-sales, plus some walk ups)
Total Income:  Bugger all.

Costs:  Venue hire, publicity, transport, rehearsals, technical... etc.
Total Costs:  Far, far, faaaar too much.

Sooooo... I'm quite poor now.  How can you help, internet?  Well, all I've ever asked for is an audience, a chance to sing for my supper.  There are four ways you can help.

1.  I've a live show radio (Live from the Get In) coming up the end of the month.  If you're in the Sudbury, Suffolk area, or know someone who is, please book tickets and come.  It's also being streamed online - have a listen.  Saturday 29th October, at 7.30pm - LIVE FROM THE GET IN - The Comedy Ghost Show - come dressed up, have a laugh, have a drink, and go onto whichever Halloween party you might have been invited to that night.  More on this show will be blogged shortly!  Tickets can be found here - live streaming on the night here.

2.  Buy a script!  I've a whole load of Undead Bard scripts unsold, they're really quite good and they'll be signed!  Use the paypal link and order one - there are a couple of old scripts available as well.  Well worth a read.  If you're going to Live from the Get In, then they'll be available there too. Any problems with ordering, get in touch.


Script Sale
3.  Become a Patron!  I've so many wonderful patrons - though not many use my official Patreon page.  This is a really easy, one stop place to help support my work, and you're linked into everything I create automatically.  It's a monthly payment system, it will take tiny amounts, and you'd be amazed how quickly donations of 70p a month really start to stack up into a proper budget for a show.
To become a patron go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton

4.  Invite me round to do a show!  I do house parties, telling stories and entertaining you - invite me to yours, get some friends, food and wine round, and I'll do a show in your living room.  I generally pass a hat round at the end of the show and it's a blast.  There's some more info on my website - or just contact me direct.

Regardless as to whether you can make a show, buy, or donate, my work is going to continue online and live for the foreseeable future and I will make as much of it free at source as possible.  For those who missed Undead Bard I will be creating an online version soon and there may be some live one off options coming up.
Thanks people, comrades, supporters and random google searchers.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Only Three?

My appearance following my run in London...
As you may have seen, I've pulled the last few shows of the London run of Undead Bard.  The reason is simple.

No one came.

That is an exaggeration, and maybe an insult to some of my friends/audience when put so bluntly, so let me clarify.

Almost no one came.  As a meaningful statistic, more people didn't come than did, to the point that the number who came is very close to zero.

Now, we in the business of show have a saying - the show must go on!  You may have a temperature, have lost a leg to a pack of angry wolves, and be partially on fire, but you go on.

Except when no one comes.

Let me talk you through the week.

DAY ONE:  Sunday
So, I arrive at the theatre Sunday morning, expecting some small houses - I've not been in town for a few years and it's a big ask to expect a lot.  We'd started putting out freebies to boost numbers, just so we had a bit more in the audience.

So, I arrive at the theatre Sunday morning, expecting some small houses, and start teching.  Those at the get in don't know the numbers, but it's not huge.  We have two shows on the first day - an accidental matinee/dress and a first night.  The matinee is accidental because it's been advertised and is on the online booking, but no one can remember actually programming it.  It's not a problem, we'd have to tech for it, so it's a good way to run in the show.

So, I arrived at the theatre Sunday morning, expecting some small houses, and, once we've teched, I get to see the numbers.

Three.  Three bookings.

For - the - entire - run.

Not three bookings for the afternoon, not three bookings for the day, nor even for the first week - for - the - entire - run.

And for the entire run, three pre-bookings is all we ever had.

Let's pop back in time - let's be clear.  We've not been idle on the selling front.  We could have done a bit more here or there, but we've not been keeping the show a secret.  It's had previews, it's over the internet like a rash, there are posters and flyers up.

Three.

Now, let's clarify, these three (booked for the Thursday night) were the paying audience.  We did have some other people coming.  Reviewers.  We were doing well for reviewers - my publicist had lined up a good fourteen of them - amazing work! - and so I wasn't too down.  If we could get a few bodies in over the next couple of shows, then I'd be warmed up for press night.  And, people don't book ahead, I told myself, they don't - they'll be walk ups.

