Post archive

Competition winner announcement - little bit proud...

Congratulations to Chris Lambert, the winner of our Find a Reading Writer competition. Thank you to everyone who wrote a play, all the submissions were thoroughly entertaining, Judy Daish Associates had a very hard time choosing the winner. What talent there is in Reading!

 Off the Block leaflet copy

Competitions - Should I - Shouldn't I? Oh go on then!

 

 

Now and again a writing competition comes along and this one really tickled my fancy.

A new professional company (Reading Between the Lines ) from Reading ran a competition to find a new writer. This is for their "Off the Block " theatre event in April.

They would send a stimulus on Sunday morning and you would have to send a 2-3 minute scene by 4pm.

I prefer to write under pressure so I thought I'd give it a try.

At 9.55am (as promised) the email arrived.

The stimulus was "Being put on hold"

So I mulled over it for a short while (in the shower) and started to filter through ideas. When I came downstairs I had a nearly fully formed scene in my head.

The key thing was to try and keep it to four actors, have minimal set and props and get a sense of character, place and atmosphere across.

So I set to work and enjoyed the process hugely.

To find out what happened next stay tuned...

The Jesus Man - Wordle (Still Coming Soon!)

Here is a wordle diagram of The Jesus Man. I am currently proofing this novel and this gives an idea of themes but without ruining the story! 

Deadman's Lane Radio Play Act 1

First Act of Deadman's Lane with students from Theale Green School and Sam Crane...

 

 

The Theale Christmas Carol

The Theale Christmas Carol 2010 by Storytelling by Lambert Another version of The Christmas Carol, this time a short audio one for your delectation!

My Pumpkin Family

I would explain but you can probably guess...

A Set of Pollocks - A Competition

Today my daughter had to work on her own Jackson Pollock Action painting.

My son and I decided to have a go too.

Which picture was painted by whom?

Blimming hard to do a Pollock, the temptation to draw a picture and actually flicking any paint onto the paper, it ain't easy...

You have three of us to choose from,

1. Freya (Aged 5)

2. Conor (aged 7 - nearly 8)

3. Chris (aged 38)

So here are the three pictures:

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B Photobucket C Photobucket So for example if you think that I did the first picture, Freya did the second and Conor did the third you will write: 3A 1B 2C

Answers in the comment box or on facebook, the winner gets a box of chocks!

Closing date: whenever.....

Deadman's Lane 3 - Patrick Weeps

This is the final projection of the play. As Patrick sees his family swallowed up by Deadman's Lane, the sun rises and sets again and again quickly as the Soldier foretold... The Music is the theme of Deadman's Lane (Patrick Weeps). Enjoy.

Professor Loopy Waffleshorts Comedy Lab 1

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Just starting work on this project.
I am going to be running a Comedy Workshop under the umbrella of Exiled Theatre in Reading over the next two weeks.
I'm going for an experiential day for the students. Staying in role ALL DAY as part of...
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Part of my preparation is preparing the set. I am going to be in quite a small room so I thought I'd turn it into a lab...
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So I thought of the safety signs that might be up (my starting point was trying to get the students not to laugh (so they'll probably laugh more)...
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These signs will add to the overall look of the place outside and in...
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This coupled with sound effects and an hour of street theatre and custard pies should work well, as long as nobody laughs...
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Whispered Hopes Part 1

Below is what you will find on the new Whispered Hopes Page on this website. For the last week we have been recording the hopes of students at Theale Green Community School in Reading. Soon we will move onto people around St. Mary's Butts.

Recording the whispered hopes of the community in Reading. 

You are listening to an extract of the ongoing project "Whispered Hopes"

Recorded by students from Theale Green Community School and people from Reading.

These hopes for the future span what people want for themselves, for others, for the community and for the world.

The background sound is a soundscape extrapolated from one person's whisper. The tempo has been greatly lengthened, the noise removed and various other elements stretched and affected to create the ethereal atmosphere that you hear.

This will form part of a larger exhibit at Reading Minster as part of the Whitley Arts Festival 2011.

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Deadmans Lane 2 - The Priest becomes a Gargoyle - A Projection - Nightmares are Cool

A projection from earlier in the show. This played behind and over the priest transformation scene. The unfortunate Reverend is cursed by a witch (who he has buried alive in Aldermaston Cemetary, and finds him self turning into a flesheating gargoyle (or more correctly "grotesque" if I remember QI correctly!) The video was created from many jpegs, during the filming process the actor was gradually made-up. The video was then heavily manipulated in Adobe Elements. The sound is created by Music for Zombies. In the show we added in a further scream to help with cueing for the actor. Enjoy and do have nightmares! Nightmares are cool.

