Friday, 20 March 2009

The Hardest job touring must be the driving, I say that as the driver on our tour, but I have driven 6000 miles so far which after a 2 hour show is bloody knackering. In my head is a 2 hour rule, if I'm more than 2 hours from home I stay out in digs.

The other bone of contention is the radio/CD/tape

I'd listen to radio 4 or 5 live. Dan wants hard music and Sam's easy.

the rule is always - driver's choice.

every day we had the Archers followed by the play for today.

the second hardest job whilst touring is sitting in a car listening to the Archers and Play for today with me driving.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

The Notts and Have Notts

Here's the thing. We were a Nottingham based company for 10 years, we've worked at the Playhouse, the Arts Theatre and the Lakeside. We have a massive support base in the city yet nobody invited us to perform there. Last night we gave a good account of ourselves in Derby. If you don't know Derby is Nottingham's whipping city and local east midland rival. For 2 Notts lads it is hard to take that the theatre's you've ground up with, supported and been a part of so long don't return the love.

Anyway, on a positive note all the Nottingham friends got a day trip to Derby.

I received this from Adam who saw the show in Taunton


I watched your show on Tuesday in Taunton and wondered if you'd accept some constructive criticism from someone who has no business giving it. If you don't then please ignore the following paragraph. I enjoyed the first half very much and found it very amusing and informative but felt quite let down by the second half. There seemed to be an attempt to combine information and comedy throughout the show but there were very few laughs after the interval with only the football re-enactment sort of thrown in at the last minute and very little about your trip after the Q&A. It felt at times like it was becoming a lecture on the evils of Racism and less of an entertainment show. There was also the sense that you were also kind of preaching to the converted, I wasn't expecting many Racists to pay to come and see a show that was going to attempt to dispell their bigotted views using facts and logic. That's not the sort of thing racists enjoy. It felt like something you'd get in a school assembly at times.

I don't want to appear too negative as I did enjoy it very much, I just felt that you professed at the beginning to be entertainers and the entertainment seemed to be missing from the second half, a bit. I will definately be coming to see your next production if you bring it down this way next year. As I said before, feel free to ignore all this as I'm not an actor so you probably know a lot more about what you're doing than I do.

Cheers Adam

I though long and hard about this then set Daniel Hoffman-Gill on him.

Dan's reply

Hi Adam,
Mark forwarded your email to me and I felt compelled to respond because the work is close to my heart and any critique demands a level of response, at least to present the other side of the argument.
The second half is indeed a combination of comedy and facts, that is intentional and the pay-off for the first half, an effort to educate and inform. As for few laughs, indeed Taunton was an audience that did not buy in as the majority of our audiences have but I can assure you, the second half in the majority of our gigs has been the funniest for many of our audiences. The joy and terror of art is that it is so subjective, there is no perfection, what you dislike, many like and vica versa.
As for it becoming a lecture, good entertainment contains thoughtful messages to in-act change in the spectator, the accusation of preaching to the converted is the furthest one from the mark and perhaps shows that you've missed the point.
We were illustrating the thin end of the wedge, it starts with many leading newspapers and media outlets perpetuating xenophobic myths, I can assure you that many audience members will read those newspapers and those headlines, including in Taunton and take those myths on board, it does not make them racist in the sense you think of, the stereotype racist we depict but rather it makes them racist in the insidious and 'quiet' fashion. This is a problem and if people disagreed with these headlines they would stop buying the newspapers, as you can see from the circulation of the Daily Mail, The Sun and other media outlets that spread xenophobia and lies, they do not. These are the people we are talking too and this is, based upon our audience demographic, most of our viewers.
Indeed, we have had people walk out, offended by their attitudes being challenged, so the idea that 'racists' don't come and see theatre is way off.
I think perhaps the idea that the second half wasn't entertaining was due to you switching off and refusing to engage with the naunced content and engaging with your own prejudice, which we all have, preferring instead to see broad brush strokes. You may accuse us of failing you, not entertaining you but live art is a two way process, engaging with the content and us giving you our all and you in return doing the same, our show exposes those that will hold back, we'll try and take you with us but if you resist to much, we can't force you.
Daniel Hoffmann-Gill

See you soon

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

In my opinion

Is it the modern disease to criticise or have we always been the same? I was watching something on ITV1 (I need to get out more I think) it was about Jade Goody and they showed and read critics of her using her death to make money for her kids future. Jade, love her or hate her is doing what any parent needs to do for their kids, with very little real talent she has to use whatever she can.

We, the arts get it more than most. If you pay your tenner you feel you can give an opinion. If you come and see Poles Apart I read an email from a Polish man here. He didn't even pay a tenner.

Tonight my mate Matt Aston will welcome the press to his opening night of Empty Blue Beds at the Lakeside in Nottingham. He's sat in a dark room for 3 weeks toiling over details with sweaty actors only to be made or broke by the critics

good luck Matt

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Banging on the floor

they were banging on the floor last night in Goole. full house again with many poles and as we finished they went mad. I do feel good doing a show for the Poles they are so appreciative about everything. I suppose no-one stands up for them like we do. Bussiness is still very brisk, we're manageing to keep up with companies like Hull Truck numbers wise. two more weeks to go off to devon, somerset and Bury (amonst others) this week

see you soon

Thursday, 5 March 2009

If you sit back you're left behind

I find it interesting that audiences sit on their hands during the "audience participation" parts of a show. It's these people that don't sing at pantomime song sheet, these who refuse to shout "he's behind you" the ones who turn up at our show and refuse to play. I have noticed that during most shows as I'm running around the auditorium that 2 or 3 people close down and decide not to play. I find not playing very hard to take - if you can't play any more what hope do you have.

But, I would like to raise a glass to all those that do play and laugh and join in, the young hearts, the silly, the radiators. the half full - thank you - thank you.

Monday, 2 March 2009

to be or not to bee funny.

if you ran a theatre company what show would you do next?

it's a hard question. I need to decide quickly and be decisive and move, but i'm not. do i do a comedy or a drama?

answers on a post card.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

2000 miles of silence

If you know nothing about hard graft over the next few thousand posts I'm going to explain what it's like running a small/mid scale touring theatre company.

We're on tour at the moment traveling the United Kingdom's theatres and arts centres performing Poles Apart. this week I've driven 2000 miles most of which with out my co-star Dan (co - star sounds funny). most of my trips this week have been with Sam our 19 year old technician who on our 1,200 miles together this week has only said one thing. driving back from Oxfordshire the other night at midnight in the driving rain he says "your phones ringing".

we're getting popular, the act, Dan and I are starting to grow a fan base last night in Newark 200 people came to laugh with us - from small acorns