A Capital Time

Wednesday 7 June

A big day. For anyone, I would hope, but especially for those of us not from London. (‘Country bumpkins’ as we’ve been described by our Capital-dwelling counterparts in a manner I’m choosing to believe is affectionate.)

Zoe arrived at Oli’s house having spent a night at home in Cambridge, and so she, Oli, Gab, Annabel and I departed the domestic comforts of Elstree & Borehamwood and headed into town.

Getting into Blackfriars station, we walked amiably down the South Bank and picked up our tickets to see Romeo & Juliet that afternoon at Shakespeare’s Globe. Day standing tickets are only £5, and so one is left wondering a) how this isn’t a regular habit for all those within an hour radius of the city and b) who would pay extra not to stand with the ‘groundlings’?

We had some time before the performance at two, so we wandered a little further onward to Borough Market in the hopes of finding some lunch. However, as we had anticipated, the market was shut and surrounded by police, still an active crime scene from the terror attack to have happened there just days earlier. So we dined on those other most famous of London delicacies- Subway and cheap sushi- before heading back to the Globe.

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A real treat.

Daniel was waiting for us when we arrived, anxious by our tardiness and fearful that we weren’t coming. (Come on, would we dare miss a show that Michael Billington of The Guardian described as “perverse” example of “vandalised Shakespeare”? And as liberal high-minded Arts students, we all know that The Guardian is always right. Always. And never wrong. Never.)

For many of us, it was our first time in the Globe. (It was my first time in London for a period beyond eight hours.) But for us all it was an especially memorable and poignant pleasure to be there, since we had all been involved in BoxedIn’s own version of RJ just a few months prior. (Well, almost all of us. I won’t name names to spare Zoe’s feelings…)

And so by the show’s end we found ourselves in a bit of a predicament. Some of us, like Billington, agreed that the Globe’s main function was historical ‘experience’ and replication, and so productions should adhere to the ethos of being performed ‘as it would have been done.’ Others did not share this view. However, despite all of us having something to say and aspects to critique, we all thoroughly enjoyed the performance. (Two and a half hours standing is never easy, but it could hardly be described as difficult that afternoon.) I myself take the traditional view for the performance space, yet found myself laughing and enjoying this wacky production of clown costumes, Doritos bags and drunken renditions of YMCA.

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Thankfully it didn’t rain

We left the venue immersed in this debate, but all concurred that our own production in March was superior. (I mean Romeo played by a man?! How absurd…)

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RJ Cast! (+1) …

Took the tube into Camden where we met up with Sarah. Had dinner at the market, all of us choosing separately from the various and diverse stalls before eating together. The day was just starting its slow and long drop into night, and the mood was jovial.

(London prices can actually fuck off, though.)

Went back into town and met up with Emily. We were all lucky enough to be given free tickets to see Kinky Boots on the West End by our good friend Jamie Jones. For those uninitiated with the show, it was written by Cyndi Lauper, it features a lot of drag queens, and it’s about shoes. (It’s also about respecting our fellow human beings for who they really are and accepting them in a modern diverse society, but it’s mostly about shoes.)

It’s basically a more fabulous version of Wood.

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They ask the one with the longest arms to take the pictures.

We all loved it, and came out singing and tapping our feet. Jamie Jones and Hannah Raymond-Cox took us for drinks afterwards, where we all got quite merry indeed.

(Until I saw the prices. Seriously, London, we’re trying to make it as actors. Help us out.)

A Shakespearean show with my fellow Shakespearean (amateur) actors, Camden market dinner and a West End musical. I hadn’t felt a country bumpkin when I left the house…

Thursday 8th June

Left to our own devices, we each spend the day doing our own thing. Since it was election day I felt it only fitting to get off the train at Blackfriars again and walk up to Westminster and around Parliament. (Not before walking past the National Theatre and BFI Centre, thinking how these two giants of British art could be next door to one another, and about the privilege and good fortune of those who work there, and how they got to do so.)

The cast came round to Oli’s for a rehearsal in his spacious garden to refresh our memories of the play and to work in the small rewrites Oli had written in. (Did anyone else notice how only my lines had been cut?) After which we all shared a barbeque with Oli’s parents, eating and drinking inside in the warm summer air, abruptly brought to an end by the warm summer rain.

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Celebrating a presumptive Labour landslide!

Those of us residing at Oli’s stayed up to watch the election results come in. Whilst not a conventional win, we were all relieved to see Mrs. May’s majority go down (even if later dismayed at the implications of this regarding the DUP.) We took a break and had a swim in the early hours, feeling like teenagers five minutes into a slasher movie. Shivering, we headed back inside and went off to bed, the results suggesting a Conservative reduced majority, proving not all victories are overt, and Tories are capable of losing two gambles with the electorate in a row. One cannot self-prescribe hubris, it seems.

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Looking like a Tolkien creature not used to the light.
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Dripping with sweat from election nerves or just wet from the pool? (AKA Baywatch Cast)

Friday 8th June

Another day spent doing what we pleased. I returned to Westminster and briefly hung outside Downing Street, seeing a few protestors and a single camera, but not general attention as I had thought. (In fairness, it had been a long night.)

As Saturday would be our first performance day, we spent the afternoon around Liverpool Street Station and Brick Lane, trying out the best flyering spots. Turns out the high prices weren’t the only London stereotype which turned out to be true. Londoners, though living in a wonderful city, are rude. And reserved. And looking at either a phone or their feet. They were a resistant wall almost impossible to flyer to.

