UP OUT O' THE SEA: The Show Must Go On!
Thursday 26 May 2011
We arrived in Margaretting with the sun STILL shining bright (are we ever going to get rain? Not that I'm complaining but it seems too good to be true!) The set is up so we indulged in our daily ritual of a communal picnic in the sunshine, amongst nature and with bright blue skies above our heads. This is something I'm really going to miss, the moments we share as a team, sat down talking about our food (we are all such foodies!). I usually have some sort of spinach-orientated salad, Lisa T is hooked on mayonnaise at the moment so we get a surprising display every day of the wonders of mayonnaise; Sausages and mayonnaise, seabass and mayonnaise and sometimes she has things like polenta! (I'd never experienced polenta before this tour so I've learnt loads) Francis's delights are always a surprise too; sometimes he'll have a nasty little garage sarnie but at other times he has brought in the most delicious homemade spag bol, he's a very talented cook is Monsieur Woolf! Mike has moved on to salads now, gone are the pasties and Gregg's sarnies and in are the Suffolk deli specialities and exciting salads! And Laura, well Laura is the fiend of M&S super foods! And so to the show.....
Oh no the lights have cut out! Yep, the electricity stopped during Scene 9 and myself, Laura and Liza are on stage in pitch black. We stop the scene, the problem gets fixed and so we commence again, to a lovely applause from the audience. Phew...that was a close shave but the show must always go on!
And so to Syleham and Wingfield, the last time I was in this village hall was when I was 16 and with my friend Lucinda, dressed in 70's outfits for a friends 21st! Oh the memories! It's a tiny space to perform but it has some lovely features: Victorian black and white photographs of the village in the early 1900's, exposed brick work, a bar, pool room and fabulous kitchen! This show went ahead without a glitch and the organisers even knew my parents, as Tweedy says in the play "Everybody knows everybody around here, so you can't fart without..."! We stayed in Syleham until 1am, drinking with some locals and enjoying the homemade sandwiches and cake they had provided for us. Bliss.
Thursday brought us to Brandon; another part of EA that I know well. I used to go to school in Mildenhall and many of my friends lived in Brandon. The Leisure Centre was a curious space, a bit like an air hanger we decided but we had masses of space and I remember how free I felt in that performance. After the show we indulged in a pint, and once again I knew the bartender; turns out he was in the year above my brother at school, and I know his younger brother. It's a small world.
Friday 13th took us to Wells-next-the-Sea. How gorgeous it is here! A small theatre which meant our smallest version of the set, but a lovely warm feel to it with dressing rooms and raked seating for the audience. For lunch Francis, Laura and I went to a chippy where I was treated to my first battered sausage! I actually really loved it! Then we all went strolling, I walked along the harbour and sat taking photos of Poppies before ringing Tom (my boyf, who I now haven't seen for 2 weeks). 6pm brings warm-up time and some slight re-working of blocking due to the change from Traverse to End-On. 7:30pm and so it's show time; performing on Friday 13th really didn't bother me. If you start thinking things are going to go wrong then you are setting yourself up to allow them to go wrong. We had a lovely theatre space, a great show and Friday 13th won't get in any of ours way. OK maybe I was being naïve. Unfortunately, during Scene 6 an audience member had become poorly and we ended up having to stop the show, call an ambulance and postpone until we knew our dear audience member was in safe hands. I've been at the theatre before when this has happened but never been on stage. We stopped the scene, and waited for news. Once we knew our audience member was safely with the ambulance crew, the motions were put in action to start the play again from where we had stopped. The audience gave us a rapturous applause, and Laura opened the scene with great comic timing. God bless the Granary Theatre!
