Thursday, 18 September 2008

It's time for....opera

Some of you may know that I am directing an opera. The first question that comes to your mind is.."David, what do you know about opera". Well as it happens...nothing. So why then am I directing. The producers wanted to bring a level of performance to an opera that will make it more palatable to a theatre audience. And again you're wondewring so why have they got you involved. the answer is simply, because I am brilliant.

However despite assurance of my brilliance I was full of nerves on my way to the first rehearsal. This is the first time I'm directing opera, more than that it's in Italian..a language I don't speak. I've never directed singers before, most of whom have never 'acted' so to speak.

Will I succeed in my task. The best way to find out is to come see Orfeo ed Eurydice at Jackson's Lane Theatre, Highgate, on October the 14th or 15th

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


of all the pics that I've seen from Edinburgh this is the most chilling. Its the innocent yet manic smile and the loving grip on my dagger that does it. I love you Sarah yet you scare me...a little

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

To Be (Black) Or Not To Be

For the past month I have been living in a cocoon that is called the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and much news of the world has passed me by. For those who don’t know this is an annual festival of live performance in Scotland’s capital.

I was performing in two plays, the second of which was one of Shakespeare’s earliest and bloodiest, Titus Andronicus. This play reads like the script of a Scream movie and as such was a hell of a lot of fun. I play Aaron the Moor, which is one of Shakespeare very few specifically black roles and a very bad man. I enjoyed myself immensely not just theatrically but also socially, however there were conundrums niggling away at the back of my mind.

It all comes back to the historical basis of our understanding of what being black represents and its root therein. Shakespeare has three Blacks in his cannon, Othello, a good man of standing who is manipulated into villainy, Aaron, who has nothing about him but villainy and The Prince of Morocco, a dignified ruler.

I believe that Shakespeare was no stranger to people of colour considering that in his day (1601) there were an estimated 15,000 – 20,000 black people in London, not all of whom were slaves or domiciles and yet there seems no reason for Aaron to be black. The Prince of Morocco being African would be, Othello is an example of the consequences of racial isolation and xenophobic jealousy so, again that is borne out by its very themes but Aaron has no seeming reason to be a ‘moor’.

Not too long ago I wrote an article on the portrayal of black characters in comics and one of the conclusions which I came to is that when that exists for which we have no real empathy we resort to caricature rather than an attempt to find real artistic truth and to a certain extent this is what has happened here.

One of my fellow cast members a white, pale skinned, ginger headed chap admitted that at drama school he had played Aaron and qualified with a distinction. I was aghast when he demonstrated for me the pseudo Jamaican accent he had been allowed to get away with. Let’s forget for the moment that at the time this was written Jamaica as an English colony did not even exist, the bigger crime for me was the establishment pandering and applauding this heinous portrayal of what being black is thought to be.

The biggest enemy of this rectification of the stereotype is the distortion of history in the general social subconscious. My last theatre job had a bunch of us sitting watching a reality TV show which saw children competing to be cast as Oliver in the new musical Oliver Twist. I was expositing on the theory that as it was down to a public vote the public would never allow the black candidate to be chosen. There was a general hubbub of disagreement which I graciously accepted, when a member of the crew walked in and exclaimed
“The black one shouldn’t be in this; it’s just not historically accurate”
A statement which was inaccurate in itself considering that 200 years after Shakespeare’s time the Black population and indeed the now indigenous black population would have increased despite the immigration restrictions of the day.
However this is the common belief that has embedded itself in the national consciousness and informs our day to day lives.

As an actor, especially with locks, this has dire consequences. Producers tend to think in terms of stereotypes and cast black people for black roles rather than just ‘roles’. A quick look at my last 5 television castings will spell this out in no uncertain terms.

1 Rum advert which exploited the Jamaican party lifestyle stereotype so badly that I walked out of the casting.
3 Rastafarian musicians
1 Rastafarian hospital receptionist that only answered people in Bob Marley lyrics
And tomorrow I’m going for a casting as a murder suspect.

