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Sunday, 28 February 2016

February in Performance

From Orson Welles rehearsals...
It's been quite a random month - juggling lots of random shows, in a way that I probably won't do again for a while.
At the top of the month I had the return of my Summoning of Everyman show for students of the University of Essex.  It's become a regular little gig, returning to this text is always interesting.  I found, for example, that I'd been saying one line completely incorrectly for about three years.  Oh well, corrected now.  I got to do the show in the theatre on campus, which was both brilliant and a bit weird - the show is designed for non theatre spaces, I bring lights and improvise with what I've got.  I got a chap throwing up light and normal theatre seats - it was lovely, but very different.  As per usual I got the audience/performers to write their good and bad deeds down - some below.
Upgrading the recording studio...
That night I was into the get in for Orson Welles: The Night We Scared America which is a show I directed for Out of Kontrol Productions.  It was a long night/following day, as there was a lot to get done in a very short period of time, but the cast were really sharp and we pulled off a small triumph, much to my delight.  The house was near as damn it sold out and the bar hummed afterwards, always a good sign that a show has gone well!  With a good tail wind the show will be touring and appearing somewhere later in the year and the next...
Then I launched my Patreon page and harangued the universe and his dog to sign up and pledge me something - this is still going on, feel free to pledge if you want here - www.patreon.com/robertcrighton
Rehearsing stuff... honest.
The point of the Patreon page is to help pay for my audio work, which I've been editing like crazy - including this new thing, Wartime Memories, based on newly discovered archive footage of recollections of a veteran of the First World War.  Episode Two will follow next week, and hopefully some other random stuff.
And finally, the first public performance of the year, and the first of my Undead Bard season of shows, at the Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft.  They were such great people, backstage, FOH and the audience, and I'm looking forward to performing my new stuff there in May!
Right, that's it, that's my little round up - I'm off to talk website...

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Music and Shakespeare

Jack and the demo tracks
After the no stop posting about my patreon page and the audio universe - it's still there, still open for pledges etc - today was all about the Bard.  And delivering a boot to his crotch.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like a bit of Shakespeare - but with the 400th Anniversary of his death, people are being far too nice.  If his body hadn't completely rotted down by now, his arse would be chapped from all the officially sanctioned licking.
So, my Undead Bard shows (formally Shakespeare Undead) aim to be a little less reverent.  I've posted before about The Shakespeare Delusion and Historic Crimes - but now I'm working on a new piece, Shakespeare: The Ever Living!  I've got some great help making it happen as well.

Today I met up with Jack - Ginger Boy - Lawson, who's in charge of the music.  Yup, after Metal Harvest last year, another show with a score.  In fact, we're playing the two shows together for a couple of nights because, whilst about very different things, they are performed in a very similar style.

Shakespeare: The Ever Living! is a cabaret/stand up/1980's rock/Shakespeare mash up.  It's about a Bard who never dies and how he eats our culture, making even the most unlikely things his.  And it's going to be epic.  Jack has been working on the first demo tracks and they're going to make the show.

Jack and Nief
But not to stop there, we're already looking ahead to another show/s in the more distant future - with Nief Carroll supplying music and vocals for what I will call my Unspecified Future Project Thing.  Early days yet, but Nief is already preparing plans for the giant papier mache nose.
I haven't collaborated enough on my solo projects in the past, which I regret.  One of the most enjoyable shows I did with a team was The Natural History of Trolls back in 2011 - a format of working which I might go back to at some point.  Certainly, I'm hoping that they'll be more of these collaborations in the future.
These are the only live shows I'm planning on creating this year and (beyond a bit of acting for other people's shows) everything else will be online and patreonish.  So, if you want to see me live, book ahead - see here for dates for the diary!
Continuing thanks to everyone at the Quay Theatre for their support in making these shows happen...

