Sunday, August 30, 2009

Moving Madness and Production Propaganda

Today was moving day. Did I mention I’m on a fourth floor walk up? Whew! It was a workout! I brought all my stuff down from the top floor but thankfully I had help from there on out! My classmate and fellow Liberty dwelling American, Phillip met me at the bottom of the MC Escher drawing I had to climb down and helped me get my possessions into Tony’s van. Tony is another classmate who volunteered his time, physical effort and van to move Phillip and me to Glasgow’s Southside. We dropped Phillip’s belongings off at his new digs first. Phillip is moving in with yet another classmate, Mitchell. After stop number one, we moved the van around the corner to my new place and all three strapping young lads helped me move into the third floor of my new building. So Mitchell, Phillip and Tony, THANK YOU!!!! The next round is on me my friends!

It is surprising the amount of stuff one can squeeze into one’s living quarters. I haven’t purchased too much since my arrival but I definitely brought more than needed over from the States. As the boys indulged me while I hung up a few things in my new wardrobe, I heard, “Melanie, I’ve never seen you wear that.” over and over again. It’s true. I brought a few things I have yet to wear. But you never know…

I’m back at good ‘ol Liberty House tonight and for the rest of the week. I left a few easily transportable essentials behind and will be residing here for the upcoming week. I’ve got another two weeks before they chuck me out of my dorm room and the location is much more convenient to the Academy and to the Tron Theatre, where we will be performing this weekend. I just wanted to get most of my stuff moved over before I get wrapped up in production week.

Show time! That’s right dear readers; our final shebang is upon us. This week we perform here in Glasgow at the Tron, then to London and then Edinburgh. Below are the dates and details. These are being billed as “platform productions”, meaning they are works in progress. The writers are still developing these scripts and we will only be presenting an hour’s worth of material. The productions are minimal; not a lot of bells and whistles. It’s just us on stage with a few bits of set, props and so forth. There are three shows with two shows being presented per night on a rotation. I’m in ‘Ashes Blood’ by David Harrower and you can catch that one on Friday and Saturday nights. If you are in Glasgow, London or Edinburgh, come check us out!

That’s all for now. I need to go to bed and recover from all those stairs!

See you next week!
Take care!

GLASGOW - Tron Theatre
Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 7:45pm
Friday, September 4, 2009 at 7:45pm
Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 7:45pm
Price: £6 (£4)

Tron Theatre
63 Trongate
Phone: 01415524267

LONDON - Hampstead Theatre
Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 7:30pm
Friday, September 11, 2009 at 7:30pm
Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 7:30pm
Price: £6 (£4) (we think?!?!)

Hampstead Theatre
98 Avenue Road
Phone: 02077229301

EDINBURGH - Traverse Theatre
Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 7:30pm
Friday, September 18, 2009 at 7:30pm
Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 7:30pm
Price: £6 (£4)

Traverse Theatre
10 Cambridge Street
Phone: 01312281404

One Academy Productions presents:

A collaboration between the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and Playwrights’ Studio, Scotland.
Actors and directors from the Academy’s MA in Classical and Contemporary Text present three specially commissioned works in progress by three of Scotland’s most distinguished contemporary playwrights:

Fever Dream: Southside by Douglas Maxwell
With Queens Park closed for a murder enquiry and the temperature soaring in the surrounding area, it sometimes feels as if everyone on the Southside of Glasgow has gone insane as the world starts to swirl around them blurring religion, race, time and reality.

Reminded of Beauty by Linda McLean
Things take an unexpected turn for three families living in the heart of the city.

Ashes Blood by David Harrower
A family-run coach firm has fallen on difficult times – amidst this, the handover from one generation to the next is underway.

Performance Schedule:
Thursday: Fever Dream: Southside & Reminded of Beauty
Friday: Reminded of Beauty & Ashes Blood
Saturday: Ashes Blood & Fever Dream: Southside

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Flat Found and the Vocal Variation

I am pleased to announce; I have found a place to live! What a relief! I can now stop scouring the internet for ads and running around town looking at places. Ah, to have my free time back for stuff like research projects and summative statement term papers. Thank you!