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Flyering, looking fly.

(Then again, if I had just finished a long day’s shift in the office, having a greasy-haired twenty-something with bad facial hair offer me a free evening of queer theatre would probably make me reach for my phone, pretending to be busy.)

That evening we all watched Barber Shop Chronicles in the Dorfman at the National Theatre. It was my first time in the building proper (discounting my open-mouthed lull around the bookshop the day prior) and I was genuinely excited, as was everyone else.

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At least we can say we’ve been onstage at the National

Another wonderful show. Funny, emotive, poignant, political, personal. And slick (those transitions, man…), it really was a brilliant piece of theatre and one I am glad I got the opportunity to see. I advise people to see it, and I hope to see it again myself.

I really was enjoying London a great deal.

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Barber set (not Sweeney Todd)

After the show we all took a stroll down South Bank, the city lit up, the office blocks slowly fading, St. Paul’s Cathedral dominating the cityscape across the Thames. Down on the shore there were shirtless fire dancers, spinning flaming touches in a sort of jungle-style ritual. We watched, and a fellow onlooker informed us that it was in celebration of the full moon, and something they do on every such lunar event. No wonder the city and water had looked so charming.

Oli was particularly content, and commented that we had just seen a wonderful show in the greatest city on earth, and by this time tomorrow we would have contributed, if only slightly, to that artistic-cultural mosaic.

(I don’t think Lawrence Olivier ever had to say “I want you inside me Nick,” however.)

Saturday 9th June

Our first show day.

The afternoon was spent flyering as required by our shifts, the rest of the time we were free to do as we pleased until call time at 5:20.

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Outside JuJu’s. Annabel dressed 10. Me dressed 65+

Both activities- flyering and meandering around shops- further confirmed by suspicions about London. The flyering, as has already been mentioned, simply strengthened my belief in the rudeness and reservation of Londoners compared to the rest of the country. (Granted, we had only Brighton to compare them to, and one would be forgiven for assuming that the only constituency willing to vote in the Greens would be a little friendlier than most.) The second was what was on display in this trendy, up-and-coming area. Unsurprisingly, there were vintage shops, market stalls and cheap delis. However, there were some others occupants to these important buildings that were both surprising and, given the general degree of piercings, tattoos and beards I saw on the populace, not surprising at all.

One chief example would be the room dedicated to coal. Not a shop, almost an art exhibition, this environmental project wished to spread its message by renting out a room, filling it with coal, and giving away bags of coal to anybody who wished to possess a bag of coal before instantly regretting their previous decision, now stuck with a bag of coal and blackened fingers. The message seemed to be if curious Londoners had the coal in paper bags, then other people with ulterior motives couldn’t have at this seemingly precious reserve of coal. (Fat Cats, I believe they’re collectively known as. Or, better still, ‘The Man’.) This was an unanticipated and interesting use of space, but considering it was mere metres away from the Cereal Killer Café– the pricey shop that made headlines back in 2015 with accusations of gentrification of the neighbourhood gone bad- a room full of coal didn’t actually seem all that surprising.

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A coal shop in London. It’s like a setting from a Dickens novel.

What I’m trying to say is, London was fulfilling expectations.

Since we were performing in the beer garden of JuJu’s Bar and Stage (which, predictably, was usually filled with paying beer drinkers) we could not use the space until just a little before show time, just time enough to set up the performance space. So we went to a nearby park to warm up. We’ve done it so many times now, it’s funny to think how odd we must all look, singing and moving around and playing games in an enclosed space, oblivious to the surrounding park-goers confused as to what this loud intrusion is. They just wanted a quiet rest at the park, away from the noise of the city.

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‘Performance space, pre-set up’ (or ‘2 Gentlemen contemplate art amongst tables’)

The performance space itself was smaller than what we had had in Brighton. We were all slightly nervous about this, nor were we sure what to expect. The ground wasn’t what you’d traditionally call even, and once we moved the tables to the side we saw on the ground a large family outing of maggots, and the odd worm. Gab, who spends half of the show lying on the ground as the dead body, had a look on his face I don’t think was stage fright.

Further problems arose when we attempted to peg the tents down. Putting the peg into the ground, rather than rummaging downwards through inches of soil, there was a strong resistance mere centimetres beneath the ground. I cleared away the soil with my hand to see that this little layer of earth was lying upon a brick flooring, clearly impossible to fully peg down a tent in. Since the garden was enclosed by walls, we prayed the wind would not be too strong.

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The audience was mostly made up of family and friends – although we did get a few locals coming every day, curious about all the creative commotion in an other-wise quiet beer-garden. The show ran smoothly, the new space not proving an obstacle after all, and the show ran very smoothly, with positive feedback from all the audience members.

And so we had enjoyed the fruits of our capital city, realised its obstacles and limitations, but had, in some small way in a little beer garden buried in a corner of Brick Lane, contributed to its artistic landscape.

(I don’t think Romeo & Juliet had that many “fucks” and “cunts” in it, however.)

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Well done team.
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Brighton Rocked

Thursday

Remember where we left off on Wednesday? It was a gloriously sunny day and we had our largest turnout yet. Thirty-five! On a Wednesday!

