Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! I am safe at home in the borders with the family awaiting a well earned epic meal on Christmas day as well as a full days rest after 7 two show days, which is rather tiring.

Next up will be our second monthly interview with Head of Stage Jamie Hayes about the workshop and set building. Until then have a brilliant Christmas!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Morning Shows Come to an End!

A.H: WOOP! THEY’RE OVER! Ring the bells and deck the halls because as of 12 o’clock today we officially finished all of our early morning shows. No more the early rise, no more the dark frosty walk to the theatre and plenty more lie-in’s. Not that the morning shows were ever a chore it’s just that early hour exertion has never been a friend of mine. For the two members of the cast who commute every day from Edinburgh it must be an absolute joy.
But what a show it was! The schools in this morning got every penny of their ticket price and were given the show of a life time. I know in my last blog I talked about the importance of ensuring every audience experiences the same show but due to a number of reasons the cast this morning all ended up in various states of frivolity (which can only aid a show).
Notable instances include:
1.      my fellow blogger Lucy and Ros being unable to hold eye contact for fear of bursting out in laughter;
2.      the Thorns, who have become steadily more mischievous, continually subjecting the Prince to a number of unplanned abuses
3.      The newly added Thorn chorus of slurps, gnashing and malicious laughter at any character they end up killing...IT’S GREAT!
However, the icing on the cake of today’s strange show came when my trap broke after I fall down it as Table Slave in the second act making it officially out of use. Within 5 seconds Barry (the techie under the stage with me) had radioed Stage Manager Nat who then told Barry to tell me to quickly double up in ensemble member Lucy Thaxter’s trap ahead of the two upcoming final songs which we all have to pop up and sing. Needless to say, when the cue light went green and Lucy.T and I popped out of the same trap a collective “That’s a bit odd!” spread through the onstage cast while Lucy.T and I embarked upon some ad hoc Table Slave/Thorn choreography, all of which contributed to a rather hilarious and giggly last ten minutes and final Morning show. As we lined up to take our bow I saw that the hinge on the trap I was meant to use had come free and the trap was actually rather dangerously askew. Fortunately, thanks to Barry and Nat, Stage Management had managed to warn all of the off stage cast to avoid the down-stage left trap and all was safe.
So, now I’m back at my flat taking some much needed rest time, blogging and listening to Christmas songs on the radio. We have a 7pm show tonight and then the Citz Christmas Party which, if it’s anything like the Workshop party, should be an absolute blast and the perfect opportunity to take advantage of my newly free Friday morning.
Finally, it is my pleasure to announce that our second ‘A Season at the Citz’ Interview will be up in the next few days just in time for Christmas and will be all about the Theatre’s workshop where all the beautiful sets are made. Stay tuned!
‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, until  6 January. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Show Check Up

A.H: Despite colds, lost voices, general exhaustion and the strongest alcohol punch EVER at the best opening party EVER I can safely announce that the cast of Sleeping Beauty has lived to tell the tale of our first week and has now boldly embarked upon our second. As Lucy mentioned last week was a crazy blur of early starts as an armada of schools bombarded the theatre day after day and now, as the second wave of primary schools continues to bear down upon us, we have had two days off to regroup, rearm and are now ready to go forty more times unto the breach, dear friends!
As we in the ensemble have grown ever more accustomed to the theatre and the trickier parts of the set the show has only grown slicker. If you’ve seen the show you’ll know that there are a series of trapdoors which are used a great deal throughout the show, during the tech they were a nightmare but now opening/ closing them and negotiating the tiny spaces beneath them has become second nature. But, just as the rehearsal process had its specific set of questions (“would my character really do that?”, “wouldn’t it be better if we...”, “how do we get that table off stage?”) so too does the run. Some of today’s top quandaries include:
1)       “Does applying this make-up regularly make it permanent? It’s stopped coming off in the shower”
2)      “Can you put a Ruff in the laundry?”
3)      “Was that small child lying when he was overheard saying ‘If someone comes up through the stage I’m going to throw a gas grenade in their face!’?
However, a rather more important and less trivial quandary is how on earth do we keep the show feeling fresh and alive when we’re doing 57 performances of the same show? At drama school this was something I always wondered, and occasionally worried, about and now I’m going to have to work out. Not to say that I’m struggling or finding it boring, quite the opposite, but it’s important to realise that every audience member who buys a ticket deserves to see the same level of quality whether it be the very first or very last performance, it may be show 47 for us but for each member of the audience it’s the first time and may be a rare night out they’ve long looked forward to. The seasoned Shakespearean actor Simon Russell Beale says that whenever an actor feels like a show is getting old they should simply listen to what the other person is saying and it’ll become interesting again.
However, there definitely wasn’t a problem keeping it fresh today. Halfway through act.1 a chimney flies in from the Gods and lands centre stage...except today, it didn’t. It merely hung a foot off the floor then began to yoyo up and down as the fly team tried to fix whatever had gone wrong. Meanwhile, we were all acting normally trying to ignore the problem, acting away. However, the problem was unfixable and so stage manager Nat came out and stopped the show as the tech team worked out what had gone wrong. But, a minute later the two-storey yo-yoing chimney was fixed and with a quick “Just pretend that never happened!” from Kath Howden to the audience the show continued and went brilliantly albeit a tad giggly.
One thing though has been continually useful, something that to date has never faltered to raise everyone’s energy when sitting in a cramped compartment under the stage at 10am: the sound of the kid’s excitement. As the house lights go down and the stage lights go up they have never failed to go CRAZY and put a smile on our faces. In an instant the cast is infused with energy and ready to go as the adrenaline begins to pulse. Paddy Cunneen’s opening score begins to play, the cue light flashes from red to green and we burst through the stage and the show begins.
‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Week one of Sleeping Beauty Performances