However despite this I was pleased to hear that the recent production of King Lear at the globe had several Black and one Asian actor playing non ethnic specific roles. I was also pleased by a chance encounter in a club with a director who had produced Titus Andronicus in the past and had refused to cast his one black actor as Aaron because he felt his talents supported another role, the director had effectually cast outside of the stereotype.

The question remains though – how long can I maintain my integrity in light of the need to you know….eat.

Monday, 1 September 2008

My best rejection ever

So I was up for a part in a docudrama and I got a call from the director today ....apparentlly they loved me but I was too good looking for the part they wanted me to play.

What can you say to that?

Edinburgh Round Up

So its all done and seeing as how my earliest night for the last month was 4am, I'm in a serious recovery period.

I gotta say I have loved the hell out of the last month,socially as well as artistically; but I am so glad to have my own bed and bathroom back although it all feels a little too quiet right now.

Shows I Saw

A Love In Dream

This was a Korean show ( and there was a heavy Korean prescence at the fringe for some reason)about a woman who lost the love of her life and crosses the border between sanity and madness. It was a very physical and musical performance and not hampered by the fact that it was in Korean. I loved this and was genuienly moved by it. If you ever get to see Modl Theatre in action, they are highly recommended.

I met Marianne and Esther on the mile and they tried various means of flattery to get me to come and see their show - P45;s in the post. I was a bit dubious but the flattery worked and I gotta say I really enjoyed this. It was a comedy about 2 girls friendships and life journey together and was a lot more intersting and funny than it sounds. I especially liked the way they blended it with film sequences and projection. I thought this would make a great sitcom and I'm looking out for these girls. I expect to see them on the screen one day.

At this point I wanna give a shout out to my little friend Megan, who I decided was probably the cutest thing on the mile.

Much kudos go to the Ratpack. These guys were in our theatre immeadiately before us so I never got to see their show. However on the penultimate night there was a party in a local club at which they were playing. Now I love that nig band jazz sound but these guys were amazing especially considering their youthfulness. They knocked it out the park. And the girls - I fell in love with them all a little bit after that performance.

Random Image 1 - Michelle doing publicity...bless her.

Random Image 2 - Sarah and Jess......drunk

So I'm back now and trying to work out little things sleeping patterns and how I'm gonna eat without money...that sort of thing.

Friday, 22 August 2008

I can't take it any more.....

please please please make the rain stop....please

i'm so so so so tired of being damp

I can't handle being moist anymore

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Departure Lounge

Last night I saw a musical called Departure Lounge by Dougal Irvine. In a word.....HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I know thats not technically a word but its what it made me do a lot. Its basically a coming of age story wrapped around a Brits abroad theme. 4 lads stuck in a departure lounge (thanks to Ryan Air) end up exploring the ties that bind them together as friends. This show was hilarious, poignant and touching by turns.

Oh and there's a fit blonde in it!!!!

American Dad

So the mile is a mile long road on which many street performers do their thing. During the festival it is also overrun with performers promoting and flyering for their shows, so it becomes increasingly difficult to find new ways to persuade people to take your flyers.

I have settled on singing amongst other things, such as complimenting women. Now bear in mind that this is a street with a multitude of performers on it one must expect the unexpected.

However....a family is walking past and i start to sing to a girl while reaching for a flyer. i'm singing - "By the look in your eye, I can tell your gonna cry is it over me..." I convert the next line into somethig that results in the need for the targetted person to take a flyer; But before I can get there American Dad barges me in the chest and drawls "Get Lost Pal".

Seriously, there are ways and ways to deal with stuff, here's a suggestion.
1) Smile and think 'those crazy performers'
2) Take a flyer
3) Say "I'm sorry, We are not interested"
4) Ignore me
5) Here's a good one - Teach your daughter how to stand up for herself

I swear these people are gonna give me anger issues

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Loving it ......

