Tuesday, 29 November 2005

Don't Bomb Us

Following up on my brief mention of the Bush administration wanting to destroy all dissenting voices and bomb the life out of the al-Jazeera news channel, we have further facts on the matter here, here and here. More importantly, some staff members at al-Jazeera have set up a blog, go read it to stay up to date and get a wonderful insight into life at the news agency (you may have to sift through the hateful comments left by idiots). If you want to support the cause please steal the following buttons for your own blog...



Now, onto even more pressing matters and no, I don't mean Iraq, in fact I'm tired of the Iraq obsession. I would like you to spend a wee bit of your time worrying about two other places where we should be saving lives. First up is Sudan, where, to quote Unicef (anything in bold and big letters is my emphasis):

"The conflict in Darfur is described by the UN as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, affecting around 2.9 million people. Fighting between rebel groups, security forces and the janjaweed militia continues LARGELY UNRESTRAINED. Entire villages have been wiped out and thousands of lives have been lost. Persistent low intensity conflict and continued widespread displacement characterise the crisis, which started in FEBRUARY 2003. Around 1.8 million people are internally displaced, 1.4 MILLION OF THESE ARE CHILDREN."

If you want to learn about the effect upon the children read this article, then ask yourself what are we doing? If there was ever a nation in need of some regime change, of some allied forces wading in and saving millions of lives and averting a genocide the like of which we've not seen since the last time the world stood aside and let 250,000 people die in a month in Rwanda, then this is it. And we're doing fuck all. The US has withdrawn it's troops and cut peacekeeping spending, no doubt to cover the costs of a costly intervention in Iraq and the oil wells need protecting after all. Everyone else is just sending humanitarian aid, to quote the brilliant Get Your War On: "Well that's a relief, you hate to see people gang raped on an empty stomach".

And for all of you people who think that the best thing the Allied forces can do in Iraq is 'cut and run' I've one word for you: Afghanistan. Remember that place? Where we beat the Taliban? I don't expect you to remember as it's kinda dropped off the radar. Well, surprise surprise but Iraq has drained resources from that as well, Afghanistan has had in the region of $1.3 billion thrown at it with Iraq expecting some $30 billion, schools and other important building are un-finished or poorly built (this was done in a rush to be ready for the 2004 elections...ringing any bells here?) so regime change is on hold and guess what? Taliban forces (that's right the ones we beat by leveling mountains and dropping cluster bombs that are still removing the limbs of innocents) are increasing their attacks.

Have a good day. I'm off to see what I can do about it.

Belated Thanksgiving Message

Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts

Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison

Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger

Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot

Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes

Thanks for the AMERICAN DREAM to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through

Thanks for the KKK, for nigger killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers

Thanks for laboratory AIDS

Thanks for prohibition and the War Against Drugs (and the War Against Terror)

Thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business

Thanks for a nation of finks

Yes, thanks for all the memories... all right, let's see your arms... you always were a headache and you always were a bore

Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

And I'd like to thank Sisypharama for turning me on to this prayer by William S. Burroughs.

Monday, 28 November 2005

Sunday, 27 November 2005

For Billy

Last night I went to see my very good friend Mark Whiteley (the same Mark Whiteley that co-starred with me in Thick As Thieves) in pantomime at the Nottingham Playhouse, the panto in question was Jack and the Beanstalk and Mark was brilliant as the giant and the *cough* back end of a cow...If you get the chance, please do and see it as it is possibly the best panto in the UK.

I also saw lots of old friends that I hadn't seen for some time, friends from a very different time in my life, some of whom I miss terribly, some I'm glad we went our separate ways. In such moments, horrendous personal truths can leak out, mixed with alcohol and vague memories of companionship; we hope the truths are left in the fug of the drink and heady atmosphere of party but mostly they linger at the back of the mind. Saved like bullets, or trinkets, or both.

Today, I met Mark's new baby son, the beautiful Billy who has the bluest eyes and the cheekiest cheeks. His mother, Jess, is perhaps one of the most genuinely lovely people you could possibly hope to meet, she is so kind, so open. Billy obviously liked Marie a lot, as he sicked up on her, which can only be a good thing. It made me want babies even more. I do get nervous around them though, these little people make me feel even bigger, even more clumsy, I don't want my big hands to expose their fragility.

