Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Layering on coats of theatrical paint...

Actor Barrie Hunter continues his backstage blog...

It is now Tuesday afternoon, and we are in the 2nd session of technical rehearsal for Betrayal. We rehearsed scene changes yesterday afternoon, and all that that entails, and on the whole it all went rather well, I think. It’s quite a complex thing to do actually, as the idea is that scenes disappear and appear without the audience seeing it occur. Without giving anything away (again, I can only suggest you come and see for yourself!), there are mechanical devices at play here that assist us, but we all have to get to grips with them first. Always good to be challenged at work!

So today we are incorporating all of those challenges, and layering on other coats of theatrical paint, namely lighting, sound, costume, props etc…and doing the walking/talking thing too - all very exciting!

I am currently in my dressing room, bedecked in my rather fetching waiter garb, listening to the rehearsal stop/start/stop again on the show relay system, and keeping an ear out for when I have to pop down and assist in the scene change between scenes 5 and 6 - who said men can’t multitask?...

We will be “teching” till 10pm this evening and carrying on tomorrow morning with a view to having a dress rehearsal tomorrow evening. Will we stay on schedule? Will we maybe even be ahead of schedule? Will I manage not to drop the corkscrew this time? These, and other questions will be answered when next I get a chance to type some more Betrayal-based musings on my laptop. Til then, dear reader, you can but keep a finger or two crossed that all goes to plan………


[Ed. "coats of theatrical paint" nice...might have to steal that phrase...err, it seems I already have].

2-24 March | More info

Monday, 27 February 2012

Patiently waiting

Firstly, let me explain. My name is Barrie Hunter, and I’m an actor. Helen in marketing asked me if I would be interested in jotting down a few words for the Citz blog, as I am currently rehearsing the role of the waiter in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, which previews at the end of this week. I appear only in one scene, so I think Helen realised I would have a little more time on my hands than the 3 other actors, who have slightly more involvement than myself, to say the least! [Ed: That; your sparkling wit and astute mind!].

[Ed: My bribery to get Barrie to blog. Pinter's much over-looked waiter makes his mark]
I turned up on day one of rehearsal for the meet and greet and read-through, then I departed to let them get on with it while I jetted off to New York for a holiday-nice! I re-joined the team last Monday, which was the start of week 4 of rehearsals for Neve, Hywel and Cal (Emma, Jerry and Robert respectively), with Dominic at the helm.

Barrie with Andy Clark in Hamlet at the Citz
It’s been fascinating observing the play come together, and see the importance of punctuation being acknowledged within the production of the play. Every pause, silence and dot dot dot (…) line ending is in the script for a reason, and by not using them wisely, it just simply would not be the play that Pinter wrote. Dominic has likened this to a musical score, which I think is absolutely bang on, and when it’s observed, it works wonderfully well.

I, on the other hand, have the somewhat easier task of merely timing my exits and entrances, uncork wine bottles, pour said wine, take food orders, deliver food orders, take away plates, and generally interrupt Cal and Hywel’s conversation in the restaurant-easy peasy! Aside from one corkscrew dropping incident on Saturday morning, I seem to getting to grips with this for the most part.
There is an extraordinary amount of liquid intake in the play, and a large part of the setting up in the rehearsal room before a run of the play seems to be taken up with the filling of various bottles, beakers, glasses etc with water, which the cast then proceed to imbibe through the play. We have one of the most well irrigated casts I have ever had the pleasure of working alongside, and at the end of each run, before Dominic’s note session, the Citz’s plumbing is thoroughly utilised!

So here we are now at the start of Tech Week, when the whole shooting match relocates from the rehearsal room to the stage, and a new set of challenges await for the cast, crew and production team-happy days! We commence at 2pm this afternoon to rehearse the scene changes on stage, of which there are many. Without giving too much away (you’ll need to come and see for yourself), the rehearsal room has resembled a furniture warehouse from the late 60’s/early70’s, and that furniture (and cast) has to now arrive and depart the playing area seamlessly, as time passes through the play backwards and forwards…that’s the plan, anyway. Watch this space to find out how this all pans out…

2-24 March | More info

50p Tickets Revival

Saturday saw the first of three 50p ticket sales planned for 2012.

Echoing the 50p sales of Citz past, this was designed to provide absolutely anyone with the chance to see our work, provided they have 50p and the patience to join a queue. The offer was revived by new Artistic Director Dominic Hill. Saturday's sale was for Betrayal by Harold Pinter, which previews this week and is the first show to be directed by Dominic since taking up post!