I wasn't expecting anyone for the accidental matinee - and so it came to pass.  We weren't that phased - my excellent technician and I did a quick cue-to-cue to reinforce the show and went out to find food and prep for the audience that night.  At that point, possibly, an audience of none.
Night came - and, much to my mixed relief, so came my audience.

One.

One comp.

One largely terrified comp.

At this point I should expound on the show a bit.  It's a double bill of solo pieces about Shakespeare - the first half is a solo play (The Shakespeare Delusion) where a man having a nervous breakdown tries to give a lecture on the Shakespeare 'authorship' question.  The second half (Shakespeare: The Ever Living!) is, in appearance, a stand up show, where Shakespeare does a turn about his afterlife - it's a little more than that, but let's not get into that here.
As the audience - in this case, audient - arrives, I, in the character of 'Professor' Ashborn say hello, try to sell them a script (my 'world famous monograph on the life of Shakespeare'), and show them to their seat.
I do this for two reasons:
1. To sell a script/programme.  I need the money, and front of house personnel usually have too much on their plate to commit to selling stuff.
2.  To assess the audience.

This is very important to the kind of theatre I mostly make.  Whilst the first half is a play and can be viewed as a distant fourth wall type show, the second half isn't, and needs a relationship with the people in the room.  I look my audience in the eye, say hello, and try to get to know them.
Poor man, he had rabbit in headlight eyes - looked like he might bolt at any moment, and that's before I took his hand in mine and said hello.  I warned him after the first half, that the second won't really work without more people, but I was more than happy to perform it for him anyway.
Additional information for you - the second half is, was, partly improvised, or was supposed to be.  But it's difficult to riff with an audient.  So, rather than, in form, a rather fun stand up act, it was a bit closer to a form of aggressive free form poetry that night.
As I said, he looked fucking terrified.  If he didn't before the show, he positively ran away at the end.
I kinda enjoyed myself.

First Night - Review of the Audience*: 3 out of 5.  The audient gamely remained for the show, but couldn't hide his terror or the awkwardness he felt by being outnumbered by show personnel (1 perf, 1 tech, 1 FOH).  Extra star for staying for the second half.  Had the chance to bolt.

*I review every audience I perform to, to help understand why some shows work and some don't - because theatre is a relationship, and understanding an audience helps you prepare for the next.

DAY TWO:  Monday
First reviewer is coming in.  I do a radio interview.  (This was scheduled to come out tomorrow, which is a bit of a shame.  Sorry Ian, couldn't wait for you.)  I turn up knowing there will be a show.  Two comps, one is a reviewer.  Plus any walk ups.  Yeah.

There are no walk ups.
The audience is entirely composed of two comps, a reviewer and her friend.
There are still three ticket sales.
I'm not looking forward to it, if I'm honest.

It's a great night, and I had so much fun.  I went out to do my FOH bit and say hello and they enthusiastically said hello back, we shook hands, had a brief natter and they bought a script.  The show, even the basically impossible to fully perform second half, is a dream - they are quick off the mark and respond throughout.

Second Night - Review of the Audience: 5 out of 5.  Ideal audience, came to engage, not over the top, just genuine people.  Made the second half come alive, despite the numbers.

DAY THREE:  Tuesday - Press night.
There's about a dozen press, plus other comps coming.  If the audience are as good as the previous night, then we might start selling some tickets.
It's after I meet the first member of the audience that the inkling that I might be fucked starts to ink.  He won't look at me.  He doesn't want to talk to me.  He's made himself, before I approach, into as small a shape as he can.

Hello?
No, doesn't want to say hello.

Oh well, the next person will be better.
Nope.
No.
Worse.
Hello?
No.
Rushes past me into the theatre as quickly as possible.

The next person... doesn't even want the complimentary free drink.  Doesn't look me in the eyes either.  Has a notebook.  Don't tell me... yes, in a small theatre, a tiny theatre, with an audience of reviewers and comps, of about sixteen people, you're going to sit in the front row with your notebook out?
Can you not see this is a relationship?
Can you not see that what you do changes how the room behaves?
That'll be a no then.

