Thursday, 30 June 2011

Love and Other Games - the production - UPDATED

The Camden Fringe is almost upon us, and Lisa Fulthorpe's Love and Other Games had a trial run at the Phoenix Artist Club earlier this month. In case you don't remember its very successful reading in April in the very same venue, here's a reminder. They are:

"Four bite-sized comedies about contemporary relationships. A chance encounter, a suburban party, a family meal and a one-night stand are the arenas for these two-handers exploring the games lovers play.

Brutally funny and true to life they’re by award-winning Smack The Pony writer Lisa Fulthorpe. Follow Love and Other Games on facebook or Twitter us @otherlovegames"

I went to see it, and enjoyed it a lot. I can't go next week, because I'm rehearsing Country Life, but that's no excuse for you. So, go along to what happens to be the opening production of this year's Camden Fringe, at the Etcetera Arms. It's Monday 1 to Thursday 4th, starting at 4.30 p.m. So leave work early!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Up In Court - the results

For those who couldn't be there, and for those who did and would like to recapture that glorious, if sweltering, evening, here, is a report on what happened, written by Peter Thompson. You'll see it in the next programme, but they won't be published till August, by which time it might become a distant memory. Anyway...

Six authors were UP IN COURT on 27 June for a variety of misdemeanours. THE PARADISE ISLANDS by Peter Vincent should be mentioned first because it was the only drama set in a recognisable court of law: a civil claim brought against Phil Philmar for serial plagiarism, mostly from TS Eliot. Regrettably it over-ran. This may have been due to the time spent on unavailing efforts to call McCavity to give evidence and on the defendant’s protracted death-bed scene which included floating down a brook, being bitten by an asp and ending with a whimper.

The other play to be disqualified for excessive length was RATTUS NORVEGICUS by Kevin Connor, in which Chris Prior played a Yorkshire rat-catcher (in dialect) and his lady barrister, Fiona McKinnon, tried to find excuses for his frightening Lady Titbury to death by invading her bedroom dressed as a giant rat.

Of the rest, Debbie Maya’s REDEMPTION DAY came fourth with 130 points. It was a trial-in-heaven case in which Giles Armstrong gave a terrifying performance as an unrepentant Adolf Hitler. Bill Gordon’s A SQUEAK IN THE NIGHT made third place. There was an exciting moment when Mrs Hudson (Eilzabeth Yuill, of course) knocked out Inspector Lestrade with a rolling pin, followed by an even more exciting one when the Hound of the Baskervilles (PV’s finest role) bounded in and slobbered all over Sherlock Philmar until dispatched with Watson’s service revolver and 172 points.

In second place we had Giles Armstrong back in form with OFF WITH HER HEAD, a bizarre application to the Chancery Court for the Duchy of Clarence, by the very eloquent Hannah Mercer, for the sealing of an ancient writ of damnosa aeternam that would allow her to be beheaded with a samurai sword. You may wonder, as did our golden oldies Colin Pinney and Richards Evans, how such things could be: but if you had been in the audience you would have understood the necessities of the plot and approved the award of 173 points.

Way out in front, with 190 points, was CROWN VERSUS CROWN by Carrie Eden. This proved to be a re-run of a sub plot of Midsummer Night’s Dream, a custody dispute over the child of, as it turned out, the two advocates Karl Niklas and Sakuntala Ramanee. The latter had the compelling lines “No advocate am I, but like sweet Portia, Am no better than I oughter”! Judge Colin Pinney rounded off the proceedings by bidding us “And so all to your bowers fly; Go forth, my lieges, multiply”. And so we did.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Up In Court

Monday 27th June brings us the final date of the summer programme, though of course there's still two meetings of the Conway-Mayhew Collaboration to come, as well as numerous appearances in Camden and elsewhere during August. Being the final night, it's also Competition Time, and this term's theme, Up in Court, seems to have proved more taxing than usual. Perhaps that's because the requirement that each playlet has to be set in a courtroom has restricted the imagination of our trusty writers. There's less wiggle room than before, when we allowed the writers to use the title simply as a basis for whatever he or she fancies. At any rate, there are fewer entries than usual, but that has its virtues. With only six entries, maybe there won't be so much head-scratching among the voters as we all try and remember what on earth that second play was all about, and did we really enjoy it.

So, come along on Monday at 7.45 and find out if quality really is better than quantity.

