last day

Last day of rehearsals today. Tired, very tired.

Then dinner with an opera singer who wants to set up his own company – early music ensemble, with a twist (possible dance/video projection/animation involved). Interesting. Might direct something for them. Do I even have any time left in 2011?

Still tired, very tired.

too much trains…

Today I spent nearly 8 hours on trains. Not good. Brain addled. But worth it because had a wonderful meeting at Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds where I might be working next year, hopefully. Hurrah!

Also a train journey is a wonderful thing – especially as I can’t get email on my phone at the moment – it’s like an enforced holiday. I read Anna Karenina (not all of it, of course) which is interesting reading on a train, given the subject matter. Still a bit annoyed with the old British Rail though – if I hadn’t been delayed and missed connections and delayed again etc I might be a bit less addled. Then again, maybe I wouldn’t! And I did see, a heron, a pheasant and a colony of rabbits. It’s pretty rural in Suffolk.

And then back to London for a great meeting at the Southbank about Sexing The Cherry which is hopefully all go for 2011. Next year is getting busier by the day. Bring it on!

the wire

My amazing piece of direction to act like it’s the Wire – i.e just to speak faster – has paid off in a major way – we’ve gone from 31 minutes to 21. Brilliant! Now only one more day of rehearsals til we go into tech though – aaargh! We’re still haven’t even tried the whole OHP shadow puppet opening sequence. And we don’t get costumes til the tech!

Also a day of more juggling – fielding emails about The Man With the Flower in His Mouth tour, and the Waiting tour and Sexing The Cherry (my Jeanette Winterson adaptation that is finally happening, touch wood, at Southbank Centre next summer) and the Hampstead project. Plus another two shows that are still so unformed I’d better not even name them yet. Busy mcBusy.

Then off to New Cross to catch the show again – it’s settled in nicely – and the Southbank were in tonight, and liked it, so hopefully it’ll happen in one of their cafe spaces to kick off the 2011 tour. Yay!

meeting meeting meeting odyssey

Today we had a break from rehearsals – or in other words a chance to catch up on some meetings. Started with a Metta meeting – or rather debrief – on The Man With the Flower in His Mouth. Not quite as epic as our 5 hour meeting of last saturday but still…actually it was 4 hours. Hmmmmm – on the plus side plans for that touring next year are shaping up nicely and in the middle of the meeting we got sent our lovely Spectator review!

Then off to Hampstead Theatre where if all goes to plan I’ll be directing the supermodel in her stage debut next year (in their newly opened, downstairs studio for experimental new writing). Then the briefest of brief meetings at the Young Vic about some more puppetry workshops I’m running there next week (literally 10 minute meeting – Metta could learn a thing or two from that kind of efficiency) and then a wonderful evening of playing with The Factory (whose amazing and cult hit Hamlet I assisted on a few years ago) as they de-construct and re-construct Homer’s Odyssey.

Back into rehearsals tomorrow – time to make some cuts (we’re a little over our strict 20 minute limit for Coalition) or alternatively get the actors to speak really fast! That’s my preference – I just keep telling them it’s like The Wire!

feeding

It’s always nice to feed your cast – today I served them up home-made Pumpkin soup (frozen left-overs from our Halloween lunch a few weeks ago), with a loaf of freshly baked bread (also home-made), some cheese and the last few cherry tomatoes from the garden, followed by some raspberry and plum crumble (left over from last night’s dinner party, and also home-made – with home-grown fruit from Will’s farm). Only problem now is they’re beginning to expect a feast every day…just as well we only have two more days of rehearsal!

Off to Theatre 503 tonight to check out Auricular – their latest show – which is a series of staged radio plays (some of which Will has designed the video for). It’ll be good to re-aquaint myself with the space before we get in to tech there next week.

having the writer in the room

More rehearsals for Coalition. It’s so lovely having the writer in the room – which really isn’t always the case with new writing (the loveliness that is, they are quite often in the room. A lot). Nimer is so brilliant and open and just generally terrific and if there’s something I can’t answer I can just ask him. Not always so easy getting answers out of dead writers.

Then we had a dinner party with one of the Southbank Centre producers – who I now have to make a cushion for (I embroidered Will a cushion a few years ago which is very intricately personalised). Heather also reminded me that I promised I’d make her one last year. So now I have a backlog of cushions to make…maybe I should have that as another strand on this website – ‘cushion embroider-er (for hire)’.

checking in

Today is a day for catching up on email and admin. But then off to a party in the afternoon and then a fleeting visit to New Cross to check in on Flower man, then back to the party.

For people who don’t work in theatre that seems to be one of the most surprising things to them – that directors aren’t there at every performance – and once press night’s been and gone just pop in sporadically to make sure the production’s not gone off the rails. So I’m looking forward to seeing the show again after a few days off – and I’m sure Sam will have invented lots more strange business with rubber ducks, ribbons and matches to keep me entertained…

sharing

The theme of today is sharing. This morning we had a ‘sharing’ of the circus and puppetry work we’ve been developing over the week in Jackson’s Lane. It went well, I think – we were happy with it and the children in the audience came up on stage to dance at the end, so that’s a good sign! And Will and Heather came to watch, and got to take home a cardboard sea-horse so they were happy. Then we had an epic 5 hour meeting about Metta Theatre and the point and purpose of the company – the upshot of which was also basically that we need to share more, both in the sense of communication (sharing information) and in sharing the workload in times of great busyness.

Then more Coalition rehearsals – which to complete the sharing theme – were full of collaboration (one might say coalition) with everyone throwing in their ideas. Which is exactly how I like to work – all about sharing and democracy.

Still getting used to having the writer in the room (I mostly work with dead writers – they don’t talk back!) but so far it is an utter joy as Nimer Rashed is not only a brilliant writer but the most brilliant collaborator – open, generous and humble. We’ve already started talking about our next collaboration together – he’s going to write a longer play for me to direct – hopefully next year. I can’t wait!

octopus and allegiances

More circus and puppets this morning – surprisingly wasn’t too stiff after yesterday’s exertions. We spent the morning playing with an octopus puppet made from an umbrella with each leg attached to a spoke (with a child’s shoe attached to each end – it’s a baby octopus) so much fun. Then a mad dash accross town to start rehearsals for The Prophets and the Puppets (the play I’m directing for Coalition).

Read-through went well, and then some initial table work on the script – and we also made a quick video of bits which seems to consist mostly of me  laughing!

And then, as I always like to do on the first day of rehearsals I cooked everyone dinner and we all had a few bottles of wine. But it got me thinking how quickly one changes allegiance as a director – until last night I was living and breathing The Man With the Flower in His Mouth, this morning the Circus R+D became number one priority and now this afternoon it’s shifted onto the Coalition play. Which is not to say I won’t check in with Flower Man again, but I find it amazing, especially when I’m very busy to so totally compartmentalize my different commitments.

ropes and press night

Very tired. Spent all day puppeteering, with a bit of rope climbing and hoop, thrown in for good measure. Very fun but also very painful for a novice like me – hopefully I won’t have seized up by tomorrow.

Then press night. Went well… I think (already have two lovely reviews from last night – 4****in WhatsOnStage and a lovely review from The London Theatre Project) but impossible to second guess the critics. But I was happy, though very tired. And my agent liked it. So that’s always good.

Really looking forward to a night of more than 6 hours sleep again…hopefully will get one in December. Off to bed now – though 1am is a pretty early night actually, at the moment – especially given press night.

Tired…