Thursday: a little closer to the weekend, but it was just as sunny. Even better, if anything. Not a cloud in the sky. A perfect day. The show was obviously creating some sort of buzz. A sell-out show? Not beyond possibility. The people from the night before coming back to see the roles reversed? The rest of Brighton high society trying to look casual as they stampede to New Steine Gardens, wanting to be seen seeing what was obviously the hottest new show in town.

Thursday Audience Count:

One.

Oh.

I guess not all of Brighton got the message.

He dutifully stayed for the entire show and gave us a very generous donation and a smile before leaving. However it must be said that, especially considering the large turnout the night previous, that we weren’t in the best of spirits.

Nevertheless we went down to the beach and played some games, talked, laughed. Oli later joined us and as we all got a little drunker our collective spirits rose.

Our first stop was the Ye Olde King and Queen. We had passed it every day on the bus, its mock-Tudor style a striking contrast to the takeaways and grocery shops that share its street. Once inside, we were quite impressed. Boasting to be Brighton’s largest public house, its interior was that of a pub, only much larger, grander in certain features (round tables of such a size to put one in mind of Camelot), and filled with mostly students. It was a rowdy and loud place, but we filled a circular table, and, feeling a bit like lowly peasants at the king’s court, drank ourselves silly.

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King and Queen
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Posers

Not sure where to head next, Oli took charge. Club Coalition. We hadn’t heard of it. “Guys, we’re on the guest list.” Won’t it be busy by now? It’s past midnight. “Guys, don’t worry. I emailed. They put us on the guest list.” But- “Guys, it’s Oli Savage plus eight. Trust me.”

We walked to the seafront. Oli led the way and strutted to the bouncer. (Did anyone else notice the lack of a queue?)

“Hi, I’m Oli Savage and I’m on the guest list.”

“No guest list tonight, mate.”

“But I sent an email and everything.”

This was not a problem in itself, other than for Oli’s now-crushed ego, as the club was largely empty. Again, not a problem. The strange underground club at the seafront is based in an abandoned viaduct, with archways and tunnels that gave the place an eery quality. (Only enhanced by the lack of people.)

But perfect for us. As Oli says, “I need dance room”. We all had a dance, moved our limbs (even me) and had a weird old time.

By the time we all staggered home, I was left wondering whether it was possible to enjoy a night out in Brighton that couldn’t be characterised as “weird”, “different” or, to use our favourite, “rogue”.

Friday

Another hangover day. To be expected, I suppose. It’s always a little harder, I find, to flyer enthusiastically about queer outdoor theatre when your head and body feel like a heavily-trafficked dance floor (pounding, sticky and, objectively, a bit unpleasant).

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Being dramatic

We performed our penultimate queer run of the show. It was windy. Oh so windy. Oh so windy that some of the pegs holding down the tents came out of the ground, and we had to place the unused chairs facedown on the ground once it became apparent that, if we didn’t, the wind would do so for us, only in a less orderly fashion. Still, it was this weather (granted, on a Friday) that prompted citizens of Brighton to come see us, and not the cloudless climes of the day before.

Back at the house, we watched National Treasure. For those who haven’t seen it (which, before Friday, included several of our cast and crew, myself being one of them) if you’re in need of  a film that unifies a group with its marvellous cliches, disgustingly brilliant remarks and just Nicholas Cage, then you wouldn’t go wrong with National Treasure. We all laughed ourselves silly as pretentious arts/history students, whilst all not too secretly loving it. We need to find a National Treasure Drinking Game.

(Fun Fact, according to IMDb the original rough cut of the film was four hours long. I’d be on the floor by the end of the first act.)

Saturday

Our last ever straight run in Brighton. A bittersweet feeling, only to be amplified the next day.

Back at the house that evening several of the gang FaceTimed our good friend Molly from the USA, and shared in some transatlantic thespian laughs. I made my famous spinach and pesto quinoa and totally did not stress over it. Not even once. Honestly.

Late at night we were all still up when the news from London reached us. We all made the appropriate calls and watched the coverage on television, saddened that this was not the first time since arriving in Brighton that such news had reached us.

Sunday

A hard flyering drive in the hope of getting rid of all of our flyers before our final ever Brighton show that evening. Made all the more difficult in the heat, the extra-large piles of flyers took longer to get rid of to a citizenry who clearly, after a fortnight of daily campaigning, were a bit sick of us.

Once I was finished, I took a long walk on the seafront into Hove, listening to Dylan, smelling chips and the sea air, watching smiling faces of people at the seaside.

Our last ever show in the Brighton garden. There was a large audience, if quite a few walkouts. It had turned quite windy by the evening. We thanked the audience, packed away and went home, privileged for the opportunity to perform in such a characteristic (and loud…) space, overlooking the sky and sea and, on a clear day, France.

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What a space

Georgia left us an evening early, so we all had a group hug and said goodbye to her.

At home, we all made a collective dinner. Tacos, fajitas and mojitos. Zoe made a vegan filling, I a veggie, and Em a meat. We sat at the table, ate quite possibly the most amazingly hearty meal I’ve ever had, and discussed our favourite moments of the tour so far, our sadness to leave that great house, and our excitement for what was to come.

We played a few rounds of Vampires (did Oli get too invested? I couldn’t possibly say…) before bed. We had an early start in the morning…

Monday

Ouch. Getting up at early in the morning when used to rolling out of bed close to midday, after mojitos and Vampires until the early hours, was not pleasant. But we knew this the night before.