I should hear about the results of the audition this week, even if the news is bad I will of course be honest and write about here, so for now please keep me in your thoughts.

Thursday, 24 November 2005

This Will All Be Someone Else's Dream

I very rarely quote Take That (I am a closet fan) but tonight seems apt.

Today I had a very important audition, it was important because of what it'll do for my career, important because the venue is close to my heart, important because the play deals with a story that moves me utterly. I want this job more than I want my lungs to function.

I'll find out in a few days. Think of me.

I'd like to say thanks to Keith, Marie and Kirky for their inspiring, supportive and kind words. I hope I didn't let you down.

Two random things for you:
  1. There should be more jokes about cancer. It's a comedy minefield waiting to explode.
  2. The girl keeps staring at her reflection in the train window, sometimes she pouts, sometimes she scours her face for imperfection, sometimes she lets the tears roll down her cheeks, sometimes she looks at me.

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Forever in Our Hearts


Did some teaching today, working with little people on why you shouldn't be mean to each other, using drama and acting to develop empathy with victims of bullying, trying to start getting little people to stop being bystanders and making there voices heard.

It was hard work but fun and I love little people, sometimes they take my breath away with their words and their ways. There was a boy who suffered from real anger problems but was calmed by touch, so whenever he was about to lose his temper his classmates reached out and stroked him. How beautiful is that?

On a less beautiful note it seems that President Bush ordered al-Jazeera to be destroyed and it's staff killed. Thankfully Blair dissuaded him, reports on the story can be found here, here, here, here and here. All dissenting voices will be destroyed.

Occasionally the internet has the ability to profoundly shock me and you'll be shocked if you put forever in our hearts into Google. It brings up a disturbing horde of very personal memorial sites that are rather like gawping at a car crash, deeply unpleasant but hard to tear yourself away from as the grief and injuries leak from your screen.

Please be warned, the following links may upset some people so please don't click unless you're ready to have your heart bust on the rocks.

There are sites for babies who came too early, teenagers who took their own lives, murdered children and dead Shetland sheepdogs.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Bush Beaten by a Door (No Exit Strategy)


I'm starting to feel sorry for this bastard.

A locked door thwarted his quick exit from a news conference in Beijing on Sunday, after he answered just six questions from a group of US reporters he strode confidently towards the door that was clearly not with him but against him. President Bush tugged manfully at both handles on the double doors before admitting: "I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn't work."


He then made his way out of the backdoor. How appropriate is that? The BBC has the story here with the added bonus of video. Go watch, go laugh and then remember he is the most powerful man in the world.


On a personal note, this week brings a couple of days teaching little people about how you shouldn't be mean to others and the most important audition of my life on Thursday. Be more of that later...

Monday, 21 November 2005

Bouncers is Over


I am now unemployed.

I can't believe that an adventure that started on the 22nd August is now over, last night was the last show of a tour that began on the 31st August. It's strange reading the early posts on the show, especially the one where I got the job. How flippant was I?

The last week of the tour was magic, with the final show (a ladies night special for all those bitches out there!) ending in a strip being performed by the cast, so you all missed me in my pants doing a rude dance in front a horde of screaming females. You'll be glad to know that no sex wee escaped but we did leave the full monty to a professionally trained stripper and his massive cock.

Anyone need an actor?

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Paid To Cry

And so we enter the final week of Bouncers, the beginning of the end was last night at the Chelmsford Civic Theatre where we played to a full house of 500 people (with more of the same tonight, as we're doing a second night there).

500 people.

That's the biggest audience I've ever played I reckon, a sea of faces flooding out into the blackness, what a wonderful feeling to perform to and entertain that volume of people. They even gave us a standing ovation, yet it's still so hard to savour these moments until they are passed. I shall try my best tonight to bask in it, like a human shaped seal with a smack habit; gorging myself on applause until I pass out.

