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(no subject) [Apr. 23rd, 2009|01:15 pm]
Alex
Apologies for the long silence.  Not very good at this.  Will try to be better.

Coming soon - some stuff I've written in a creative module that's often subtley (ish) taking the proverbial out of the actual task that's been set.  And is ripped pretty extensively off from Doctor Who.  Because, you know, I can.

Also, news. 

But right now, I'm attempting to write three quarters of an 8,000 dissertation in four days.  Entirely possible.  It's on Sherlock Holmes. 

After next week, normal coverage will resume.  Potentially.
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(I say this every time...) [Jun. 20th, 2008|10:03 pm]
Alex

I'm bad blogger.  But, in my defence I have been busy.  Ish.  

So.

News, carefully divided into categories follows each cut.


Finally, Waterstone's are doing a competition at the moment called What's Your Story, where you write a short story on a bit of card and then win something vague and handwavy.  Well, to finish, here's my entry -


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(no subject) [Apr. 12th, 2008|08:27 pm]
Alex

Gosh, it's been a while, hasn't it?  I'm rubbish, aren't I?  Oh well!

So, what's happening?  
The Importance of Being Ernest is on this Wednesday!  Oh God!  No, actually, it's all going perfectly well.  Lines are learned, moves are plotted, costumes have turned up.  I have a cane!  A genuine, silver bit on the end that I can polish in odd moments cane!  I have a bowtie!  I have a cravat!  I wear cricketting whites and a boater in acts two and three.  It's jolly exciting.  I think I'm doing justice to it - Algernon's an amazing part, and I think I'm certainly going to come out of this with moments to be proud of.  Bits of Act One, the muffin scene at the end of Act Two, "Bunbury?  Oh.  He was...quite exploded" in Act Three.  I think.

I should be working now.  I've just about finished one essay, and I'm typing it up now, but I've got two more to do.  Should be alright, now my brain cog are turning again.  The one I've done is Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art, and I'm actually quite proud of it.  I mean, it's pseudish wank, but it's pseudish wank that I've slaved over.  And it contains the frankly magnificent sentence -

"In suggesting that our aesthetic reactions are rooted in certain truths of form and colour, Bell offers us the possibility of a dictionary to the language of beauty."

And it's got my mandatory splashing about of the word Promethean.  And I quote the Doctor Who theme tune.  I know what you're thinking.  The Doctor Who theme tune doesn't have any lyrics.  I make reference to 'it's characteristic, baseline "diddly-dums"'.  I'm gambling on the lecturer being a fan.  Good odds - everyone is, these days.

And speaking of Doctor Who (was I?  Well, yes) how bloody good has it been so far this year?  (Arms spread wide apart) Yes, about that good, I think.

Partners in Crime was genuinely funny.  I absolutely get what they were talking about with the screwball comedy relationship the Doctor and Donna have.  It's genuinely different to how he's got on Rose and Donna and you might almost that he and Astrid had an instant, lovey-dovey connection just to emphasise how different Donna's going to be.  But that would just be sneaky, wouldn't it?  

I think the 'just missing each other' segments could have been tightened up.  The misses could have been closer, and I'd have bought it, as a viewer - the heightened, comic reality in which two people who we know are going to end up meeting just...don't.  For a bit, anyway.

But the scene with them miming across the office and being interrupted by Miss Foster - gold.  Even though I'd seen it a billion times on all the trailers, I laughed like a mental throughout.  

I'll comment on the Fires of Pompeii another time (there's a threat for you) but for now - amazing!  Bloody, bloody amazing!

Right, back to work.

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Life so Far [Apr. 3rd, 2008|03:39 pm]
Alex

It's been ages, hasn't it?  Gosh, and other words.

How am I?  I'm quite well, thank you, how're you?

It's the Easter holidays at the moment, I'm rehearsing the Importance of Being Earnest down at Southampton (popping home this weekend to finally see the family properly.).  Good fun - I've not laughed so much in rehearsals in ages, but we're on in a couple of weeks, and I'm not sure if we're there yet.  I'm not sure if I'm there yet.  Algernon's a good part, and I deeply don't want to screw it up.

