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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Historic Crimes - Full Radio Play

It's been over a year since Historic Crimes premiered as part of my Artist Residency at the Quay Theatre in 2014 and finally I have the remixed, edited and complete recording for you.
This production is dedicate to Philippa Tatham who died earlier this year.

Milk Bottle Audio Presents...
Historic Crimes
By Robert Crighton

What would you want to see if you could look back in time and watch famous events in history?  And what would you do if they greatly disappointed you?  Or you discovered a hidden crime?  Would you tell the world if you discovered that Shakespeare no less was guilty of the worst of crimes?  Could you ever read his plays again?  Or allow them to be staged?  A modern morality tale about Bardolatry, sex and lies – staged as a live radio broadcast and streamed live online on Monday 13th October 2014 from the Quay Theatre, Sudbury.

Julia - Pamela Flanagan
Sylvia - Philippa Tatham
Val - Robert Crighton

Technical presentation by Peter Morris
Final edit by Robert Crighton

This audio production is free to listen or download from - but, remember, the people who made it won't receive anything when you do. If you enjoy this play or you'd like to support the work we do, please consider using the PayPal button below and send us a contribution.

Historic Crimes - payment options
The full script of the play can also be purchased online now.

Left to Right: Philippa Tatham, Robert Crighton and Pamela Flanagan

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A Ghost in the Machine

I'm supposed to be good at words.  That's my job, don't wear it out.  Finding words for difficult things should be second nature to me, but for the last year or so I have been failing.  That isn't to say that I'm not writing, I've written a reasonable amount this year, but, basically, quite a few friends or friends of friends have died and I haven't really had much to say.  Over a twelve month period I went to five funerals.  And on the news of each death I wanted to write something.  I got out the notebook or pad, booted up Word or hunted out this blog and... nothing.  Apart from the first sentence above.  Finding myself at a loss.
I think this is partly because anything I wrote looked trite - fake.  So this is an attempt to make up for some lost time, by not writing something too obvious about a friend, who has come back to me of late.  And this is because technology doesn't let go of the dead.

Earlier this year my friend Philippa Tatham died.  Not six months before she had come to my rescue by agreeing, at short notice (and on her day off from a run of a play in London) to appear in an audio play, Historic Crimes, that I was live streaming online.  I hadn't seen her in yonks, probably not since the last show I'd press ganged her into - but suddenly she was in my neighbourhood, saying my words, helping me out.  After eight or so hours of rehearsal, general natteration and then performance, she went back home.  Same old, same old.
I sat on the audio play into the New Year, as the edit for download release would take a while and other projects got in the way.  Then the news hit facebook that Philippa had died and no one could really believe it.  She was young, not much older than I, and so it didn't really make sense.  But there is was - in pixels on a smart phone, everyone said so, so it must be true.
And I still had this recording, sitting on a data stick by the computer, waiting.  Not that I could really face editing it.  That would make it true, some how.  So not yet.  This data stick (which I must return to my sound engineer at some point) sat by the computer till a month or so ago, when I thought it was time...  So, I had a listen.  Not a full listen, just a check.  It was very odd experience.  It still is.
You can forget things about people in their absence.  A photograph, especially professional ones, are misleading captures of the past.  Audio is strangely closer.  Even though the recording doesn't feature her own words, her natural phrasing, it does capture those little details you forget.  Ways of speaking, ways of thinking... but what the recording doesn't do is change.  No matter how many times I listen.

It was clear from the off that there was a lot of work to do with the recording - it was well recorded, but the room wasn't fully soundproof.  The play was supposed to have been recorded twice, once prior to the arrival of the audience, the second with audience for the live streaming.  We ran out of time to complete the first recording - so I don't have a clean record of the second half of the play.  This means I have had to do a lot of work to remove audience and other noise from the live version.  I've just finished editing a clean version, with a few edits and changes of timing.  Next, I will do a final clean up, mix in some effects and give it the final once over.  And then, on Thursday, I'll release it online for you all to hear.
Of course, what I've really wanted to do is re-record the play.  Not because it necessarily needs it - but because I can't.  Because I can't just phone up Philippa and ask her to do another take.  To ask her to read a new draft.  To have that option.

