A show of a different flavour…

Up in Newcastle for the day today, at Northern Stage for my first visit to “Hansel & Gretel”, the show I will be Audio Describer for on the 3rd Jan 2009, with my colleague Veronica.

For those of you who don’t know Audio description in theatre “is a live verbal commentary providing information on the visual elements of a production as it unfolds. It describes action that is essential to an understanding of the play’s story, as well as other visual information such as the style and design of a production, facial expressions, and visual jokes that a blind or partially sighted member of the audience might otherwise miss. The description is delivered in-between the dialogue of a performance and is picked up by the audience member wearing a special lightweight headset which is easy to use.” (from the Vocal Eyes website).

Earlier in the year I qualified, with a group of 4 other describers, to be the Audio Describing team available for the Newcastle theatres (Northern Stage, LIVE! Theatre and Theatre Royal). We’ve worked on a number of shows during training, and now have been unleashed on an unwitting public!

So, if you happen to know anyone who might enjoy or benefit from an Audio Described performance in Newcastle – please let them know. If it’s something they’ve not experienced, then they should give it a go – it can make the world of difference.

Straightforward 3 step plan…

I spent today (well – most of it) filming my first commercial. And for a subject that’s very near (if not dear!) to my heart… Debt! 😉

I was filming an upcoming commercial for “Debt Free Direct”, due to be aired from Jan 5th on UK channels… so keep your eyes out! It was quite a good day to be honest, and although – as ever with filming – there was a fair chunk of sitting around doing nothing, I quickly chummed up with my co-Actors (Michelle & Isabelle) and we spent the day have a bit of a laugh and moaning about…well, all sorts of stuff!

It was a bit of an early start (well, I reckon any day where you have to get up before the sun is EARLY!) but we of course there was some suitably fortifying catering laid on for Breakfast… here’s Michelle enjoying one of the slightly healthier options! The first couple of hours were spent setting up the ‘set’, getting into wardrobe and make-up, sorting out some shots for the first couple of scenes, and filming the first section of the script. This was down to the girls, so I just left them to it.

I finally managed to first get on camera (well… the back of my head at least – a prize to anyone who spots it if it makes the final cut!) just before lunch whilst we were doing some wide shots for under voiceover bits and pieces. Lots of dramatic “call centre” acting going on from all involved. And kudos to Isabelle for struggling on. Just before these scenes she’s bitten into a particularly chewy “Drumstick” (… the sweets – not t he chicken legs!…) and her crown popped out! Bless. Lots of sympathy from the production crew (“Are you in pain?? Can I check your profile…??”)

The whole cast and crew decamped to a Thai restaurant for lunch – Pad Thai 45x – and then headed back onto set for “my” section. I’d been lumbered with the longer stretch of text, and whilst – when you look at it – it’s only a couple of lines, could I get it into my head?!?! Could I buffalo! We got there in the end though, and the clients seemed happy enough.

And that, as they say, was that. I pinched a bit more from the catering trays to last me on the journey home, and I was off. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, and I’ll have bit more of this in the future. Roll on Jan 5th!

Mad few days…

… and I’m not still going on about the Mental Asylum!!

It’s just been a bit of a busy week or so. Last Sunday was the concert in aid of Hillcrest AIDs Foundation in South Africa, which went very well. I will try and post some video clips at some point. Watch this space.

Then the rest of the week went something like this:

  • Monday – WestEnders rehearsals in London for our Corporate gig and new material (we also launched the new-look website)
  • Tuesday – Filming at the abandoned Mental Asylum (for the “Heads & Tales” short film) – see the earlier post I did.
  • Wednesday – Recording in the studios in Lincoln for my first ever radio play – “Voices in your Head”. Hopefully this will be broadcast on Siren FM in the New Year.
  • Thursday – Half day of work at my Agency; a casting for a commercial; a private gig for a Birthday Lunch in London.
  • Friday – I spent the day working at Denmark Street Management (my Agency)
  • Saturday – Filming the ‘blue screen’ shots for “The Awakening” short film in Lincoln, then dashing down to London and singing for the WestEnders at a Wedding ceremony.
  • Sunday – Filming on location the remaining scenes for “The Awakening”

Phew! … and I bought my Christmas Tree today as well (from Fillingham Trees) – a live one of course!

The most exciting news is that, following the casting on Thursday, I’ve been cast in the commercial for “Debt Free Direct”. It’s my first commercial, so I’m very excited! Don’t expect too much though people – I will probably only be on screen for a few seconds as there are only a couple of lines… but it’s a start. I shall wait for the phone to start ringing…

And this week is more of the same – busy, busy, busy. Can’t complain. Filming all day tomorrow on “Heads & Tails”; Filming the commercial for “Debt Free Direct” in London on Tuesday; Travelling to Newcastle on Wednesday for my initial visit for Audio Describing “Hansel & Gretel” at Northern Stage; Filming again in Lincoln, and possibly some location recording for the radio play “Voices In Your Head”; Friday is half-a-day at my Agency, then a corporate gig with the “WestEnders”, then Saturday is the first couple of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall with Capital Voices doing “White Christmas”.

Not sure how many miles that clocks up to be… any ideas?!

Blink and you miss it…

I was trawling the depths of YouTube, and found a few clips from the BBC Prom In the Park – Disney’s Enchanted Evening from 2003. This one is of us (Capital Voices) backing Daniel Boys singing “I wanna be like you” and I crop up here and there… but you gotta be quick to catch me!

Going mental…

I spent most of my time in a Mental Asylum today. Although I’m sure there are some who would say that’s a good place for me (!) I wasn’t a patient, but was on a film location.

I’ve been shooting a short film entitled “Heads And Tails” for Invision Films up in Lincoln, and the above mentioned place of care – hehehe – was one of our locations. Probably the most interesting location in the film, as the other scenes take place in the slightly more ‘every day’ situations… a Cafe, the street, a meadow etc.

We were at the disused St John’s Hospital at Bracebridge Heath, which appears to currently be under renovation, so we were quite lucky to be filming there I guess as it probably won’t be there (in it’s current form) much longer. It has been the focus of some Paranormal Investigation (Lincs Paranormal Research Team – Most Haunted eat yer heart out!) and has also been the subject of numerous photo shoots and the like.

Luckily, I was only involved in one shot at St John’s – pity the other actors who were stuck in a FREEZING cold, derelict building for the best part of the day. A day filled often with snow and pretty darn cold winds. Brrrrrrrr. The Angel was somewhat mollified when she could feel the warmth of the lights that were placed very close to her!

This is the second film I’ve started work on recently, so it’s great to be involved in a few different projects. The crew have a few more shoot days this week, and I will be shooting some more days with them next week – which I’m looking forward to.

As long as I can keep out of the Asylum till then!

Tequila Christmas Cake…

1 Cup Water
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Cup Brown Sugar
Lemon Juice
4 Large Eggs
1 Bottle of Tequila
2 Cups Dried fruit

Sample the Tequila to check quality.

Take a large bowl.
Check the tequila again to be sure it is of the highest quality –
pour one level cup and drink. Repeat.
Turn on the electric mixer.
Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.
At this point it’s best or make sure the tequila is still OK. Try
another cup…just in case.
Turn off the mixerer thingy.
Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried
Pick the frigging fruit up off the floor.
Mix on the turner.
If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose
with a drewscriver.
Sample the tequila to check for tonsisticity.
Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something.
Check the tequila.
Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table.
Add a spoon of sugar, or something. Whatever you can find.
Greash the oven.
Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.
Don’t forget to beat off the turner.
Finally, throw the bowl through the window.
Finish the tequila and wipe down the counter with the cat.