Showing posts from 2013

A wee bit of Greenock in New York

It's been a busy few weeks. I've mainly been working at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, taking the 2nd year BA Acting students through a course that culminates with them leading workshops and performing scenes from Macbeth with schools. This is a great job for me as it allows me to combine two things that I really love, working with actors on Shakespeare and working with young people. We will be heading out to schools at the end of this coming week and I'm really looking forward to it.

The other main focus of the week is my musical 'Towards the Moon' that will be premiered in it's entirety in an off-Broadway production at the end of the month.  This is really exciting, I've been exchanging emails with the director, Paul Andrew Perez, and it sounds like it's shaping up to be a great show, I can't wait to see/hear some of their work.  I'm still working on getting it performed in Scotland and have been having some really interesting chats ab…

Great Moments in Music Production

I'm starting to get some ideas together for a new album, music production is my first love and I remain extremely interested in all the latest technology and am always listening to new music to try and excite my ever-ageing earbuds with some new ideas. To me there's nothing quite like a well-made record, I don't particularly like live music, the joy of listening on good headphones to a record with great songs and amazing production is second to none...

I used to teach sound recording at a school (it's now part of the Higher music syllabus) and I loved taking new students through a very quick history of sound recording and opening their ears to what was really happening in songs.  Those little details that the musician and producer will have slaved over, but the casual listener may not hear.  I kind of miss those classes, it was a great job to have!  It should be noted that 'produced' records are not always the best way forward.  Take 'Hurt' by Nine Inc…

In TIme O' Strife and Notes from the Underground

I'm just back from holiday in Poland (which was great) and things are getting really busy.  I started work as assistant director on the National Theatre of Scotland's 'In Time O' Strife' by Joe Corrie, directed by Graham McLaren.  Here's a wee video about the exciting concepts behind the show:

It has been a great experience so far and what has been really nice to see is the way in which Graham incorporates actioning into his rehearsal process.  I talk a little bit about this approach in my previous post about the classes I've been teaching at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, so it has been very interesting to see the process taken out of the classroom and into the professional rehearsal room.

We have been working through the script scene by scene and attributing an 'action' (ie a transitive verb) to each line/thought.  This can be a slow process to begin with but, as the actors get used to the idea, it starts to speed up.  We then have callers w…

Teaching Acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

The last few weeks I have been working at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, teaching on their new 'Introduction to Actor Training' course. This is a credited 5 week course for those who are looking to study acting on a full-time basis.  Due to schedule clashes and what-have-you I found myself teaching the bulk of the course for the first few weeks and it has been a fascinating experience.

I really enjoyed going back and looking over the various techniques that I had learned whilst studying at the RCS. This blog was a good starting point as I had documented a lot of our work at the Globe. When you are in the middle of it all though it is sometimes hard to reflect on what you're learning and how to apply it in, so now was a great time to really chew things over. I was now finding things that I struggled to understand the first time round extremely simple and, using the RCS's fantastic library, I was able to delve deeper into the subjects than I ever did as a student (…

Developing 'Celia' - Week 1

I was lucky enough to receive a wee bit of money from Creative Scotland to allow me to develop an idea I have for a show called 'Celia'. I am spending the next couple of weeks with a great wee team of actors, working on the first half of the script and seeing where the piece will go.

It's a play that I have already written once, but I didn't like it. The story was strong and I liked the characters but the whole thing felt very old-fashioned and uninspiring, so it was back to the drawing board. I re-worked up a good 40 minutes worth of material to bring to rehearsal and we spent the first couple of days going through it, scene by scene, line by line. This kind of work can wear the brain down quickly (certainly my brain) but it's vital work for the success of the piece. If it ain't working on the page then no amount of tomfoolery and trickery is going to make it work on the stage!

It was great to work with the actors on the script, it's a very focused, tight …

Towards the Moon at the Citz

I had a fantastic opportunity a couple of weeks ago that ended up being a bizarre week of fun, panic and creative juice-flowing. I'm just back from holiday so haven't had a chance to write about it yet, but here goes.