Goofy Columbus - The Ultimate Influence on my Writing - Shameless Plugs

Sometimes people ask writers where they get their ideas from.
For a while I kept this secret but it really is a major influence.
I give you...
I bought this from a jumble sale when I was about 8 or 9 years old.
I read it again and again and again.
I loved it.
I still love it.
Goofy Columbus sets out to prove the world is round.
No-one believes him except for Queen Isabella (a cow).
He manages to get a fleet together.
But, in a very dark ending he is proved wrong - (see below).
It is a fantastic book, playing out medieval thought as fact and thus revealing the inherent silliness in out-dated and superstitous belief.
Seriously. It's that good!
A great non-canonical retelling of the Columbus story. However it is a beautiful part of the Goofy Canon perhaps one of the best.
It's pretty hard to get hold of now (try it!) so I guard my copy with my life and will NEVER sell it.
This story stuck with me into my adult life, even though it was gathering dust in a box in my loft, it was there tugging at my memory when I wrote "The Simple Process of Alchemy".
The play concerned the comical misadventures of two rubbish Rennaisance scientists, who accidentally create a love potion (that works), discover the secret of Alchemy and prove the world is the shape of a big cake.
Buy Simple Process of Alchemy!
It is the third act that is influenced by the masterwork known as Goofy Columbus.
It is much more saucy than the Goofy version but the flirtatious relationship between Isabella and Columbus is homaged, in fact you could argue there is a striking resemblance between the actor Ralf Higgins and the Disney King and Queen (he played both King and Queen in this play through the power of "hole in the set technologyTM"). See below for comparison.
 
Ralf Higgins                                      Ralf Higgins

A Fat Wolf                                   An Amusing Looking Cow
 It's just uncanny isn't it.
The lovely Ralf Higgins and the wonderful Chris Corcoran played all the parts in this play, little knowing that I had based this work not on the musing of Descartes, the arguments of Galileo or the works of Marlowe but on a cheap, short and little known comic book.
The end of the comic book was my main inspiration. I always wanted to end a play with two people hanging off the edge of the world and so I did.
Publicity shot
Shot from end of show
 
See!

If you want to partke of this silly play (particularly good for show off male actors, budding double acts and silly university students) - you could play it with a massive cast too! Shameless plug!
Buy Simple Process of Alchemy!

Deadmans Lane 1 - The Burning of the Woman in White with a Terrible Smile - A Projection

This was filmed on the Theale Green Community School Field. It is part of the play "Deadmans Lane" which was based on local legends and ghost stories around Theale in Berkshire. The play contained a mix of live action and film, inspired by Forkbeard Fantasy and their ideas of "Crossing the Celluloid Divide" this scene saw the actors leave the stage and simultaneously appear on screen. The reason for the three piano shrieks on the soundtrack is that they act as cues for action. The third strike cues the entrance of The Faceless Man and the Priest. This meant that we could do a witch burning on stage without contravening health and safety (we had to be careful when we filmed of course!) The witch is put into the crate on stage and then the crate is burnt on screen! The music is by Music for Zombies. The play was produced by Exiled Theatre.

Night of the Living Dead - For Kids!

This is the next project I am working on with my school. This is a page from the school brochure I am designing. I have spent the last couple of days transcribing the text and redesigning it as a stage show. I used the original text available on line but my goodness it's different! It finishes with Barbara still alive (this isn't the 1990 version) and McClelland apologises for shooting Ben (who in the earlier version was a hick truckdriver not a suave black guy) - so all the radical racial politics must have come from Duane Jones' casting. Fascinating. As part of the prep for this, I will also be working on a soundtrack which hopefully I will be able to perform as a unique show away from the stage production.

The Doubledotbash Set - Radio Vincent - An MFZ Recording

This is a one take recording of my MFZ set that I created for Reading's Doubledotbash in July 2011.

It combines sound effects, spoken word, soundscape and song to create an atmospheric and apocalyptic vision.

I recorded it in one take as performed at the Festival to give a clear record of how it sounded. The mixing is done live as is the looping, this means that I'm switching betwen playing the guitar, adjusting levels, picking the guitar up, putting the guitar down, recording, playing and stopping loops, starting soundscapes, effects and spoken word on Jingle Pallette and singing!

This is the first part of a larger set. The second act will follow soon... Enjoy! Radio Vincent - An MFZ Recording by Music for Zombies

Music Inspired by Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Follow the Toys

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I have been inspired by a free album available for download that itself is inspired by CE3K.

Get it here

Very cool, I have made an atmospheric piece called "Follow the Toys" that takes this key scene from the film as a starting point. The main theme of CE3K (you know the one) forms the backbone of the piece (but it is slowed and effected to the nth degree)...

Enjoy!

Follow the Toys CE3K by Music for Zombies

 

Favourite Post from But is it Canon... this week Han Solo and the Inappropriately Monickered Droid...