Saturday and the last performance of this week took us to Assington. Just FYI (for your information for those of you not down with the kids) we have now renamed Assington: BADASSington and you will learn why.... A really welcoming space with room to change into our costumes, enough space to be able to have a journey from dressing room to stage (I mention this because my character Emily runs in to the space, so I really value the venues that are big enough to accommodate the journey), and a gorgeous supper provided for us! We were treated like Kings! We had a table cloth, real cutlery, glasses and plates all laid out in front of us. Homemade soup, fresh warm crusty bread, jacket potatoes with mature cheddar cheese, salad, cheery tomatoes and elderflower cordial! Wow, we were left speechless and stuffed! Another great show, and a fantastic response from the audience. Many stayed afterwards to speak to us about the play and show their appreciation, we even had a glass of wine whilst doing the Get Out which was much needed after the week. We completed the Get Out in our fastest ever time, finishing at 22:40- bearing in mind when we started this tour we always finished at 11:05 and missed last orders at the pub. Booooooo. But not this time, well in time for last orders and so we headed to The Shoulder of Mutton....let the fun and games commence! The Lord Lucan's were playing live, the pub was full of lively fans and the drinks were flowing. We all danced along to the head banging music, topped up our drinks, danced some more, topped up our drinks again and danced until the sweat was pouring off our backs! It was SO GOOD to see Penny shaking her booty and head banging, she works like a dog and really cherishes these moments. Jumping on the spot, clutching her famous purple J2O she was in her element! I was wearing a leopard print all in one jump suit; I think it is a bit much for Suffolk! We left BADASSingon at about 1am I think, although don't quote me on that as I was verrrryyyy tipsy by this point. We loaded in the van at which point I remembered I'd bought us a bottle of Vodka. Need I say the rest of the journey was a haze. So know you know why we call it BADASSington; it rocked from the moment we arrived until the moment we stumbled back to the van. Rock and Roll Baby!
LM Hoctor x
Lisa-Marie Hoctor - Actor
UP OUT O' THE SEA: The Only Way is...Eastern Angles.
Tuesday 10 May 2011
No Get In or Get Out for a week????
Yes that's exactly what we said when the penny dropped (not Penny Griffin of course!) but the realisation that performing on our home turf aka the Sir John Mills Theatre meant no early starts, no heavy lifting and the certainty that WE WILL MAKE THE PUB!!!!
Opening night was a treat, the audience spoiled us with their generous laughs and being back in the SJM brought back memories of rehearsals for all of us. We've come a long way baby. After ‘Show One' in Ipswich we had wine, pork pies, cocktail sausages, posh crisps....oh they do know how to spoil you at Eastern Angles .Then we scurried over to The Greyhound (our favourite haunt! Sorry St Jude's- you come a very close second!) and had a few pints with the Guys and Dolls cast who were on the last leg of their Ipswich performances.
I have never drunk so much Aspall Cider as I have on this tour! For those of you who would like to know , when getting a ‘round in' for the Up Out O' the Sea company the following must be adhered to:
1. Francis's drink should be bought first because he gets VERY thirsty and by the time we have ordered the full round he is usually still at the bar with his wallet open ordering his second. For those adoring fans: Francis drinks Ale. REAL ALE. And he's quite fussy too!
2. The purchaser must do their utmost to ensure Penny has a ‘purple' J2O and a packet of ‘red' crisps.
3. The Snack Run must include a suitable variety for everyone's pallet, e.g:
-Red crisps for Pen,
- Scampi fries for Francis
- Blue crisps for Tremontin
- Spicy nuts for Mike
- Something without meat for Laura
- Pork Scratchings AND green crisps for me pretty please.
(AND IF YOU REALLY WANT TO GET INTO OUR GOOD BOOKS: TWO WORDS.....CHEESY MOMENTS!)
Mornings before shows are usually spent either A: sleeping, B: sleeping, C: sleeping or D: going to ‘Boxercise' as myself and Laura took it upon us to do. Never again. For those of you who have seen the show, you'll know my character Emily does quite a lot of climbing. Well never again shall I go to ‘Boxercise‘! My entire body was so stiff I couldn't even raise my arm, and laughing was a miserable painful mission for my stomach muscles. We did ‘Zumba' the next week instead! Amazing! Although it was a bit odd when we had to pretend we were cowboys and start lassoing?! I was pretty grateful my boyfriend couldn't see me in my very unflattering, flustered, sweaty cowgirl state.
