Showing posts from 2011

Developing Musical

This week has been one of the most challenging, and exciting, that I think I've ever faced. We are just about to head into the final day of development of my new musical 'Towards the Moon' with a showing of it tonight.

The four days have consisted of me working with 6 fantastic MA musical theatre students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and an equally fantastic musical director on developing the piece alongside the director Michael Howell and my director-friend Emily.

We started with a readthrough of the whole script with me singing the songs on piano. It's about 90 mins long. We then had some great, insightful discussions on the piece and it was fairly mind-blowing to hear the different interpretations, and therefore possibilities, of the piece.

I had previously cut the show for this week as I knew the final performance was to be no more than 40 mins - however after the readthrough it became clear that a lot of work had to be done to make the piece really cle…

Graduation, Tuts and the Citz

Well... this week has been mental.  Totally mental.  I was lucky enough to receive a call from the director Guy Hollands asking if I could be assistant-director for the Citizens Theatre's upcoming production of 'Hansel and Gretel'.  This was totally unexpected but of course I jumped at the opportunity.  The rehearsal schedule is intense, with most days between 11 and 12 hours long. It's a big learning curve for me, vein thrown into this big-budget, large-scale show, but I've loved every minute.  You can check out the trailer here:

On top of that I also had a gig to play at King Tuts this week with Paul McGranaghan and his band.  This went very well, it was odd being sat at the back just playing keys and singing the odd backing vocal, but was really good fun to have the pressure off and just enjoy making some cool tunes.

I ALSO had graduation this week which was a lovely event with a good chunk of our course in attendance.  It was good to see everybody, some had mad…

Recording and Directing

How is this....
similar to this....

So I have been pretty busy these last few weeks recording ex-bandmate Paul McGranaghan's latest album - currently entitled 'Carry The Torch'.  It's the first time in over a year that I have been back in my studio working and recording with other musicians and, after so much time spent directing and working on plays, it struck me how similar to the two disciplines - music production and theatre directing - are.
Both are about getting people comfortable and ready to be creative.  In recording this is about making sure things such as a headphone mix is as good as it can be, that the musicians can see one another and that there are as few boundaries (such as playing at a certain volume) in the way of working as possible.  Unfortunately in my studio there are a number of limitations in place but we do our best to get everyone as comfortable as possible.  I believe the same kinds of thing are important in directing theatre - especially if …

And in the end....

"... the love you take - is equal to the love you make."
The single greatest ending to an album ever methinks, and the only way the greatest band ever could go out ('Her Majesty' doesn't count).

That's me at the end of a long, amazing road, only two more shows to go and my time as a student at the RSAMD (now the Royal Conservatoire) is over.  It has undoubtably been the best year of my life and I am sure that the friends, and arch-enemies (only joking), that I have met this year shall remain for many years to come.

So what to do now that it's all over?  Weeeellllll, I have been very fortunate in that the Conservatoire have asked me back to teach their second year students about theatre in education and have also offered me a bit of directing work on their production of Twelfth Night - which is nice.

I also have a meeting with the National Theatre of Scotland in a few days, they have said that they will be taking me on as a freelancer on one of their upc…

Show time is almost here...

Tonight was dress rehearsal for 'Mother Maria' and it went very well indeed.  Despite a few initial reservations about the space, things went extremely well and I'm really excited to get the ball up and rolling tomorrow.

It has been a really fun and challenging time working on this show.  We started the process aaaaaages ago, last November I think and I am very happy with the results.  The cast have given me their all and I'm sure the performances will excite and intrigue the audience.

We open in the Tron tomorrow night, the opening of a show is always a nerve-wracking event but they are good nerves, ones of excitement and not trepidation!

Album from last year

Death of A No-One - One Man Town by A R McGregor

This is an album I recorded with One Man Town last year. It was a rush getting it done before I left to go to Uni and therefore it is not exactly the fully finished product.  There are a few songs that I'm sure we would have worked on more, and one or two we would have dropped, had we worked on the project longer but I moved away and was too busy to go back to it.  Now, a year later, the others have gone off and started a new band so I decided to just draw a line and let people hear the album if they want, I may take songs from it and use melodies for other things, and I do think it's a good album, just there's a couple of tracks too many perhaps.

The idea was to create a concept album about a mediocre guy's life.  I have no idea why, just kind of came out that way.  Most of the songs merge into one another and there are repetitions of themes etc - mainly to do with the sun.  I wrote all of the songs apart from 'Anot…

Saint of the Open Door

Here's a piece of orchestral music I wrote last night, for a movement sequence in Mother Maria.

Saint of the Open Door by A R McGregor

New Video for Mother Maria

I spent a lovely summer's day sitting in my wee computer room making this video about 'Mother Maria'.

I've also updated my website at a little.

