Friday, 31 July 2009

Making The tempest - Gdansk Day 5

Went to Sopot tonight, which is a seaside town and way more impressive than your average English seaside town. More going on, lively and fun. We went to this open air Martini bar which was just class. Going to this bar is also the reason tonights blog is so short, if you take my meaning.

There are a lot of kebab places in Poland and this is by far the best. We saw it on the way home and tell me, is there a better name for a kebab joint?

And finally a pic of me from today's rehearsal

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Making The tempest - Gdansk Day 4

Today I felt truly awake for the first time since I got here, which is a problem since I only got the chance to start learning my lines on Sunday. However apart from a killing muscular pain in my back I'm doing good. Another 10 hours of rehearsal, dinner at the mexican under the hotel, with the hot staff and an hours script work before bed.

Language Watch

So today I learned how to say "It's a pleasure to meet you". Which has already come in very handy and made certain girls blush. I will endeavour to say it with slightly less suggestiveness in my voice.

Stagecraft part 2

I thought I'd show you how we are constructing one of the scenes that makes use of video cameras today. We worked really hard at getting it down and I think it's gonna look impressive. In this scene Prospero's daughter Miranda is getting all hot on Ferdinand the prince of Naples. However in this production, Prospero never leaves his cell. We ae trying to communicate his power comes from knowledge, technology and surveillance. So the challenge is to make the dialogue happen using the whole stage, without Prospero leaving the area that represents his cell and using technology.

So in the first picture you can see me filming Prospero.The next picture is actually the same thing from a different angle so that you cant see me.
The monitor that Prospero is looking at is linked to another camera focussing on the performance space and it his link to the action. The two vaguely people shaped blurs you can see on the monitor are Miranda and Ferdinand. he next few are examples of what the scene looks like as Miranda and Ferdinand interact with Prospero's image.

What do you think? Does it work?

Quiet on the Set

We also did some outdoor filming today of one of the scenes that will have to pre-recorded. We had one rehearsal and only had time for One Take, but there were three cameras. What thats gona look like after editing is anyones guess. But the audience will see us walking out the door and then the pre-recorded footage outside giving us time to get into place for the next scene.

Busking Shakespeare

I have to sing 4 songs in this and so far I've just been making up the tunes. So I sat down with Philip Parr the co-director and he scored a couple of the tunes for me. He adapted one from what I had been doing already. What he didn't know was that I had based the tune on the Lay of Gilgalad from the radio production of Lord of the Rings. Ah yea - get your geek on Ninja!.

If you fancy a little preview heres a few seconds of a early rehearsal version - Five fathoms


I was gona tell ou about that today but I can actually hear my bed calling my name. It's disturbing the other guests so I'll do it tomorrow!!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Making The tempest - Gdansk Day 3

Ok first lesson people. if you ever come to Poland bear this in mind. These people eat big. They don't believe in small portions. For example, I had a huge grilled Salmon salad for lunch but couldn't resist the had yogurt, bannana, pineapple, blueberries, strawberries and who knows what take a look for yourselfThe point is I gotta stop ordering more than one course because there is no such thing as a small portion over here. Oh and a different lady laughed at me today.

I must learn my lines, I must learn my lines, I must......

I am so so tired right now. The busyness of the past few weeks is finally catching up with me and its making it hard to learn lines. This worries me because i'm not brilliant at learning lines anyway and evryone else is far ahead of me. However I have no choice. I've given myself up till the end of Thursday to be of book, which is scary as our first show is Saturday.


But things are starting to take shape. This is my area. The place where Ariel stands for the whole play. You can see the video camera that will be pointed at me, two microphones (as well as the radio mic in my hair), a light facing me and the sail behind me, the other side of which faces the audience. this makes for an interesting dynamic for the actor - me. The audience can see me a little, they can see whatever the camera picks up and they can see my shadow through the sail. It means I have to deliver a performance which is mndful of all 3 things. I have to perform to the camera whilst moving my body to make the image on the sail evocative and interesting and maintain character for the times that I can be directly seen by the audience. Quite a challenge to master in a few days, but thanks to Aysha our movement coach I think we can do this. This picture on the right should give you a feel for the stage as a whole. On the right, the big black thing is a screen where inages will be shown, to the left you can just about see the rostra covered by the sail which forms the front of the area I'll be behind. And to the right of that you can just make out a wide screen tv which will also have film on it.

A big part of this is trying to work out how the staging will work especially as everybody is doubling up. This is the cast trying out a scene while Scott films it during and as part of the performance. And the desired product, a symbolic meeting of hands is broad cast. This forms part of the scene being performed simultaneously.

As I think you can see the execution of this show is very complicated.

Language Watch

Today I learned 2 phrases - "What is your name? "and "My name is ". Magda and Suzanne were very impressed except for the fact that we already knew each other's name.