Easter brought days off and much needed rest. I spent it in Leeds with my gorgeous boyfriend and it was 4 fun packed days of: neon rave ice cream, walks in the park, wine, shopping, wine, great food, wine, visiting my dad and grandma, playing on the trampoline with my boyfriend's beautiful niece Erin, eating Chinese food, wine and generally resting in the sunshine. Easter also brought the now infamous red leather hot pants!
Essex was an eye opener. We strolled through Brentwood and got lots of funny stares for not having fake tan or heels on. I love Brentwood! I let out a huge SHHHRRIEEEKKKK when I spotted ‘The Sugar Hut' and Laura and I raced over to have our photo taken outside it "SHUTTTUPPPPP!". I then started getting excited and declared that if we found ‘Minnie's Boutique' then it would have been a successful day! We spotted it, albeit quite far in the distance, but we saw it alright so shut up just shut up, shut up! And so I bid you farewell....I'm off to Lake Windermere for a wedding this weekend with my amazing friends........Oh I guess life ain't that bad, eh?!
UP OUT O' THE SEA: A Day in the Life...
Saturday 16 April 2011
I can't hope to be as entertaining as Laura and Francis have been in previous blogs so I'll attempt some fish based humour and then, if you'll forgive me, write a serious (but hopefully enlightening) piece. First the fish jokes.
Did you know that Noah actually built more than one ark? For example he built a split level one for all the fish. It was a multi-storey carp ark.
What did the fish say when he swam into a wall? "Dam!".
Anyway, let's move on to the blog proper. Actors have been a subject of fascination amongst ordinary people for centuries and I thought it would be good to reveal some of our secrets. So, you may ask, "How do you do it?"
At the heart of everything we do is ensuring our voice and body are in peak condition. The exact regimen varies from actor to actor but let me tell you how my day generally goes. (Note to editor: If one of the weekend supplements wants to lift the following for one of their day in the life type articles, get them to ring my agent to discuss the fee.)
The first thing I do is check my astrological chart to make sure it is safe to get out of bed. I have an especially accurate chart which is not just based on my being born on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer, but also takes into account that I am a rat rising and was born in the year of the Walrus. I usually start the day with an hour or so of Pilates or yoga. If I'm able to do this in the open air, so much the better. I ensure my chakras are aligned and that my chi is in full effect. Depending on my biorhythms (which I check religiously), I may then go on a short run (5 or 10 miles).
Breakfast next. This can be a minefield. Fortunately most of the really essential stuff is included in the various supplements I take which include tincture of elderflower and concentrated vitamin G. (This is a newly discovered vitamin. I don't how I find time to keep up to date with all the science journals.) This means I can breakfast on a simple meal such as fresh figs, Alphonso Mango, deseeded pomegranate with macrobiotic bran and a raspberry coulis. Sometimes, on tour, time constraints mean a bowl of crunchy nut corn flakes is sufficient.
Once at the venue, it is essential to walk the space. This ensures a feeling of ownership and enables us to give that effortless impression of being in the space and yet somewhere quite different at the same time. Believe me, nothing is as easy as we manage to make it look.
To describe my physical and vocal warm-ups would take up far more space than I have here but you will be pleased to know I am writing a book on these subjects and may well be taking workshops at the Actors Centre (if my agent doesn't ring me soon.)
(this sounds a bit fishy to me....Ed)
Mike Aherne, Actor
UP OUT O' THE SEA: Springwatch.
Thursday 07 April 2011
24 shows down, 34 to go.
Life on the road is just like it is in the films; a dirty, party-filled, stinking rock ‘n' roll mess. I am contractually forbidden to divulge too much of what goes on in that infamous Eastern Angles van, but I can reveal that we get through a lot of Mint Imperials and our capacity for loud, word-based travel games knows no bounds.