I know what I'm doing... honestly!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

A New Sound

New upgrades to the recording studio...
The launch weekend - a wholly artificial time sequence, as the point of Patreon is that it never ends - draws to a close.  Here's why your support is so important.
Up till now I've created sound on the hoof.  I've covered old climbing frames in duvets and climbed inside (which works, but it's BOILING!) and used sub standard equipment.  Over the years I've slowly upgraded.  I've already added acoustic tiles to my sound set up so that I can record and not boil at the same time.  I can still do better, but I don't need to at this time.  But I am going to get something new thanks to the support of you all.  A portable sound recorder.
Nothing too fancy, but a decent spec; not too expensive, but not cheap.
This is for two reasons - one. lugging around laptop, leads, microphones is a sod. This is a fairly minor reason.
Two. Because now I can change the sound universe I create.
I could create radio dramas and storytelling easily enough with the help of some friends, some time and, so long as it were just some people with scripts in front of a microphone in a dead space then that would be fine.
But that not what I want to do for Patreon.  If people are pledging, I want to give them a bigger experience.
Let me talk about a show - working title: Investigate Me?
What's Investigate Me?  It's a show about an investigation.  Think a bit little Kafka's The Trial but in reverse, mixed with Blue Jam.  Helpful?  No?  Good - the problem with telling people too much about the shows in advance is it sort of kills the point of listening to them.
Anyway, I want to record almost all the show on location.  I want to mix in ambient sounds, the noise of the everyday, with some studio stuff.  I want to create drama as documentary as drama.  And, if I do it right, it'll be amazing.
But I can't do it (or the other shows that'll need it) without something portable.  So, based on what's been pledged so far, I've made an investment.  Thank you Patrons - you've already made a difference!  Now, I just need a few more pledges to pay for some actors - otherwise, this might take a while.
If you haven't pledged then please do - it's really easy. Sign up, enter your pledge (which you can change or cancel whenever you like) and enter payment.  That's it.  No different to shopping online.  Just with rewards!

Saturday, 20 February 2016

A Kind of Freedom

It was a stressful launch day - partly because I had so much to do, and no where to do it. Some decorators turned up to do the landing - nothing to do with me, it was all a bit random.  But, it meant that I couldn't use my office when trying to tell the world about patreon and my page and share great audio and... Not the decorators fault - they were really good, the finish looks to be a good standard (as they say on Homes Under the Hammer).
And I wasn't expecting a busy day fielding vast take up - this is going to be a slow build, it's going to move over the year, not a weekend.  That said, I was surprised at where the total reached by the end of the day - and I had a number of additional one off contributions (thank you!) and other help offered which isn't on the patreon feed.
I couldn't relax during the evening at all. I kept fiddling and rushing about to little purpose.  It was only at the end of the day, when I shut the laptop down and stopped that it hit me.

This is freedom.
Not freedom from tyranny, not freedom from money worries, not freedom from commitments... it's freedom from me.
Let me explain.  I make a lot of work happen.  I've averaged something like 14 different shows every year when not ill.  And even then, I don't think it went below double figures.  If I keep up this work rate in the theatre then I'll probably kill myself.  I tend to only have two speeds, super fast or super slow, and super fast added to live theatre and a high turn around is not good for me.
But now I can do things differently.  I can still create at my preferred work rate, but creating an audio show instead of a live show is a whole different world of work.  One of the things that eats at my life is the learning of new monologues - especially as I rewrite them as I go along.  Now, I can make the text work over the same period of time, but not have to spend that month ramming the words into my brain.  I can just, you know, get them right.
This means that, each year, I can focus on a just a few live shows of my own and take my time making them happen.  This year I've got one new show planned for April - Shakespeare: The Ever Living! and some other long term projects ticking along.  I'm acting in maybe a couple of other peoples shows.  And creating an entire new universe in my head to beam to your ears.
This is freedom.
If I can get the patrons.
Please, support me, if only for a $1.  It's really easy to do and doesn't take more than a couple of minutes.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Patreon Projects - Videos

To help you see the kind of work you're going to get - here's a selection (it will build over the day) of videos telling you all about some of the stuff I want to make for you.
You can help by pledging support on: www.patreon.com/robertcrighton
There's the introduction video, a troubleshooting guide and guides to each new thing planned at this time - or will be, by the end of the weekend!

Patreon Launched!

My Patreon page has been launched and there are already pledges!  The more people who support me, the more exciting the work gets, the bigger the casts, the bigger the worlds.  So, please share this information with the world.


And, of course, pledge something.  The first audio of this new phase of my life is now online - below - a series I'll be treating you to for the rest of the month.  Full blog on it here.
If you want to pledge but are having problems then get in touch with me at: contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk
(I know that some older versions of Internet Explorer need a setting adjusted, it's not difficult or dangerous to do, just a bit of a chore - let me help you make it less of one.)