It was a dull but frantic morning. We got on the bus and, seeing the performance space one last brief time, transported the seats back to their home in storage next to the pier.

Back to the house to clean, tidy, pack, check- you know the feeling. In groups, we left the house sporadically depending on train times. Oli, Gab, Em and I were the last to leave. Between us, including personal and show-related, we were carrying eighteen bags. We were definitely the most popular people on the two buses we had to get as we blundered our way to the station.

(On one of the buses there was a child crying very loudly about nothing in particular. I said he was like Oli. His father then calmed him down and he stopped crying. Oli said the father was like Sarah.)

Using Oli’s failsafe method that carrying five bags is the optimal number (four too few, six too many; you all know how numbers work) we finally shifted our flustered selves to the train station. The three boys took the train to London Victoria, saying goodbye to Emily, Brighton and a wonderful two weeks. Brighton, you were great.

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Travelling light

Now, I’m not a city person myself in my upbringing. Certainly not a London-person. But I think that carrying five bags each through busy London train and tube stations is a stressful job for anyone. For me, not knowing my way around and with an irrational fear of inconveniencing strangers, this was especially hard.

Annabel waited for us at Victoria, and the four of us managed to fight through train and tube and eventually made it to Oli’s station. I hadn’t realised that we were near Elstree Studios, particularly interesting as I had been reading Carrie Fisher’s book The Princess Diarist on the train, which naturally mentions the area. His mother very kindly drove us to the house and we settled into our new ‘digs’.

The four of us headed back to the station. I now know why Oli loves the Fast and Furious franchise so much. They taught him how to drive.

Feeling a little dizzy, we got onto the train and headed back into the city.

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Ah, JuJu’s!

We headed to see our performance space. JuJu’s Bar & Stage is in an extremely trendy area of London. Every corner of the street someone seemed to be doing something that could be described as trendy. And everyone seemed to have piercings.

It’s unlike the North…

JuJu’s was charming and stylish, and the garden in which we’ll be performing was a compact but elegant space in the midst of all this urban activity. It will certainly be a different environment to the rolling garden of Brighton. After a short meeting, we said goodbye to the space before moving on.

Oli took us to “the best sandwich shop in the world” before going under cover (it had started to rain) to find a fashion show by the London College of Fashion. It was a strange but interesting affair; not a kind of art I know much about, but people seemed to be getting excited by what was being displayed, some conservative outfits, others costumes from science fiction. London is not like Blackburn.

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Not enough tweed. 

Next was the much-publicised “best bar in London” (quote Oli, again). And whilst it is thus far the only bar in London I’ve been to, I feel he may be right. Vagabonds is a wine bar where one receives a card, puts money on it, and then is free to sample the wines on display around the walls. It was a stylish and ‘classy’ affair, and Gab, Ann and I were all very glad Oli took us. Caitlin Morris, who played Romeo in BoxedIn’s Romeo & Juliet, came to join us briefly. We all talked and caught each other up on what we’d been doing, before heading back to the tube, picking up some wine on the way and with some people, not naming names Annabel and Gabriele don’t worry, managing to leave the security tag on the bottle.

Some people just can’t handle the big city.

 

 

A Different Pier to St. Andrews

Hi guys. I ended the last blog post telling you about us singing through the pouring rain on Sunday night (well, Monday morning), all happy despite the storm and not caring about being soaking wet. We were drenched, tired and cold, but happy when we went to bed.

Monday.

Hmm.

It appears we may have overestimated our own strength. (Or forgotten our collective weaknesses.) Turns out spending a night in the pouring rain isn’t actually ideal for one’s health. (Who knew?!)

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Shelter from the “storm”

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t a great day. The weather was against us, which only made the cast members who were feeling under the weather feel a little bit worse. There was a slight drizzle all day, and the weather hadn’t improved come show time.

For those yet to see the show, there’s a dead body. This dead body is, naturally, played by one of our actors. The thought of an already under-the-weather actor lying on the damp ground for an hour wasn’t a brilliant one from a health and safety (and, let’s face it, common sense) perspective.

Naturally, before anything else, the health and safety of the cast and crew comes first. Always. The show is also second to that.

So Monday was our first cancelled performance of the tour. Oli and Sarah courageously stayed behind to wait for the several people willing to see the show despite the spitting rain.

We all went home and rested. Doing a show every night of the week is a new experience for most of us, not quite like the weekend student performances we’re used to in St. Andrews.

Lessons learnt: this tour is a marathon, not a sprint. Look after your health. The show always comes second to that.

Tuesday

The glorious weather returned, and we were all in better spirits.

We awoke to a smoothie Oli had made us all whilst we were sleeping. He said it was full of fruits and vitamins. We can’t be sure exactly what was in it, but we’re all still here. So that’s a good sign.

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The “thing”

We went about our usual flyering duties. We occasionally get into a pleasant conversation whilst flyering; often we just get ignored. Occasionally we get a bit rudeness. On Tuesday I got a Magnum. A real chocolatey free Magnum. Off two girls who even came to see the show! Double win. Thanks again guys.

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Free food

The show went well. The audience size was pretty good and, thankfully, the sun was shining. (We’d missed it. It had only been a day.)