While we speed along in the back of that van, ankle deep in raffle prizes, empty packets of Jaffa Cakes and half-finished crosswords, the countryside outside our windows is blossoming. Seeing the flora and fauna of East Anglia springing to life has been one of the unexpected pleasures of this job. Speaking as someone whose fill of nature over the past year has been the urban foxes of Hackney it has felt like quite the Suffolk safari these past few weeks!
Lisa Marie got particularly up close and personal with nature in the form of a fame hungry wasp trying to muscle in on the action during the show at Monks Eleigh. The wasp got trapped inside Lisa's costume and gave her two nasty stings moments before she went on stage. Naturally the show must go on so, amazingly, with an angry wasp still trapped in her clothing she went on, barely a moment late for her cue. I wonder if the audience noticed that her character Emily was somewhat jumpy that evening?
We spotted badgers at the roadside on our way home from Monks Eleigh and promptly stopped the van in the hope to see more. So while Saturday nightlife was in full swing back in Ipswich, we were in the silence of the Suffolk countryside enjoying an impromptu midnight picnic in the van, washing down homemade sandwiches with glasses of raffle-won wine.
The first smell of spring was really in the air the day we arrived at Sibton's beautiful medieval church. Daffodils were blossoming in the churchyard and the sunlight through the stained glass covered us in bright washes of colour as we assembled our set. Francis ushered us outside halfway through the afternoon and we downed tools for a minute to hear the drumming of a woodpecker in the trees.
It has to be said that there's not much stability in the life of an actor, no guaranteed career path and you probably won't earn millions but it is nights like that one at Sibton; running through daffodils under a full moon during the interval and eating homemade cheese drop scones in the vestry that makes me realise there is nothing else in the world I'd rather do.
Laura Harding - Actor
UP OUT O' THE SEA : Down to business...
Saturday 26 March 2011
Pakefield is beautiful. Memories of my childhood came flooding back - staying with my aunt and playing with my cousins on the beach, swimming between the groynes and later, drinking at the Trowel and Hammer. After rigging the set on friday we had some time to find a chippie and eat our fish and chips on the beach with seagulls swooping down trying to get a look in...
Doing the show for the first time was amazing. A few line drops and a little bit of prop juggling and we did it. Our energy and enthusiasm wasn't lost on the Seagull audience. We had some lovely feedback after the show and Jon provided us with some well deserved vino.
Having an audience in changed the play more than I had imagined, the laughter in places we had not percieved and the focus of the audience on the story we were telling powered us through and brought many elements of the play together.
The second night is traditionally not as good as the first, but I think we managed to pull it off, still buzzing from opening. Again our audience was really receptive and I began to see that each of the seventy-odd performances would be different. I can't wait for more.
The second night involved our first "get-out". I have been made van-packer, which involves compressing our massive lovely set into the Eastern Angles van. I obviously have the necessary skills for van packing: strength, precision, bravery, problem-solving, agoraphobia, social ineptitude... etc... The get-out took about an hour and a quarter and everyone pitched in. It is pretty knackering but by the end of the tour I think we will have muscles in places we didn't know existed.
After Pakefield I am really looking forward to seeing the other beautiful places we will visit next week: Polstead, Hatcheston, Hindolvesdon and more! Getting to see East Anglia will be one of the nicest things about this tour, and I hope that the villages and towns we visit will embrace a bit of professional theatre on their doorsteps.
The jokes took a bit of a downturn in the last blog. I am not too sure where to go next with the theme of the made-up jokes. But I think the blog reins will be gracefully handed over to another cast member very soon so perhaps they may have some better offerings. One thing we have started playing in the van is a game my lovely pal Gareth Fordred taught me, "I've got a business". The format goes like this:
A - I've got a business!
B - What's your business?
A - My business is - (lead up to terrible pun)
B - How's Business?
A - (terrible business-based pun)
So, for example:
SC (Steve Cooney) - I've got a business!
EA - What's your business?
SC - My business is Scuba diving trips through toilets
EA- How's Business?