A picture of me, with a microphone, in front of which is where I'll be from now on, thanks to you...

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Patreon - Learning by Doing

So, not long now till the big launch for my Patreon page and I'm figuring out, vaguely, how to make it happen.  Several interesting things have come up as I've troubleshooted (troubleshot?) the set up.

1. Internet Explorer can't see Patreon.  Well, that's not quite the case, the default setting for the older version hasn't got the correct setting enabled, so you have to adjust this manually.  DON'T PANIC.  It's very simple and you can just email me if you need a hand (contact@milkbottleproductions.co.uk or on Twitter @RobertCrighton) - I don't want to stop anyone pledging if they wish to.  An easier solution is to use a better internet platform.  Like any one other than IE.

2. Patreon seems to prefer credit rather than debit cards. I got someone to pledge one $1 to test what it was like to sign up (it's a doddle, no different to anything else) but it declined the debit (though, that might have just been them).  Otherwise, smooth as a babies arse.

3. There is VAT added to any pledge - so adjust if you feel the need.  Those donating in the UK should find that the added VAT makes the dollar pledge about the same as it would be in pounds sterling (exchange being what it is!)

4. It's really easy. Minor computer problems aside, if you do any shopping online, it is no different.

See you tomorrow!

Oh, and a little teaser for the first Patreon supported project - Wartime Memories - is below.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

What Patreon?

Hang, one of the releases coming soon thanks to Patreon
So, you've read the earlier posts, you know I want your pledges in return for audio... but what audio?
Well, I'm glad you asked that question.

I don't want to post a SCHEDULE.  Partly because I always miss the deadline by a day or two, or rush, or generally demoralise myself looking at one.  Also, it's an open ended thing, so how far ahead should I go?  How much you'll get each month will vary, some months might be a bit quiet, some you'll get something almost every DAY, but what I can promise you will get is randomness.  No two things will be the same.  So, here's a list of the kind of month you MIGHT see.

Firstly, each week you might get some shorts - something along the lines of Hear If be Knews, which spoofs headlines of the day/any day.  These might come almost daily if I'm in the mood.

Then, you might get once a month a random audio essay.  It might be cheeky, rude, and discuss very seriously a very unimportant subject.  See my essay on the word Muff.

If we call the above the bread and butter stuff, now the meat and two veg.  This might come in the shape of a radio play like Historic Crimes, which is a full length cast play.  Or it might be a short radio series, like The Museum of Tat, which is episodically short, but as a series lasts over an hour.
Or, final option, there might be an audiobook/performance of some of my back catalogue of stories, like The Natural History of Trolls (which I'm going to re-record and upgrade at some point!)
Among all this content there will be the odd bit of medieval drama as part of the Before Shakespeare project.

For this first month you're getting my first ever documentary, Wartime Memories, which follows reminiscences, recently discovered, of a veteran of the First World War - see below - and sometime in April I will release a re-edit of the hugely popular comedy, Hang, which we recorded in front of a live studio audience in 2014.

So, please, this weekend, pledge something to my Patreon launch, from only $1 or more... (the interface is American, so it's all dollars, but I'm sure the pledge will come out in pounds... unless you're American... I'll stop now.)

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Why Patreon?

So, people ask me, why Patreon?  You make theatre, they say, why ask for funding for audio projects?
Well, there are a number of factors.
Firstly, I already do a lot of online audio content in association with my theatre work, I just don't get directly paid for it (or next to nothing - I think I took 3p last year, and 2p of that went out as royalties).
Secondly, I already have an informal Patreon arrangement with some of my audience who kindly pay me to make work (and it has made such a difference - last years Metal Harvest would not have happened without that support), so it makes sense to get a bit more organised.
Thirdly, whilst I love making theatre, the physical strain - or more importantly, the stress - of producing the work I do isn't sustainable anymore.  I have to reduce the number of different live shows I do each year, but I know I won't stop producing a similar amount of - for want of a better word - content.  I still create, I still write and at present haven't the resources to get that material out there, except as audio or text.  It makes sense to try and make the audio realm my new base, take the opportunities that the internet offers - and avoid hospitalising myself.
That said, I still produce live shows - part of the deal for my Patreons are offers on tickets, associated merchandise, and home shows - I just won't produce as many different shows.  This year, for example, I am currently writing two new forty-fifty minute pieces for live performance, with the expectation that I will write maybe an additional full length piece.  Normally I produce half a dozen or so.  And I still will - but they'll be online instead.  And they'll be fantastic (he said, hopefully).

