Khaos

Archive for the 'Theatre' Category

Spirit of TIP

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

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.

The Diary of Anne Frank – Director’s Talk

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

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.

The Diary of Anne Frank – Thoughts on the Production

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

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

On With The Show

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

The TIP Youth season has finished. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to do it again next season. The children wrote me the sweetest messages. Though the funniest had to be:

“You’re so good at singing and I love your accent! I’ve been dying for an accent every since.”

My accent certainly was the source of lots of humour for the production team. I managed to confuse the lighting designer when I was talking about the “whale.” He heard me say “wheel” and could not work out why we would have a wheel the size of the stage to swallow Pinocchio. He didn’t say anything though, just pretended he could understand me!

My time is still being taken up with theatre. It’s just 13 days until load-in for The Diary of Anne Frank. There is still so much work to do. Everything is on track, but it does feel like an uphill climb to the end. I’m nervous and excited. It’s going to be an amazing play.

TIP Youth

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

I have been working as musical director for TIP Youth for their 2016 – 2017 season. Tonight we had the final performance of My Son Pinocchio Jr. and tomorrow we will have two performances of Fame Jr. It’s been hard work, but I really enjoyed working with the talented cast and crew. I will miss them.

TIP Youth Flyer

Theatre Work

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

I’ve a busy few months coming up.  I’ve agreed to be assistant director for TIP’s May production of The Diary of Anne Frank.  This is my first time as an assistant director and I’m enjoying the challenge.  It is a heartbreaking play, but a story that is worth telling and feels horribly relevant at the minute.

Flyer for The Diary of Anne Frank

Flyer for The Diary of Anne Frank

West End Visit

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

I went to the the theatre three times when I was in London.  The first play I saw was Much Ado About Nothing, put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company, at Haymarket Theatre.  It was a beautiful version of the play directed by Christopher Luscombe, with a wonderful score composed by Nigel Hess.  I wasn’t expecting the singing and dancing but it really added to the play and the feeling of joy at the end.

I saw The Bodyguard, with Beverly Knight in the lead role.  It was a completely unsubtle spectacle with a minimal plot held together by as many Whitney Houston songs as they could fit in.  I did enjoy it, but it’s not something I could watch twice.  I loved the lighting.  A large part of the show was set in Rachel Maron’s house, and they managed to make it look as if the rooms of the house were being flooded by natural light from large windows.

The final play I saw was The Dresser.  The revolving set was stunning.  I was so jealous of their ability to create an intimate back stage setting that could turn to become the stage to perform their play within a play.  I was conflicted about the acting.  Both Ken Stott and Reece Shearsmith were excellent but I didn’t feel any emotional connection to the characters.  It was a much funnier version of the play, than the one I had been involved with last year, but I felt that the constant use of humour detracted from the emotional content.  It was strangely intense watching a play that I knew so well, but I did enjoy it.

Busy Month

Monday, December 12th, 2016

My last month was dominated by theatre.  I spent a week in November helping out with Tokyo Theater for Children‘s production of The Stinky Cheese Man.  It was a very funny show, which made it difficult to keep quiet backstage.  But I mostly managed to do that.

I spent time learning and teaching the vocal score of “My Son Pinocchio Junior” and “Fame Junior”.  I was surprised by the beauty and complexity of some of the songs in “Pinocchio”.  It will be a challenge to teach, but so far I’m really enjoying working with the children.  Both shows will take place in April next year.

At the start of December I performed at Body N Voice’s annual musical showcase.  I had mixed feelings about the music, but it seemed to go all right on the night.  I’m hoping that next year we can tackle a full musical, but I’m going to wait until the New Year to start working out just how much it will cost to produce that.

I’m still attending improv workshops and have been to 7 of those since I last blogged.  One of them was 6 hours longs, which was incredibly difficult.  Not sure if I am improving, but I am starting to understand the underlying principles.

I have no physical theatre training, so I agreed to attend a couple of corporeal mime classes.  It is difficult. I have no formal dance training and my body does not want to get itself into some of the required positions, but I will continue to attend in the New Year.

The Costumes of Macbeth

Monday, October 17th, 2016

So much work goes into putting on any production.  I was only involved in Macbeth for the past few weeks and it took over my life.  For the production team who have been involved since the inception of this project I imagine it’s taken up a huge part of this year.

The show was visually beautiful with a stark, clean aesthetic. I worked with a team of sewers, lead by costume designer Sara Ben-Abdallah, and made some of the garments she created.

Macduff vs Macbeth

Fight scene between Macduff and Macbeth – image by John Matthews

The pleats, that I spent quite a bit of time stressing over, looked great in the final pieces.

Making Pleats

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

I was recently asked to make pleats for a costume.  I had no clue how to do this so I tried watching instructional videos on youtube.  Eventually I could make pleat-like things but not something good enough for the costume.   Marty has never used a sewing machine before and never made pleats.  He watched one video on youtube and from that he was able to sew pleats.  He’s amazing!

Pleats and Pleater

Pleats and Pleater

He didn’t use a fork, like they did in the video.  Instead he made himself a plastic pleater using a badge from a linux conference.

Once he made the pleats, I attempted to iron them.  The material was more than 1 metre long and they were really hard to iron, but in the end I got the panels I need to insert into my costumes.

Ironed Pleats

Ironed Pleats