I ended up getting the train back to London with most of the audience which was weird, I felt quite famous as they furtively glanced at me, whispering; 'It's that bloke from the play...Are you sure it's him?'. One girl has the courage to approach me and ask me questions, I did my best to be nice. Most people just smiled and gave me the thumbs up. This time next week it'll be all over...

Jessica's comment in this post really hit a poetic nerve: paid to cry. She's right, although in the case of Bouncers it's paid to be funny and act hard. The past informs your range as an actor, where you can go inside yourself and everytime the tears have to flow you conjure those times you were smashed into the rocks and left for dead; re-living the moment again and again but this time without the blood.

Not so much crocodile tears but the scar tissue of a pain that never goes away, picking at the damaged flesh that has sealed over; dry humping your emotional exhaustion.

See you on the other side.

Monday, 14 November 2005

These Things Make Us

I lived my early life under the terrified possibility of random acts of violence, a world where people didn't cry, even the women. A life spent trying to stare death out and see who would blink first.

When you've nothing to lose you can leap for the sky and not care if the fall kills you.

In the words of Bob Marley: "Hit me from the top you crazy motherfuck"

Sunday, 13 November 2005

Warrington Beauty

What a bloody good week that was after the boiling point of Bedford.

To pick up from where I left off in Pocklington (where the show went really well and is perhaps the best place we've been in terms of a venue staffed by lovely, kind people), we played The Met in Bury and aside from the free panini they supplied us with and bottled water, it was another cracking gig; even the drunken people in the front row couldn't spoil it for the attentive and sensitive audience. But all this was knocked into a cocked hat thanks to Warrington...

I have no hesitation in naming this the biggest night of the tour so far, in terms of audience response it was massive: a lengthy standing ovation, endless clapping and laughing until bent double. Perhaps I am slightly bias, as the front row was also full of some very beautiful young ladies out for their friend's birthday. It helped that they loved it and laughed the loudest and thankfully they hung around in the bar after so I got to flirt a bit before bidding them a sad farewell as they disappeared into the Warrington night. Gone but not forgotten!

We ended the week in the architecturally stunning Chester and two back to back shows that again went down so very well. People keep saying that it's the best version of Bouncers they've ever seen, even better than Hull Truck, which is a rich compliment indeed.

So we enter the last week, with thousands of people entertained and happy, we have a few more people to spread the Reform Theatre Company's Bouncers gospel to before we retire.

ONWARD!

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Bedazzled

Imagine, if you will, going to see a man, let's say he's called Andrew Grisewood, starring at your local theatre in a show called: Bedazzled. This show you're about to see features him arranging flowers for 2 hours. Please re-read that bit again. Arranging flowers for 2 hours.

When I walked into today's venue in Pocklington (where, rather marvelously, they not only have free internet access but also provide food, cold beers and cans of coke for the artistes) a poster for the aforementioned show greeted me and it looked a bit like this...

This is Andrew Grisewood in all his glory, please note the shiny nature of his lips and the French manicure on his nails. I have a feeling he may be camp and quite possibly gay but who knows and frankly who cares, because this man (who believes that "flowers are nature's jewels") is the Liberace of floral art! Bloody brilliant!

His show Bedazzled is, allegedly, an evening of spectacular floral art with the emphasis on glamour, gossip and floral genius. Speaking about his show, Andrew said: "I have traveled the country gathering unusual artifacts and Swarkovski crystals that will form the basis of breath-taking floral displays which my audience will see for the first time ever"

Andrew Grisewood's flamboyant performance is guaranteed to entertain lovers of floral art as well as the uninitiated, as he discloses the secrets of the various bejewelled arrangements he has created for society weddings and charity dinners, with his inimitable style and high camp humour that provides audiences with a glimpse into the glamorous world of Andrew Grisewood and his showbiz friends.

I can barely contain my joy, bemusement and slight unease at this fantastic show and I only wish I could get to see it.

Before I explore Pocklington, which looks to be one of the prettiest places we've been to, a brief mention about last nights show in Ormskirk, where we had two great shows with a fantastic audience response (slightly spoiled during the evening show where a few people failed to grasp the seriousness of Lucky Eric's speeches and laughed through them) that has been bettered in very few places we've played in.

Monday, 7 November 2005

It Does Not Move...but it Moves!