What else?  The other day, all my money was stolen by Icelandic fraudsters.  True story.  Started the day getting woken up by a phonecall from Tenant Link.  'Where is the rent?' they said.  'I don't know', I replied, and went to the bank to find out.  Apparently my rent is in Iceland.  Bastards.  

Still, forms are being sent out, landlords are being placated and emergency rent checks obtained from parents.  All will be well.  There just won't be much cash in hand for a couple of weeks.  Fair enough, I need to spend less anyway.

I'm currently not writing a play, but there's a specific play I'm not writing, and when I'm done not writing I will actually write it, and all things being well, it will be quite good.  It's called 'Ah, but is it art?', and it's the unconventional love story of two people who join ABA (that's 'Ah, but is it art?') at the same time.  Their job is to police galleries and artists, enforcing a single strict definition of artwork.  It features Waldemar Januszczak, known to us as the Arts Critic for the Guardian, as a tough, Gene Hunt style copper.

To finish, here is something I wrote between five and seven the other morning, when I went a little mad.

The Charge of the Light Opera, A Biography

My tragic history begins on a treacherously temperate May night, in 1887. My parents, having fought off attacks from Tzarist agents emboldened to act openly in the streets of the capital by sheer desperation, were at last separated. As my father lay, bloodied and broken on the floor of the great hall of the Natural History Musuem, my Mother fled, his cries ringing in her ears - 'Don't give up, Evelyn. Never give up. I didn't sell my life so the Russians could get their hands on our son!'

Blinking away tears, she ran into the night as swiftly as her heavily pregnant state would allow, calling over her shoulder 'I will always love you Thaddeus'. Curious, this, for my father's name was Jack. His dying gurgles were soon lost to her ears, and she swiftly forgot the gorier details of his death, because I'm hoping to cross merchandise my biography in the Young Adult section of the bookshops.

Why tonight? Tsar Nicholas had no reason to believe the net was closing around him ever faster. It was some of the slickest, subtlest work the British Government had ever undertaken. Work so secret it had been conducted through an agency beyond than the military, more highly classified even than the Diogenes Club, a group of men and women known only as 'The Bishop's Stortford Lady's Knitting Circle'.

In the twinkling of an eye, Evelyn had arrived at Saint Paul's Cathedral. It didn't take long, because this is a big budget Hollywood adaption of my early life, and the Yanks don't have the first clue about British Geography. I mean, have you seen Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves?

She burst through the doors, crying piteously for sanctuary. What a figure she cut - heavy with child, only the soaking rain disguising the tears streaking her face, and this on an already exceedingly ugly woman. Some, in their day, called her hideous. Ever practical, she wore constantly a set of knuckledusters and was never known to have lost an argument, even at the Atheneum

But waiting for her at the altar was a figure she recognised as her nemesis, the deadly Johnny Foreigner. The Man From Everywhere was notorious for opposing the noble interests of the British Empire, and Evelyn had sworn her own oath of vengeance against him after he crushed her third husband beneath a perilously ill-secured Benjamin D'Israeli.

No words were necessary. Evelyn and Foreigner drew steel, and duelled, there at the secret heart of the Empire. They danced a Charleston of flashing metal and whirling blades, caring little for the fact that the Charleston would not be popularised as a dance until 1923, and then on a different continent. Who could care for anachronism, when so much hung in the balance?

At last, sweating and weeping my Mother was brought to bay, Foreigner's blade at her throat. She looked him in the eye.
"You aren't totally without honour, are you Foreigner? You surely would not kill a pregnant woman."

"Do not let it be said the Foreigners have not a noble a nature', he replied, turning aside his sword from the killing stroke. 'You have been a worthy adversary, and it is not my wish to end our rivalry with, 'ow you zay, ze low blow'

'Must you speak in that ridiculous accent?' Evelyn asked, winsomely discourteous even at death's door.

'Yes. Eet iz in mah contract'

'Well I can't argue with that'

He reached out his hand, and as he helped her laboriously to her feet, she kneed the Foreign Johnny viciously in the balls, and swept his sword from his grasp.

He fell to the floor, tears in his eyes, and tears in his shirt. Unceremoniously, and in the finest traditions of British Imperialism, Evelyn stabbed the helpless Foreigner in the back. The official verdict would be suicide.