Man I'm loving this festival. Had a grreeeaaatttt show then went out with some of the cast. Around 4am everyone starts heading home...but guess what...I'm not ready for that. Louisa one of the casts friend isn't either, so turning our backs on the crowd we head for The Gilded Balloon, to grab some drinks at the Library Bar. Apparently though, it turns out you can't get in without a performers pass after 4 and mine was left at home. So after some serious blagging we get in and hook up with the aforementioned cast of Funk It Up About Nothing and a grand old time was had by all; although I had to inform a girl, who shall remain nameless, that its not the done thing to talk about me when she's in bed with her man!!!

So it hits 5 and I decide to walk Louisa home and on the way we discover a really talented singer playing a medley of hits on his guitar....Its freaking 5:30 in the moening and there's a crowd around this guy singing and dancing.....where else in the world man!!! Of course the police shut him down eventually...
but you know what I'm loving this city.

This is me and Louisa as dawn is gracing the sky. And this is the view of the castle on my way home through the Meadows at 6:30am.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Silent Disco

The picture is myself and the wonderful Julia, she's hardcore! Everyone else in the cast had gone home after the show and we were the only two that wanted to go out. So Julia suggested we go to the Silent Disco. The more perceptive of you may have noticed that in the picture both Julia and I are wearing headphones. Its that very thing that made this one of the most bizarre clubbing experiences of my life.

The concept is that when you go in you pay a £5 deposit for a pair of wireless headphones with 2 channels on it. The venue has 2 dj's that are transmitting to their repsective channels so if you don't like what one dj is playing you can switch to the other one.

It was all good until I noticed that Julia and I were dancing seriously out of time to each other, and we realised we were listening to different channels. Its a weird experience when you take the headphones of and your in a club that is relatively quiet apart from the odd few people singing out of time, out of tune and with little knowledge of the words to a song that you cant hear. At least it makes it a lot easier to chat people up.

The funniest part of the night for me was when a fire alarm went of but no one could hear it because they were wearing the headphones. We spent 15m outsides having a laugh with the other clubbers and then back in. Julia went slightly mad and our half an hour of clubbing turned into a night that ended at 4am discussing theatre with a bloke called Will whilst eating crepes (I had bannana and nutella - oh yea baby!)

A good night which could only have been improved by a consistently better music choice (I really didn't like the techno song that kept going on about penis) and a snog with Monica Belluci.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Samurai Spirit

It's probably because I've just finished reading the 28 volume manga series Lone Wolf and Cub ( a Samurai drama set in Japan during the Edo period) that what happened today at the festival excited me so much.

I went to see the acting group of sword fighting specialist Kamui doing a show called Samurai Spirit. The exciting thing about this ****WARNING GEEK MOMENT APPROACHING***** is that it was directed and starred Tetsuro Shimaguchi who not only was the lead member of the Crazy 88

Let me tell you people this show started good and finished excellent and my major aformentioned excitement came from the fact that I actually recognised some of the moves from Lone Wolf and Cub and was anticipating some of their responces. My one regret was that when they got someone out of the audience to do some moves as that it wasn't me...I could've kicked it man!

Friday, 8 August 2008

More Shakespeare - and its funky

Just got out of seeing Funk It Up About Nothing, which is a rap version of Shakespeares Much Ado About Nothing. Now this could have been seriously rubbish, but OMG this was a phenomenal show. The actors were sharp, the rhymes audible and funny...I thoroughly enjoyed myself and they got a standing ovation. Well worth seeing wether you know the story or not. You can check them out here, be warned though the video clip just doesn't do them justice.

Shakespeare, Dr Who and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

So I'm on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, which is a road on which you can find various street performers and people promoting the various plays and shows they are doing. Its an interesting place that has involved me scaring the hell out of random people with my joker like visage and my Harley Quin companion(the lovely and slightly scary Helen ); Conversly it's a also a place where I've made a lot of new friends and collected an inordinate amount of hugs.