The flat is on Glasgow’s Southside and is home to a lovely couple and their two cats. She’s an artist and a business woman, he’s a musician and songwriter and the cats, well, they must be creative if they live in that environment. It’s a good size place on the top floor in a Victorian tenement building. In my search I have seen a few flats in these kinds of buildings. The top floor flats are often two levels and this is no exception. The couple’s quarters are upstairs and my room is down. There’s an eat-in- kitchen, dining room and living room and a bathroom up as well as down. I have a feeling it is going to be a wonderful home for me. Oh and here is the craziest thing: the mister is the cousin of my classmate Eric; the new dad and our Julius Caesar! Small world, eh? We had no idea we had this connection as I just found this place on a website called Gumtree. But we were standing in the kitchen and I saw on the wall Eric’s name under an arty photograph of trees. Eric was a professional photographer before he came to the RSAMD but I thought, "Surely it is not the same Eric." However, when I mentioned it and we got to talking, lo and behold, it is the very man! So, as you can see, it is simply cosmic fate that I’m moving into this place.

Earlier this week the ‘Dead in Scotland’ crew hit the recording studio. It was a fantastic experience. I think I have found a new love in the form of voice acting. Producing this recording was the crux of Barbara’s research project. Neither one of us had ever done any voice acting or recording of any kind and Lauren had never directed for the medium. So we three were total novices in the studio. Thank goodness for Bob Whitney the engineer at the RSAMD studio. He was an absolute delight and made us all feel at ease. We couldn’t have asked for a more professional, more expert source than Bob to guide us through and make us sound fabulous. Thanks Bob!

The recording itself was finished in one day. We were very pleased at our timing. We had the whole play recorded by lunch and after the break all we needed to do was some clean up. Our production and rehearsal history with the piece aided in our efficiency. Over all we are quite happy with the recording. Of course there are parts, as an actor, you think, “Oh I wish I would have delivered that a bit differently.” However, this was our first time doing anything like this and that was the point, to learn. It is amazing how things read differently when you take out the visual but, we adapted very well to the new performance medium. So much of what happened on stage came from Barbara and me having eye contact with each other. We didn’t have that in the recording studio. We had to keep our heads forward and speak into the microphone. This meant our communication with each other, our ‘actions’ all had to happen with the voice. That’s why Lauren was there in the booth listening. She was essential for keeping our intentions true and clear. There wasn’t a feeling of pressure on the process. It was relaxed and enjoyable. If we flubbed a line we just paused and did it again. The sound effects were fun too. Bob laid down wooden boards for us to tread on in our nosiest shoes. We had tea cups and spoons to lightly clank, papers to rustle and so forth. Some effects Bob added in post (afterwards).

In the near future I will be posting the play for your listening enjoyment. We are working on some music for the top and tail. We can’t just use whatever we like because of copyright infringement issues but my friend James in New York has volunteered to write some original tunes that I can use free of royalty charges. Thanks James!! As soon as we get that sorted out I’ll make it available if you want to have a listen.

Onward ho! The upcoming week is Fringe free and we are all about our shows. We have eleven days until opening night. My show is in a good place but it is time to really focus and bring this baby up to the standard we want to present to the world. And we will.

See ya next week!
Take care!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Search for Shelter and Fringe Favorites

Amongst running off to the Fringe and rehearsals for our productions in September and the cooing over baby pictures, there is the matter of needing a place to lay my head at night. The flat the five Americans saw a couple of weeks back didn’t work out for a myriad of reasons. And I am the last man standing; the last one out of our displaced fraction that still needs to secure shelter. Okay, yes, it hasn’t been fun. But I have seen a bit of the city and a smattering of possible living conditions. It has been interesting. There’s the silver lining. And the good news is, I have two more weeks to figure it out. Appointments for viewings are scheduled and emails are out on other leads so, it will happen. I’ve moved a million times in the last decade of my life and this is just another one to add to the list. I’ve lived with people, without people, in basements, top floor walk ups and places that resembled caves more than apartments. NYC has trained me well for the expense and insanity of urban living. So ya know what? It’s all good.

In other news: The Fringe has kept me busy this past week. I’m gonna take this opportunity to plug some productions. Below are the details taken from the Fringe website for a handful of offerings that I’ve seen and so should you. Save one; I have not actually seen ‘Crush’ yet but I am hatching a plan to get over there. The reviews were good but of more significance; it was written by our new friend Paul Charlton. You may recall Paul’s name as he was one of the slew of professionals that came and chatted with our class at the start of term.

Okay. They are:

‘Midsummer’ This show was just amazing. The script, design, directing and acting were all top shelf. Truly one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. The bad news is; I think it may be sold out. If you can trade a kidney for a ticket on the black-market, do. It’s worth it!