And then, with my immaculate sense of timing, I found myself born. Born amid blood and slaughter, as the bells of Saint Paul's chimed out six in the morning, and my Mother sighed in relief at surviving so turbulent a night. Word slowly spread that the Russian scheme was foiled, and as Evelyn emerged into the streets, Chimney Sweeps danced a Quadrille of celebration, and were then detained by the police on suspicion of poverty.

In the following years, I saw little of my Mother. She did not marry again, but devoted herself ever more keenly to the business of the Bishop's Stortford Knitting Circle, and though I may have lacked parental love and approval, I was never short of a scarf in cold weather.

I was schooled at Eton for a term, before my unregulated experiments in the chemistry lab saw me expelled in disgrace and on fire. I completed my Preparatory Education at the Finchampstead Institute for the Sons of Victorian Superspies, and was poised, in my Eighteenth year to take up a place at the Southampton College of Posh Espionage, and so join in the family business when disaster struck.

An old school-friend who I had long thought dead reappeared in my life. He had joined the army at a young age, and vanished in the Hindu Kush following a treasure map I had faked one afternoon in the library and sold to him for the price of a packet of fags. I'm not proud, but I had three days to wait before my allowance came through and tobacco is a harsh mistress. Blind in one ear, and hideously scarred after his experiences, the man was madder than a scarecrow full of wasps and hell bent on revenge.

We faced each other at midnight, in the research block of the Finchampstead Institute. As I stared him down over the bunsen burners, I wondered how he could have gone so wrong. How could I have predicted that my old friend, Captain Murderous Vendetta would one day be consumed by the desire for my death?

He pulled a pistol. I ducked quickly, and felt the bullet just miss, giving me the closest shave of my life. Close but uneven - it merely carved a small tunnel through my youthful moustache. I would not be recommending Vendetta as a barber.

I suddenly felt the suggestion of an idea forming at the back of my head. With the aid of a pair of mirrors, I was able capture it. This was the laboratory in which one of the Masters was working on his latest invention, an experimental new substance he referred to as 'anti-fire' but which we students nicknamed Ice, after a favourite alcho-pop. Perhaps I could use this 'Ice' to persuade Murderous to 'cool off'. I made a mental note to repeat this one-liner to Vendetta upon the successful conclusion of my plan, perhaps also dropping in a reference to my keeping my cool. Calling him frigid would probably be too personal, though.

I crawled for the casket of freezing anti-fire, bullets whistling around me like an Ennio Morricone film score. Finally, Vendetta's gun jammed, and he threw it away. He vaulted over a desk, shattering a beaker to splinters with a sharp retort, and crawled after me. In the meantime I reached the casket, and was worrying desperately at the catch. Vendetta's fingers found my throat and his grip tightened.

'Stop it...old friend' I choked out the words, 'before you do something you regret'

'After you doomed me to to two long years of torture at the hands of the mountain tribes? Not on this Earth. I had to gnaw off one of my own legs to escape my bonds, and then eat the other one to keep myself alive as I returned to civilisation!'

'Why didn't you just take the first one with you?'

'I was fleeing the most hideous torture the most depraved minds on Earth could imagine, not planning a bloody picnic!'

'Fair enough' I'd kept him talking long enough. The lock was on the verge of opening. 'By the way, Captain Vendetta.'

'Yes?'

'Captain Murderous Vendetta?'

'What?'

'Chill out'

As the new, unstable frozen element of pure cold boiled forth from it's iron isolation chamber, I reflected that I had forgotten to remove myself from it's immediate path and would, in fact, receive the full brunt of its freezing powers. It is important, I feel, to suffer all setbacks in a philosophical frame of mind.

'Shi-'

The abortive expletive was the last syllable I was to utter for some more than a century. When the ever marching industrialisation of the world finally released enough solar radiation retentive gases to raise the ambient temperature the few degrees I needed to escape my icy prison (a plan B I had hoped not to need), I found suprisingly little had changed. A paranoically conservative government was in power, fighting an ill defined war against a nebulous but unforgivably foreign, and probably even brown, enemy and the Southampton College was still there. It was even a University now. I was a little non plussed to find that the closest equivalent the Espionage course I was so looking forward to was Bachelor of the Arts in Literature and Philosophy, but this was more than made up for by my finding that my place there had been deferred by my ever optimistic relations for one hundred and one academic years. The admissions tutors had apparently been very accomodating.

