I/Mmature 10. Patsy Rodenburg. Why I do theatre

Like a lot of people that may or may not read this I’m no expert on Theatre. Yes I’ve done a bit Shakespeare and I’ve seen a few plays at the Festival and locally. Being a student of scriptwriting we’re going to be experiencing a fair amount of it this year. Patsy Rodenburg is an expert in the field and has worked with many of Hollywoods top actors. This clip is only 6 minutes long and is as good an argument as to why you should try to see some live theatre as any. Hang in for the reveal at the end it will hit you like a punch in the stomach.  

 

 

 

I/Mmature Student 9. New perspectives. Love the arts.

So there’s been no Immature Student blogs this week. The reason for that is I had a go at writing a 15-20 minute bit of theatre. That took up a fair bit of time and energy both physically and mentally. What I was writing is part of a competition from our local fringe theatre group Alphabetti Theatre. We were to write a 20 minute “response play” to a play we saw there. Truth us  first year students didn’t actually have to do this but I’m a big believer in just getting something down, moving out your comfort zone and seeing what happens. I’m lucky that I’m going through a very unblocked period as a writer. There are reasons for that. Go back about 8 years and I could hardly produce a thing. A great friend of mine and fellow comedian Martin Mor gave me a book called the Artists Way. It’s a book that’s as much about therapy as it is about freeing the creative process. It eventually worked for me along with other factors that take too long to get into here.

I was pleasantly surprised when one of our lecturers advised my fellow students to follow some of its practices this week. As for the bit theatre I produced…well quite by happy accident I produced something that acts perfectly as a kind of warm up play to the new solo monologue about mental health I’m putting together. (“Solo monologue about mental health” ??? That’s new. I used to just call it stand up!) That’s why sometimes its worth just going for it. I’ll post it here once the competition winners are announced.

There’s so much to report about this week I just can’t in a quick blog that’s also supposed to entertain. . All I can say is I’m doing things that comedian me would have poured scorn on two weeks ago, but who now is looking at others and the world around him with a shifted perspective. Anyhoo this is supposed to be entertaining. I decided last week Fridays blog would be compilations of things from the arts I love. So here’s some more. have a good weekend.

Here we have Boys From The Blackstuff. The fact you’ll find no BBC drama addressing issues of unemployment, poverty and the disenfranchised on the TV just now is very telling. It’s taken Ken Loach with his new film I Daniel Blake to set the record straight. But this Alan Bleasdale drama hasn’t aged a day. If anything it’s even more important now. Go find the whole thing if you’ve never seen it.

 

 

 

Growing up in the 70s he was everybody’s favourite Doctor. Here faced with a great dilemma. He remained my favourite Doctor for a long time…well until this Scottish bloke arrived…

 

And here he is. Our latest Doctor delivering the greatest anti war speech ever of a so called “Kids show” In fact maybe just one of the best anti war speeches ever. Carling don’t make anti war speeches…but if they did…

 

Time for a musical interlude I think. There are umpteen versions of Heroes out there. But this one from the Concert For New York is among the best. This concert was a remembrance of all who died in 9/11. It was also really aimed at the Firemen/women, policemen/women ambulance men/women etc who died trying to attend to the situation.

Whether you think it was a staged conspiracy or a real event isn’t important. What’s important is the impact this song has on the service workers in the audience. Service workers who give much with little reward all over the planet. Heroes.

 

Rock and Roll is exhilarating. Dion here putting one of the last more traditional forms of that into the charts in 1961. But what they do here isn’t that far from what the next guy did with his first bands…

 

And here’s that next guy. The Sex Pistols is where as a kid I found music. They were  a bunch of kids who had the establishment on the run. What they did has never been repeated…because it has never been allowed to. They learn from their mistakes those establishment types. This song was about the current prime minister.

 

I’m sticking with the great John Lydon/Rotten. He’s done much outside his first band and will always be an icon to me. This song was taken off air because it was out at the time of the L.A riots. As always he was ahead of the game. “Burn Hollywood burn.”

 

As we’re on the subject of Hollywood here’s something they’re good at. Great action in films takes great direction. It has a story and beats to it as the action unfolds. If you just throw spectacle at it you end up with nothing. That’s why Batman V Superman was shit. When I first saw this film I thought it was the greatest Batman movie ever made…It didn’t have Batman in it, it had an assassin called Leon. But really it was a Batman film and heavily influenced by Frank Millers work in that field. This is action as ballet. Every move is perfected.

 

 

 

 

I/Mmature Student. 6. Great actors (and bitchin’)

Great acting is awesome. Great actors are also equally awesome. I was making some jokes about the craft the other day and would just like to clear up that I hold great acting with the same level of reverence as I hold the music of Bowie or the comedy of Hicks. I cracked a joke about Tom Cruise the other day and yet one of the finest pieces of screen acting I’ve ever witnessed is in Mission Impossible 3 where he has to first bargain, then beg for the life of his wife and ends the scene (later in the film) with silent utter devastation. All of this being played off the equally formidable, magnificent and tragic Philip Seymour Hoffman Here it is below…

 

How good is that? Now go watch the rest.

