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.

'Lono' by Andrew Kennedy

I was lucky to be given free rehearsal space at The Arches to work on the idea and also managed to enlist some fantastic actors and directors to get the thing up and running, we did a showing to some industry 'insiders' - the first time I think any of us had done such a thing.  The feedback was very strong with a few interesting opportunities coming out of it, so I hope that the piece will be put on somewhere, at some point in the future.

Paul McGranaghan and Lucy Hollis - rehearsing 'End of the Dream'
The beginning of the year saw me delve head-long into the world of Shakespeare at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  I was associate director for their production of 'Twelfth Night' as well as heading up the theatre in education course where I was tasked with bringing both 'Twelfth Night' and 'Romeo and Juliet' out to schools.

The show went extremely well and it was really good fun to work on the play.  I wasn't really a fan of it when I first read it (and watched the Trevor Nunn film) but came to really enjoy it's ridiculous characters and situations as we delved further into the process.  The costume, make-up and design were really top-notch, as you can see from this great photo:

Twelfth Night - RCS - Photo, Ken Dundas
The school's productions also went well, we went to two schools I've never visited before, Hillhead and Bannerman High as well as St Columba's in Kilmacolm. Each school was entirely different from the other and really gave the students from the RCS a real challenge in how to change their approach to suit the pupils.  In the end I was really impressed with how well they did and a great (exhausting) day was had by all!

Ali (Sir Toby) takes some pupils through a workshop exercise

This week sees the last week of Greenock Youth Theatre as we prepare to become the Beacon Youth Theatre.  This is a really exciting development for the group that I founded with Marianne about 5 years ago.  Having the newly built Beacon theatre and, more importantly, their great team on board can only be good news for the children that come along every Saturday morning.  We were delighted to hear that no less than Andrew Lloyd Webber gifted £100,000 to the youth theatre - this will go into providing top-notch technical facilities for the group, you can read more about it here.

Our final performance as GYT is happening tomorrow night (I'm just getting ready to head out to dress rehearsals).  This is a fairly dark new play called '100 Days' - about a group of teenagers who survive an apocalyptic event! The small Wallace Bennett theatre has sold out for the show, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how it goes down, you can never tell with a new piece exactly what the reaction will be.  And that's where a lot of the fun lies.

The Seniors from GYT perform '100 Days'
In a fortnights time I will also be presenting another new play, this time in Largs with the LYT.  This is called 'Jason and the Argonauts' and is a modern retelling of the classic Greek story.  This is probably the biggest challenge I've faced in ten years of putting on shows. It's a pretty big undertaking with around 40 young people on stage at all times and involves singing, dancing and every senior pupil has something to say to further the story.  Hopefully it will all pull together in time, I can but hope!

I shall then be taking the same play to the Lyceum in Edinburgh and putting it on as part of their Summer on Stage programme.  This sounds very exciting as the whole theatre is given over to the young people so we will have access to their technical teams, designers, set-builders etc.  The aim is to put on a professional show, but using young people.  I'm really excited to have been given the opportunity as the Lyceum is an amazing theatre and can't wait to start work on it.

Rehearsing 'Jason and the Argonauts' in Largs


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