We came back to the house, all happy to have the show back running as usual. We drank a little, and played the game ‘Vampires’, and laughed into the wee hours…

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lol, covfefe

Wednesday

Another gloriously sunny day. Since arriving, we had been planning- and postponing- a ‘pier day’- a day set aside for, you guessed it, Brighton Pier. The sun was shining and it seemed like today would be the best day. So a very last minute decision was made: the day would be spent on the pier. (Whilst still adhering to flyering duties. Cry.)

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Self-evident, and thumb.

Dan, Sarah and Zoe were first to flyer. So the rest of us went to the pier. Throughout the day we all gradually dispersed and reappeared in accordance to our advertising commitments. But we all spent time on the famous pier which, in a shocking turn of events, is nothing like the one at St. Andrews.

Gab, Em, Annabel and I enjoyed the fruits of the pier. The fruit we were particularly interested in was the largest rollercoaster they had on offer: Turbo. Praying our bags wouldn’t be stolen, we queued for a whopping sixty seconds before getting on, bracing in (double checking we were definitely braced in), ascending, seeing a panoramic of sea and sky and city, (definitely definitely checking we were indeed braced in), before descending, whirling, upside-down-ing. (It’s a word.) You all know what a rollercoaster is. Or at least a mini-pier-sized version.

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Before the turbo

Gab ran off to flyer (on time, promise promise promise…) and we three got food. I got an incredibly economical box of noodles. (Seriously Dr. Noodle, what you playing at?) We sat on an old style bench, watched the sun flicker off the sea, and felt like we were in the olden days. (Well, at least I did.)

Somehow we resisted the temptation to pay £20 to have our fortunes read. (Seriously, how did we have that will power? I mean, the guy could read our futures! Seriously! For real!)

Em had some cash to spend, and so got a temporary tattoo. After much debate and squabble (“No we can’t get the BoxedIn Theatre logo”) a little dinosaur named Skinny Jeff was decided on. He doesn’t immediately look skinny, but if you look at his relatives in the big book of tattoo options, Regular Jeff and Fat Jeff, the name makes sense.

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Getting ink. 

I’ve never seen someone so excited.

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Skinny Jeff

I left to flyer, but the others stayed and enjoyed the day. Sarah, after much persuasion, went on her first rollercoaster. She vowed never to go on one again.

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Never again…

The gang went down to the beach and by all accounts had a great time. There were a lot of chips and, I’m told, a lotta’ laughs.

These prescribed settings also seem a bit odd to me. Although every venue wants you to feel a certain way (a restaurant satisfied with a meal; a theatre happy with a show), it always seems odd when a place prescribes the emotions in their actual titles. (‘Amusement Park’; ‘Arcade of Fun’, etc.) I don’t know if the arcades really were that fun, or the rides that thrilling. But the air was hot. And we were all there. Everybody seemed to have a good day.

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We went to the park and somehow, as if by magic (or an effective advertising campaign), we got our largest turn out yet. Thirty-five real human beings! (For comparison, our capacity is forty.) The show went well, but we didn’t think about it for too long. Why were we packing up so fast…

Oh, yes. That’s why. Not coerced or disproportionally influenced by any of the cast and crew specifically (seriously guys, definitely not Em and Annabel; definitely not them…) that evening we were seeing Macho Macho. For those who didn’t read the last blog post, Em and Annabel (and quite a few others, it must be said) got a little excited watching Macho’s own effective ad campaign on the street. (That campaign being stripping and flexing.) They were certainly excited to see the real thing and, to be honest, the rest of us were as well.

None of us were entirely sure what to expect. We knew it was a show exploring masculinity. A physical theatre piece, of some description.

We took a bus to Hove. We got our tickets but were a little early, so we bought some drinks and found a magnificent garden just down the road. It was very much like our performance space (long, green, running down to the sea), only instead of being surrounded by holiday hotels, we now found ourselves surrounded by the apartments of the evidently very wealthy. The sun was setting and the mood was calm.

We arrived at the Old Market theatre. There was even some pre-show virtual reality entertainment, which a couple of us decided to try out…

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The future is now

The two bodies were onstage, curled on the ground, as we walked in. (I can only presume they took inspiration from Wood.) For an hour we watched an intense physical duet, the two lifting and supporting each other, trying to keep up, panting, staring into the bare stage lights, staring into the audience. Oli got given one of their sweaty t-shirts. Why he voluntarily gave it back at the end I can only guess.

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Excited…

It was clearly not to everybody’s taste. A few people walked out (none from our party), and several of the older audience members had clearly bought their tickets thinking they were seeing something else.

We all concurred that, despite the two being evidently talented, the show did not use their talents effectively. It was a short show, only an hour long, but their movements were repetitive. I myself am not particularly well-versed in physicality, but there were clearly some ideas that were being effectively communicated. Still, they were two clearly talented individuals, and we all came home glad to have witnessed Macho Macho.

So that’s that. Tonight we’re hitting the town (Thursday, student night, get with it) and so we’ll let you know how that goes. Will it be as messy as Gab’s birthday? Time will tell…

What We Do In The Rain

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On a pebbled beach

Hey guys, Henry writing here. We left you off on Friday, looking forward to the big night ahead of us celebrating Gab’s birthday. And what a night it was…

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How much skin is too much?

