Making Battery Park

Opening night for my latest play, Battery Park, has come and gone. I'm sitting here, exhausted but exhilarated after a fantastic rehearsal process that led to us making what I think is a great show.  I started this blog as a student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where I studied directing, as a place to reflect on my practice, and over a decade later I haven't kicked the habit. So here's a reflection on my process as a director - but also as the artistic director of Sleeping Warrior Theatre Company.  It will be of niche interest to some I hope, and will be a resource for myself looking back. Battery Park is about a group of young people from Greenock who form a band and attempt to become bigger than Oasis in 1990's Britain. We know right from the off that they didn't succeed and we watch the main protagonist now - a 47 year old man - as he grapples with the choices made by younger him and how they still affect his life.  Around a year and a half ago I appli

Music As A Time Machine

I’m preparing for my next show, called Battery Park which is a fictional story of a Britpop band from Greenock that almost made it. It looks at the bruised and bitter mid-40’s main character and flashes back to his youth in the 90’s, when his band almost became the next Oasis… almost. In my latest draft I wrote the line, ‘music is the closest thing we have to a time machine’ that then got me thinking. I thought back to my own days in a band, Blind Pew (why we were called that, I can't recall, I know it's a character from Treasure Island but... well... that's all I know!) some of which makes it into the play. I thought about doing something exciting and fun with your pals but also the boredom, the arguments and the crushing disappointment that comes with the territory.   This was before smartphones so we don’t have many photos outwith the official ones from gigs, but when I put on our old albums, it was incredible how quickly images and people came rushing back into my h

2022 - A Year of Making and Learning

 2022 is coming to a close and it has been an extremely busy one for me. I worked on a number of shows all with their unique challenges and artistic rewards. The year started with The Dream at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. This was an ambitious project where we mashed together A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet into what was a cohesive whole. This was still when the grip of covid hadn't quite left us so it was performed to an audience of about 20 and we also made a fairly cinematic film of it as well, which was an interesting process that I learned a lot from. It was a technically challenging show and it was a pleasure to work with all the students as we pushed ourselves to make the best show possible.  The Dream - Royal Conservatoire of Scotland I then headed into two back-to-back development sessions, with thanks to Creative Scotland, The Beacon, NTS and The Tron in supporting this. First up was To Save the Seas, a musical I'm writing with the brill wri

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

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.

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