Just finished our first week of Sleeping Beauty and we now have two days off to rest and re-boot. The schools have been in this week and their reactions have been priceless. My two favourites are probably the screams of 'eughhhhhhh!' when the prince(Owen Whitelaw) and I share our supposedly beautiful  awakening kiss and the boisterous chanting of 'fight fight fight' when the two ogres meet at the end. Hilariously endearing. Official opening night Friday was great fun, everyone in the cast was on fire (utter fear mixed with adrenaline), ending the night with a cracking party in the carpentry workshop with free (rather lethal) punch. Two shows the next day. I'll say no more.

The whole show is really starting to get into its groove and the backstage team is running the show like clockwork. Barry(ASM) Emma(ASM) Cathy(DSM) and Natalia(SM) are our stage management team and they are the most on it group of people I've ever met. Never miss a beat. We also have a dresser (Karen) who is always ready and waiting for all the quick changes (rather a lot of velcro in this show). The ensemble have about six quick changes altogether (1 minute or so) and are, most of the time, wearing three costumes at once(!) Backstage can get pretty mental. I have one quick change. And its about 3 minutes. And only involves taking off slippers and tidying my hair. So all in all, I actually have none. Phew.

I am sharing a dressing room with Ros Sydney (Queen/Ensemble/goat/donkey) and we have embarked on a very special journey together of eyebrow sculpturing. Each morning, she paints her face white and begins drawing. Depending on her mood and her creative flow/artistic flare on that particular day, the outcome is always something very unique. We then discuss and deliberate. I believe it all hangs in the curl.

Ros satisfied with the brows.

All in all, a great week.

‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Monday, 3 December 2012

First Night!

above: Lucy and I getting ready to go on
A.H: So, it happened. On Saturday evening the thing that everyone in the building has been putting all of their efforts into for the past month finally came to fruition. After a week of one of the most complex, and therefore lengthy, Tech’s I’ve experienced (see Lucy’s latest entry for more details) Sleeping Beauty has finally opened to the public. In one of our first blogs Lucy and I talked about how many people went into putting on a single production and this show has only reinforced the fact. So much has been built from scratch by workshop: set that transforms from walkways to towers, chimneys, twins, trap doors! For everyone involved Saturday night marked the culmination of months of work (the production department first started talking with designer Naomi Wilkinson six months ago!)
Plenty of sitting around during tech week. Nice Silhouettes though.
You’ll be happy to hear it went brilliantly: all the actors were on form, and, save for the odd sound cue, the show was technically perfect (which given the amount of cue’s in Stage Manager Cathy’s cue book constitutes a small miracle).
It may sound strange to hear about a show we’ve been working on in great detail for over a month but I don’t think any of us actors could truthfully say we knew how the audience would react. The play is a mix of Tim Burton, Monty Python and Grimm Fairytale; there is incredible humour to the show yet an equally dark heart and when you have a full auditorium, predominantly packed with children of all ages, you’re never sure who will get which joke or whether any of it will resonate at all. Mark McDonnell, who plays both the King and Ogress, and I were waiting in the wings as the lights went down on Act. 1 simply to hear how the audience would respond, neither of us knowing what to expect. Luckily they approved, which in turn gave us a boost for Act. 2 which was even more well received. Add to that the fact that it was a charity evening and therefore all ticket sales went to a good cause and it looks like we did pretty well.
Finally, a huge THANK YOU needs to be given to everyone back stage who have worked so hard this week and will continue to do so hidden away while the actors are prancing about on stage. Without them none of the lights, sound or set would do any one of the hundred things the show requires them to do. An especially large thanks goes to Karin from Wardrobe and Emma from production who help the ensemble with all of their quick changes in the first act. If there was a time lapse camera back stage all you would see is an ensemble shaped blur running from the stage, into a new costume, down a flight of stairs, up a trap door and then the reverse as they change back into whatever insane costume they're needed in next with only seconds to spare. Without those two none of us would make our cue's on time.
So, that’s one performance down and fifty to go. Today we've been called for 12.45 to quickly go over some technical hiccups to make sure all the Gremlins have been banished; then another charity preview at 7pm. And now it's over to the actors and the audience, some shows will be easier than others, some shows will feel like your herding mercury but, ultimately, as one famous Danish Prince once said "The readiness is all" and Dominic has prepared us very well indeed. Wish us luck!
‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Tech Rehearsals and First Preview of Sleeping Beauty