Great arm folding from those people there.  You've practiced that, I can tell.

Ah - two people who say hello!
They sit in the front row, they'll get extra attention.
By the end they're getting most of the show.

The first half goes okay, but then direct audience reaction doesn't matter much.
The second half, I come out and go HELLO!  And there's nothing.  I throw a few under arm jokes out at them, nothing.  I get them to whoop and cheer... well, I'm sure they were doing it, but I couldn't hear them.  Nothing.  It was hell.  It was like they didn't want to have fun.  So they didn't.
Only as I sat in the bar afterwards did I fully appreciate what had gone so horribly wrong.  I thought - the room was entirely made of critics.  Entirely.  Yeah, there were a few comps for plus ones, but they were basically all critics.
Whilst the biggest audience of the run, they were the least like an audience.  They mostly wanted to sit back and view, not engage.  There were almost no people in the room who came there just to enjoy a show.

Third Night - Review of the Audience: 1 out of 5 - much as there were some signs of life in one corner, it was horrible. I wish I'd snatched that notebook out of that reviewers hands.  I was that close.  One to remember for the future.

DAY FOUR:  Wednesday
Five stars for the lovely audience on the second night - well, I gave them five stars too - so it was a mutual love in.  And then one star from the horrid third night - so, the reviews of audience and show tallied.
Context changes meaning.
Other reviews from that night were less of a hatchet job, especially from the nice corner, but generally echoed the night.  The first half, which doesn't need an audience to work, came out very well; the second half was a dead and mangled corpse.
Still no change in audience bookings - so I spread the love as best I could online.
The audience on day four was small, a couple of reviewers, a couple of comps and a friend.  As a mixed group, it played more naturally.  Neither the big laughs from the audience that went for it, nor the drag when they didn't.  The review for this night, when it came out later, was a good one.  You may notice a trend here.
Fourth Night - Review of the Audience: 4 out of 5.  Not immediate in their response, but came to it naturally and were with it.

DAY FIVE:  Thursday
More bad, or at any rate, mixed reviews from the disastrous press night came in during the day.  But, I don't care, tonight's the night - the FIRST PAYING CUSTOMERS!  These are the three!  I vow to find out who they are and why they came.  It's a big house for me too, about eight or nine.  The final reviewer, some comps and a couple of walk ups!  I sell another script!  This is it, the tipping point, there's some momentum, we're on the up!
It was quite a tough audience at first.  It took them a good ten minutes to warm to the first half, where usually the opening section gets a few titters and some focus, but it was a bit quiet.  The second half went well - there was, for the first time, some room for sustained bantering back and forth between myself and the audience.  There was a generation gap between the first and second row, so one would laugh at one line, the other the next - sent us on a nice little diversion.  Little was I to know this would be the last time I would perform the second half.
I went down to the bar and saw my three - my paying in advance three.  I don't like to bother audience members after a show unless they invite me over, but I needed to know about them - so I asked one of the group.  "Hello, sorry to intrude, thank you for coming tonight, could I ask how you heard about the show?"

My pre-paying audience!
The true believers!
Swayed by the publicity machine of myself, my publicist and the theatre!
No.

It was her birthday, and she likes Shakespeare, so they googled what was on that night.

Fuck.
It was total random chance.
There was no momentum, no movement, no show.
I feel bad now, I forgot to wish her happy birthday, because I went straight out and got drunk.

Fifth Night - Review of the Audience: 3 out of 5.  It was a bit hard work - I'd love to give it four stars, but just under.  Actually, let's say three and a half.