The day was spent in sunshine. As well as our usual flyering duties, we all found time to bathe in the sun in the Royal Pavilion Gardens (this is becoming our “regular” hang-out spot during the day). By the end of the afternoon, we were all there. Happy and content, we headed for the New Steine Gardens to warm up.

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At the “regular” spot

After a successful straight run of the show, we packed up the set as quickly as possible to let the celebrations begin with no second spared. (Seriously guys, we’re getting pretty good at assembling/dissembling the set promptly. Whatever you think of the show, give us credit for that.) Whilst some of the cast quickly went home to get changed and drop off bags (thanks guys), Oli, Emily, the birthday boy Gabriele and myself headed to Morrisons, made some economic choices concerning drink, and then headed straight for the beach. (Two bottles of Prosecco for £13, three bottles for £12. You do the maths.)

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An audience member taking a little too much interest in Gab…
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Friends, laughs, booze and beach

We sat on the beach and eventually the others joined us. We gave Gab his card (he didn’t even notice us writing it hastily on the beach…) and shared in some cake. As the evening sky lazily transcended from a rainbow display of colours to a starry night sky without us even noticing, we lay on the pebbled beach, the lights of the pier flashing, our drinks bubbling, with the distant view of the ISS falling gracefully down the night sky. We were all laughing, and the general mood was simple contentment.

The first bar we went to had a smell of vomit.

I’m sorry to throw in that sudden sensory distraction, but it was quite a distraction for us, and a sudden one at that. Dan and Sarah had left at this point to celebrate their six month anniversary. Whilst we are indeed an eclectic bunch of people, I think we can be unified in our shared belief that any good night out should at the very least not include the pervasive odour of stomach bile. (Well, not before the early hours, at least.) We used the bathroom facilities, shared a silent nod of agreement, and we were out the door, leaving Bar Revenge (and its accompanying odours) in the past and in our memories.

Next was Club Revenge. This we had to pay to get into, and we’ve since made it a general rule never to pay for entry on cast/crew nights out. Looking back, there were two indicators of the extent of our mutual drunkenness. One was our willingness to pay a lot for drinks once inside. The second was our dancing. Whilst not a big clubber myself, I was certainly “getting jiggy with it”. (Seriously guys, I was moving my limbs. That’s a big deal.)

In fact, we all were. We were all dancing and celebrating a friend’s birthday. We must have spent some time in there, since when we left it was well past half one. But it was still the birthday boy’s night…

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Birthday boy

Now, for those unfamiliar with the Brighton night scene, I must emphasise in the strongest words possible our excitement at entering the next venue. For days, en route to and fro the performance space, we had passed a drag club with a pink exterior which, despite the sun being up, always seemed to have a drag karaoke on. We thus made it our ambition, nay, our obligation, to go to Priscilla’s. When the time was right…

Half past one on Saturday morning was that time. We arrived during final orders, and Zoe and Gab treated us to a gloriously predictable rendition of “It’s Raining Men”. If you didn’t like that song before…

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It was as good as it looks…

Priscilla’s closed, and we returned to the streets. We may have been a little too intoxicated at this point, for we were denied entry into Funky Fish. And so we went home, all giggly, a little staggery, myself battling hiccups and a near-to-capacity bladder, everybody happy.

The same can’t be said for the next morning.

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Feeling okay?

Despite us all being in our prime, we were all somewhat, shall we say, under the weather come Saturday morning. (I was looking forward to a long lie-in to recover, only to see my world come crashing down when Gab shook me awake and uttered the ominous words “Oli says you’re on the first shift.”)

And so we went about the business of the day. The weather was not perfect, but thankfully it did not rain. (I had only one job apart from flyering, and that was to give Dan and Sarah their flyers by half three. Once I was finished with my shift, I went inside to the library, got five pages through Arcadia, and in a tandem assault from a hangover and Tom Stoppard’s sentence structure, fell asleep. I missed my half three deadline… I blame Stoppard.)

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Trying to work out Fermat’s Last Theorem

The wonderful Alison Thomas visited for the day which lifted all of our spirits. She, Oli and Em had a picnic at our regular hang out at the Pavilion, and were later joined by a few members of the cast. We then all walked to New Steine Gardens, and Alison helped some of the actors with the physical transitions between scenes. We all know Alison from her incomparable help with the dance sequences of BoxedIn’s last show, Romeo & Juliet, and she did not let us down now. She and a few others watched the queer run, and the sun even managed to come out for the show.

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Alison brilliantly helping

We retired home. We all made dinner, debated what to watch on television, before finally compromising on an episode of Black Mirror. We all went to bed feeling unnerved and a little frightened. Those familiar with Black Mirror will know all-too-well the feeling.

Sunday, predictably, arrived. We went about our usual flyering duties and a few of us may have taken a bit of interest in the boys from Macho Macho, advertising (stripping) oh so wonderfully on the same street. Not naming names, but…

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In love much?

Georgia made us all jealous once we met up in the gardens, having spent the day on a private tour with a historian around the Royal Pavilion. She indulged us with the facts, but only she got the real thing.

We dutifully went to New Steine Gardens. One of the problems of performing outdoors in a public space, we’ve all come to learn, is external distractions. These can, have and will come at any time, either during warm ups or the show itself, and include people shouting, dogs barking (Dolly…), and traffic. During our warm up, we had a rowdy spectator, but the entire cast stayed cool, kept composure and were constant professionals.