Black in Gdansk

I have manged to recruit techie David into playing the spot the person spotting the black guy game. My aim is to get a smile out of people but David has decided he somehow wants to take pictures of the people reacting to my presence.

Did you know?

You can get done for Jaywalking over here. You actually have to wait for the green man!!!

Coming soon

In yesterday's post, I mentioned the subtext and someone emailed me asking what exactly I meant by that. Exploring the sub text is a vital part of the actors toolkit. I'll explain about it tomorrow because right now I'm too tired to do aquareobics, so I'm gone to bed. Later.

Making The tempest - Gdansk Day 2

Guns & Reggae

This is proving to be a truly collaborative effort. We got into the theater space today. It's a place called Club Zac which apparently doubles as a nightclub and has a health reggae scene....who'd have thought. I was a bit put out by the security cards from the accurately named SOLID security company and even more out out by the guns at their belts, but I was consoled by the thought that i had grown up watching kung-fu movies and all that absorbed knowledge would proabaly make me really adept at catching bullets, so it was ok.

Radio mics and other stuff

So the tech guys got busy making the place while the actors practised lines, or location work , or whatever. By whatever I mean stuff like this -This is David the sound guy trying to work out where best to hide the radio mic in my locs. There is also the erecting of a sail cloth. Behind which, apparently I will spend the entire performance as Ariel and Prospero will be in front of it facing the audience. There will be a camera trained on me the whole time and the image sent to a huge screen on stage with whichI will interact with the other actors. When I'm not on video, they will send my voice to different parts of the theatre. I think it will be impressive. Still a litttle concerned about how we do the scenes when Ariel talks to my other character Sebastian.

But this is a fascinating process, we have coaboratively edited the script, decided on location, use of film, staging etc., and the the whole crew is brilliant. Good people, who listen and take your opinion on board. This is a good project.

How many dave's is too many

This computer/ audio visual deck is actually part of the set and elucidates the surveillance/power theme running throughtout the show and although I've still got a long way to go on the lines, I really managed to hammer out some of the subtext with the other cast members. Actually this pic is literally every other cast member. Bryony, dave, Scott and Brett (from Left to right). oh yea I should mention there are 3 Dave's working on this show.

Language Watch

Ah yes, language. I have increased my vocab to include the words - Yes, No, Sorry, I don't understand and OK. I think I'm doing pretty good so I can't understand why the lady serving me food today laughed at me...actually at my attempt to disguise it...I have no idea why?

Black in Gdansk

Another interesting thing I meant to mention yesterday was that I am the only black person I have seen. I thought there would be a lot of staring....there was. However in the middle of town it was pretty subtle and non intrusive (apart from the lady who stopped, stared, exclaimed and called her friends to have a look, but she was quite clearly the town crackhead). However as you get more into the suburbs, the looks tend to be a bit more blatant. Well fair enough I suppose, we all stare at that which is different, I haven't been treated badly in any way so alls good.

....and finally

Oh yea, remember the thing about disguising the radio mic in my hair - which do you prefer, in the center or of to the side.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Making The tempest - Gdansk Day 1

So after 3 hours sleep and a comfortable 2 hour flight. I have arrived in Gdansk, whereupon we were greeted by two lovely Polish girls called Suzanne and Magda, who were looking after us. Now thats what I'm talking about, thats how you greet vistors to your country. Send the babes out to meet them.

Anyway we got ourselves ensconsed in a seriously lovely hotel, and really why do people have to cuss just cos i got the double bed. Life is unfair people - we just gotta deal with it.

So settled in and then we went into Gdansk proper to have a look around. incredible - a beautiful city with an obviously rich history, judging by the architecture.

We had dinner in this restaurant where the girls wore very shrt skirts - not that I noticed that! Because we were sat opposite the weirdest tableau of stuffed wild boars. I kid you not. Check out the pic on the left if you don't believe me...and this doesn't even show the carnage that was on the wll above it.

We had a bit of an adventure on the way back with the trams as we got a little confused and were eventually helped out by a family with which we shared not one bit of the same language with. Actually thats a lie - i have decided to learn 2 new words a day and use them each day. Todays words are Hello and Goodbye and people seem to understand me. I've also been assured I know the words for shit and whore, but I think a conversation that includes the words "Hello shit whore, goodbye," is probably not the way to go.

Finished the day with a Mexican??!! and 3 hours script work with the cast. Tomorrow the works starts in earnest. We got 5 days to sort everything out and the outcome is far from assurred.

making the tempest -pt 1

For those of you that don't know I am in a mutli-media production of Shakespeares The Tempest for the Gdansk Shakespeare festival in Poland. its a higly exmperimental production and indeed has 5 actors (playing 12 parts) and 10 technical crew.

I got the script a week ago, we've had 2 reherasals and we know this isn't the final cut of the script and we have a wek to go. How's it gonna work out. I don't know. Watch this space!