DAY SIX:  Friday
Emails fly.  Are there ANY bookings for this show?  We're past the pre-three, are there ANY more?
No.
I ask, is there any evidence to make anyone think we will sell any more tickets?  Because this is costing me a lot of money and it's depressing.
Not really.  Everyone is stumped.  This level of non attendance is not heard of.  Usually a bad run is ten tickets a night.  Not three for the run.
I say, unless we get a rush, I'm pulling it that night.  I have a friend coming, so I know I'm doing it one more time.
As it happens we have two walk ups.  Huzzah!  Plus friend = three people.  Three.  My unlucky number.  They seem nice.  I ask them how they heard about the show.  They live locally, saw the poster.  Well, nice to know the posters worked.  Actually, they're ticket sales will have paid off the cost of the posters - so they are a worthwhile investment people!
They have no idea what they've come to see though and it wasn't what they wanted, so left at the interval. (Though there was an argument about it apparently. It seems one wanted to stay and the other didn't.  I suspect it's because she laughed when I said that bald people are somewhat inferior.  And he didn't like the joke.  She had to go back for her coat.)
So, I sit in FOH with my friend and wait to see if they've definitely left or not.  After twenty minutes no returns, I send the email cancelling the run, I pack or throw away the show, and go to drink.  My friend understood that I'd rather eat my own feet than do the second half just for her.
The saddest thing is that, apart from it's premiere at the Quay Theatre, the second half Shakespeare: The Ever Living! has never really been performed.  I've performed something like it about a dozen times, but the joyous nonsense of sense I wanted it to be never had the chance to be fully born.  And probably never will.

So... no one came.
It's a bit of an exaggeration, but it's not far off.
Apart from that, I'm feeling oddly good about the run.  I gave a damned good first half, as good as I could with the second and finished off an area of my practice with a run.  Audio versions will follow soon.  I got some really good reviews from those who contributed to the show as an audience, and some amusingly bad ones - can't win them all.  The people at N16, management, FOH and technical, were great, my publicist filled the theatre with press and got my work out into the world of the media.  I hit almost all my intended targets.

The only target missed... an audience.
Because no one came.

Why?
Well, lot's of reasons.  I think I got the pitch of the show wrong - I shouldn't have used the artwork I did, and I should have led with the first half of the show as the pitch, rather than the second.  The few people who left did so because the first half wasn't what they were geared up for, and they didn't want to wait to see if the second half was.  I can respect that.  The pitch was too vague in what it was, because Undead Bard is the title for a series of works, rather than the show, and I didn't communicate that very well.
I suspect we underestimated how few people will go to a show unconnected to them - i.e. friends of the cast.  The fringe probably sells a significant rump this way and there's only one of me.  Depressing to think that the fringe might just be a mutual artistic masturbation society, but it may just be.
I don't think the poor press night made a difference.  We got every number of stars under the sun from one to five - and none shifted or unshifted a ticket.  It was always three.  My irritation with that night was not that the show was bad or that I got bad reviews, it was that the reviewers - as an audience entirely made of reviewers - changed the show and made the evening so fucking miserable.  It's not that I'm miffed they didn't like it, it's that they made it that way by being there - but being there is the only way to be reviewed.  Aaaagh!  Where's Heisenberg when you need him?
Even if they'd all been five stars, even if they said I pushed them over the edge with crashing never ending orgasms, I suspect it wouldn't have made the blindest bit of difference.
People weren't buying what I was doing.  They saw and went... not for me.  It happens.
So, if there's any one reason, though I suspect it's a mix of the above, it's that we're at the end of about four years of mass, never ending, Shakespeare.  People have had a enough of Shakespeare.

Ironically, of course, that's what the show was about.

But nobody came...

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

First Review

The first review is in for Undead Bard and it's FIVE STARS!  *****
Have a read here and then book those tickets.
Huzzah!

Undead Bard is performing at Theatre N16 - Sunday 2nd October to Thursday 13th October at 7.30pm
Matinees on Sunday 2nd & Saturday 8th at 3pm
Tickets £12 / 10 concessions – https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/145903
Theatre N16, The Bedford, 77 Bedford HillSW12 9HD - www.theatren16.co.uk

All this work is supported by Patreon - without the support of my patrons I could not do shows like this.  To support more work like this go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Undead Bard Programme

Because of lead times for printing, programmes for my shows are often a bit vague and/or wrong. He's the programme information for Undead Bard - running at Theatre N16 till Thursday 13th October 7.30pm

Milk Bottle Productions Presents
Undead Bard
Written, Performed and Produced by Robert Crighton

Pre-Show Audio Work: To Be Or Not 
An audio piece where the most famous speech in Shakespeare is pulled apart by automated translation programs from online.