Collaboration Delayed

Owing to a variety of circumstances, the first meeting of the long-heralded Collaborative Project by Roger and Mary has had to be postponed. Instead of taking place this Friday, 24th June, it will meet on Monday July 11th, with a follow-up on the following Monday, 18th. Both will start at the slightlier earlier for us time of 6.30 p.m. And as Roger so helpfully points out in the comments, they are at our old home of the Green Man pub in Great Portland Street, not at the Phoenix.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Time Traveller's Mother & Balls

Another Monday and another double bill. Starting the evening is another one act play by the ever prolific, and busy, Eddie Coleman. When he isn't writing plays he's helping direct other people's, which is why we haven't seen him in the Phoenix of late. However, you can't keep a good man down, and that's why he's back on the 20th with the Time Traveller's Mother. I read it back in November, and can't remember a thing about - except that I really liked it. That's commendation enough, no?

Then, for the main event, we have the first episode of a sitcom by new writer Chris Miller. It was originally entitled Sexism in the City, which tells you quite a lot. Lads on the pull, in other words. But it's now been retitled and rewritten to within an inch of its life. Will it work? Can it make that fabled 8.30 BBC1 slot on a Friday evening now that My Family is being consigned to the ash-heap of history ( ITV 3, UKGOLD, Dave, and a DVD remainder store near you )?

Come along on Monday and find out.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Collaborative Project

Over the last few weeks Mary Conway and Roger Mayhew have been getting feedback on their idea of a collaborative project which would enable writers and actors from the group to work together on a devised play or plays over a period of nine months to a year. The aims of the project would be:

1. To extend opportunities for working together and social interaction beyond Monday nights
2. To entice our playwrights into a collaborative process which mirrors real life play production
3. To work creatively with our actors to develop and produce a play
4. To enable our playwrights to enhance their skills and experience through facilitated sessions in theme, characterisation and structure
5. To enable our actors to enhance their skills and experience through research, improvisation and play development
6. To develop a piece of theatre that showcases a range of skills from Player Playwrights and demonstrates to the wider world our commitment to new writing

Any productions arising from this process would be credited to Player Playwrights but would identify all those who had contributed.

The project will fall into eight stages of development:

Stage One
A facilitated session or sessions with interested playwrights to develop a theme or themes for a showcase play or plays.
Expected outcome: Synopsis or series of ideas for a play or plays; establishment of sub groups for Stage 2
Timing: One or more sessions over an agreed period, beginning summer 2011.

Stage Two
Sub groups meeting to develop the structure of a play or plays with accompanying ideas, potential script samples and character descriptions.
Timing: September-October 2011

Stage Three
Sub group meetings to prepare briefings based on the agreed theme(s) and characters for use in development sessions with actors.
Timing: October 2011

Stage Four
A series of research and improvisation sessions with actors to build the characters and dramatic conflict of the play.
Timing: Agreed number of sessions October 2011-January 2012

Stage Five
Production of a written draft script/scripts based on the actors’ improvisation .
Timing: End February 2012

Stage Six
Intensive script work with the team of playwrights to arrive at the final script or scripts.
Timing: March 2012

Stage Seven
Reading(s) at Player Playwrights.
Timing: May 2012

Stage Eight
Review of progress with PP Committee to identify future potential for the play or plays and to consider possible production.
Timing: June 2012

This project would extend and diversify the work of Player Playwrights and could offer some interesting development sessions for actors and playwrights alike. At any stage of the process, we would review progress and adapt as necessary.

And it's happening. Taking the bull by the horns, the first meeting will be on

Friday 24th June
Phoenix Artists’ Club
1 Phoenix Street, Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0DT


Please bring a pen and notepad.

If you would like to talk to either Roger or Mary, you can contact them on:

rogermayhewplays at yahoo dot co dot uk
mary dot conway3 at btopenworld dot com

Sunday, 12 June 2011

A Change of Programme

Unfortunately, owing to a scheduling clash, the summer programme has had to be changed, with the whole of the July being cancelled. Its two scheduled readings will now take place in the autumn. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Hong Kong ( Via Earls Court )

June 13th brings us a double bill. First up are a few poem written by debutant Jethro Dykes. Then, there's a one act play by Kevin Connor with the curiously titled whimsical drama Hong Kong ( Via Earls Court ). This is Kevin's second appearance wtih P-P. Last October he amused us with the eccentric, and ribald The Patient. Will It live up to the promise we have come to expect from those difficult second plays? Will it even surpass all expectations? Come along on Monday and find out.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Funny As Hell

After the week off we are back with a vengeance in the shape of Funny As Hell, the screen version of Goodbye: The Afterlife of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, which received its world premiere some, three, four, five (?) years ago at P-P and has since toured the world and elsewhere. Written by Johnny Hansler and Clive Greenwood, and starring the very same, it's a wild and zany comedy set in hell, with Mr. Cook having just died, and finding himself in company of his former sparring partner. Think Jean-Paul Sartre meets Beyond the Fringe.

I saw it in its first P-P incarnation, then went along to see it performed at Leicester Square Theatre, so it'll be intriguing to see how it's changed. It's certainly a snappier title. Is it a snappier script? Come along on Monday 6th June, and find out.