And that’s what made that show so great. To a healthy (and generous) audience size, we performed what was later mutually agreed to be our best straight run yet. Lines were perfect, laughs were had, and the amazingly adorable dog in the audience remained both adorable and quiet. We packed up, and left the park very happy.

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Did we mention Annabel is vegan?

That night we all contributed towards a vegan dinner. (Did we mention Annabel is vegan?) A warm cottage-esque pie was made by all of us (although particular credit goes to Oli, director of both the stage and the kitchen) and we all danced and sung whilst we cooked and cleaned like young people without cares or problems.

We dined together, drank good wine (I thought a can of Stella might ruin the ambience) and toasted to a wonderful performance, a great night ahead, and a wonderful summer spent with friends with nothing but love and care for each other.

That evening we all had tickets to see For the Birds, an outdoor immersive show at a secret location starting at around midnight. Our slot late on Sunday would be their last. None of us had any idea what to expect, such only adding to the excitement. We got a bus, walked, and then waited at another bus stop for the Birds-specific bus to pick us up and take us to the secret location in the woods out of the city…

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Oli looking at plants. “My friends,” he calls them.

Only, once we were on the bus, rather than talking amongst ourselves (or, indeed, looking down to our phone screens) we all found ourselves staring out of the window. Flashes of light were routinely striking the midnight sky. “Part of the show?” “Can’t be. That’s definitely lightning.” “Maybe it is the show.” “Look, that was fork lightning! Definitely nature…”

We got off the bus and walked through the guided path. It was dark and a light rain was bouncing off our heads, but such only added to the immersive experience. It may sound pretentious, but we were all genuinely happy for the weather.

What we saw of For the Birds was marvellous, a beautifully lit up forest, reminiscent of Tolkien and Carroll, with ominous sounds of voices and instruments scoring the scene. However, the real star of this show was the natural environment. Every minute or so the sky would erupt in a flash of lightning, and crashing thunder pervading the forest. These wonderful lights, both real and artificial, added to an ambience that we all felt privileged to be apart of.

However, as one might expect, being in a forest wired with electrics during an electrical storm in the rain offered a health and safety nightmare, and so we were all escorted out of the wooded area, the sky still routinely flashing like a Biblical scene.

We were all naturally disappointed not to see the rest of the display, but all felt genuinely privileged to be in that time in space, watching the grandest of storms in a fairytale forest. Cue our annoying thespian mentality, but waiting for the bus in the pouring rain, we decided to do one of our warm up exercises. And so we found ourselves at one in the morning, in the pouring rain, under a tempestuous sky, with our eyes closed and hands held “tuning in”, to our mutual smug delight and no doubt annoyance to the other rainy miserable walkers.

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The happy couple

Deciding that waiting for the Birds official bus would be too long, we walked to a bus stop. Despite it now genuinely pouring down like a scene from the Old Testament, our spirits were high. We sang as we walked through field and street, singing such movie classics as ‘Stand By Me’ (although, if I remember, those kids got to walk in sunshine…). Such was the extent of our good moods and the brilliant resilience of this group of people, not even a cancelled show and pouring rain dampened our spirits. We were all smiling, all laughing, and then a kindly stranger appearing like magic from the shadows offered to take our picture…

We found a bus stop, eventually finding Ubers to take us home after unsuccessfully contacting several Taxi firms. Our drivers were two of the kindest people we’ve accounted, and reaffirmed our faith in people acting a little kinder than usual in circumstances that require it.

 

We got home. We shed and hung over soaking clothes, changed into pyjamas and drank tea and hot chocolate whilst watching television, the thunderous sound of the storm raging outside. Our hair was soaking, we were cold, tired, fatigued; we did not get to see the full show, but we were happy. Such is the character of this group of wonderful people.

And then we remembered the washing we had left outside to dry.

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Friends

Lads on tour

Four shows down and we’ve decided to start a blog. Who could have possibly seen that one coming?

That’s right everyone, welcome to the BoxedIn Theatre blog, where we’re going to be charting the progress of our tour so far, and keeping you up to date with all our antics and adventures along the way! This week, we’ve been in Brighton, performing as part of the Fringe and enjoying everything that the city has to offer – which is a lot by the way. We’ve also learnt that outdoor performances are rather weather dependent. Who knew?

I’m going to post a little bit more regularly than this just to keep everyone up to date – perhaps aiming for 2 every week. That means that this post will be a little bit of a whistle-stop tour. So hold on to your seats people, cos away we go.

Sunday

Gabriele, Emily and I arrived in sunny old Brighton with a spring in our step and the world at our feet, to meet an exhausted Zoe who had driven down south overnight to make it on time. That’s what dedication looks like people.

We woke up early to make our first train, which was great, except that it made lugging 17 bags (not hyperbole, literally 17 bags) on a South-western train service that was HALF THE SIZE IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN a little bit of a pain. The underground wasn’t ideal either. But we were hopeful – we’d got the difficult part out of the way, so all that was left was to grab a taxi to our beautiful Brightonian house.

We were met by a cabbie who took one look at this sorry, sweaty bunch of students and pelted off as fast as his teeny tiny car would carry him. Like we were the fucking Babadook or something. At this point, there were 4 of us with 19 bags, so I guess that made sense. Eventually, we met a man brave enough (with a cab big enough) to take us to where we needed to go.