Midsummer (A Play With Songs)
It's Midsummer's weekend in Edinburgh and the screwed-up lives of thirtysomethings Bob and Helena are about to collide. A 'warm-hearted, beautifully sculpted musical romantic comedy' - ****(Scotsman). By David Greig and Gordon McIntyre.

warning: Latecomers will not be admitted
Adult themes
venue: Traverse Theatre
group: Traverse Theatre Company
category: Theatre
related link:
duration: 105 mins

‘Beachy Head’ Molly, a friend of a friend, recommended this show and I’m so glad we took her advice! The subject matter was intense but very well handled. Kudos to the playwright! The ingenious design alone is worth the price of admission. It just goes to show, that we don’t have to be limited by budget, space and portability issues if we just think outside the box and get creative. And the performances were strong and well delivered. Go see it!

Beachy Head
World premiere
Fusing text, animation and physical performance, this follow-up to Analogue's 2007 Fringe First-winning hit 'Mile End' - 'Neuron-firing, emotionally hot-wired theatre' (Metro) - explores the ripple effects of one man's decision to take his life.

venue: Pleasance Dome
group: Analogue/The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich/Escalator East to Edinburgh
category: Theatre
related link:
duration: 80 mins

‘Crush’ The one I haven’t seen yet but I hear good things! Paul Charlton wrote it and we want to support it! Go and save me a seat!

World premiere
Fringe First Award winner Paul Charlton's moving new play explores the nature of modern obsession set against the backdrop of a fractured but loving relationship. 'An absolute joy' - **** (Scotsman on 'Love, Sex and Cider').

venue: Underbelly
group: Iron Shoes in Association With the Tristan Bates Theatre
category: Theatre
duration: 60 mins

‘G3 - The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek’ Paul can be seen onstage in this one along with another new friend from the professional chat sessions, Graeme Rooney. This show is a fine display of sketch comedy. Lots of laughs and ridiculousness. Check it out! Lots of fun!

G3 - The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek
World premiere
Hysterical sketch comedy. Great characters, surrealism, silliness, 80's power ballads and 90's icons. With individual comedy credits from 'Little Britain' to 'Run Fatboy Run' not to mention a Fringe First - guaranteed hilarity!

venue: Just the Tonic @ The Caves
group: G3 - The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek
category: Comedy
related link:
duration: 60 mins

Jake Yapp: ‘Hallo, Music Lovers!’ and ’Free at Four’ Jake flyered me. That’s Fringe speak for: I was walking down the street and Jake stopped me, handed me a flyer for his show and told me I needed to come. Well, he sold me and I went and had a fantastic time. Jake plays an assortment of instruments, sings original parody songs of the modern music scene and even does some mime. The two shows listed below have different content but are equally funny so you should go see both to get the full Jake Yapp experience. Besides, one is free. What’s stopping you? Go now!

Jake Yapp Presents Hallo, Music Lovers!
World premiere
Fans of Lily Allen, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Jay Z, stay away from this cheerful desecration of musical 'greats'. Exclusive, new material. 2008 reviews: 'rare gem' (ThreeWeeks); 'Inventively funny' (Scotsman); 'Diamond-edged wit' (

warning: Not suitable for under 16s
venue: Just the Tonic @ The Caves
group: Jake Yapp
category: Comedy
related link:
duration: 50 mins

Jake Yapp's Free at Four
World premiere
Sony Comedy Award nominee Jake Yapp's cash-conscious show for discerning freeloaders. Songs, sketches, stand-up, and all free. May contain bum notes. 2008 review: 'Intelligent wit and a dry and dirty sense of humour' (ThreeWeeks).

warning: Not suitable for under 16s
Some saucy language
venue: Madogs
group: Jake Yapp/PBH's Free Fringe
category: Comedy
related link:
duration: 50 mins
This event is free and not ticketed.
Admission is on a first come first served basis and is subject to availability.

Visit: for more on the Fringe.