SC- It's gone down the pan!
FW (me) - I've got a business!
EA- What's your business?
FW- My business is Pig farming on mountains
EA - How's Business?
FW- well, there's peaks and troughs...
and many, many, many more...
Francis Woolf - Actor
UP OUT O' THE SEA: "I don't do requests..."
Thursday 10 March 2011
Apologies blog addicts. You have been missing your fix I am sure, but better late than never...
The last 2 weeks have been pretty full on. Week 3 was when it all came together, we began running full halves of the play and it really started to take shape. Each time we went through it we discovered more and more detail. To reward ourselves we went back to St. Judes Pub on the Friday.
The night started off fairly low key, but as soon the Westons 8% and potent beer had kicked in, we were in a musical mood. A lovely Glaswegian chap was playing "his own material" and "wouldn't take requests" but with some gentle encouragement from Lisa-Marie he came to our table and we developed our very own brand of folk/rock/Suffolk-woodland/garage/pop - a cacophony of table drumming and foot stamping; confused Glaswegian warbling; bluesy guitar and harmonica; accompanied by freestyle singing in a Suffolk stlyee. Our songs included the infamous "How many toimes you bin' to Thorpeness?", and the UK Garage favourite "Who got tha weasel?". Apparently we went dancing at the Swan afterwards but my memory is hazy to say the least... I have to say this was the highlight of the week. The full run of the play the next morning was decidedly difficult for a few of us, but Alka-Seltzer, OJ, bacon and Ribena helped a lot. It was quite an encouraging run-through though...
Last week was Tech week. We ran the play a fair few times. We were finally able to see Penny's amazing lighting plan and rehearse with Tom Taylor's soundscape. The technical stuff makes such a difference. It felt really clear where we were, whether it was the cliff-top of "the point" or inside Mrs Jope's library. Mike Kwasniak came in to take production shots which definitely increased the amount of "dynamic" poses...
Opening night is about to be upon us... I'm not sure if I am nervous or not. I think I feel pretty confident in us, we have a great play and such a supportive mob it would be hard to feel worried...
We discovered a mutual love of internet scrabble this week, but Penny's "Gunwales" for 75 points means Mike, Steve and I are now playing catch-up. Is there no end to Penny's talents?!
I feel like I have, not only cornered myself into fish/sea based made-up jokes, but also set the bar pretty high with the Gil Scott Heron joke. I am struggling. My best offering is this-
How do shellfish commute to work? From the crustacean (crus-station)
Yep. I think it's time to move on...
Opening night blog to follow...
Francis Woolf - Actor
UP OUT O' THE SEA: Turbot Time
Thursday 24 February 2011
The second week of rehearsal is over and it has gone swimmingly(!). We have gone through the whole play and we are beginning to work off-book. We have been able to work on our lovely set this week, which has provided it's fair share of inspirations and challenges.
As we begin to block the play and introduce the many props you can really see it all taking shape. The moment you put the book down is the moment you really get a chance to play and I think we have all had an opportunity to do that this week.
One of the good things about this week was all the sweets! Penny's "luxury snowballs" appeared at the end of the week as did Jon's Jelly Babies, and on Monday Mike brought in some lovely marshmallow hearts which his lovely fiancé bought him for Valentine's Day (Ahhhhhhhhh that's so... (vomit!)).