Mother Maria

I've been busy working on a new blog page for Mother Maria - the new play I am currently directing by Ann Marie Di Mambro.  You can find it here.  Working with a very basic design of three boxes that can be moved around to create different spaces, seems to all be looking good so far.  We have another 5 weeks or so to rehearse it, so plenty of time to get things right!

New song called 22

22 by A R McGregor Just finished writing and recording this wee number.

First review...

Received the first ever professional review of something I've been involved with today. And it was five stars! Can't go wrong there.

It was great to see it in the concert hall with all the musicians, the actors were fantastic and all in all it was a top experience and something that I won't ever be likely to be involved with again.

From Lucas Petite to Stravinsky

We had two very successful performances of 'The Rise and Fall of Lucas Petite' at the Arches last week.  It seems like the kind of show that may have some legs and I'm looking at the options about taking it to the Edinburgh festival next year.  Need to start planning now.

This week has been all about Stravinsky's 'Renard' that I am assistant-directing with Mark Saunders.  I am working with four second-year actors. There are lots of pics of the rehearsals here.  It's all about a folk-tale involving a fox, cock, goat and hen.  The actors act out the action in front of four male singers and a reduced orchestra.  It's all very silly with lots of rolling around and Chaplin-esque slapstick, with this very complicated, strange music underscoring the whole thing.  It's been great fun, I'm then off for a week before we get stuck into the new writing, we have loads and loads of time to get that together so I'm really looking forward to getting started.…

On The Verge

So today is the opening of 'The Rise and Fall of Lucas Petite' it's been great fun creating this little piece of theatre and I can't wait to put it in front of an audience tonight.  I'm doing both the sound and lighting which is a little risky but, at the same time, it's such a fast moving show that it really needs someone who knows the play to do it justice.  You can read all about the show and it's gestation on my Lucas Petite blog here.

Lucas Petite

It's been a busy couple of days working on a 5 minute version of my play 'The Rise and Fall of Lucas Petite' for the National Theatre of Scotland's 5 minute theatre project.  We had a some fun and made a little mockumentary while we were at it:

The actual 5 minute piece went very well, check it out:

We start rehearsing the full play next week and it's performed on the 20th and 23rd of June at the Arches.  Here's more about the festival that's taking place.  Looking forward to it, very different to anything I've done before.

I had readthrough of Mother Maria with Ann Marie Di Mambro this week as well.  It's all coming together very nicely and it will be extremely exciting to work on it.

On to new stuff

Last Friday and Saturday I set myself a fairly daunting challenge, to take our production of Much Ado out to a school and a youth theatre, deliver workshops and then do a revised, interactive one hour production of the play.  The RSAMD gave me a week with the actors to develop these ideas and we had a great time working out the best way of delivering the workshops.  All in the all they were a huge success and I hope that I will be have the opportunity to work with a number of the actors again at some point.

I have spent the last week sitting in rehearsals with the director Guy Hollands, who has kindly agreed to be my mentor, unfortunately I couldn't make too many of the rehearsals as the roof in my flat in Largs was blown off and that has been the topic of the week really.

Tomorrow I head off to the RSAMD to assist Ali De Souza in an acting masterclass, I'm really looking forward to it, I think it will be great fun.  Next week I start work on Lucas Petite, a short comedy I h…

Busy busy busy

Hooooly smoke that was a fast moving busy week!

We spent most of the week teching Much Ado About nothing.  You can read all about it on the blog that I'm running for the show.  I also took some lovely photos of the event, my favorite of which is this one here, featuring Bobby as the character Hero:

There has been so much going on with the show that it seems impossible to sum it all up. I have spent a great deal of time working on sound design as well as doing my main job as assistant director.  It has been great fun and the actors are a really good bunch to work with - I'm sure the show will go well.

We are taking the show out to school the following week so I have spent the weekend preparing for that, it's going to be tricky cutting a 3 hour play down to one hour, but there's nothing like a challenge!

On top of this I have created a website for my course, this is an easy way to help agents get in touch with the actors and directors.  You can have a look at www.rsamd-c…

End of the week

Another great week of rehearsals with the A2's doing Much Ado About Nothing. Plenty of great pics here that I took today during our final rehearsal before the easter weekend. Really looking forward to getting stuck into the next week of rehearsal, then we're in the theatre tech-ing before the performances begin the following week.

Gearing up to go

I have spent the last couple of weeks on placement with Guy Hollands from the Citizens theatre.  He has been working on a collection of American one act plays that are to be performed at the Tron in June.  It was interesting to see him work and to get to know the plays, I spent most of the time observing but I had a chance to get involved when it was discovered that one of the plays, Boom Box, required a song to be written to the lyrics that were present in the play already.  It was meant to be a cheesy 80's ballad, so I came up with this!  I grew a mullet and everything...