 What a picture, look -  Harrison Ford and a Crystal Skull!
This ends with Han and Chewie going to borrow money from a gangster called Jabba the Hutt.
Mmmmmm, I smell canon!
However the biggest problem with all Star Wars novels (and Star Trek and I'll be honest Tolkien and Terry Brooks and Doctor Who and any other fantasy novel you care to quote) is giving names to characters.
Often they sound a bit like another word or name. Or they are just
In this book we have Hasti (is this a quick thinking character or was Mr Daley rhyming with Pasty?)
Badure (Badger?)
Shazeen
Skynx
But all of these pale into insignificance...
See below for Han Solo's inappropriately named droid. This is from the blurb at the front.
In the later novels (I think this is the first - feel free to correct me) the droid is called Zollux - someone must have told Mr Daley, what a shame.
It means that sentences like the one below would never happen again.
And this just seems wrong...
And my absolute favourite...
Hmmm "gleaming Bollux"
Did he have a sack, back and crack?

All Hail Filmface!

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Been working on this for a few months now.

Very simple, sum up a film with your face!

Quick snappy reviews, nearly at 200!

Dave Yates of Dolly Dolly has kindly joined the mission, more to come.

Click for Filmface goodness!

I will upload favourite reviews soon!

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Here Come the Dolls!

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Over the last few months I have been working for Hogarth Productions supporting their MASSIVE PUPPET project through sound...

Ed Harcourt approached me following our collaboration on the Spirit of Saint Mary as part of the Whitley Arts Festival  and asked me if I could make a soundscape for these massive puppets from Kensington Palace that were part of an installation there.

I met the puppets first in Kensington Park (strange coincidence) in Reading. Took some photographs and recorded sound on my mobile phone. They gave me the names for each of the puppets and I established that they were a family once trapped in a palace now given free reign, I started considering their characteristics.

 

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First is Fauna, the smallest and youngest - dainty... a ballerina. You can see her here with the chief puppeteer.

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Flora is senior to Fauna, once a successful ballerina but faded and bitter. And here she is with two former students of mine that I got this gig for... Bradley and Carl.

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Aurelia - the big sister, bossy and a gossip. Carl was inside her at this point.

 

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Lillio - the mother, creaky (the puppet is big and heavy so will have to be carried in a rickshaw)...

The first thing I did was create a base sound which was a combination of ticking, a distorted sound of a fireplace and the strange creaking I recorded (from the inside of Lillio - her creaking bamboo joints) on my mobile. And here it is...

Base extract by Music for Zombies

I then looked for music box music for Fauna (which would be clean and beautiful)

Fauna by Music for Zombies

...and for Flora (which would be distorted and scratched)

Flora by Music for Zombies

This is the sound for the older sister puppet, because I imagined her as a nag bag  from the dark distant past I took a scathing review of Mr Bensley's performance as Glanville from "The Devil's Copybook" (1789) as quoted in No Turn Unstoned , read this in the style of an over the top Miss Haversham. Then upped the speed pitch, added echo, played it backwards to get this.

Aurelia by Music for Zombies

Finally Lillio, creaky and old she speaks through her joints...

Lillio by Music for Zombies

The point of making these is that when they played on a longer soundscape it would give the puppeteers an impetus and inspiration to move. I added these to the base soundscape and before each puppet sound also added a cue sound,

Fauna=Windchimes (again a sweet sound)

Flora=A sad choral sound

Aurelia=A cockerel

Lillio=A Foghorn

The short extract below gives an idea of how it would all work together.

Mix extract by Music for Zombies

This short video gives an idea of how the puppets worked both at the Caversham Festival and as part of the Outside Inside Festival - I used this and the sounds at school to help explain devising in drama.

Did any of you see the puppets in Reading, give us a shout and tell us what you thought.

Ed is now thinking of moving on with this into a more stationary show for the Whitley Arts Festival - so watch this space.

This has been an invigorating and exciting project and I hope to work with Lillio, Aurelia, Flora and Fauna again.

Holiday Treats 1 - Hidden Valley Discovery Park

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I have to tell you about this place .

I have been to Thorpe Park, Legoland, Museums etc but haven't found a place that really brings a family together.

The rides at Legoland, Thorpe Park etc. divide the ages/heights. They also appeal to a certain type of person. The rides last a couple of minutes, you queue forever.

What about cerebral fun?

Fun for kids who like a puzzle.

Fun that pulls your family together.

No queuing.

To be honest I thought that such a place would not exist.

But it does, on our way back from holiday in Cornwall, we thought we'd stop off at Hidden Valley in Launceston (just off the A30) this was because it has a Hobbit House and my son loves the Hobbit. A long and winding road takes you to a ruined gateway and once you've paid (the very reasonable entrance fee) you begin your challenges.

