It's a while since I last blogged; so I thought I would try and follow in the style of prolific blogger and theatre goer, Mark Shenton and provide you with 'Short Shorts', as he terms them: a summary of events in one blog. The truth is that this will most probably end up a bit more Virgina Woolf 'stream of conciousness'-esque; at least, that's my excuse for the following sentences grouped together with no real structure!
If you wish to decide which writer I emulate more: Shenton's blog can be found at The Stage and the complete text of Woolf's Mrs Dalloway can be read at the University of Adelaide.
I've never read a Virgina Woolf novel. I did try and read Orlando once, because it sounded quite fantastical and was fairly thin; but I guess I gave up as I have barely any recollection of it. I do read Mark Shenton's blog, however and I enjoy it. He also tweets / writes with honesty and interest about panto - although I have noticed that he seems to leave the country when the season starts.
The reasons for my lack of blogging are varied. The major one is that it turns out that having an office job takes up a lot of time and dents my desire to sit in front of a computer any more than I have to (especially when the purpose is to talk about life outside the office and trying to make it happen again!). Also, I have moved house: from a flat I rented into a flat that I and my partner own. Hence the reason for a settled, steady, office job at the moment.
The third reason is that a little while ago I was mugged (in Brixton, which is a frustrating cliche) and it became very hard to focus on things. I'm not bringing this up to get attention or sympathy; but because it's a bizarre example of how panto-centric I am...
I phoned the Police when I got home and they came around pretty quickly. Our old flat had several vintage panto posters on the walls and half way through the interview, as I was struggling to describe my mugger, one of the policemen started talking about a Cannon and Ball poster I had up. From there the interview became a series of sensible questions interspersed with me preferring to talk about pantomime, because it's a much nicer subject! I think I may have also tried to talk about my experience in terms of the stock panto characters and plots - to be honest: I suspect that I was more in shock than I realised!
I have always talked about pantomime at any opportunity; but I think that has to be my most extreme example so far!
Anyway, on to directly panto related ramblings!
Last week the cast of this year's Sevenoaks panto Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood met up for the first time and had a very fun afternoon having our pictures taken for the new poster and doing interviews with the local press. Here's the evidence:
The only ones I hadn't met before were Andy Abraham and Alan Fletcher and I think they are going to slot into our panto family marvellously. Andy has already worked for Magic Beans before, last year in Weymouth; but this is Alan's first time and I think he will be a perfect match for our team. Both of them were a lot of fun, friendly and down to earth. Finger's crossed we will have as good a Christmas as previous years. In fact, I've got a feeling it may be the best yet.
Alan is a musician as well and told us that he would be bringing his ukelele over with him. I've never really had much luck with instruments where both hands have to work independently - but Ant and I have decided that we will be forming a ukelele trio with Alan over the season. First we need to buy the things and then we need to learn them; but please expect to see us busking at Sevenoaks Train Station on 6th January when panto has finished.
Ukeleles are a bit of a panto past time actually. A few year's ago Laura-Jane who played Fairy Pureheart bought one. She has been challenged by this year's fairy Anna Kumble (aka Lolly) to perform a ukelele version of Telephone Boy, which I believe is a Lolly number. Actually, YouTube can confirm this (I don't believe it's Anna in the video):
So, there you have seen Anna Kumble as you never have before. Now, here's a picture of Ant Payne and myself as you won't have previously seen us, playing Inspector Fluzo and Detective WhatsUp:
This is part of a campaign to get people to have the Flu jab. I'm not sure what it's for or where it will be seen; but what I do know is that Simon Cossons has added some amazing CGI germs to the mix and I can't wait to see the finished article. Right now it's just nice to have a picture that proves Ant and I are versatile actors - not just a man in a dress and a silly little man. Alright....it's nice to have a picture that proves I'm a not just a man in a dress...!
Finally, I was very sad to hear about the death of pantomime dame Douglas Mounce a few weeks ago. Dougie played one of the Broker's Men in my panto of pantos Mother Goose in Plymouth, so I always followed his career. I also saw him play dame in Weston-super-Mare, with Antonio Fargas and his influence can certainly be felt in my performance (I hope!). His dame was quite motherly, but naughty and a believable character whilst still clearly being a man.
He was also very supportive. I met him at a music hall convention in Weston when I was 16 and he talked to me for a very long time about how to pursue a career in theatre. After reading my first blog entry he emailed me to talk about Mother Goose and seemed genuinely excited that it had meant so much to me. I am sure it meant a lot more to him! Last year he offered to help us get some local publicity for Soap Opera's run in Weston and was very keen to see the production (had we made it there!).
I didn't know him at all really, but the amount of support and encouragement he offered was amazing. He seemed to have a genuine love for pantomime and was keen to promote that in a younger generation. That sort of passion is very valuable.