I had an acting lecture today. It was awesome. The lecturer was awesome. We were even entertained to an excellent piece of story telling within the lecture that was informative, engaging and at times hilarious. As I said. Actors are awesome. People that lecture in acting are awesome too. Is this all sounding just a bit too positive for my regular style of blog? Ah well maybe I’ve another point to make.

A more typical start to such a blog from me might go…The Actor…I am a tool. But I didn’t do that because this is a less humour based blog.

As a comedian I often encounter a common response from people. They often think whatever I am engaging in, from a chat about the weather to a discussion on Europe that it I come to it from a point of cynicism and scorn. This in itself shows a lack of understanding of what comedy does. Yes comedians can bring that to the table. But we also bring waves of empathy, joy, surrealism, tension and celebration. That’s right. We do spend as much time celebrating the foibles of humanity as we do laughing at them. Awesome.

Last week I had a meet with the second and third year drama and script students and it was put to me that we should try to engage and socialise with those studying more performance based pathways as they sometimes worry the “writers area wee bit up themselves.” I was informed there’s a karaoke night where all groups let their hair down. I in turn wrote a humour based blog about this. See here…

https://johnscottcomedy.com/2016/09/18/immature-student-3/

Now you could read this as, “Could you possibly go make a tit of yourself so the actors can feel better about themselves.” As if I comedian would be so cynical. You can also read it as., “We all have a great time together at that perfect social leveller karaoke.”

It’s hugely important to me to be accepted by performance pathways as I hope to participate in at as well. Hey we work in a trade founded in insecurity. Awesome.

In todays lecture we were shown an excellent clip of Marlon Brando being interviewed quite aggressively by Dick Cavett.  This isn’t unusual of Cavett he often had a confrontational style. He puts to Brando the question, “Why do you down grade acting as a profession.” And I think Brando deals with it beautifully. You see, as things unfold it’s actually Dick Cavett who is trying to bring grandeur, mystery and greatness to the art form while Brando tries (and succeeds) to demystify it and generally get across the point that acting is for all and not just for those with some kind of mystical elite powers.

The discussion starts around 5.40 in  clip number 3 and ends in clip 4…

 

How awesome is Brando.

Also today as groups we engaged in a brief exercise in displaying 6 emotions of acting. My groups was awe. What? Did you think I was repeating that word endlessly without reason? Hey, I write. We love our tricks. So as a group we were to arrive at an expression of awe by committee. Here’s what unfolded.

ME.              Is awe wide eyed?

ACTRESS.  Right so what are we going for here? Realism or Panto.

ME.             Is there perhaps a slackening of the face?

ACTRESS. So you want us to look bored.

So as you can see I was dismissed by the lass fairly abruptly. We’re back to those insecurities again aren’t we? Here’s the first image that came up on Googling awe…

awe

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

So in this situation I think we had a wee bit of a reversal of “The writers are a bit up themselves.” Panic not. I can accept such things. As I say we’re an art form founded on insecurity. Buuuut…I will issue a warning. I wont accept such dismissiveness as things unfold. Confront, challenge, debate but don’t dismiss. Maybe I’ll develop a three strikes and you’re out system. Or two verbal warnings then a written. Or perhaps I’ll word it in the styleeee of da great bard,

“Yo! Should I unclasp this tongue, from which spits acid so potent it doth sear beyond bone and skin to thy very soul . Your word and clatter shall be scattered. Like a gasp within a hurricane…Bitches.” 

All we’re saying is…a bit manners please.

I/Mmature Student 5. Getting ahead of myself.

A CONVERSATION.

ME. OK besides how awesome Mathew Mcconaughey is (especially in Killer Joe.) How far has everyone got with Macbeth?

STUDENT 1.   I’ve finished it.

ME.                  Fuck off! Ooh Mrs Swoty knickers.

STUDENT 2. Shit! Were we to read Macbeth?

ME.                  Ah now I like this guy. Don’t panic I think we only really have to have got most of it down come Thursday. So did you read it with the notes and everything? It took me over two hours to get through the introductory notes in the copy I’ve got.

STUDENT 1.  Yes, notes and everything.

ME.                  Hmmmmnn….Your edition is probably simpler than mine. What with you being foreign and that.   (this last statement was recognised as the joke it was)

So we settled down to proper study this week. I’ve been hammering writing exercises and putting in reading hours all over the weekend…only to discover today that I didn’t need to do all that until this week commenced. So I turned up with a handful of work today which isn’t due until next Monday. This is no bad thing as  I intend to enter a playwriting competition  later this week so probably best to be ahead of the curve. On another note there was one wee bit of reviewing work we were supposed to have ready today and I was the only one who’d done it. So who’s Mrs Swoty Knickers now? I imagine this also explains why STUDENT 1 had more time than me for reading. Am I starting to sound competitive here?

On another note completely…isn’t Tim Farron an utter tit? I would take the trouble to write more about him if people actually had any idea who it is I’m talking about. Bottom of the class Tim. I’ve never seen such a fake/contrived bit of public speaking since Stuart Hall was due up in court. He says he’s got two major political policies. I’m assuming they’re Mr Wing and Mr Prayer.

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/