More on Melanie madness next week!
Take care!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Frolicking at the Fringe

This past week and in the coming days it is all about the Fringe. And I don’t mean the tassel trim on the edge of your curtains. I’m talking about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world. It was first established in 1947 and is called the Fringe because it happened on the outskirts of the Edinburgh International Festival. It was meant to be an alternative or an addition to the International Festival; an opportunity for more artists to present their works outside of the International Festival but tapping into the same prospective audiences. It has grown into such a phenomenon that many people hear about the Fringe before they learn anything about the International Festival. Performers come from all corners of the globe to present their goods at the Fringe. Audiences from around the world also flock to the city of Edinburgh to enjoy these offerings. The festival lasts through most of the month of August and during this time the city is absolutely mobbed with visitors partaking in the Fringe. If you ever want to come make sure you book your accommodation early! It is impossible to find an Edinburgh hotel with any vacancies in this time of year.

As part of our course we have been given tickets to see a smattering of shows and forums during the festival. As there are over 2,000 shows available for viewing at the Fringe there is obviously a variety of styles and varying levels of quality. So far we have seen everything from excellent to can-I-have-those-two- hours-of-my-life-back-please. It is to be expected, with so many you are going to get the good, the bad and the ugly. And one person’s nap time is another person’s inspiration. That’s life upon the wicked stage.

Tomorrow we present our own contribution. A reading of a new play called “Smoke” by a new writer called Little Fierce. Yes. There you have it. It is very… avant-garde. I can’t really explain it. It is not a traditional script. It is very, different. I play a cat among other parts. We shall see. I have a 9:30am call tomorrow for this project so I’ll leave you now but not without a few photos.


Fringe website:

The first “show” we saw was at The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. It was an audio recording of a play we listened to as we walked around the gardens on a specific route mapped out for us. It was a lovely day for a stroll around the gardens. The play was “Susurrus” by David Leddy.

This is a cat that was wandering about the Botanic Garden. I studied him in the name of character development for my part in the reading “Smoke”.

Our reading will be here at the Mock Turtle on Monday morning.

Rehearsal at the Mock Turtle for the reading: Matt looks clueless, Tony and Eric discuss what’s about to happen.

The Royal Mile slammed with people here for the festival.

Street performers on the Royal Mile.

More street performers.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rehearsals, Recordings and Rentals

Another week of rehearsals; check. The show is coming along. Development is on track and we are finding some interesting and fun characters that will be a joy to present to the industry in September. Everyone is really working hard. The truth is: pressure is on! We have a lot to accomplish in the next two months! But I know everyone will deliver the goods!

This past week I spent time with my ‘Dead in Scotland’ cast mate, Barbara, going over some of the adjustments we are making to the script of ‘Dead in Scotland’ for her research project. She is producing and audio recording of the play. Meaning; in a couple of weeks we will go into the recording studio and do the show as a radio play. Although it is her project, I have found the process very interesting. Today we spent some time going over the sound effects. It really is amazing the sound effects we take for granted. For example: there is a part in the play where my character has to dig through her bag and pull out some legal papers and plop them on the table. Therefore, we will need a sound effect of me rifling through my bag and the smack the papers make when they hit the table. I was never aware of those sounds before but when you take away the visual and focus on the audio there are so many details in the sound waves! When I wrote the script I knew Barbara would be doing the recording so I purposefully kept the technical sounds to a minimum. I only had the sound of an electric kettle clicking off and the door opening and closing after some knocks. Easy right? I thought those were the only sound effects in the script. How wrong was I? There are a ton more! Tea being stirred, someone taking a sip, chairs being pulled out, footsteps here and there, and rifling through a purse! Who knew?! And we will be doing all our acting with our voices. No visual aids. So those silent stares we had during the stage show are not going to work in sound only storytelling. I’m excited to explore the differences and discover a new way of working! I’ll keep you posted!

Today a gaggle of us looked at a flat here in Glasgow. It looks doable and we have a meeting with the landlord later this week to hammer out some details. Hopefully all will go well and we can strike a deal. It would be a huge relief to get the living situation sorted out. It is a bit of a hassle to have to deal with it now. But if we can get it settled now that would be a help as the term is only going to get crazier from here on out!

This week we start work on a staged reading project to be performed later this month. We continue to rehearse the new plays from the professional playwrights and Thursday we head to the Fringe! We are scheduled to see several plays at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh over the next few weeks. So I’m bracing myself for a lot of train rides. The Fringe is a must for theatre lovers in the area and we would be daft to miss it! I'm really glad they built it into our curriculum! It will be fantastic to see the different varieties of performance offered at the Fringe. I’ll have a full report next week.

So off to bed I go because, man, there is a lot to think about!!
See ya next week!

Oh! They named the baby Leo because he is a Leo! Too cute!