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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Cast of the Fantasy League - Part One

Yes, with but a few weeks to go before The Fantasy Terrorist Variations comes to London it's meet the cast time.  Today it's Mr Keith Hill, who has the joyous crows feet inducing task of performing Fantasy Terrorist League and the all new The Project After.  I first encountered Mr Hill at one of those theatrery networking things - you know the sort, where you turn up hoping to make connections with the industry and find that, actually, the industry hasn't turned up and there are just mirror versions of yourself wandering around looking for love, employment or the next drink.  Thusly we found ourselves holding drinks and nattering away about politics/art/lifetheuniverseandeverything.  We met a few times this way and Keith has also managed to come and see a fair old number of my plays/stories.  It is at this point I should say I went to see Keith in a fair old number of his - but shamefacedly I bow my head and admit... I haven't.  Like the small child who's forgotten his homework I shall mutter my dog-ate-my-homework excuse that I live 50 miles away from London and catching people in plays is appallingly difficult.
However, I have seen Keith perform in little pieces in scratch nights and was suitably impressed (no I refuse to gush over performers, even for publicity purposes) and had in my mind that he should join Mission Milk Bottle one day.  That day came when he watched last year's The Natural History of Trolls (for which I think he was the only audience member that night - we had a wretched two weeks out of four where we got nearly no one) and over the briefest of drinks afterwards he mentioned that he'd quite like to do one of my earlier monologues Fantasy Terrorist League (2005) in some kind of way.  This got my brain going - as I've been toying with doing a new show based around the monologue for years - using it as a starting point for other stories.  The reason I'd not gone forward with it is that I've grown... if not tired as such... but a little weary of performing it.  And more importantly, the piece gives you terrible crows feet.  Fine a little later in life, but early onset crows feet in your twenties looks odd.  (What? I hear you exclaim - the answer to your confusion is that you have to smile continuously for about half the monologue, which does horrible things to your face.  Smiling, not recommended for small children or adults.)  So, the idea of passing the monologue on and building up a show for others appealed greatly.
Keith in character... with a bag.
We started rehearsals a couple of months ago - though we haven't worked continuously.  We did a starter rehearsal, reading through the text, discussing it, discussing politics, discussing what we'd been watching on television - going back to actual work.  We then walked through the play slowly, creating a rough blocking which - barring a few minor changes - has stuck with us.  It's a very different staging to my version.  For starters (and this is a very radical change) Keith gets to move.  I know, exciting.  I my version I stood still, barely moving, for nearly the whole monologue - but Keith has blocking.  And props.  Which reminds me, still need to sort out a good box.  The exactly right kind of box.  It's very important.
We then did a three day rehearsal block in the space at Barons Court and really nailed the blocking, the themes, the character, the generalness of the show.  It was an exhausting three days, both of us talking a lot about elements of the show that bounce in different directions.  I am, frankly, very glad that I'm not performing the piece again - it's a tough piece to play (though not to watch, he added, quickly) and Keith can carry off crows feet better than myself.  Which is as close to actorly gushing as I'm prepared to go.  For more you'll have to come and see the show yourself.

Keith Hill:
Keith, has seen a lot of Milk Bottles over the last few years, but has never managed to get into one until now. He was cast after a campaign lasting four years and a promise not to play his accordion. Stage work has included Lucifer and others in The York Mysteries , two productions of Road, Vaudevillains for Les Enfants Terribles, Feydeau farce for DeadAnt, Torben Betts’ The Error of Their Ways (then a UK premiere) for Eleanor Rhode. And now this.  The one person he has played in the last few years who is not homicidal, deluded, drunk, or all three, was the leading Miscarriage of Justice campaigner Paul May in Someone to Blame earlier this year at the Old King’s Head for David Mercatali.  Film includes The Last Time I Saw You; Exit with Julian Glover, an anthropophagite home chef in the forthcoming Valentine’s Day for Benjamin Taylor and most recently The Maid for 721 productions, which is nearing the end of post-production. Keith has also recorded a number of audiobooks, ranging from The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ to the enormous social history of post-war Britain: Austerity Britain, by David Kynaston

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