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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Tempest Test

I'm in the middle of producing some actors' theatre.  I like actors' theatre, the opportunity to get out from the 'yolk' of director lead drama and give the cast room to breathe.  This isn't to say the show is undirected - that it isn't blocked or that I haven't been telling people what to do - it isn't even to say that there isn't an aesthetic - it's just that the aesthetic I am aiming at is general, a set of guiding principles by which all future productions might be built.  There isn't a specific directorial vision for these Scenes from The Tempest, there is a directorial vision for The Milk Bottle Irregulars, a possible new venture that I'm road testing on Monday.
The Milk Bottle Irregulars is a more cut and thrust version of the more considered productions I produce as plain old Milk Bottle.  MBI is actors on stage, it's nuts and bolts, it's simple and direct.
But Monday isn't a full production anyway - it is but a few scenes from The Tempest.  It is, as advertised, an experiment.  An experiment to see how to make simple theatre and make it swiftly, and yet to keep it to a high standard.  To do this, we cheat.  And there are several ways we are cheating.  But I'm not going to go into that, because they're our cheats, so there.  (Blows raspberry!)  The experiment is to see how distracting our cheats are for the audience; is the final product good enough?
If all goes to plan, this will be the beginning of a regular pattern of work for Milk Bottle.  As mentioned in the last newsletter, I haven't produced a classic play under the Milk Bottle banner for nearly a decade, I've always gone to other places to do so.  This plan could mean there will be a semi regular series of one-off productions of classic drama - Shakespeare for the most part, but there are other plans - led by an irregular band of actors.
There is another reason for the Irregulars and it's a bit old fashioned.  If this test is a success we'll canvas the local schools and youth orientated organisations asking them which Shakespeare / other playwrights they might be studying next term (just checking the syllabus is hit and miss, there is some choice) and then, essentially, offering them access to a production of play/plays and free tickets.  Not discounted tickets, free tickets.  Not an infinite number, but enough for a class or two.  It's that rather old school idea that an education should be rounded; that the young should get to see drama, not just read it; that, as a company, we should reach out to the community and to the young.
Not only that, but the tickets on general sale will be as close to dirt cheap as I can manage.  Because theatre should be for everyone, not just those lucky enough to have deep pockets.

The Milk Bottle Irregulars Presents
Scenes from The Tempest
By William Shakespeare

Usurped and exiled Duke of Milan, Prospero, lives alone on an Island with his daughter Miranda and his books – with which he can cast spells and dark magic.  Using his powers he shipwrecks his enemies and plans his return home, but will he forgive those who have worked against him or destroy them?

Monday 22nd April at 8.30pm
Free Entry – wait in the Quay Bar prior to show – duration 1 hour
To put your name on the guest list – email: or call: 07704 704 469

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Milk Bottle Spring Newsletter 2013

The first official newsletter for a while, though we've not been unbusy.  Though we have few positive dates for your diaries at present, there are lots of projects in the offing, which you can view, assist, even - dare we suggest - purchase, from the comfort of your homes.

The Summoning of Everyman
For the first time since 2004 (not including rehearsed readings) Milk Bottle produced a revival of a classic play.  The tryouts for the show were performed just prior to Good Friday (appropriate for a morality drama) and had some excellent feedback.  We're now looking for small non-theatre venues, religious or secular, for additional performances of this beautiful play, later in the year.  We're open to invites - suggestions for locations on a postcard to us here - the space needs to comfortably hold about thirty in two rows of seating, in an end on configuration.

The Milk Bottle Irregulars
Continuing to break the trend of the last decade, Milk Bottle is looking to produce more classic plays with our Irregulars.  The Milk Bottle Irregulars is a new venture, an experiment to create a pop-up theatre company that uses technology to make the creation of theatre easier; to use technology to reduce the time it takes to create a new show; to use technology to share Shakespeare (and other dramatists, but mostly Shakespeare) with as many people as possible, and not just one play every-so-often but many and frequently.  But the aim is the technology will be as hidden as possible.  We’ll use technology to give us an edge - to cheat, in other words.
We’re testing this out at the end of April with scenes from The Tempest on Monday 22nd April at 8.30pm at the Quay Theatre.  The show should last about an hour and entrance is completely free, just email for your name to be put on the guest list – or call 07704 704 469 and leave your name and number of tickets requested on the answer phone.

Publication of AMLETH
It's been a while since the first read through and general testing of the material, but Amleth is (at last) available to purchase in book form - just click here to order your copy.  It's not a short play - as it is in two parts - and runs at over five hours of drama, not to be missed.  An ebook version will follow shortly.

AMLETH - Parts 1 & 2
By Robert Crighton
"I’m not mad, I’m the only sane one here."

Hamlet, as you've never seen him before.  Before there was Hamlet, there was Amleth - a lying, cheating, mass murdering Dane - who doesn't die as he avenges the death of his father, but who lives on to conquer Briton, commit bigamy and fight great battles.  Funny and cruel, dark and light, award-winning playwright Robert Crighton captures an earlier version of this iconic character in the epic two part play, Amleth.

Viva Espana
No news at present on the upcoming Spanish production of Teaching Gods, which has been delayed due to illness.  A scratch performance of The Alternative Seagull and Sleep Inc. last year went well, so we're all hoping for new production dates soon.

Sleep Inc.
And for those in London, Sleep Inc. will make its in town premiere this July as part of this years Face to Face festival at the LOST Theatre, performed by Robert.  Performance date to follow.

We've been dragging our feet a bit over audiobook versions of our back catalogue of monologues.  But have no fear - we're planning to start releasing downloadable versions very soon, starting with our first CD release, Teaching Gods & Bink!  Details will follow soon.

As ever, word of mouth / of electronic meme, is very important to us.  If you don't already, do follow Milk Bottle Productions or Robert Crighton: Storyteller on facebook.  On Twitter we're just @RobertCrighton.  It was RobertCrighton:Storyteller, but Twitter stole the Storyteller from us.  No idea why... they didn't even tell us they were doing it.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Coming Soon - The Natural History of Trolls as an Audiobook

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Coming Soon - Cuckold's Fair as an Audiobook...