Tech week has been mentallllllly long (about 39 hours). Actually, I am very grateful we had as long as we did, it meant that I could take some time to organise and acclimatise myself within the new space. Firstly, the raked stage is NUTS (apparently the steepest rake in scotland). There's a lot of running involved, and I didn't realise I would be running DOWNHILL in heels..with a pram. I also have a ridiculously inappropriate dress that I have to factor in to act two which has been interesting. With roughly a 10 foot long train attached to it, it looks amazing but is a bit of a beast to negotiate. Especially whilst holding two rather large puppet babies. I sound like I'm complaining, I'm really not (well maybe a bit...) It keeps me on my toes! 

One thing I have noticed after getting on the stage is that I really need to keep an eye on my voice. It's something I have been told off about time after time at the Conservatoire; 'SPEAK UP!' and in this theatre, there's really no room for negotiating. Working alongside the more experienced actors makes it easier, even if it does just make me realise how quiet I actually am. I don't have much natural resonance in my voice so I always need to do a massive warm up (much to peoples light hearted ridicule) and I'll probably have to give a lot of conscious effort for the first few performances before it becomes a bit more second nature. That's the hope anyway. 

However, first preview done and my voice is already feeling a bit tired (I kind of forgot that the majority of the audience would be hilariously vocal and that I would have to factor in pitching above that) I have decided not to speak today. I am currently waiting for my good friend Sam to meet me where we has been requested to talk AT me while I find the appropriate sign language to respond. However, there's so much I want to talk about after this week so my vow of silence will probably last about five minutes. Hey ho.

Here's a riddle: What is broken when you say its name?

 ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

'Sleeping Beauty' rehearsals come to a close

Today has been an extraordinarily good day, In fact, it has been a day I’ve been looking forward to and longing after for at least the past 48 hours. Today was Sunday! Not a Wednesday, nor a Thursday, not even a good old fashioned Saturday. But a Sunday! And, having been a Sunday, it can only mean one thing: we have had no rehearsals today...at all. “Oh no” I hear the twitter-sphere cry, “Did something go wrong?”, “does everyone hate each other?”, “is the show really going so badly that being in THAT rehearsal room is now unbearable”? Thankfully, the answer to all of these questions is no. Quite the opposite, there’s an energy in the room that comes from knowing you’re working on something good, we really can’t wait to get it in front of an audience.
The actual reason I’m so glad it’s a Sunday is because after a very long week I am absolutely knackered. At Saturday rehearsals yesterday I may have been walking and talking but I don’t think my brain was properly awake until half way through the second run-through of Act. 2 and that probably means I was away with the fairies for around 3hours of rehearsal, not good! This was mostly due to a very long and hard working Friday which itself was followed by a long recording session in the evening.  However, it has all been absolutely necessary. Yesterday marked the end of the final week of rehearsals and, as such, we’ve been squeezing as much as we can out of every available hour. Particularly complex has been Act.2 due to the fact that half of it is essentially a giant chase sequence involving a mix of continuous song, character’s appearing to almost instantly disappear again topped off with several fight sequences. Choreographing all of this so that it is safe, keeps its momentum and, most importantly, interesting to watch takes a surprising amount of precision and, therefore, an unsurprisingly long amount of time.
As is customary with rehearsals reaching their end we’ve also begun to ‘run’ the two halves of the show. This is where we finally begin to put all the scenes we’ve been rehearsing and dissecting individually into chronological order and run it from start to finish, without stopping and complete with as many of the props and as much set as production can muster. This allows the actors to work out how each scene blends into the next, to get a feel of the show and discover how quick their costume changes will have to be. For Dominic, our director, it allows him to see how the play looks as a whole and if there’s any glaring issues that need to be resolved or bits that simply don’t work.
Run-throughs are incredibly useful for actors but can be equally infuriating. If you feel something isn’t working with your character it can be frustrating to see others handling their scenes so competently only for you to come in and drop the ball (for me the Minstrel is still not quite what he ought to be). However, all experiences, whether good or bad, are useful and always feed back into your work while Dominic’s notes and observations, which he writes down through the run and then gives to us afterwards, are invaluable. There’s a reason why he’s been in charge of three of the major theatres in Scotland.
So, rehearsals are over and now the Technical rehearsals begin. For the actors this means we move from the rehearsal room to the stage, we get to work in costume and see the finished set which four weeks ago were merely sketches on paper. And here I am on a wintry Sunday evening in Glasgow with the Observer and a big pack of McVities Dark Chocolate digestives to hand, sausages cooking in the kitchen and Abi Morgan’s The Hour on the Tele, waiting for the excitement of the coming week to begin.
 ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Week 4 of Sleeping Beauty Rehearsals


This week started with a massive smack into a horribly familiar brick wall: don't know what I'm doing, where I'm standing, where I'm going, who I'm talking to, who I AM or what play I am in. I was hoping that this wall that I usually meet in week 4 was just an insecure drama student thing, but apparently it happens in the professional world too. I look around and everyone else seems to be on the right track. Full of confidence and flare. Suddenly my character seems completely unattainable and one (utterly helpful and completely justified) comment from the Dom about being careful not to play Beauty too young makes me want to run far far away.

SO (after a bit of self hatred fueled rocking in the corner) I get back to work and start from the beginning again. Luckily I had some time to myself during rehearsals today (SLEEPING Beauty) to stop wallowing and to just get on with trying to hammer through that wall. After a nightly phone call to my good friend Sam (half friend, half life coach) and a watch of the Disney film 'Tangled' for research (surprisingly, ridiculously helpful. A young feisty princess locked in a tower her whole life... duh, that's how to play it!!) and I start to feel like I might be on the right track. Wednesday begins with a run of act one and things finally start to fall into place. For now. To be honest, what I was doing before probably wasn't much different but at least I feel like I know who I am again again. I wonder if anyone noticed...

Two members of the cast have been hit with illness this week and the whole room has gone into ultra paranoid panic mode. Dominic brought in 3 bags of oranges so we can stock up on our vitamin C, I ran out to the shops to buy Berocca, Echinacea, some sort of horrific anaseedey cough syrup and made a firm decision to swear off alcohol. I have only ever done a week long run before now so I just don't know my limits. It's a pretty full on show vocally and physically (I AM ONLY ASLEEP FOR 20 PAGES ALRIGHT!!) so I guess this is me until January. Currently sitting in at 10 o clock on a Saturday night blogging...

 ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Week 4 in Pictures

The week began with the announcement of the stupendous new season

A sneak peak at the set
Thorn Evaluation

Alasdair Take One
Alasdair Take Two

Prince of Nerds

A bit of everything

Debbie, ensemble and the fairies.

Kath's wheelbarrow of goody's

Al tries on his table.

Lucy getting into gear

Lunch break

Lucien and Benedicte in action

Competition entries for the design of the Sleeping Beauty programme cover

The Musical Theatre Ensemble take a power nap

The directing team

 ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Music of Sleeping Beauty

Spot the Ukulele

Week three of Sleeping Beauty rehearsals have come to their end, and, as the final week of rehearsal looms, the show is in great shape. The actor’s have asked their “Who am I’s?” and “Why do I’s?” while Lucien and Bendeicte (our movement director’s) have solved a multitude of technical quandaries, from “How would a Thorn fight?” to “How does a shoal of Fish really move?” (read Lucy’s most recent Blog for more details).