It's Monday. It's the beginning of the penultimate week of Bouncers, which includes (deep breath): Ormskirk, Pocklington, Bury, Warrington and Chester. Before a few days and rest and the final week...

In all my anger yesterday I forgot to mention that on Saturday night Marie and I went out for my dear friend Luke's birthday. We drank excellent cocktails in the marvelous Nordic bar and hung out with some very lovely people.

Gemma (bloody good writer, pity she's from Derby) was there, as was perhaps the most brilliant chap you'll ever meet, John van der Put who is having a rough time at the moment with an infernal illness, so any blog love you could send him would be much appreciated. And I don't mean comments as he won't let you comment but perhaps go read him for a good half hour and wish your own blog was that good.

Together, John and I mused on the nature of clinging on for dear life with a gaping void awaiting you if you lose your grip but a constant pain in your claws if you do manage to hold on...I love hanging out with John.

The birthday boy was in fine form and when Bouncers is over, he, along with Gemma and John will be around my gaff for a spot of grub. Luke trained as an actor at Lecoq, perhaps one of the greatest drama schools in the world, before becoming a director and so for Luke here is the following sentence...

WESTMINSTER ABBEY! IT DOES NOT MOVE...BUT IT MOVES!

Sunday, 6 November 2005

You People Are Gonna' Respect Me if it Kills You


Milton Keynes is a roundabout infested hellhole but it is the home of Sally who saw Bouncers and wrote a lovely blog entry on it here. It was good to see Sal again and the gig turned out to be a good one even though it was full of young people.

Young people were a brand of human I used to really quite like but performing shows for them (alas, Bouncers is a play studied by kids) has sucked me dry of all my sympathy and now I just want to rend them limb from limb. But more of that in a bit...

Somehow we ended up performing in a castle last week, Tamworth Castle to be precise. Needless to say, a play set in an 80s nightclub is not ideally suited to a medieval banqueting hall surrounded by suits of armour and bastard swords. If I'm coming across as a bit po-faced it's because I am because the mother of all nights was coming. Fucking Bedford.

We had been sold out here ages in advance. Why? Young people. Young people in their droves were coming to see us do Bouncers. The anticipation of the horror to come was offset by the theatre giving us orange juice and snacks. But then the show began...

Fuck knows where all the teachers where, no doubt in the bar or grumbling about a lack of overtime? The kids behaved awfully, first off incessant chatter, then fiddling with mobile phones to telling Lucky Eric to 'fuck off'. I could feel the hate and rage build up inside me. I can't stand being dis-respected while I'm busting my balls on stage, working hard to do the best I can for the audience. You are so vulnerable up there, muted by the character you're playing, relying on an unspoken contract between you and the spectator to show each other some respect.

If they were gonna' break the contract so was I. We get to the end of the play and Richard is about to deliver the final speech and a mobile phone goes off. So do I: "Turn that fucking mobile phone off" I shout. There is silence, the phone still makes an annoying trill. "I said, turn that fucking phone off or we won't finish the fucking show" The phone is subdued, the silence is pregnant, I hear someone about to speak so I beat them to it: "You fucking prick". I stare into the blackness that the audience hide in and all is quiet, Richard does his speech and the audience give us a standing ovation.

You people are gonna' respect me if it kills you.

Tuesday, 1 November 2005

Regrets, I've Had a Few

The Balloon Pirate tagged me on his new blog yesterday and when the BP tags you, you respond.

But I'm afraid I'll disappoint you because even though I've done plenty of bad things in my life, I can't bring myself to regret anything. I've learnt more from all the stupid things I've done than any positive experience. Take all the bad stuff away and I'd be a shadow of who I am (or so I like to think). So I'm copping out, je regret rein. I also have to break the rules and not pass this on. I hate memes.

Tour winds back into action today, we are now into the last 3 weeks of Bouncers. Hopefully should be seeing Sally tonight in Milton Keynes, before enjoying the delights of Hexham, Tamworth and Bedford. Not exactly the theatrical heartlands of Britain but there you go.

If you're bored while I'm gone why not have a stab at this caption competition, or perhaps play stick cricket.