Tuesday, 17 January 2012

This is my moon

Hello again.
Today has been both unbelievably lazy (it's 5:15 and I'm still in my pyjamas) and incredibly productive.
I was supposed to start rehearsals for Radio yesterday, but my actor was ill so we postponed until tomorrow. I decided to use this extra time to do some context research about America in the 1950s and 60s, in particular the space race. I thought I'd share a little of what i found.

Did you know that the first animals in space were not in fact Russian dogs, but American fruit flies? I'm having trouble finding out if they were intentional passengers or accidental casualties, but either way i find that kind of exciting.

Laika the dog was a stray. The Russian space centre selected stray dogs because they were already used to extreme cold and little food, and so were thought to be better able to withstand space travel. Her flight was never intended to return, and on the day before she was blasted off one of the scientists in charge of the mission took her home to play with his children, saying "I wanted to do something nice for her, she had so little time left to live."

Apollo 8, the first manned mission to orbit the moon and return to earth, broadcast live on television 31 hours in to their journey, reciting the first 10 chapters of Genesis. Video footage is on youtube, and becomes even more moving if you listen to it while Clint Mansell's soundtrack for Moon is playing in the background.

Most of the other things i found out are more directly relevant to Radio, such as the fact that his parents were married the day Big Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, Or that Rugby, North Dakota was never officially recognised as the geographic centre of the North American continent, but the townspeople erected a monument anyway, or that the way cartographers in 1918 decided Lebanon, Kansas was the geographic centre of the contiguous United States was by making a cardboard cut out shaped like the country and balancing it on a point. All of these things bring me great joy, and an insight into the characters in the play.

I'd like to ask you guys a favour. I think most people who regularly read my blog are around the same age as Charlie, the character in my play (he was born June 21st, 1950) and were in San Francisco the same time he was. The majority of the play is him telling the story of his childhood in relation to America as a nation, and in particular the effect that the space race had on him. Two very important points in the play are the Apollo 8 mission (Christmas 1968) and the moon landing. I only know about these things as historical moments, but you guys have living memories of them. If any of you feel like it, I'd love to know anything you can remember about either mission, where you were, who you were with, what you were doing, and most importantly how you felt. I feel this will give me and my actor a far greater insight into Charlie and his emotions than anything i can research on the Internet.

Sorry to give you guys homework, but I'd love to know anything you care to share.
That's all for today.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Guess who's back?

Wow, again it's been a long time, I apologise, I really should post here more.

Since October a lot has changed.

I now live in a lovely flat in Aldgate with two lovely flatmates. It is a converted denim factory and has big windows and wooden floors and exposed brickwork and i love it a kind of embarrassing amount. It's in the heart of the East End, which is one of the artiest, hippest, youngest, most vibrant parts of London. It's completely full of hipsters, devout Muslims and Indian people. I live opposite the East London Mosque and hear the call to prayer 5 times a day. The whole place is wonderful.

I finished the internship that i was doing with Clod Ensemble, which was interesting. I was occasionally fascinated and moved by their work and the work they curated for their Anatomy season, and i was occasionally bored almost to tears by day after day or excel spreadsheets. The life of an intern is not their own.

Since October i have been working on a director's traineeship programme with a theatre company called StoneCrabs, based in Deptford, south London. Similarly to the internship, it has been occasionally captivating and at times mind numbingly frustrating. For the most part, and particularly in the past 2 months, i have loved almost every minute of it. I'm directing a play i have wanted to work on for almost 5 years, and the excitement of being back in the driving seat of a production has kicked in with full force.

In case you're curious about the play or the festival of plays we are putting on in 3 weeks time, here's a link to the theatre website: http://www.thealbany.org.uk/event_detail/731/Theatre/Play-Things-

If you're feeling generous and would like to donate something towards our fundraising goal then here's a link to that: http://www.charitygiving.co.uk/stonecrabstc

I think over the next few weeks I'll try and get back into my regular pattern of rehearsal diary blogs. I'll tell you about the play and how it's progressing. I honestly do feel bad for neglecting this blog, and I'll try and get back on track.

If you're interested in something i update much more regularly, I have a tumblr where i mainly post photographs that catch my eye. It is a very different blog to this one, since i hardly ever write anything, but if you feel like looking at some pretty pictures, or want to psychoanalyse me based on my choice of visual stimulus, please go to http://kiss-me-badly.tumblr.com/

That's all for now. I'm spending the rest of my day re-reading my play for the hundredth time before i have my first read through with my actor on Wednesday.

I'll be in touch.