However, being a Christmas Show, we have an extra dimension of detail we have to accommodate and seamlessly add to the show: songs. The important task of composing all of the play’s music, including songs, and then the teaching of said songs to the entire cast, complete with their respective harmonies, lies with our Musical Director: Paddy Cunneen. It is a task that requires a Herculean amount of patience as the only way to teach four lines of harmonies to a bunch of actors is simply repetition, repetition, repetition. Needless to say, under his expert tuition we are a well oiled song learning machine! Our routine for song learning goes something like this: gather round the piano; we split into Bass’, Tenor’s, Alto’s and Soprano’s, everyone learns their part of a section of the song, we sing our respective parts altogether, mistakes are made, mistakes are corrected, we sing it again, perfect it, learn the next bit, repeat. Once the full song is learnt we step away from the piano and Dominic steps in as we begin to work on how to integrate the song into the play.  
A song learning session with Paddy Cunneen
Due to the amount of singing in the play a vocal warm-up to avoid injury is a vital part of keeping us match fit. So, every morning for half an hour the whole company gathers round the piano and Paddy takes us through a hodgepodge of vocal acrobatics, tongue twisters and Christmas songs. A lovely addition to these warm-ups has been the staff from all the various departments of the Citz who Paddy invited to join us early on and who have since continued to come back daily and sing increasingly boldly. Our repertoire now spans many-a-genre and includes such classics as: In the Bleak Midwinter, O Little Town of Bethlehem, the anthem that is John Lennon’s Merry Christmas (War is Over) and we’ve even been known to break out into a bit of Bowie’s Life on Mars. So, if you find yourself in need of a choir to fill your Town Hall/ Church/ Cathedral/ Buckingham Palace let us know.

Finally, the theme of music brings us to Here We Stay, which Lucy has already mentioned but as it was, quite simply, incredible it deserves a second mention. A partnership project between the Scottish Refugee Council and the Citizens Theatre, Here We Stay addresses the complex issue of those people who, due to unfortunate circumstances, have had to leave their country of origin and arrive in the U.K seeking asylum and safety. What the cast and Director’s Neil Packham and Elly Goodman have done is go one better than verbatim theatre by having no actors at all, and, instead, have those who were once refugee’s themselves share their stories through the “song[s], spoken word and live music” of their respective cultures. The result is heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and astounding in the truest definition of the word. A vital piece of theatre.
 ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Sleeping Beauty; End of Week 3.


Coming to the end of week 3 rehearsals for Sleeping Beauty.The ensemble (five second year Musical Theatre students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) have been working ridiculously hard. They really do create the entire atmosphere of the show and they are doing a brilliant job. But it means they are basically in every scene; either as uptight Courtiers, starving slaves or mischievous thorns. Transformative lot! So while I am busy falling asleep on the sofa (HAPPENED ONLY ONCE I SWEAR!) they are up singing 'feed me feed me' over and over, working on their perfect knife sharpening techniques.

A couple of photos of the ensemble in action..and Al's Ukulele...

The last couple of days we have mainly been working on staging Act two. There is A LOT of action in the second half and its pretty mental, so its taking a while. And every now and again there's a really meaty piece of writing that we need to stop and work on very slowly in order to try and hit the right tone and to find the right stakes (fairytale stakes, which are prrrrretty ridiculously high). Dominic is great at picking out moments and finding opportunities to tell the story in the most exciting way possible. We also have the luxury of two movement directors, Lucien Lindsay Macdougall and Benedicte Seierup, who teach movement at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. They taught Al and I when we were training there and we have always been huge fans. They are absolute masters of movement; encouraging us all to think about and explore physicality, rhythms  beats, tensions, style and detail. They know how to bring a space to life and never let us forget the absolute detail of the world we are trying to create. They work fantastically with Dominic and are bringing so much to his vision and to the (rather mad) style of the show. We ALSO have an assistant director, Deborah Hannan, who is a graduate from the MA CCT course at the RCS and a very good friend of mine. I have worked with her before on an Arches Live project and she's a fantastic director. It has been very calming having her in the room in fact. If I'm ever feeling a bit unsure and don't want to burden Dominic as he has ridiculous amounts to think about at once, she always knows and can always help to guide me in the right direction.

Al is playing a minstrel (and table slave) and in one scene he has to run on in a panic shouting 'BEAUTY!' ..Easy enough you'd think. Instead, he ran on, found his place, opened his mouth and out came 'Cinnnddersleeeping BEAUTY!' I think he's a bit confused. Bless him. However, as long as he remembers which christmas show he's in, his minstrel and table slave are going to be ACE. Hilarious.

