Khaos

New Role

I was appointed to the board of governors of Tokyo International Players (TIP) at their AGM in August.  For the past year I have been a TIP advisor, working on their volunteer committee.  I’m looking forward to continuing that work and to being more involved with the English language theatre community in Tokyo.

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Sketch Writing Workshop

Last night I attended a 3 hour sketch writing workshop,  run by DUVAL, an improv and sketch comedy duo made up of Bex Marsh and Eddie Mujica. It’s been a long time since I have written a sketch, but I am interested in using improv to improve my writing.  We started the workshop with some simple “yes, and…” improv games to get us used to agreeing with suggestions and extending them.  It’s incredibly easy to have self-doubt when writing and to spend so much time editing yourself that nothing ever gets written.  Using these exercises we just went with whatever idea we came up with and saw how far we could run with it.

We spent time discussing sources for ideas, identifying the premise and game of a scene, and ways in which to heighten the game.  We also discussed pitfalls such as not being able to start, cliches, low-hanging fruit, and imitating others.

I’m glad I was able to attend.  I have so many evening and weekends rehearsals that it’s become difficult for me to attend workshops.  I’m enjoying my rehearsals, but it’s nice to get the chance to do something a little different.

 

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September 1st, 2017
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Still Rehearsing

I’m working on the part of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.  I don’t have a good process for learning lines of dialogue and find it easier to learn songs.  It’s easy enough to find recordings of songs and I have made a playlist of all my songs, and a rehearsal track playlist.  I was alarmed to see that the songs I’m involved in take about an hour.  That’s a lot of singing.

I have been trying various things to learn the dialogue lines.  I record them, listen to them, write them, recite them, and oddly at times I dream them.  Every morning I wake up with the lines or a song stuck in my head.  I have until the 17th September to be off-book so I need make sure I work on this every day.

Tonight we begin the fight choreography.  Should be interesting finding out how Sweeney is going to throw me in the oven.

 

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Summer Study

During the rehearsal break for Sweeney Todd, I decided to attend a couple of training courses.  The first one was a Level 1 & Level 2 Estill Vocal Course.  This was a wonderfully practical course that was very well structured.  I imagine it will take me a long time to master the things I was taught, but I will practice once I get back to Tokyo.  I am very happy that I went as it’s been a long time since I felt that anything I was doing vocally was going to significantly improve my voice.  It also gave me insight into what I need to do in order to help other people with their voices.

I attended a course on Directing for Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  This course was not as structured as the vocal course and there was a lot of it that I already knew.  It was good, however, to consolidate the information I had learned before and to get to see other people direct.  Directing does seem to be one of those things you can only learn from doing and from watching others.  I have plans to direct a musical next year, so hopefully I’ll be able to use some of the things I learnt.

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Packing!

We are moving apartments.  After being in Minami-senju for over 8 years we decided it was time for a change.  Shinjuku is certainly going to be that.  It’s loud and busy, but it’s also much closer to all the places I spend my time.  Google maps claims it will take me 22 minutes to get to Our Space by train, instead of the 55 minutes it was taking me.  I can also walk in 45, which is amazing.  Our Space is the rehearsal space used by Tokyo Comedy Store, Tokyo International Players, and TIP Youth, so at times I feel like I spend my life either at Our Space or travelling to Our Space.

Packing was a bit of a disaster, and far too much of it has been left to M.  I won’t be at home during the actual move, as I arrived in the UK this morning to study for a month.  It’s going to be strange when I arrive back in Tokyo as I’m not quite sure where the new apartment is.  Shinjuku is a big place.  I did see the apartment once, but I have no sense of direction so won’t find it again without help.  Life certainly feels strange at the minute.

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July 23rd, 2017
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Difficult Music

I’ve spent the weekend running vocal rehearsals for TIP’s upcoming production of Sweeney Todd.  Although I had listened to many different recordings of this musical there are still songs that I’m not overly familiar with.  “The Letter”, sung by the Quintet, is really beautiful and I wish that is was heard more.  And even the songs I know well are difficult because of the discordant harmonies and contrapuntal phrases.

I both love and hate the complexity of the musical.  It is difficult to teach and at times I feel that it is overly precise.  The are places where each bar of music is in a different time signature and I would have preferred if some of this expressive writing could have been left for the performer to interpret.  And then there are the are the places where each part has a different time signature for the same bar… I had never seen that before in a score.

My Latest Musical Challenge

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Sweeney Todd!

I’ve been cast as Mrs Lovett in Tokyo International Player’s production of Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I love Sondheim and I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to sing in the musical.

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Spirit of TIP

On Saturday evening I went to TIP’s end of season party.  As part of the season’s closing they presented a number of awards and I was incredibly touched to receive The “Spirit of TIP” award.  I find it hard to believe that I’ve only been involved with the English speaking theatre community in Tokyo for just over a year and a half.  It has become such an important part of my life.  I’ve gotten to sing, dance, act, direct, teach, sew, paint, knit, and to find a place that feels like home.

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The Diary of Anne Frank – Director’s Talk

After the Saturday matinee performance of Tokyo International Players production of The Diary of Anne Frank, the director, Jonah Hagans, gave a short talk on the play and took questions from the audience.

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The Diary of Anne Frank – Thoughts on the Production

I finished working on TIP‘s production of The Diary of Anne Frank on Sunday night.   I feel a little lost without the show as it took over my life, particularly during the last couple of weeks.  Although I have been involved in other shows this was the first time I got to see every aspect of putting together a production.  There is a surprising amount of work involved and whilst I have been thinking of directing I’m a little daunted by just how many things a director is expected to do.

As well as assisting the director I got to paint the set, sew, knit, crochet, sing, waltz, and help make props.  I was fascinated by the props.  Some of the things on set look so life-like yet I know that they were put together with things like plastic garbage bins and old food cartons.  I loved the set.  There is something magical about seeing it come to life on a blank stage.

The Diary of Anne Frank – Photo Credit: John Matthews

I’m incredibly glad that I was given the opportunity to work on the production.  I worked with an experienced director, Jonah Hagans, who was willing to teach and put up with my lack of experience.  I worked with so many people including sound and lighting experts, a Tony nominated set designer, the most supportive theatre liaison, and a stage manager who has become a friend.  The cast were amazing at telling the story and still managed to bring me to tears during performances even though I had seen every rehearsal.  It is a story worth telling and I believe we told it well.

“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, people are truly good at heart.”

Anne Frank – The Diary of Anne Frank

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