Thursday 31 July 2008

Forest Fringe

Well, we're not going to Edinburgh this year, either as performers or audience.  I'm glad we're not going with a show, because fitting all of the pre-Edinburgh planning in to the last 6 hectic months might just have broken us...  And we don't have a few grand to lose.  But now the warm up has started, part of me, of course, is feeling the pull of Edinburgh in Festival time and wishing we were going.  Catching up with it via the internet and newspapers will just not be the same.  Next year, maybe.  

And why aren't we going just as audience members?  Well, we've got a lot of work to do - a busy autumn ahead of us with 4 different shows out on the road, and some R&D to do on a new piece, and a couple of conference papers to prepare/write... of all of which more later.  And, it's pretty expensive to spend a few days at the Fringe seeing work.

All of which means that if we were going to Edinburgh, we would be checking out Forest Fringe, who are hosting a variety of experimental work, works in progress and rehearsed readings as Pay What You Can or free events.  To be honest, if we were in Edinburgh, I'd try to see as much as I could there, but I'd be making a particular effort to see our Presumption collaborators Lucy Ellinson (lying In State), and Chris Thorpe (reading a new piece along with Jon Spooner).  Chris and Jon are part of Unlimited Theatre who are also presenting a reading of The Moon The Moon;  Action Hero are kicking off the season showing an early version of their new piece Watch Me Fall and I'd be checking out Proto Type Theater's About Silence and Andy Field's piece, This is the Sea, partly because it sounds interesting and partly because I do like a nice picture of an empty bench.  Really I do

I'd also be heading over to see Sharmaka Kinetic Theatre at Theatre Workshop (which has a maximum ticket price of £5).

But we're not going to Edinburgh this year, so I'll just be catching up with it through newspapers and the internet.

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Back to School

We’ve just agreed to revive Class of ’76 this August. Very quickly another couple of possible gigs fell in to place for early 2009.  So, here I am, 8 years after the original process of tracking down my old classmates, still talking about it.  Still telling the story.

Of course, it is very flattering to be asked to present the work after all this time, but we have said several times that *this* is the last time we perform this piece. So, why…?  Well, I realise that it still speaks to me.  And it seems to be in demand. The subject matter seems to endure.  And it will be updated - a ‘revised edition’ - when we present it at the end of August. 

Also, there seems to be a lot of it about at the  moment.  Unsurprisingly, when it was first touring Class of ’76 did get compared to Dave Gorman’s work.  There seemed to be a developing area of ‘is it live art or is it stand up comedy’ work. 

So, it was only matter of time before someone (thanks Noel) pointed out Friends Like These to me.  Danny Wallace, who co-devised/wrote Are You Dave Gorman? has been looking for his old school friends.  Interestingly, from our point of view at least, because he moved around a lot as a kid, he’s not using one class photo, but instead an old address book – and in Class of ’76 we compare the urge to track down down the kids in the class photo with the urge to phone people found in an old address book.

I liked Danny Wallace’s Join Me project very much, so I’m intrigued to know how Friends Like These turns out [I’m 50 pages in at the moment].

I’ve just started working with Mole Wetherell from Reckless Sleepers on a possible response to Class of ’76.  We’ve been talking about how this idea of getting back in touch with school mates won’t be relevant to kids at school today – or indeed people who have left school in the last 5 years or so - because through Facebook, Twitter, personal mobile phone numbers (as opposed to numbers for parents’ houses) they’ll just stay in touch.  Digital Natives.

When we started making Class of ’76, when I was finally getting to play detective, Friends Reunited didn’t exist.  School Disco hadn’t become the "clubbing phenomenon of the new Millennium" yet.  Logging on to Friends Reunited now [and finally even putting up a profile], I see that it would have been only limited help in finding my 1976 classmates now. But it would have got me started, and it would have made it easier, as the idea is so much more familiar.

Oh, and a few years ago there was a TV drama with Robert Carlyle called Class of ’76.  That was about tracking down your old school mates, but by a serial killer, so there was only limited similarity.

Working with Mole on ideas for this project, we’ve been to visit his junior and secondary schools.  Walking round both of them I was aware of the difference in experience for the two of us.  For Mole these were the sites of specific personal memories; for me they were more neutral, generic.  But they still sparked memories for me.  Walking round someone else’s junior/infant school felt very familiar to me; I felt, yes, I’ve done this project, I’ve scratched this itch.  I have my project through which I can talk about this. What surprised me was how different walking round a deserted secondary school felt; I had a real urge to go back to my secondary school, to walk through empty corridors and classrooms.  This felt like a different project, a different itch.

We talked about the difference between those school experiences. How, although you change, you go into infant school a child, and come out of juniors still a child.  Memories of this time are mainly of moments, repeated patterns perhaps.  You go to secondary school a child, but come out, not an adult, but certainly a step closer to who you are now. A different person.  Memories of this time are more of events and narratives. Changing relationships. Friendships.  Infatuations.  Love affairs, even.

As Mole told me these stories from his school days, I was aware that although we were in the school they took place in, I was picturing them happening in my school.  Spending 7 years at the same school, at the time in your life when you are physiologically programmed to be absorbing information and learning, really etches that place onto your memory.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Postcards from the Road - Barcelona

The view from upstage.

Presumption has just got back from the Fast Forward weekend at Barcelona Festival Grec.  The biggest space we've played, and our biggest audiences, for this show.  An amazing, but slightly alarming, outdoor courtyard space. However, despite our reservations about sightlines, sound levels and traffic noise, it worked brilliantly, thanks in no small part to some very hard work and late nights (lights had to be focused and plotted when it was dark, of course, so the get in finished at 5.30am) by the touring team of Lucy, Chris and Martin, and the Festival crew.  

The view from 4am.

It was a great mix of companies and work to be part of, and audience and venue feedback was great, so thanks to everyone who came to see the work and who chatted to us or emailed afterwards.


Sunday 6 July 2008


leafpattern 1
Originally uploaded by third angel
I've just posted some new photos on our Flickr page... the enduring obsession with looking straight up [or asking performers to look straight up], this time standing under trees rather than on top of tall structures, has produced these leafpattern photos.