The National Theatre of Scotland have accepted my 3 proposals for their 5 Minute Theatre Project - we are doing one with LYT, one with GYT and one with a group I'm working with at the RSAMD, so that's in the pipeline for the next few months.  I've also finished writing a short comedy which we are performing at the Arches in June, it's called 'The Rise and Fall of Lucas Petite' and is a l…

Much Ado About Lots

The last few weeks have been filled with rehearsing with second year actors for their performance of Much Ado About Nothing. This has been my first experience of being an assistant director and I admit to being wary of what that could mean, but so far it has been really worthwhile. I've learned loads from watching the director (acting teacher Ali De Souza) work and have been allowed to chip in with ideas and at times lead the rehearsals, it's been a great mix of observing and doing.  The rehearsals are flying along, we finished a run through of the whole thing on Wednesday, and even though there is a lot of stuff to tidy up I don't think anyone can argue with how well things have developed so far.

The play is set in a 1950's club which has allowed me  to compose suitable tunes to match the era, which is good as I'm doing virtually zero music just now. I'm really looking forward to seeing how everyone looks when dressed up, the style of the 50s is pretty special.

The End of the Globe

Well that's us finished our time at the Globe and it has been, I think it would be fair to say, a life changing experience. The knowledge that I have gained, not particularly in Shakespeare but more in directing in general, had been massive and will be applicable on everything that I go on to do - from Uni work through to youth theatre through to, hopefully, working with pro-actors.

It was very helpful that Shakespeare was not held up as some impenetrable force that could never be tackled, but was looked on as just another playwright. The methodology works for him just the same as it would work for any other playwright.

The most important thing that has come out of this for me is the idea of atmosphere. It can make a huge difference to what is going on in the scene and can really influence the actors and makes everything ultra-clear for the audience. It's such a simple concept that it's hard to believe I hadn't really thought of it before. It does require a great deal …

In the thick of rehearsals

We have under a week until our show next Thursday. Rehearsals have been running for a few days, it is an interesting (and challenging) way of doing things.

The directors arrive with prepared scripts highlighting where the events in the script are. An event is something that happens that affects all characters on stage.

We read the script from event x to event y. The actors then are assigned a task for this event ie "To force information from the King." They then think of a gesture that will carry them through this task, although the quality (moulding, flowing, flying, radiating) can change.

The actors then move on to the stage and improvise the scene, using words that they remember from the script and made up words. The overall atmosphere has to move as well. It is then our job as directors to add in smaller tactics, to remind the actors about place and also time.

Before we began this exercise we spent a lot of time on space. We explored the stage and looked at photos and d…

End of Week 2

This is our day off and I shall take a break from the homework given to try and account what some, if not all, of the week consisted of.

The week started, and continued, with the gathering of images and music that we thought could be related to Hamlet. It was interesting to see the other director's images and how each director had very different material, which was consistent to them and the play. It showed how challenging Hamlet is going to be, there are a million and one ways to deal with it. My images are here. Some of the music I chose was Britten's 'Dawn' from Peter Grimes,also Britten's 'Rejoice in the Lamb', a glass-like Brian Eno tune and 'Kid A' by Radiohead which really brings up images of Ophelia in my head.

We used improvisation this week to get some information, images and ideas. The improvisations were to be based on the larger themes of the play (altered states of consciousness, death, revenge etc etc) and were to be taken from an a…

Start of week 2

This week started with Glynn's movement classes. She dissected peoples walks in seconds and, in the majority of cases, had people walking far more 'cleanly' than before. It was great to see how tiny tweaks can make such a difference.

We then had text analysis. An interesting look at prose in Shakespeare. This is when, it was suggested, the characters have something to hide. They are playing with words and attempting to confuse, misguide one another. This makes sense and will be very useful to take into Much Ado rehearsals.

Went to see 12th Night (Dame Judie Dench in the audience!) and it was a fantastic performance by Simon Callow, unfortunately he was dragging the rest of the cast kicking and screaming behind him! They were awful. It was all in the head and nothing in the body. Part of me wonders how someone like Peter Hall could direct it and make such fundamental mistakes, I guess he's just too old....

Today was again about exploring the directions and gesture. T…

The Globe - Week one

That's the first week of the Globe over and done. Exhausting but very rewarding. We have been working with director Tom Cornford how to use the Michael Chekhov technique. There has been so much going on that I will try and put down what we have learned as it will serve as a good reminder when I get back:

There are four main qualities of movement:

1. Moulding - like you are making your way through clay (I think the term sculpting may work better)

2. Flowing - like air

3. Flying - like fire. As though a bee is annoying you and you're walking on coals.

4. Radiating - like a blinding light is pouring out of your body.

These elements can be combined with a movement in a direction:

Forward: I give

Back: I receive

Up: I stand my ground

Down: I yield

And expand out and contract in.

The actor then takes these gestures and using their body act out the line using the appropriate gesture. The trick is then to transfer this gesture into something called the life body.

This appears to be a diffic…