A more insurmountable problem was that the family fortune, vast in it's day, had declined to the extent that I have barely enough money to find out what a 'Mars Bar' may be, but I'm sure that gainful employment may be found for an out of date Dandy-Agent with only the barest sprinkling of frost bite. Just enought to give character.

What happened to Captain Vendetta I do not know, but if there is one thing I can say with absolute certainty, it is that he will definitely never ever turn up to plague me as I explore the exciting new world of 2008. That would be so unlikely as to be totally impossible.

Such has been my life so far. Now read on...

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(no subject) [Jan. 29th, 2008|12:35 pm]
Alex
I've been a bad blogger for ages.  Sorry.  Live is to be lived, and that.  This entry's not really going to change that, but here we go anyway.

I'm two exams down with one to go.  It's all been wild and reckless improvisation this time round.  I've revised just enough to get a basic framework to hang my answers on, but it's all badly planned splurging.  I'm hoping to get through these modules and then pick things up in the next semester.

We had auditions for The Importance of Being Earnest a couple of weeks ago and I'm playing Algernon.  Yes, you read that right, in April I'm giving my Algernon Moncrieff.  I'm a tiny bit completely overjoyed.

And Torchwood is actually pretty good this year (so far, anyway).  So apart from having no money, everything in the garden is coming up roses.  Hooray!
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Oh yeah! [Jan. 16th, 2008|12:05 pm]
Alex
John Wisehammer, Our Country's Good, Edinburgh 2008!

Get in!
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Terse [Jan. 8th, 2008|11:54 pm]
Alex

I'm poor and Edinburgh auditions are tomorrow. 

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(no subject) [Dec. 13th, 2007|05:03 pm]
Alex

 Time for a quick update

Sunday - best non-fringe day I've had in ages.  A small group of us  - Tom and Marina and Joe made the pilgrimage to London.  We were going to see a comedy group called The Penny Dreadfuls, who do sketches set in the Victorian age.  We'd seen them in Edinburgh and loved them and quoted them endlessly, and so we went to the Pleasance Islington to keep the flame alight.  Dragging Joe, who hadn't been in Edinburgh and needed to know why they were wonderful.

We spent a bit of time wandering around Fortnum and Mason's.  I saw a Fortnum's Christmas Hamper of the sort that didn't get delivered in That Christmas Episode of The Good Life where Jerry had to have Diplomatic Chicken Pox, and on the top floor I fell violently in love with a dressing gown.  It was beautiful.  It really was.  It was all in scarlet silk, and came with a loose cravat necktie thing.  If you owned it, you'd be duty bound to smoke a hookah and solve crimes.  It cost more than I am ever likely to see, so my feelings were unrequited.

The we went for a walk up Savile Row, where I forgot the dressing gown, seeing a couple of rather gorgeous smoking jackets.

Then we got on the Tube, got off at Caledonian Road and went to find the theatre.  And it was just like Edinburgh!  It was set back off the road, next to a pub and up some stairs, the staff's t-shirts were the same as the Pleasance Venues at the Festival and so were the tickets, and on the back of the tickets, was an advert for the 'Mosque Kitchen - the Best Middle Eastern Food in Edinburgh'.  The number of times I saw that during August!  We all had a bit of a moment when we noticed that.

And the Dreadfuls were as hilarious as ever.  They did mostly new sketches - stuff no-one had ever seen before.  And a couple of old favourites.  They even did something we refer to as 'The Creepy Sketch', even though the original Creepy has left.  And it was very funny, and our face muscles all ached from the laughter.

And then, on the way out, we passed one of them - Thom Tuck, though we called him Tashy, before we could put names to faces - outside, smoking.  And we filed passed and said 'thanks, it was great show'.  And then looked at me and said 'Didn't I see you in Edinburgh?'

Tashy remembered me.  I'm not sure what I said.  I may not have said anything.  I might just have dissolved into a hissing lunatic.  

Words we exchanged, anyway.  Then we left, and as soon as we had turned the corner, I started giggling, and didn't stop for two days.  Comedy Gods remember me!  Comedy Gods remember me from brief conversations in the Underbelly Bar!  Argh!

