Showing posts from 2012

The End of the Arts Guild

Last night saw the final time that the Greenock Arts Guild will be open to the public.  It's not all bad news though as all the creativity and community spirit from the building will soon be moving to the amazing new Beacon Arts Centre. 
I first attended drama classes at the Arts Guild when I was about 13 and now, 20 years on, I am running the youth theatre alongside Marianne and Megan Yeomans.  I thought this would be a good wee time to have a look back at some of the productions that I've been involved in over the years, if anything it's a good excuse to put some embarrassing photos up on the web - thanks to Jonathan White for providing some great images and also for reminding me of the various projects we've done over the years!
I think the first show I was in at the Arts Guild was the Changeling Challenge as part of Carole M. Fry's studio theatre.  It was an original show written by Carole's friend Geraldine and... that's all I can remember - poor I kn…

Making a Music Video

So last week I got the urge to create a music video.  It's been ages since I've made one but this seemed like a perfect time as my ex-bandmate Paul McGranaghan had just digitally released 'Carry the Torch' an excellent album based on the life and writings of Hunter S Thompson.  I had spent over a year recording and producing this and I think it's brilliant.  Great song-writing, great playing from a fantastic band that Paul assembled and I reckon it's the best 'sounding' record I've made, there's certainly more attention to detail in there than anything I've done in the past. Here's one of my favourite songs (about Hunter watching the Chicago riots):

So, onto music videos.  Creatively the music video is an odd one.  It can all hinge on one idea and one idea alone.  Think of Coldplay doing The Scientist: the one real concept is that it moves backwards, but Chris Martin is singing forwards. Within that basic concept there is something like …

Roses are totally dead

This week saw the debut show for my theatre company, Sleeping Warrior, at the Arches as part of the Arches Live festival.  The show, 'Roses are Dead' told the tale of a failed relationship.  It was a quirky little half hour show that I wrote based on devised work in the rehearsal room.  My friend Deborah Hannan directed with Lucy Hollis and my good self performing.

The room was small and provided an intimate performance space, we only had about 35 tickets available for each show.  I was happy with how it all went, Arches Live gives theatre makers the chance to do something a little bit different and try out new ideas.  That's exactly what we did and, for every unsuccessful idea, there were hopefully two or three more successful ones. You can see a whole bunch of photos from the rehearsal room through to the final show here.

Making Theatre With Young People

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."Pablo Picasso

I'm currently getting ready to go back to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to take a course on Shakespeare for schools.  This is the third year that I've done this but, with the recent changes in their curriculum, it has been extended from a week and a half course to three weeks (for two groups, so 6 weeks in all).  Creating the course has led me to really think about youth theatre and making theatre with young people.  I've been doing it for over ten years, I've devised, written and directed scores of plays with young people and I'm constantly trying to find out what works best.  It's a never-ending journey but one that I find consistently exciting.  I've been very lucky that I've received various other opportunities to work in theatre, but I still find myself drawn to working with young people.  

Here are a few concepts that I firmly believe …

Fringe - Week 3

Well this hasn't been my first Fringe but it's certainly been the one I've felt an actual part of.  Met some great people yesterday at the Playwrights' Studio Scotland party and then even more folk at the FST do after that... was great to chat and learn about how the whole theatre thing works.

I was very surprised, and delighted, to hear that Towards the Moon has been nominated for 3 MTM Awards, best book, best music and best new musical.  It's a great honour to be nominated alongside such fantastic writers.  You can see the nominations here.

The reviews have been coming in fairly thick and fast and it's been a great response (on the whole!).  You can see a collection of the reviews and what have you here.

Towards the Moon, bit by bit.

So last week saw the opening of my musical in development 'Towards the Moon' at the Edinburgh Fringe.  It's been a really exciting time and it was great to see something that I've written being brought to the stage by professional-standard actors and with top direction.  It's taken me about 15 years to get from writing stuff and putting it under my bed to actually believing that it is good enough to be presented to the public!  This is stage one of a longer process, I am talking to various people about how to take it further and it has been a fascinating experience.  There have been a few irritations along the way, as expected, but these are all to do with the logistics of performing at the world's largest arts festival.

The Edinburgh Fringe presents a few distinct challenges, there is almost no room to store set and you get no more than an hour.  This has been the source of the most frustration for me because I know what's missing from the story - pretty m…

Various plays and bits and pieces

The last few weeks have seen me being involved with a number of really exciting, varied, projects. I'm very lucky to have such an exciting, diverse, job. Nothing beats doing what you love as a living!

I have been running some adult classes, through the Largs youth theatre, in my home town. I decided to focus on acting techniques - basically an introduction to Stanislavsky - and then another 4 week course that was an introduction to Shakespeare. I worked with my friend, actress Lucy Hollis, with a great group of adults looking to further their acting experience - from 25 year olds right up to 75 year olds! It was extremely inspiring seeing people from all walks of life engaging with Shakespeare in a way that, I think, surprised even them.

As this was going on I was also heavily involved in the first rehearsals for my musical 'Towards the Moon' which is being performed at this years fringe by a fantastic international cast of masters students from the Royal Conservatoire of …

Obama and Gay Marriage

Normally I use this blog to write about various goings on in my career but last night's announcement from President Obama endorsing gay marriage - and the reaction to it - really got me thinking about various aspects of our society, especially what it means to be Christian.  

First point to make is that the very concept of gay marriage seems wrong to me, there's just marriage and it should be available to anyone so long as both parties are agreed to it, but I am interested in looking at how some Christians seem to hold a similar view in a way that, to me, seems incompatible with their core beliefs.

On the comments under the article on the BBC website there have been various points of view from 'Christians' saying, basically, that they are Christians and they think that Gay marriage is a good thing.  I can't get my head around this! The Bible clearly states:

"'You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination." (Leviticus 18:22)

Ok, it th…

Love 2.0

So I have spent the last 3 weeks working on a new wee comedy called 'Love 2.0' with Sam and Molly at the RCS.  This was a great wee chance to start from nothing and work with some actors in creating a brand new play.

The idea behind the play was that social networking, Facebook in particular, has very little to do with being social.  In fact it could possibly have the opposite effect. One of the characters, Gary, creates a completely false impression of himself online that then attracts the attention of Suzie.  Everything looks like it's going to be a perfect match until they finally meet, and then have no idea how to actually talk to one another.  We had a great wee audience who laughed throughout and I'm now looking at ways of bringing this and my other comedy, Lucas Petite, to the stage.  There seems to be a huge gap in theatre for 20 somethings/late teens.  Maybe the audience isn't there so no-one writes for them, or maybe the audience isn't there because …

2012 so far...

I've not had a chance to update my blog in quite a while, things have been extremely hectic but I am now on a short hiatus and am going to use this opportunity to write about the various projects I've been involved in.

Going back a few months now I was very lucky to be asked to assistant-direct for 'Hansel and Gretel' at the Citizens Theatre.  This was a great opportunity to see a big show being produced and for me to get to grips with creating a show in a relatively short space of time for a large-scale theatre.  The reviews were pretty good, you can check Mark Brown's out here.

I then started to develop a new idea for a show with my ex-bandmate Paul McGranaghan.  This was based on an album of his that I am currently recording that focuses on the life and times of the author Hunter S Thompson.  Paul had also enlisted his friend Andrew Kennedy to come up with artwork, and these amazing picture became part of the show as well.

I was lucky to be given free rehearsal …