The Shakespeare Delusion
First performed in 2012, The Shakespeare Delusion has gone through a number of adjustments and changes - though directed by Robert, it has been adjusted by many kind souls - and special credit must be given for numerous notes given by Colin Watkeys prior to performance at the Face to Face Festival in 2014.

Interval Audio Work:  If You Like It
A soundscape where the never ended cycle of recommendations for Shakespeare becomes a hall of mirrors.

Shakespeare: The Ever Living!
The original music for this production was composed and recorded by Jack Lawson

Additional Online Material

The Missing Years - Online Audio
A cut section from The Shakespeare Delusion that's a lovely little nugget of nonsense. Listen here.

Historic Crimes - Online Audio
Recorded in 2014, Historic Crimes is now available to listen again online at YouTube or Audioboom
ROBERT CRIGHTON as VAL
PAMELA FLANAGAN as JULIA
PHILIPPA TATHAM as SYLVIASpecial thanks to Peter Morris for the recording of that show.

Lighting and Sound Design by Robert Crighton, with the technical teams at each venue
Lighting and Sound Operation - Stephanie Withers
Publicity - Chris Hislop
Website tended by Keith Atkinson
Thanks go to everyone who've helped make these projects happen over the years - at venues as diverse as the Guildhall in Lavenham, the Quay Theatre, the LOST Theatre and finally Theatre N16.  Thanks to Sharon Buckler, Joe Fawcett, Simon Frampton, Jamie Eastlake and Tom Burgess.
Special thanks goes to my patrons, who have all helped make this and other shows happen.

Final thanks go to Philippa Tatham, who starred in Historic Crimes, and who left us far too early.  This show is dedicated to her memory.

***

Also Available - the Undead Bard playscript
The book features - full text of The Shakespeare Delusion, Historic Crimes, Shakespeare: The Ever Living, plus introductory notes, outlines of short pieces and deleted material. Available online at £9.99 plus p&p

Official Blurb for the Show...
Shakespeare is dead, but he just won’t stop talking.  His words are immortal, but they keep changing.  Award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton explores the current boom in Shakespeare and how everything is now devoted to his holy name.  Undead Bard is an unholy smorgasbord of play, comedy, and music, pulling apart Shakespeare, Bardolatry, and the modern world, for your pleasure.
More details about the show and online podcasts on the Undead Bard at www.milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Audience Comments for earlier ‘Undead Bard’ show ‘The Shakespeare Delusion’ (2014):  “Fabulous production... Just recovering from high octane performance of @RobertCrighton The Shakespeare Delusion #immense...  I SO knew where The Shakespeare Delusion was going - & I was SO wrong!!! Chekhov meets Berkoff as performed by Stephen Fry.”

Performing at Theatre N16 - Sunday 2nd October to Thursday 13th October at 7.30pm
Matinees on Sunday 2nd & Saturday 8th at 3pm
Tickets £12 / 10 concessions – https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/145903
Theatre N16, The Bedford, 77 Bedford HillSW12 9HD - www.theatren16.co.uk

All this work is supported by Patreon - without the support of my patrons I could not do shows like this.  To support more work like this go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton

Monday, 3 October 2016

And we're off...

Yes, the show has finally begun - twelve more chances to catch the Undead Bard.  Only twelve more shows and that's that.
Tech and dress all done - something I have learnt: remember to take your glasses off when covering your face in foam.  When I'm a little more with it - after the run - I'll tell you all about get in day.  It was fun.
So, tonight, tomorrow night, press... all to come.  As can you.
See you soon!

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
UNDEAD BARD
By multi award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton

Shakespeare is dead, but he just won’t stop talking.  His words are immortal, but they keep changing.  Award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton explores the current boom in Shakespeare and how everything is now devoted to his holy name.  Undead Bard is an unholy smorgasbord of play, comedy, and music, pulling apart Shakespeare, Bardolatry, and the modern world, for your pleasure.
More details about the show and online podcasts on the Undead Bard at www.milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Audience Comments for earlier ‘Undead Bard’ show ‘The Shakespeare Delusion’ (2014):  “Fabulous production... Just recovering from high octane performance of @RobertCrighton The Shakespeare Delusion #immense...  I SO knew where The Shakespeare Delusion was going - & I was SO wrong!!! Chekhov meets Berkoff as performed by Stephen Fry.”