The other half of the evening was taken by the Idiots of Ants, who were very funny, but weren't The Penny Dreadfuls, so we don't worship them as much.  They had some very good sketches - the biggest, best bunch of 'Yo Momma' jokes I've ever heard, and a brilliant one about aging -
"Darling, I have to go back to the surgery tomorrow.  I'm going to be fitted with a device called...slippers"

But the Penny Dreadfuls are on BBC7 in January - they are on at 11.30pm, for four Fridays, starting on the 11/1/08.  Listen in, then tell the BBC they should make a million series on BBC2.

And we're going back to see them live at the end of January!  

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Three Facts [Nov. 28th, 2007|11:38 pm]
Alex
 1. I'm doing a monologue as Donner, the reindeer in 'The Eight' by Jeff Goode, at the end of term.  It's not offical Theatre Group, but it is a group of Theatre Groupers, (is that sentence slightly confused?  I can't tell, I'm meant to be preparing a presentation on de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater but it's just not happening.  Roll on that magic time between three and four when I turn into a genius) and I seem to have accidentally fallen on my feet, because it seems to be composed mainly of 'the talent' as it were, and they've got lots of plans.  

The Eight itself is the most darkly comic, and frankly if you'll excuse my french, fucked up piece I've ever read.  Santa Clause has been accused of raping Vixen and abusing Rudolph - young reindeer, born crippled and with mental problems, who has gone into shock.  In speeches, each of the reindeer give their views on the allegations.  

The first five mie the situation for it's black comedy.  Comet's is particularly funny.  Played by Joe, of Van Helsing fame (and I mean fame - he's turned into a bit of a celebrity since posters with his face on were plastered all over the student union) Comet is an ex-heroin addict, rescued by Santa and now one of the lead deer on the sleigh ride.  His speech has great lines like
"You don't know pain till you've carved your name into a brick wall with only the bones in your head and gin for anasthetic"
and
"I used to have a tattoo on my arm - a skull, with fire coming out behind, like the tail of a comet.  It's how a got my nickname...skull."

So you've got madness like that, and then I come on, and, if I can pull it off, I give this completely hard rending speech about how I knew what Santa was doing to my son, and how I could have stopped it.  It's so bloody refreshing not to be playing a posh nutter with a silly voice, or me but in a waistcoat.  And given that I've been known to wear waistcoats anyway, well...I don't like to say it's not been challenging, it's always a challenge.  But it's not been very far outside my comfort zone.  

2.  We're voting on the pitches for Edinburgh next year on Monday.  I think it's basically in the bag for Joe (it's that man again), with Our Country's Good and Alice, with Comic Potential, one of Alan Ayckbourne's.

This is good news, because I reckon it means I can rely on going back.  It's suprising how much my life is now defined by Edinburgh.  My life, previously a rather diffuse thing, with the vague ambition of 'acting' at it's heart, is concentrated on getting me back to Edinburgh for every festival I can.  If you haven't been, go.  It's marvellous, life changing, bigger and darker and stranger than anything you've ever done before.  And I've got to go back.  And just because I think I'm in with a good chance of going back in one of those plays now, doesn't mean I won't be crowing and cheering if I am cast come springtime.  

3. My 'n' key keeps sticking.  You wouldn't believe the amount of force that one at the beginning of the sentence took. 
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(no subject) [Nov. 9th, 2007|10:41 pm]
Alex
Well, Twelfth Night has been cast.  I'm Valentine, a Lord Attendant Upon Orsino.  I've never been an attendant Lord before.  I must confess I'm not entirely happy.  I'm trying not to take it personally (because you simply can't, but this time it's difficult for all sorts of silly reasons) but I must confess, I'm not my usual chipper self.

That said, I'm trying to channel my frustration and disappointment.  I'm being constructive - I'm trying to get some sketches written for Theatre Groups' sketch show.  It's falling early this year - mid February, and I'm trying to write 
The Aventures of Osric Pandemonium, Special Agent!

It's about the adventures of a Victorian spy, and so far, it contains the words 'mime', 'narration' and 'bout' and a different spin on the old 'What's a Greek urn?' gag.
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