So, on Friday (or whenever onwards) come to my Twitter feed or here and have a look at my Patreon page, and contribute if you can.  Or just share.  Sharing is good.

I'll leave you with this radio play I produced in 2014, Historic Crimes - a play about what might happen if you discovered that Shakespeare was a criminal.  I have shared this before, but I was forced to compress the audio to an unacceptable level - this is the listenable version!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Patreon Launch - Audio Adventures For All

Update: go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton

Friday is a big day for me - it's the beginning of a whole new chapter of my work, and you're all invited to join me.  Until now I've been a mostly theatre based animal - producing (possibly) far too many new shows every year and chasing my own tail.  But now I'm shifting the way I distribute my work - focusing on a just few live shows a year and instead producing more audio work for anyone in the world to listen to.

To make this happen I'm launching myself on Patreon - a crowdfunding site which supports artists in the long run, rather than by projects.  Rather than asking you, my lovely audience, to fund a project, to book tickets to see a specific show or quietly pass me money and help behind the scenes, I'm asking you to fund my work on a monthly basis.  It doesn't have to be for much.  It can be as little as a pound a month.  You can stop or change your amount at anytime.  It's entirely open ended.

What do you get in return for your money?  Well, firstly, you get content.  You'll get radio plays, audio readings, audio essays, new work, old work, every month in differing quantities and styles.  That's a given.  By giving something you give me a budget to make this stuff and (if there's enough of you) not starve.

Depending on what you give, there are other rewards... (all in dollars, but I'm sure your bank knows what they are if that's not your native currency...)
For $1+ a month you get a BIG thank you and regular updates
For $3+ a month, you'll get the above, plus special online content just for the Patrons.
For $5+ a month, you get the above, plus a shout out on the content.
For $10+ a month, you'll get the above, a physical extra thing sent once a year.
For $50+ a month, you'll get the above, ticket discounts for live shows and have the option of getting your name in a story!
For $250+ or over, you'll get the above and the option of a live show in your own home - we'll talk.

And the more that gets given, the bigger the work gets.  I'll be able to hire more actors to do plays and monologues, so that you don't just hear my voice (which, fantastic as I think it is, is a bit much all year round!) and to upgrade the technical quality of the set up.  I've got some amazing ideas I want to get out there, audio projects that are all about sound and not just audio only versions of my stage works.  It's down to you to make them a reality, for EVERYONE.

If you can't give anything (and that's cool) then please share this with people online, with your friends, with everyone, because every little helps.

This is all starting on [editor: NOW!] when I'll launch the Patreon page and all the extra gubbins - so this weekend, don't be a stranger, get in touch, give something!
Go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton
But even if you see this later on, still join in, it's entirely open ended.  That's how these things work.

And here's a little taster of some of the things I've done so far...
Full Radio Play: Historic Crimes
Audiobook: The Natural History of Trolls
Audio Comedy Series: The Museum of Tat
Random Audio Comedy: Hear If be Knews

And some of the things to come...
All new audio recordings of popular stories from my back catalogue, including Problem Tree, Sleep Inc., Cuckold's Fair and a new version of The Examiner of Small Ailments.
Then they'll be a new edit of Hang and all new radio dramas, provisionally titled, The Great Detective, Why Aren't? and Commentary.

Go to www.patreon.com/robertcrighton

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Wartime Memories

The creation of Metal Harvest last year produced a lot of interesting responses - and has sent me in a couple of surprising directions.  This is one of them.
Alan Scott, who has performed with me for readings and the installation piece You Have Been Watching in 2014, mentioned to me in the bar one night that he had a tape recording of his grandfather talking about his experiences in the First World War.  Now, Metal Harvest was mostly written at this point and though there was more material to shape I didn't need anything new, but it seemed like too good an opportunity to pass.  If nothing else, it would be interesting and I could transfer the recording onto a CD for him.
I sat down to transfer the tape.  It wasn't good.  There was a phenomenal amount of hiss and little dynamic to the sound.  The recording was of a family gathering, after a meal or similar event, where everyone was trying to prompt this veteran into talking about the Great War.  The tape recorder was hidden, so that he didn't notice.  There's a lot of background noise of clearing plates and general chatter.  I struggled along and hoped for the best.
In the 55 minutes of recording the conversation, occasionally obscured, danced around making things with used shell casing and leather off cuts; surviving off the land (stealing the odd chicken); looking after the horses; taking the dead from the front line; joining up and being demobbed.  I did a quick de-hiss to see how much clarity could be got out of the recording and emailed Alan back with a suggestion - to release the material online.  People should hear this first hand account.
So, Alan came over and recorded some background, listened to the recording and commented on it.  We think that with some work we could get between twenty and thirty minutes of good audio that I plan to release in a couple of weeks.  The current plan is to release it in themed chunks, of five to ten minutes each, over a month or so, and then release the full recording for those who want to work out the less clear sections.