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Welcome to our crib

And wow. A massive shout out to Kelly Scales at Airhostforyou.com because she found us this stunning house for an incredibly cheap price that we all fit very comfortably in. I have a feeling that the living situation will only go down hill from here. As everyone trickled in, we lapped up the last of the sunshine and enjoyed a welcome drink before getting down to business with some rehearsals. And then, of course, a huge family meal to round it all off.

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Happy Families!

Monday

Audience Attendance: 13

And all of a sudden, here it was, our first show day. 12 months of writing, 6 months of planning, and 3 months of rehearsals all to get to this point. So we started the day like any other day, with a nice solid batch of flyering.

Just a word to the wise for anyone thinking about coming to the Brighton Fringe – it’s a VERY different beast to Edinburgh. Despite having a similar number of shows, the runs are much shorter, and the audience is generally made up of locals who will look through the brochure and pick out what interests them. Which means that flyering is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s always a great way to tell people about why your show is exciting. On the other hand, most people really don’t give a shit. Targeted flyering is a must for Brighton, because that’s the only way to make sure that all the hard-earned cash you spend on your beautiful flyers doesn’t simply go to waste.

Frankly, the day flew by in a bit of a blur – at 2:30, we met up with the lovely Daniel Watson of Brighton Council to pick up the chairs that he would be lending us, and then delivered them to the New Cosmopolitan Hotel. Big shout out to these guys – their hotel is in an amazing location, it’s reasonably priced, and the staff are all so friendly. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Brighton, I’d highly recommend it.

A little bit more flyering and then bam, we’re good to go. For the first time, we’re staring down the barrel of a loaded show, with the set built in the way we’ve been discussing and everyone in their tents ready to start. It’s a special kind of feeling, that first performance – for me it’s like being at the top of a roller coaster just before the first big drop. Because I would do anything in my power to get the fuck off and walk away and not have to face whatever is coming next, but then I’m already strapped in, and before you have the chance to shout ‘stop’, the music’s already started and there’s nothing that you can do but sit back and try not to scream.

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Welcome to the campsite

Just me? Yeah, maybe.

The show was a roaring success – probably the best first performance of any show I’ve ever been involved in, which gave us all a huge morale boost, of course. So we celebrated like any students would, and went out to get some drinks and see a free show.

James Loveridge has finished his run in Brighton, but I think he’s going up to Edinburgh this summer. He’s really clever and also absolutely hilarious, so if you’re around, I would recommend him to anyone.

Tuesday

Audience attendance: 5

The low cloud that settled overnight was not a good omen – we woke up to an oppressive atmosphere and quiet streets all across Brighton. But the show must go on, as they say. We got our flyering shifts done amid a minor panic over the number of flyers that we’d ordered (possibly a story for another time) and set up the campsite to get prepped for the show.

Despite the low audience turn out, we still put on an amazing show. And the mist really set the mood as well. It’s a shame, because the show looks best in miserable weather, but just that no-one wants to sit outside in the rain.

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Absolute mood

Also, our hopes and dreams were almost destroyed by a dog called Dolly, who wanted to play with the actors halfway through scene 13. She was so cute but also GET OFF THE STAGE OH GOD PLEASE.

I suppose we probably should have taken dogs in to account when planning the show…

Wednesday

Audience Attendance: 30 PEOPLE I SHIT YOU NOT THAT’S ¾ FULL BABY.

But as you well know, the weather had cleared up as quickly as it soured, and we were treated to a beautiful day in Brighton. At least 2 members of the cast and crew were very excited to get tanned and insisted, despite my reminders, that they ‘never burn’ and ‘don’t need to put on sun cream’ saying ‘leave us alone you’re not our mum oh my god stop following my around with the sun cream don’t you have work to do?’

MY WORK TO DO IS KEEPING YOU HEALTHY DAMMNIT.

So yeah, Zoe and Gab are looking a little bit tomatoey at the moment. But hey. We live, we learn.

We enjoyed a lovely afternoon in the Royal pavilion gardens before heading over for the show once more. WHERE 30 PEOPLE SHOWED UP. That was incredibly exciting. We’ve started plugging that the show is outdoors so people can bring their own alcohol if they want, and honestly that seems to be our most convincing selling point.

Thursday

Audience Attendance: 17

The day got warmer and clearer as it went on, and this time Zoe and Gab decided that maybe they should start wearing sun cream. Good decisions all round. While I spent most of the day in the library doing some admin, everyone went out to the Constable exhibit in the Royal Pavillion. They said it was stunning, and a must see if you’re looking for something to do during the day in Brighton.

Again, the day flew by – as apparently it tends to do when it’s beautiful and you’re by the sea. When we arrived at the performance space, we pointed out to Emily that you could see France because it was so clear. She got very excited.

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Perfect weather for camping

When we got home, we had dinner, made a vat of popcorn, and settled down to watch ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ (top film, 10/10, would recommend) before calling it a night.

And that brings us up to today! I’m writing from the kitchen of our house while everyone is out enjoying the sunshine and, most importantly, celebrating Gabriele’s birthday!!

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SUCH A CUTIE

We’re going to have our first big night out as a Cast & Crew – we’ve been told that Funky Fish and Club Revenge are great places to be, but if you have any recommendations of where to go, please feel free to get in touch! And of course, I’ll be letting you know how it all went in the next post – keep an eye out on Monday!

All my love,

The WOOD Cast & Crew