Anywhere I'm talking to a family trying to get them to come and see one of the Shakespeare productions I'm in (the vaguely kiddy friendly one) and the little boy in the family asks the question
"Who's Shakespeare?"
I look at him and ask him the most obvious question I could think of , "Do you like Dr Who?"
"Yes," he says
"Well," say I "Do you remember the man the Dr met in the episode with the Carrionites who used to write lots of stories."
"Yes, but I didn't watch it all because the witches scared me so had to turn it off"
"Fair enough," I said in agreement " they were pretty ugly...but the man who wrote the stories was a real a man whose stories were really good and we still read today".

So, a triumph for science fiction as thanks to Dr Who I was able to educate a young lad to the best selling writer in history.

This is one of the reasons I get riled when people say "its just a kids show" - Kids shows shape the minds of our young, conciously or subconciously and should not be underestimated. For some it is the kind of shaping that can help decide future careers and in this case was the genesis of an education in the classics.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Ah well....

so the choral singing thing didn't work out but at least I've identified a weakness which is always good.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

I'm loving this show, I'm doing things I never thought I could do like...

  • Singing choral harmonies
  • flipping a girl onto my shoulder and rolling her off down my body like I'm some sort of fit ballet dancer
  • Gutting a fetish nurse like a pig with a knife while squealing for joy
  • and I get to design a fight scene
Yea life is good......just gotta learn those lines

Saturday, 19 July 2008

T minus....

So I'm a little drunk but I've just been out with some members of the cast of Titus Andronicus, the Shakespeare that I'm doing in Edinburgh, next month. Its suddenly occurred to me..OMG... that its on next week.

However I have been actors drink too much?

You finish a rehearsal, you are knackered, yur head is strained and you feel like you really need a drink.

You grab one with the guys.

You start having a laugh

The rest as they say is history.

I think the bonding experience of drinking and recovering together is very important and yet considering how many mature actors I've met that are secret alcoholics......

Not really sure what to think, but I tell you what I ain't drinking sparkly water for a month.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Diary of the Strange #1 - Computer Love

Well its not as much strange as it is bloody annoying and its not so much Computer Love as it is Hate inspired by menatl bewidlerment.

So here's how it goes.

  • I'm doing some computery stuff and just as I'm thinking I really ought to back up my emails, my hard drive starts making a clanking sound and dies a horrible death. Now there is a slim chance that I can save my un backed up data so I call in a IT professional to check it out. "Nope", he says "your gonna need a new drive and the data is unsalvageable". Fair enough...annoying but fair enough.

  • I decide to buy a SATA drive, why because they are meant to be quicker, quieter and above all...Cheaper.

  • It turns out that in order to install a SATA drive you need to first install a driver from a...wait for it.....a floppy drive. Once I remembered what one of those was I set to work making the floppy. But for some reason I couldn't get it to work so after days of reading forums online and genuine frustration I call in an IT professional.

  • Said IT pro goes to work and points out that the instructions I was given to connect the drive was wrong, then that my floppy drive was unconnectted. He connects it.....and then FIRE ..actual real fire comes out of my computer.

  • Eventually we sort everything and its all good....

  • .....until I get a majopr league virus

  • Thanks to a very kind IT security professional in Australia that helps me out online I sort that program.

  • Everything goes fine for a day and then...blammy..Windows decides it cant start because its missing a vital dll

  • I'm gonna have to call in that IT professional again at which point I could have actually bought a brand new laptop with the money I've spent.

  • I think I want to the very least posting the pic below will make me feel a bit better

Wednesday, 26 March 2008 the beginning

....was this blog. Well, thats not quite true, there were a lot of things before ths blog, like light, the wheel..lttle things like that. But I wanna write, I got a novel going nowhere and a non fiction book about my learnings and discoveries also going nowhere. So in terms of actually getting of my ass and writing something, this is where it begins - for me, it's an exercise that will hopefully develop into something more. For you I hope its a good waste of time.

If not you can have your money back.

Yea i know....clever ain't I