Sooooo I was lucky enough to be invited to develop my musical 'Towards the Moon' at the world famous Citizen's theatre in Glasgow under the direction of the artistic director Dominic Hill.  Three musicals were to be developed that week so it was me alongside Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross and The Thick of It actor Paul Higgin's musical about a community choir and the fantastically talented Hilary Brooks who was creating a piece based on a 1960's film.

Dominic had organised a fantastic cast for me and it was decided that we would showcase 6 or 7 of the songs with a bit of narration in-between.  The showcase would be to the ATG group who own a number of large theatres throughout Britain, they are looking for new musicals and have come up North …

The Land of Lost Things - Creating a Show With Young People

Last week was taken up with mainly working on 'The Land of Lost Things' with the Beacon Youth Theatre.  This is a devised musical created by myself, Marianne and Megan Yeomans in conjunction with all the young people.  It's a pretty big undertaking with around 110 performers, aged from 4 up to 21 all taking part.

One thing that  I have been adamant about since I started running youth theatres over ten years ago (gulp) is that a youth theatre is not a stage school.  It's not about auditioning, it's not about whipping out the same old shows to sell more tickets to the general public and it's not about who is 'talented' and who isn't. That's a different thing and there are various groups around Scotland who do it very well, but what I hope to do is create an environment where all participants can have fun through being creative.  Of course if a student shows a great aptitude towards one thing or the other then we should do our upmost to get the mos…

Musical Recorded and Starting a New Show

I finished recording the main bulk of my musical 'Towards the Moon' last night.  I was lucky enough to have the excellent Lyndsey Knox sing the female parts for me and I sang all the male parts with my wife, Kirsty, helping out with backing vocals.  
****RECORDING GEEK WARNING: I recorded everything myself with Cubase (first 6 and then the new 7 when it came out) using a whole bunch of virtual instruments, mainly from Native Instrument's Komplete, with some of the drums being done on BFD2 and RMX's Stylus and I also used Omnisphere a lot - processing was mainly done with Focusrite's Liquid Mix (which is an oldie but a goodie) and a bunch of Waves plug-ins, in particular I like the SSL EQ. The guitars are all real and I used Guitar Rig for the bulk of the guitar sounds.****

I'm happy with the way it's sounding, there are a few little numbers here and there that I need to work on a bit but on the whole this is the music for the show as it currently stands.


A new idea - experiments in movement

So I have had this idea for a story for a while.  I know what it is.  I know the characters.  I got 80 pages into writing a play about them.  And then I realised my approach was all wrong.  A standard, fourth wall play wasn't working.  I was getting annoyed, frustrated.  So I've started again, this time looking to combine the various skills I've been developing over the years.

Theatre is a bastard.  I remember that from a day one theatre studies lecture.  It's origin is the meshing together of other, more pure, art-forms.  With this in mind I've started working on this show with a focus on the different art-forms that I work in.  So I've been composing music, I've been writing text and I've been making video and on Friday I shall be attempting choreography.  Who knows how it will go.  I've been researching a lot.  Watching various videos, reading various books, but the most important thing is to keep my eyes open and see what happens in the room.


Photos and Films

The last few weeks have been taken up mainly with me getting to grips with making videos of as high quality as I can muster! I went out with my actor friend, Lucy Hollis, to try and work on getting some shots for her showreel and so I could practice my technique of filming outside as I will be making a music video soon so wanted to get to grips with various new pieces of equipment I had bought.

I was really happy with the results that you can see here:

We shot on location around Largs and the music is by Paul McGranaghan.  I produced the song and played keys on it.

Whilst we were up in the hills and on the beach I thought I'd try and get a few snaps whilst I was at it.  I  struggled for a while as I was using a new lens I wasn't used to, but in the end I got some pics that I was really happy with.

I then worked with Lucy and actor Sam Keefe on a short scene from Dennis Kelly's 'After the End'.  This is the first time I really filmed a scene, I've always made mu…