On another note, Al and I just went to see Here We Stay, a partnership project between the Scottish Refugee Council and the Citizens Theatre exploring the life stories of asylum seekers, refugees and residents living in Glasgow today. It was brilliant. So moving and honest and brave. A well deserved standing ovation. 

'Sleeping Beauty' is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from the 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For tickets, please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022; or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Interview #1: Kathryn Howden

As our Blog aims to explore all aspects of day to day life at the Citizens Theatre, once a month we will be interviewing a different individual/department working in the Theatre. Today, we bring you an interview with Kathryn Howden, one of Scotland's most established and prolific actors. Recent credits include the National Theatre of Scotland's production of  The Guid Sisters at Edinburgh's Lyceum Theatre as well as King Lear, Footfalls and now Sleeping Beauty all for the Citz.

How are you finding Sleeping Beauty rehearsals and playing the part of Goody?
I'm having a great time. I think its always difficult at Christmas because its one of the most difficult shows to put on and it needs the longest [rehearsal time] but it never gets the longest. Because kids have such an imagination you need to match that so therefore you've got to be really confident about what you're doing. But thankfully Dominic is giving it a wee bit longer this time. I'm enjoying it [but] I'm not quite sure of the character yet, I'm not quite sure I've got it yet but that's part of the challenge.

This is your fifth time working with the Citz Artistic Director, Dominic Hill, you obviously have a successful working relationship, why do you think that is?
I just like the way he works, I like his passion, I love his mind , I love how he thinks about things and I always feel like I can trust him. Even when, sometimes, I feel like 'ooh maybe that's not the right way' I instinctively trust him and he's always been right. Our very first time together, I'd heard a lot about him from a lot of actors and actresses I really respected and they always said 'oh, he's fantastic to work for', and the very first time we just clicked and we very quickly got a short hand [and] so we didn't have to go into huge details about things. What I'm finding now is that I'll be thinking something but he's already ahead of me. And I like the fun, he makes me laugh.

Why do you think Dominic's appointment as Artistic Director at the Citz has been so successful?
It was in the wilderness for quite a long time and it just needed someone with Dominic's vision. And I think it will be a hard job but I think if anyone can do it, he can. I think he will choose interesting and exciting plays and I think people will want to come again. Last season it was just so lovely to see people in the bar again. For some reason, its always seemed so far away but now it just seems like its the central theatre that we've got because its really vibrant and working and happening and I just think its great. I am so glad because it could have just gone the other way and disappeared completely.

What would be your dream role? Or have you already played it?
I've never really had dream roles I have to say. I love doing good work, I love work that excites me. I did Footfalls with Dominic and I never imagined I would ever be doing Beckett, it never really interested me, I couldn't really get it. But when I did it I fell in love with it and its one of the best things that I've personally got so much out of. I'd still like to try Lady M and I've not done any of the Tennessee Williams, I'd love to try one. With Shakespeare, I have to say, I'm more interested in the men than the woman. Cleopatra is one I'd love to try and I think, in a funny way, you can play that at any age if its done properly. I like doing a mixture of comedy and serious stuff as well, so this years been good for that, I've had a very varied year.

What advice would you like to go back and give to yourself as a young actor starting out? 
I would say to relax more. And trust in my instincts more. And I think just to believe in myself more. I think that gets in the way of a lot of actors and I think it's the worst thing. Because its not about confidence or an exaggerated confidence in yourself, its just about a belief in yourself, and you can be the shyest person in the world, which a lot of actors are, but if you have a belief in what your gift is then you can still be the same person. I would say to be yourself and to believe in yourself and believe in your dreams and really to keep believing in it. I've wanted to be an actress since I was 3 and sometimes I still get a big rush of 'Oh my God, I'm getting to do what I've always wanted to do' and its a joy, it's a real joy. I think what I would probably say to younger actors would be not to get caught up in competitiveness because I think that destroys you. Just keep your own council, look after yourself and don't worry about other people because everyone's unique and individual  and it doesn't matter what other people are doing because you have an individual gift that only you have and if you believe that and work on that then the other things will fall into place. I think that's what I would say.

'Sleeping Beauty' is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from the 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For tickets, please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022; or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Sleeping Beauty Trailer


Trailer for Sleeping Beauty has been released! Bravo to Marketing. They are a cracking team. Have a snoop...