Performing at Theatre N16
Sunday 2nd October to Thursday 13th October at 7.30pm
Matinee at Saturday 8th October at 3pm
Tickets £12 / 10 concessions – https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/145903
Theatre N16, The Bedford, 77 Bedford HillSW12 9HD - www.theatren16.co.uk

All this work is supported by Patreon - without the support of my patrons I could not do shows like this.  To support more work like this go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton

Monday, 26 September 2016

Undead Bard - Update

I'd love to be posting more about how the show is going, how rehearsals are stepping up, of the general Shakespeareness of my brain at the moment - but I'm rehearsing a lot and those rehearsals are stepping up and the general Shakespeareness of my brain at the moment is getting in the way of writing a post about how rehearsals are going - etc.
It's going really well, I'm running the show every day, doing detailed work, playing still with new material and finishing some props.  Very soon it'll all be about the audience.  And that's where you can come in.  Be the audience.  Make this the best show ever.  Details below.
More soon.
Robx

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
UNDEAD BARD
By multi award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton

Shakespeare is dead, but he just won’t stop talking.  His words are immortal, but they keep changing.  Award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton explores the current boom in Shakespeare and how everything is now devoted to his holy name.  Undead Bard is an unholy smorgasbord of play, comedy, and music, pulling apart Shakespeare, Bardolatry, and the modern world, for your pleasure.
More details about the show and online podcasts on the Undead Bard at www.milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Audience Comments for earlier ‘Undead Bard’ show ‘The Shakespeare Delusion’ (2014):  “Fabulous production... Just recovering from high octane performance of @RobertCrighton The Shakespeare Delusion #immense...  I SO knew where The Shakespeare Delusion was going - & I was SO wrong!!! Chekhov meets Berkoff as performed by Stephen Fry.”

Performing at Theatre N16
Sunday 2nd October to Thursday 13th October at 7.30pm
Matinee Saturday 8th October at 3pm
Tickets £12 / 10 concessions – https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/145903
Theatre N16, The Bedford, 77 Bedford HillSW12 9HD - www.theatren16.co.uk

All this work is supported by Patreon - without the support of my patrons I could not do shows like this.  To support more work like this go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Undead Script

The full - or as full as it ever can be - script for all my Undead Bard projects is now on sale online.
Online - £9.99 plus p&p

The book features - full text of The Shakespeare Delusion, Historic Crimes, Shakespeare: The Ever Living, plus introductory notes, outlines of short pieces and deleted material.

All this work is supported by Patreon - without the support of my patrons I could not do shows like this.  To support more work like this go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Another Untrailer

Busy, busy rehearsing, so just a quick post today - another, even sillier, untrailer.


Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
UNDEAD BARD
By multi award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton

Shakespeare is dead, but he just won’t stop talking.  His words are immortal, but they keep changing.  Award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton explores the current boom in Shakespeare and how everything is now devoted to his holy name.  Undead Bard is an unholy smorgasbord of play, comedy, and music, pulling apart Shakespeare, Bardolatry, and the modern world, for your pleasure.
More details about the show and online podcasts on the Undead Bard at www.milkbottleproductions.co.uk

Audience Comments for earlier ‘Undead Bard’ show ‘The Shakespeare Delusion’ (2014):  “Fabulous production... Just recovering from high octane performance of @RobertCrighton The Shakespeare Delusion #immense...  I SO knew where The Shakespeare Delusion was going - & I was SO wrong!!! Chekhov meets Berkoff as performed by Stephen Fry.”

Performing at Theatre N16
Sunday 2nd October to Thursday 13th October at 7.30pm
Matinee Saturday 8th October at 3pm
Tickets £12 / 10 concessions – https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/145903
Theatre N16, The Bedford, 77 Bedford HillSW12 9HD - www.theatren16.co.uk

All this work is supported by Patreon - without the support of my patrons I could not do shows like this.  To support more work like this go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton