Have you seen this interview with us in The Curio? (Jo Willis takes a pretty bad-ass picture.)
Today we have a guest post from our wonderful performer / co-devisor, Shani Erez (below is a picture illustrating just how beautiful Margate seaside is):
‘I see the sea!’ is the shout that Nick has to endure from me whenever his car makes the turn into Margate’s beautiful seaside. ‘I see the sea!’ is the yelp in the morning when we wake up for a new day of rehearsals or when we break for lunch and change the scenery from the Tom Thumb Theatre to the sea. It never gets old, that sight of Margate’s sea. Though I’m pretty sure the declaration does if you are Nick.
Which surprisingly is not the reason we spent most of our last stint of rehearsals indoors. You see, every set of rehearsals we dedicate to a different element of the show, and this time we were focusing on filming the footage that will be used in Eoin’s magnificent video projections. You can only imagine how hard it was for all involved when we shot by the sea, whenever I looked around.
Following our outdoors shoot we moved back inside the theatre to create a video clip for one of the songs we are playing in the show. This basically meant that under the kind guidance of photographer Mark the song was playing on loop and we dragged in and out of frame many musical instruments and pumped up the haze machine.
Nick and Jess, as our loving couple in the play, were recreating all the instrumental and vocal parts of the song - with the highlight being Jess giving the White Stripes a run for their money in drumming coolness.
On the way back from Margate I gracefully chang
ed my tune from ‘I can see the sea!’ to humming the song we’d just been listening to for 8 hours straight. Not sure Nick was appreciative.
So: quite literally, watch this space. Train sets, disco balls, supernovas and running machines at the ready ... let the rumble-fuelled fun begin.
I was planning for this blog to be about our recent adventures at the Tom Thumb. Specifically the events we curated for Margate Horror Feast in collaboration with the Dreamland Trust: “Ghoulish Ghost Stories” (a wonderful afternoon, completely full, featuring a dressing up competition – with around 30 children dressed as pumpkins, witches and vampires parading across the stage to “Monster Mash” – and terrifying tales from .dash, Frankie Jordan and Emrys Plant) and “Club Hydropathe: Halloween Special” (where we screened the chilling “Eyes Without A Face” – chosen by a very knowledgeable local horror film-buff – and listened to a lot of Nick Cave). However the fantastic woman I met on the train last week was just too brilliant not to write about.
I was on the train from Margate to Eastbourne (Eoin is teching a tour that included three dates in the beautiful Devonshire Park Theatre, so stopped off to see the show on my way to Brighton for the weekend). The last leg of the journey is the hourly train from Ashford International to Eastbourne. It only has four carriages, is always ridiculously packed, passes through incredibly named stations (“Appledore”, “Hamstreet”) and is invariably coloured by interesting characters. Friday was no exception.
I was sitting a table, laptop out, headphones on; shorthand, I thought, for “not-in-the-mood-for-a-chat”. An older lady, probably in her mid-80s got on. Bright red coat, 50s glasses, tight white perm. There was a seat opposite me on the train, but she did not sit down so I asked her if she would like mine. She replied that she was worried about people accidently kicking her legs under the table as she had ulcers, so I suggested that she sit down in the chair opposite and I would sit sideways in my chair so as not to risk her legs getting hurt. She sat down and I put my headphones back on and began tapping away at my laptop; but my headphones short-hand was obviously not something she adhered to. “Eeee” she exclaimed, pointing at the feet of the (headphoned) chap standing in the gangway “I like his shoes”. Then to me: “do you like his shoes?”. I removed my headphones. “Umm, yes” I replied “they are nice shoes”. She then waved at said chap in gangway and said “we like your shoes! They are lovely shoes”. He sheepishly removed his headphones and nodded a thank-you.
There was something in the “eeee” that reminded me of my grandma, a warm-hearted, hilarious, wonderfully bonkers woman from the North East who died about 10 years ago. I asked her if she was from the North East and she grinned and replied that she was (adding, for the full North East effect, a pointed “pet”). I closed down my computer and asked her how her day had been. I am so glad that I did.
She immediately launched into the most incredible monologue, which took us all the way to Eastbourne. She'd been out "visiting". Her only daughter is a missionary abroad and the rest of her family had passed away so she takes the train to help people less able: washing up, making beds, feeding people (remember, she was well into her 80s and had to be helped on and off the train herself). "That's what you have to do when all your family is gone, go and look after people that can't look after themselves". Happily, I couldn't get a word in edgeways, so sat, nodded, smiled and listened.
We covered the Romans ("eee, they built lovely things, they had an eye!"). Then WW11 ("we used to queue two hours for a sausage! One sausage! One time I queued two hours for a banana and I got to the front of the queue and they'd run out. So the man behind the counter gave me half his banana and I ran home with it, so delighted"). Then wars generally ("there's just no need for them anymore! People should just get round a table and talk!"). She sat clutching her diary ("with all my secrets in"), that was clipped to her bag with a studded belt that she’d bought but “wouldn’t fit round”. Alan Bennett eat your heart out.She then moved onto homeless people. “Oh pet” she said “if I had money, or if I could just talk to someone with money. Prince William perhaps, he’d help, oooo, his mother taught him well! If I could, I'd tell them to buy all the homeless people all tents, the zip up ones, they could wear them on their backs like crabs! Then they'd have homes. They don't want to be in shelters - they don't - because they don't want to be around people. They've had rotten childhoods, so they can't deal with four walls; they just want to be alone”. Obviously, I was a little confused by her suggestion, and the sweeping generalisations, but her reasoning behind it was so kind I couldn’t help but warm to her: “I knew someone that was homeless then he fell in love and now he's fine. That's the problem, empty hearts. A rotten life drains your heart and leaves it empty; once it's filled again you are stable".
As we told you in August, we have been collaborating with
Cut Chorus on their "Camera Test" project, directing a short film
written by Mark Murphy.
The short, "Flames Of Passion (With Apologies To Noel Coward)", is essentially a straight to camera monologue, with a character loosely based on the leading man from "Brief Encounter". We shot the film at the end of August at Cut Chorus' studio in East London, with production company Art War Entertainment. It was a fantastic shoot, with a knowledgeable crew ... and some rather lovely kit at our disposal. We had decided we wanted to shoot the majority of the film in keeping with the striking aesthetic of "Brief Encounter"; so focused on hard, side lighting, close, evocative shots and a heightened performance from Luke Harrison, our brilliant performer.
Eoin and I opted to edit the film at home in Margate - rather than at the studio in London - and we were therefore sent a hard-drive full of footage at the beginning of September. It was a sharp learning curve for us (who knew a short film could take so long to render?), but very much a rewarding one. Taking inspiration from David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” we experimented with quick cuts and a grainy quality, to introduce an unsettling tension. With a nod to “Brief Encounter” we took the rhythm of a train to push the film – and our leading man – forwards. This was underscored by the sounds of trains mixed with Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2, the soundtrack to the original film.
The film was screened last night at Marylebone
Gardens, to an enthusiastic invited audience.
We will be uploading the film in the next couple of weeks, to share with
you. Below are a few photographs taken at the shoot, courtesy of Cut Chorus.
Not quite sure why Eoin and I have our elbows so symmetrically raised in the
make-up shot … any ideas?!