Sunday, 11 November 2012

Week 3 of Sleeping Beauty Rehearsals


About to begin week 3 of rehearsals for Sleeping Beauty and I THINK I have all my lines learnt. It helps a lot that I am in fact asleep for a fair chunk of the beginning. Definitely got that bit down.

Al and I had an article in the Herald today which was very exciting. I think we were rather cleverly fooled by our photographer (who was lovely and who, it turned out, went to the same primary school as me and had bought a cat from my family back in the 60s!) when we were posing among the costumes in the wardrobe department: 'Oh we won't be using these photos, these are just for fun, but lets just give it a go anyway!". So a bit dissapointed that Glasgow didn't get to see our casual brooding actor poses. Definitely been practicing...Probably for the best in fact. We are both very pleased to be in the Herald and interviewed by Mark Brown. Here's a link to the article:


As I was saying, lines are now learnt and scripts are coming down. This is the bit that gets messy. No more hiding behind the book, hands are free to look awkward and useless and most of your attention goes to searching for words. This being my first professional play since leaving the RCS, I wasn't sure of the official line learning etiquette. When is the right time? Too soon seems cocky, too late seems lazy. What do I do!? Thankfully I am in a room of highly experienced actors, including Kathryn Howden and Mark McDonnell in which to follow suit. They are both great. Kathryn and Dominic clearly have a fantastic working relationship. The perfect balance of work and play. Everything is taken seriously but never without fun. She is very relaxed in the room which I think has a hugely positive effect on everyone and her openness is really inspiring. Mark is going to be great as the King and Ogress. Very dry humour, which works perfectly. Another actor who isn't afraid, always suggesting and helping and a great laugh. Being one of the most established actors in Scottish theatre and a regular on the Citz stage this past year, we thought it would be a good idea to start off our monthly interviews with Kathryn Howden. So look out...

‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from the 1 December to the 6 January. For tickets, please call the box office on: 0141 429 0022; or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

One Week Down, Eight to go!


So, writing this at the end of week one of rehearsals and on the cusp of starting the second everything seems to have got off to a brilliant start. There's been no mishaps, everyone's rather friendly and we’ve made plenty of head way in terms of getting the first act on its feet and seeing what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. This involves working through the play from beginning to end, scene by scene. First we sit round a table to discuss the scene: working out the motives of the character’s and then we put it up on its feet in order to 'block' the scene (effectively working out where people move on the stage and when) and how certain technical aspects will work. These initial discussions and ideas all contribute to creating the rules of the world within which we will be working for the next four weeks of rehearsal.

For the actors rehearsal time is absolutely invaluable and provides a time for us to play and try anything that we see fit. The first weeks of rehearsals are always like this as the outlines of characters initially sketched out start to be refined as the smorgasbord of possibilities an actor comes up with are tried, tested, kept or thrown away. For example, for me, this week has been an exercise in exactly this. I have two characters: the Minstrel and the Table-Slave, for the latter I have a very clear idea of how I perceive the character and, therefore, how to play him, but for the former, I had no real insight. The only information available about the Minstrel in the script (always the first port of call for an actor when building a character) is that he constantly sings. Now, one week of rehearsals on and several suggestions from Dominic later I have a clearer idea of which avenue to pursue . Surprisingly, this has led to me having to learn the Ukulele (a suggestion of Dominic’s), for this task I have been lent a 'Ukulele for Beginner's' book and a Ukulele (surely the most vital of the two). Let's see what happens.
Lucy in 'Thornbush' Rehearsal Mode

However, the company is made up of more than just the principal cast and the creative team are equally invaluable in helping piece the world together: we have Lucien and Benedicte, our Movement Directors who have been making thorns come to life; Paddy our musical director teaching us songs, assistant director Debbie and Cathy our Stage Manager. We also have an ensemble made up of five Musical Theatre students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland who will play a plethora of different parts and also understudy the principal roles.

