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Oblique Strategies for Drama

I am a big fan of the musician Brian Eno. From his work with Roxy Music through to his records with U2 and Coldplay via Bowie, Byrne and inventing ambient music I think he has an interesting outlook on the creative process and has made a career out of reinventing his own sound, and the sound of others. As a theatre director who has a massive interest in record production I was drawn to Eno's Oblique Strategies . A series of prompts written on cards that he would pull out at random to instigate a creative impulse in the musicians he was working with. You can check out some of the strategies on this website .  Sometimes when you are rehearsing a play you can feel that, as a director, you are making the same safe choices again and again. Actors have this feeling too. They have made choices in rehearsal and are scared to deviate from 'what works'. This pushes a whole world of unexplored possibilities to the side.  I was working on some show or other a few years ago and when it

Making an Online Panto in 2020

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When I was training we were encouraged to reflect on our work and blog about it during after the process, this was something I continued to do for a number of years (on this very blog) but slowly petered out as children and workload took over. However, having just wrapped up a a live online, interactive pantomime - an experience that I feel will be unique in my career - I decided that it was a process worth writing about. There may be others out there who will be looking to do something similar and I hope this blog may prove to be useful to them. Lost In Pantoland was produced by PACE (a youth theatre in Paisley that put on a traditional panto with professional actors every year) with support from Paisley Arts Centre, Renfrewshire Council and Creative Scotland. I was writer and director. The Concept The idea that PACE originally came to me with was a panto that would be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube and also - crucially - Zoom. The actors would be able to see the audience and i

Thomas and Mabel - My first foray into animation.

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Since being in lockdown and, alongside all my colleagues, lost all my theatre work, I've turned my attention to trying out animation. This little video is the first fruit of my labour - it was all about the learning experience for me, so so so much further to go, but I hope you enjoy this elderly couple talking about biscuits. Part two, based on the body-coach Joe Wicks, is here:

The Trouble With Being Gordon

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Richard - The Disappointing Apple.

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Hello, below is my web-comic 'Richard the Disappointing Apple' - I hope for it to be part of a series of modern fairy-tales. Enjoy!

Writing Musical Theatre

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I've been thinking a lot recently about the difference between being a songwriter and being a musical theatre composer. There was a time when I thought the two things were the same, but the more I look at how my process has changed as I've shifted from one to the other, I can see that it is a different way of looking at music. It's been on my mind recently as it seems to be in vogue for big-budget new musicals in Scotland to bring in song-writers who have never written musicals before, and I think that at times it can be clear why certain songs may work on albums but don't work on stage - and vice versa. This got me thinking back to my own journey. I have always written musicals, and I have always written songs for rock bands, and until fairly recently the two things were the same for me. It wasn't until I started working with professional directors and dramaturgs that the differences between the two became clear. Towards the Moon A singer-songwriter s

Working Freelance in the Arts - A Week In The Life

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I was chatting to a friend who doesn't work in the arts today (that's a more unusual occurrence than it should be...) they asked me what I was up to and, having explained my week to them, they looked at me with horror. "That sounds like a nightmare." For me, however, it was a great week that was varied, interesting and rewarding. "I like to go to the same place every day, know I'm starting at 9 and finishing at 5." They continued. That didn't sound like fun to me... Working multiple jobs at the same time can be a bit of a mental challenge I thought it may be of interest to those who are perhaps thinking of going freelance to see what an average week looks like for somebody like myself, a self-employed theatre practitioner. I don't really like that term to be honest, but it's the best way to describe the various bits and pieces I do. Here's my diary for the last week: Monday - Auditions 9.00-18.00 on Monday was taken up