Tickets went on sale at 10am. I arrived at the theatre at 8.50am and at that point there were 3 folk in the queue. From this point on the numbers grew steadily and we were delighted the rain stayed away.

From our point of view the build up to this sale was very exciting, but definitely nerve-wracking as we had no idea how many (if any) would show up. It was so good to see all the people who were prepared to wait to get tickets.

Actor Cal Macaninch joined Dominic to present the first ticket to the patient first person in our queue.

Well done to all who were successful in getting some 50p tickets this time around. 50p tickets for King Lear go on sale at 10am on Sat 14 April and for our Beckett double bill on Sat 26 May. If you can't make any of these, don't worry...

We are absolutely committed to providing theatre which is accessible to all of the Citizens in our community. For our own work, we provide a wide range of concessions which start at just £2 (for Unemployed and Gorbals Card-holders) and as a matter of course, we offer all seats at previews for just £6 and £10 Tuesdays. See Pricing info hereCheck Box Office for pricing on each show as some visiting companies vary.

This season, you can also see Limbo on 8-10 March for £5 (or £3 with a ticket to Betrayal).

Here's a wee slideshow from Saturday. Thanks again to all who took part, braved the cold and made it a big success! Here's to the next one.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Choosing Limbo

This week we started rehearsals for Limbo by Declan Feenan, the compelling and tender story of a young girl who gets into a relationship with an older man. Its a one woman play performed by the actor intern at the Citz, Lynn Kennedy. When I arrived at the Citz last September to be the resident assistant director, Dominic mentioned to Lynn and I that we should meet up and see if there was any work we could make together.

I had been at the Citz for a month, working on A Day in the Death of Joe Egg before I got a chance to properly meet Lynn. We sat down together briefly in the office we would later share to chat and see what kind of projects we might like to work on together. I have always worked on new writing and was very keen to find or create a new play for us to develop together but first we both wanted to get to know one another and each others tastes. Taking a trick I’ve used to get to know designers I’ve worked with we went to visit galleries together, see exhibitions, installations, to build up a knowledge of what work was going on right then in Glasgow and to find common ground. Going to the theatre together, then sitting down after with a drink to argue about what we liked and disliked really began to allow us to see how we might begin to work together.

We soon started to focus upon two ideas, to find an existing play to work on together or to devise our own. We got to work just before Lynn started rehearsals for Hansel & Gretel at the Citz and before I headed to assist on Mister Merlin at the Tron. By the time these shows started we knew we wouldn’t have time to devise our own show and should realistically be looking for an existing script.

With this in mind we started then to read, read and read some more. Searching for the best one person play that would suit Lynn perfectly. It was not easy. Finding a great one person play especially a great one person play for a young female actor, proved much more difficult than I ever thought it would be. After striking out with my own search I decided to call in some help and try to find a new play at the same time. I began a wider search by calling, emailing or generally shouting across the street at the literary departments of the Traverse, the Royal Court, Paines Plough and Tinderbox. Four of the biggest new writing companies in the UK. Asking each for recommendations and advice on finding what I was looking for. I got some great advice from everyone in these theatres but nothing at first came up, there seemed to be a lack of new one person plays. Calls then went out to the Playwrights Studio and onto various new writing blogs and still I couldn’t find anything that was suitable.

When I was particularly desperate and days away from when we needed to finalise the decision, I got an email from Tinderbox and one from the Traverse with a few more recommendations, one of which was Limbo. At first I wasn’t sure about the recommendations, I didn’t recognise the names of the writers but after a bit of research and a read of the plays I knew that I had found some winners.

I took a few recommendations to Lynn and after she had time to read them we sat and discussed what we liked. We whittled the choices down to two plays, Limbo and Adult Child/Dead Child by Claire Dowie. One of these two we would take to Dominic. Both were great scripts, Adult Child/Dead Child would be a real challenge in performance, with a fantastically rich and deep character, plus a great story, but Limbo attracted both Lynn and myself to it. The gorgeous and heartfelt story of a young girl alone and trapped in her own life really made us want to produce this piece and so it was Limbo that we took to Dominic.

Several months later we have now just started to get stuck into the play and are really excited about what we will discover and create together over the next few weeks. Come along to find out...


LIMBO | 8-10 March
Starts at 6.30pm (under 45mins)
£5 or £3 with a ticket to Betrayal!

Many thanks go out to: Jennifer Williams, Chris Campbell, Andy Arnold, Hanna Sl├Ąttne, Emma McKee and James Grieve. For all of your help and advice, very gratefully received.