When Dominic took over the Citz’ last year using RCS students in his productions was something he was keen to introduce as well as for there to be a relationship between the school and the Citizens. In the space of a year this has gone from strength to strength with RCS students in King Lear, Dominic directing the MA Musical Theatre’s at the fringe this summer in Company and now Sleeping Beauty. When Dominic came to the school to talk to us (Lucy and I were in our third year) I remember very much appreciating him actively taking the time to speak to us and establish that relationship. As a Drama School student you spend a lot of your time vying for the attention of Agents, Casting Directors and Theatre Directors yet here was an Artistic Director actively seeking our attention and asking for our involvement in his theatre. It was very impressive.
Finally, Saturday brought about the company’s first birthday! Lucy Hollis (my fellow intern and blogger) is now officially a year older. This meant Saturday morning rehearsals were punctuated by a healthy dose of cake and our Saturday evening punctuated with some fairly vigorous dancing.
Now, where’s that Ukulele?
 ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from the 1 December to the 6 January. For tickets, please call the box office on: 0141 429 0022; or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Rehearsals Begin: Day One


The first day of a rehearsal process is always exciting. It’s a potent mix of nerves, thrills, curiosity and fear as you meet the horde of new people who will undertake this journey with you as we attempt to transform a 76 page script into a fully functional, well -oiled, entertaining piece of theatre.
The morning began with a meet and great for all the cast, technicians, stage managers, movement directors, assistant directors and, of course, the director to meet each other. It’s a chance for old friendships to be rekindled and new ones to be tentatively started (all of which was definitely helped by a healthy serving of tea, coffee and a variety of chocolate biscuits), before a welcome speech from our director: Dominic Hill.
Then it’s off to work as everyone returned to their various focuses for the day and the cast broke off into the main rehearsal room to begin the read through. A read through is essentially exactly what it sounds like : everyone involved in the main production gathers around a table and listens to the actors reading the script aloud, complete with stage directions, for the first time. Not only does it give the Director a chance to hear all the different actors’ first takes on their characters but it can also bring the script to life and clarify bits which reading alone weren’t clear. Rufus Norris’ script is fantastic and I think the show has the potential to be really brilliant. I will be playing both the Minstrel and the very literally named Table Slave while my fellow intern, Lucy, will be playing Beauty.
At the end of the read through Dominic began to talk us through the origins of both Sleeping Beauty and the theme’s of the version Rufus Norris has written. As it turns out, the Disney version we all know, where Beauty waking up signifies the end of the adventure, isn’t actually the end of the adventure! That was originally amended by the Brothers Grimm. In fact, in Charles Perrault’s original quite a lot happens after the ending we all know so if you come and see the show and think “what’s all this stuff in the second half about Ogres?” we’ve actually been strikingly accurate to the source material...well...mostly.
Finally, there was one particular piece of advice Dominic was keen to impress: not to take the piss. It’s very easy with a Christmas play or a panto to get carried away with the silliness of it all and not take it seriously. By this Dominic isn’t saying we shouldn’t have fun, more so that the ordeals the character’s go through are very personal to them and there is a journey that they embark upon. The jokes and silliness should always support the needs of the story; the laughs are earned through the actor completely believing in his or her own ordeal (no matter how outlandishly silly that may be). The second the actor begins playing for the laugh is the moment the show stops being funny.

‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from the 1 December to the 6 January. For tickets, please call the box office on: 0141 429 0022; or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Week One

 This week has mainly been devoted to acclimatising ourselves to the building and familiarising ourselves with the many people and workings of the Citizens Theatre. We've had meetings, workshops, night school, weekend classes and cake. On reflection, its amazing how little time we actually spent in the building. One of the main things we learnt this week is just how much the Citz does around and about Glasgow; we've been to schools, theatres, rehearsals with 13 and 14 year olds who have never done a play before and met community members who have been apart of the theatre for up to 12 years. Combine this with all the different departments and you realise how much work goes into keeping a producing theatre afloat.

We thought you might like to have a glimpse of a few of the week's best bits:

First day at the Citz and we were pleased to discover that official staff status had been bestowed! Even if we are at the bottom.

We have an office...an office!! So if you need us, that's where we'll be...in our office. At our desk. On our phone. Playing office.

Unfortunately there's only one chair between the two of us...so it's just one at a time for now:

Took a trip with the learning and production staff to visit the venue for Divided City. Pretty impressive!   

Had a lovely time meeting the Citizens Community Theatre Company and listening to the first bunch of ideas for their Winter Warmer show. An inspiring bunch of people with some brilliant stories. We wish them best of luck for the rest of rehearsals! 

Initiated into the weekly Citz tradition of cake friday. At 4 o' clock the entire building grinds to a halt as everyone descends into the green room to loosen their belts and indulge in a feast of home baking by that week's chosen department. Oh it's going to be a tough year...

Next week: Rehearsals for Sleeping Beauty commence...stay tuned.