So, I return again to the problem of words.  What words do I really have to say about this, about Philippa and other lost friends?  Not many.  Just three.
I miss you.

Historic Crimes will be released on Thursday via

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Fantasy Terrorist Variation #5: A Little Learning

It's not even a week since the terrorist attack in Paris and barely hours since the last attack around the world.  This is not a response to these latest incidents.  That will happen.  I've been writing about terrorism for over ten years and the one thing I have learnt is that, whilst the specifics change, the issues, the responses to and attacks by terrorists, remain fairly constant.  This piece is about a different kind of terror committed far away from Paris.
And this audio piece is late. Very late.  I wrote this short play before Christmas 2014 and rushed it into recording as a response to the attacks on school children in Pakistan and Nigeria.  It then got delayed because of recording problems.  But the delay it didn't stop being relevant.  In many ways it is more relevant now.  The use of terrorism against education, targeting children, women and those who want to improve their lives has become increasingly common.  Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates as a call for the end to western education, are still at large in Nigeria, having killed thousands of people over the years, whilst the school children they kidnapped last year are still lost.  As I type, the dust hasn't settled on their latest attack - where children were used to deliver bombs.
Though the following piece is fiction and potentially set anywhere, it is based on a number of accounts from around the world in the present day.

Be warned: the following piece reflects the horror of what is happening to children around the world and is disturbing and may upset listeners.

Fantasy Terrorist Variation #5: A Little Learning

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Metal Harvest Programme

Last week was quite a week - I picked a terrible week to take on additional work, as I only had the world premiere of Metal Harvest going on.  Eek!  With so much going on I failed to create a programme - not even an info sheet.  So... here we go - have an online version - with photos from the tech at the bottom!

Metal Harvest
By Robert Crighton and Richard Fawcett

Principle dialogue by Robert Crighton
Music and German translation by Richard Fawcett

Metal Harvest was originally commissioned as part of Project 10/52 - ten shows in fifty-two weeks - in 2014.  It only took two years to finally get it to the stage.

With Thanks to:
Sonia & Jonathan Lindsey-Scripps for lending the shell casing; Gary Plumb for creating the shrapnel; Alan Scott and Sue Clark for archive material (even though we didn't use it in the end!)
John Bethell for rehearsal photography.
And Everyone at the Quay - Joe, Simon and Sharon.
I've probably missed someone out - sorry!

The Fantasy Terrorist Variations

In 2005 I wrote a monologue about reactions to the war on terror - Fantasy Terrorist League - which sank like a stone at the Edinburgh Fringe.  In 2006 it won the award for Best New Writing at the LOST One-Act Festival and since then expanded into a number of related variations on a theme.  Whilst I had planned to do a second half based on stories uncovered during the research for Metal Harvest on other themes of WW1, these didn't quite get to the level I wanted; so instead I decided to move forward the new variations for FTV I've been writing.  Variation 6, still a work in progress, fitted the previously staged Variation 3 so well I had to show them together.  Further variations will premiere online shortly.

Variation Six: (Untitled) A Work in Progress
Written and Performed by Robert Crighton

Variation Three: The Project After by Robert Crighton
Robert Crighton as Mark
Simon Nader as Art
Technical Photos:
These photographs were taken for Metal Harvest, during a very speedy tech, by the marvellous John Bethell.  The stage isn't fully set, my hair isn't slicked back and we're not properly in costume.  But we got something recorded, which is nice.  The photos haven't been fully adjusted yet - there's some cropping and colour adjustments I would normally do, but I wanted to get this post out today and so... hey.

Richard Fawcett, getting the fiddle warmed up...

In the lighting box, going over the cues.

The desk, which I didn't appreciate was so wonky...

Is the back light on... oh yes, there it is.

Still on... good.

Sitting down. In performance I am sans glasses, waistcoat and the hair...

The one real(ish) statistic used in the show.

No idea where the cat impression comes in. That's another show.

On my Fisher Price telephone.

And now the German section - which Richard and I did in unison. A surprise hit during the show. 

"Richard, what's my next line?"