We had Andrew Clarke from the East Anglian Daily Times come in to do an interview with Lisa-Marie (playing Emily/Milly) and me on Thursday which was fun. I think the "media spotlight" suits me. We are both locals in one way or another and we spoke about Thomas Mills and about our time with Mouth Youth Theatre in Halesworth. It's odd doing interviews like that as you babble on in the vain hope you might say something interesting, with no real idea of what the journalist wants or what he will use for the article. I can just imagine the headlines... 'Suffolk actors both seem pretty normal', or '"I am now based in London" claims Leistoner Woolf'
As we get further through the rehearsal process we are also getting to know each other a lot better and we decided that the cast really needed to go out for a drink together... so on Thursday, we did. After finishing for the evening, Lisa-Marie, Laura (plays Carrie), Claire (Design Assistant, Prop Maker, Photographer, Dogsbody and Sneaker-Freak), Karen (EA Marketing Officer and General Media Pimp) and I went back in time to the sideways Dickensian alehouse that was St. Judes. Wow. It was maybe the best pub I've been to in a long time. Skulls and books on the fake tar-stained walls; sawdust on the floor; candelabra with candle bulbs complete with authentic flicker; large farty chaps with bellies, metal tankards and greying beards; and probably the best selection of real ales and ciders in Ipswich. I am a proper beer fan (minus the beard and sandals) so I loved it. I'm not sure what the others thought, but unfortunately we only stayed for a couple and went on to the Greyhound for food. There we met Mike and Lisa (playing Mrs Jope) and we gorged ourselves on fishy delights, gossip and treacle tart.
Speaking of fishy delights... the puns and fishy songs have continued through the week. I think I am becoming a Dab hand at it, until I Flounder. I hope they're not so bad I make Anemone because that might create Tenchion... hmmm.
"Another amazing made-up, yet relevant, joke!" I hear you scream... I am sorry loyal blog fan, but I tried very hard this week but all I could come up with was one based on the "How do you turn a duck into a soul singer? Put it in the oven til it's Bill Withers" joke... here goes...
How do you turn a fish into a soul singer?
Leave it to go mouldy until its gills-got-hair-on (Gil Scott Heron)...
...But I tried. Sorry.
(Not hard enough - Ed)
Francis Woolf - Actor
UP OUT O' THE SEA: Do well bo'
Thursday 17 February 2011
The first week of rehearsals has been fantastic. Each day brought something new. We have been working this week with the writer Andrew Holland which is such a gift for an actor as you are able to iron out any kinks in the sense of what you are saying.
On Tuesday we went to Dunwich Beach and talked to a REAL LIFE fisherman, who turned out to be my old neighbour from Leiston, Chris. He told us about what was biting and the lack of it. His ideas about the fish stocks spurred me to watch Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's fish face on 4OD, which did a pretty good job of highlighting the reasons for the decline in beach trawling, which is the type of fishing Tweedy (played by me!) and Dolphie (Mike Aherne) do. The EU quotas on fishing are nodded to in the play and I think it helps to inform our characters to understand the difficulties faced by modern fishermen.
From Dunwich we moved on to Aldeburgh which is where I feel the play is set (though it could feasibly be any East Anglian fishing/tourist town). In Aldeburgh we combed the beach, looked at boats, walked down the shingle as the sun set, had fish and chips and sat in the Cross Keys for a pint (or two) and some cheesy moments (read into that what you will) - all in the name of research of course! When I got back to my digs that night I couldn't help thinking "is this really my job!?"
Having spent the last three and a half years in London training and working, it is quite a surreal experience being back home for what is essentially my first "proper" theatre work. I really feel at home here and I am really proud that our audiences will contain a familiar face or two.
The rest of the week was spent going over the play scene by scene, deciphering the Suffolk accent and making a fair few sea-based jokes and puns. I tried to get these into an interview I did with Cad Taylor on ICR fm on Thursday, getting people to text in fishy song titles, these were the best examples (some from the cast and some from the listeners) :
I'm Breaming of a Whitebait Christmas
Sitting on Haddock of the Bay
Never Mind the Pollocks
D-Bream's Things Can Only Get Batter
Cod Save The Queen...
the list goes on... (must it? - Ed.)
All in all I am feeling really positive about the play, it is so cleverly and beautifully written by Andrew and I feel a real community vibe at Eastern Angles, with the cast and the crew. I can't wait to begin working on the amazing set, designed by Ian Teague.
I think i'm going to try and end each blog entry with a made up joke... prepare to cringe.
Why won't a Suffolk fisherman give anything away?
'Cos 'e sell fish...
Francis Woolf - Actor