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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Recording 'The Project After'

The Project After - discussed below - can be heard here.

"Just got back from recording 'The Project After' with Frequency Theatre. Fucking knackered..." was the less than subtle post I made last night about a little trip to Colchester.  For those new to me, and those who know this blog well but have not been paying attention (quiet at the back there), here's some background.
The Project After was a play I wrote as part of a series of short plays now collectively known as The Fantasy Terrorist Variations which has been quietly growing over the past decade or so.  The Project After is the latest performed addition (technically Variation 3) and was premiered at the Barons Court Theatre last November.  It is a tricksy little play, designed to provoke thought and unease among'st those watching (or very soon, listening).  The run at Barons Court was well received but shorter than planned and seen by few people, so it's still in the category of 'unfinished business' and ripe for revival.
Frequency Theatre is an online audio play producer, based in Colchester.  I've done a few recordings with them over the last year and passed on the script, which they liked very much.  So, I got cheeky and asked if I could be in the play as well.  They said yes.
The studio is based in an arts project called Slack Space, utilising the slack space (hence the name) in an unused retail outlet - I believe the old co-op store.  So, off I toddled and met up with Bethany Sharp-McLeod the director and Tom Edwards my fellow actor.  I was determined to not talk too much, not to impose myself and make it difficult for the director to do her job.  I think I got the balance reasonably right, I wasn't not going to talk about my play and the ideas within it, but then again I could be deluding myself and Beth wanted me to die for not shutting up.  I did have a coffee before hand (which I really shouldn't have), so I might have been a bit high.
Anyway, we chatted about the play, read it twice and chatted some more.  We were all pretty much on the same wavelength, no one was missing the point of the play, I was very happy.
Then we stood up in front of mics and actually did it.  And fuck me, to quote myself, it was exhausting.  It's twenty plus minutes of two people having a bit of a go at each other and my legs were shaking after just a few minutes into the first take - which was a straight run through.  When I directed it for London I don't recall the cast complaining about exhaustion - maybe I wasn't listening?  But then again, if by the end you aren't drained, have you really given it your best?  Discuss.
The problem for me was trying to get the old show out of my head - both in the sense I didn't want to play my character Mark as Keith Hill did (you're not getting royalties if I did) and in the sense that the pauses and flow of the dialogue was different because different actors find different rhythms.  It helped that Beth gave me many slightly different directions for certain lines; I couldn't do it the way Keith did it before, I had been told to do it differently.  Which was useful.
We (well I) crawled out after the recording well after 10 o'clock and made my way home.  I stopped briefly in a pub for a swift one and sat in a comfy armchair and tried to switch off.  Shouldn't have had the coffee.  Shouldn't really have had the beer.  But I'm glad I did.  In the background Elvis was playing.  A gentle refrain, to which I quietly hummed along.  And then it hit me that it was a perfect song to go in a play I'm planning to do next year.  Out came the notebook.
So, regardless of how the recording comes out (and it comes out on Friday, free online) I'm delighted to have done it - because if I hadn't come to Colchester and done the play and felt so knackered I needed a sit down, I wouldn't have been reminded of the music that changed the whole direction of a play that hopefully you'll get to see next year... something something something the House that Jack Built.

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