Wartime Memories - First Hand Recollections of the Great War by William Coleman
First Part has been released - you can support this work at www.patreon.com/robertcrighton


Alan Scott, with the recording on screen.
Alan Scott:  "The recording is of William Henry Coleman, born 14th August 1897 in Lambeth.
His father was a saddler working for the Southern Railway in the Battersea area.  It is difficult to piece together a full service history as his service records are not available – probably lost in the 1940 fire - but from the tape I believe he was in the Army Service Corps, which became the Royal Army Service Corps in 1918 and is now the Royal Logistics Corps.
The tape was recorded at my parents house in Colchester following a family lunch and was done without him being aware of the recording.  I think this was to celebrate the Diamond Wedding anniversary of William and his wife Elsie and would therefore have been in September 1981.
He mentions being at Arras when the victory parade for Cambrai was staged – this would be mid-December 1917.  He was at Mons at or immediately after the Armistice and relates how they had to march to Dieppe to return to the UK. This is approximately 150 miles so would probably have taken a week or so.  I believe he was demobbed at Purfleet in December 1918.
After the war he returned to London and worked as a vehicle trimmer, having his own business for a while which failed during the Depression, and latterly working for a firm in Colchester as a vehicle trimmer until the 1970’s.  He served in the Home Guard in Colchester in 1939-45 – after failing to convince the recruiters to let him join up as a regular at the outset of World War Two.
William died in Colchester on 22nd April 1982."
William and Elsie in 1981 on the day of the recording.




Friday, 12 February 2016

Dates for the Diary - Spring 2016

Exciting times, as a new season begins.  Bagpuss has yawned and I awake at his command.

Lot's of variations on a theme of Shakespeare this year as a number of Undead Bard productions get underway.  From The Shakespeare Delusion of popular acclaim, to new work Shakespeare: The Ever Living and a short revival of last years hit Metal Harvest, there's so much to catch.  I'm very excited to be commissioning more new music this year, with Jack Lawson working on a very special 80's inspired soundtrack to Shakespeare: The Ever Living!  We're hoping to have a bonus live set for the Quay performance of the show.

ONLINE:
New material will be coming online very soon, some unannounced except on Facebook or Twitter - here's the next thing.

Friday 19th February - Wartime Memories: Part One - a special archive recording of the memories of a veteran of the First World War.
Also on Friday 19th February - Patreon launch for my audio work online. I do a lot of new audio work that goes out for free, this is a new way to make it happen.  Details to follow!

LIVE SHOWS: 
I will be adding more shows to this list and updating box office information, as and when they go online.

The Shakespeare Delusion
In time for the anniversary of Shakespeare's death.
Saturday 23rd April - Stamford Arts Centre - Box Office: 01780 763203

From 'Metal Harvest' - returning in May!
Shakespeare: The Ever Living! & Metal Harvest - Double Bill
Metal Harvest was a huge success last year, so we're bringing it back, better than ever - along with the new show Shakespeare: The Ever Living!
Friday 20th May - Quay Theatre, Sudbury - Tickets on sale soon
This Quay performance is going to be very special - with extra pops and whistles that can't go on tour!
Saturday 21st May - The Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft - Tickets on sale soon

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Invading Mars

It was a busy old week - revived the Everyman show for some students at the University of Essex and then invaded Mars, as you do.
The Martian invasion was due to a show I'd been asked to direct for Out of Kontrol Productions - Orson Welles: The Night We Scared America - a play about the infamous radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds in 1938.  I'll blog in more detail about it sometime, but the headlines are: it went bloody well.  So, here are a few unedited shots from the dress run, taken by the marvellous John Bethell.