There are three;

1. Find the Hobbit House . This is charming I hope they expand to a whole village one day.

2. The Crystal Challenge (using a map and grid references you search for a tiny clue with a new grid reference (this takes you around the whole park (until you find the crystal).

3. There is another challenge in which you look for a series of objects hidden in various locations (these objects are antiques that you have to open, turn upside-down, at one point you have to ring a number on a antique phone to get the next clue).

Oh oh oh! And then you take the answers you have found (the colour of the hidden crystals) to "The Vault" and solve a series of Crystal Maze style challenges. Genius!

Everything about the park makes your brain tick over and you get a whole lot of exercise too, moving from place to place back and forth between clues. when you find the clues the rush is great and you're on to the next.

On top of this there is a brilliant maze, a ride on steam railway with very entertaining driver and conductor and a fountain room (which is like an ancient wetroom).

My point is this, we had more fun at this park than anywhere else.

The staff were lovely and the idea though familiar for a park is unique.

We got totally caught up in the adventure and all the families who crossed our paths were beaming.

Genius. Genius. Genius.

(The only thing it needs is Hobbit, Sherlock Holmes or Indiana Jones related merchandise in the Gift Shop)

Just brilliant, a clever park that makes you feel clever.

You can keep your overpriced Legoland, Thorpe Park, Chessington et al. I'll take this anyday.

Go there.

The Watchman - Day 4 - Part 1 - Final Prep

This might take a while to write-up so final prep first

This is my lunch - please note script on the left. I was working. Thursday is Curry day at The Monk's Retreat.

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Set dressing compared to the previous watchman there is much more for the audience to do.

We now have wind-chimes, a rainstick a whirly thing, a flute organ thing...

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Look an atmospheric shot of the script!

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Okay this is a scene in which the Watchman imagines a romantic meal (but there's no-one there!)

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Spooky Watchman in face mask about to go outside.

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And there he is up a ladder!

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Right, the way the play worked (or was it an art and sound installation with some guy poncing in and out now and again?) was that in the room were various objects that the audience needed to use (these objects would make a noise) when I hear the noise it acts as a cue for an action or a scene - this means that the audience control the flow of the narrative, they can also cause sections of it to repeat.

I had worked out the scenes and practiced the next element was for it to be seen. That follows next...

The Watchman - Day 3 - Polythene, Isolation and the Amazing Throwing Skull!

Ah this is how I feel! Trapped in a room, putting up polythene! But you know what working on your own you tend to get a lot done and it cuts down on the arguments.

Of course I forgot the string and so had to go into town and get some.

So that took more time.

But how did I get that polythene up there?

Did I use a ladder?

Well maybe.

But mainly I used...

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An AMAZING THROWING SKULL that I bought from the 99p Store last year for Halloween and the Lovecraft think in December.

I attached the string to the throwing skull and threw it over the rafters.

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It's amazing, I should go on Dragon's Den.

Anyway over the course of an hour and a bit (taking a break to nurse a cut finger - remember scissors are sharp)

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I managed to construct the polythene room.

It does look a bit like one of Dexter 's murder rooms.

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As you can see the more that goes up the more atmospheric it gets.

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Eventually I made a corridor to the "room".

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At lunchtime over a delicious Beer and a Burger from The Monk's Retreat , I wrote three speeches.

Now the thing is this show has boomeranged from pure installation where the audience bring their own narrative...

...to a play with a fully constructed narrative...

...and now back in the control of the audience...

...sort of...

There are various objects/letters/sound making devices for the audience to engage with some of these will act as cues for either other sounds or for scenes...

Therefore these scenes could be played in any order.

I need a few more scenes but I'm happy with what I have so far...

Should have a couple of people to see it tomorrow, it needs a very small audience as it's a small space.

 

The Watchman - Day 2 - Riots and Cthulhu

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The riots in London are so depressing and weirdly chime with all the bizarre end-times reading I've been doing. So to cheer us up take a look at this Chick Tract Parody on Lovecraft. Genius (taken from rationalwiki )...

I was thinking of having some Lovecraft in this and now I am certain! Work it out tomorrow!

Another exciting thing I have found is "I wish we'd all been ready" by Larry Norman, there are loads of versions of this including one by Sir Cliff. I loved this song when I was a kid, weridly I still do, when I was a kid it was all about being chosen whilst everyone else died! Mu ha ha ha! Now it's the beautiful and weird apocalyptic imagery it leaves us with. Also we'd get the place to ourselves!

Check out these two terrifying videos!

Larry Norman (with a really scary video!)

Sir Cliff (Wants us to die!)

I've taken a groovy instrumental break from Cliff and turned it into this (reminds me of a Shamen track "Scientas " off Boss Drum, remember that 90's kids?

 

 

 

I Wish We'd All Been Ready - Soundscape by Music for Zombies

The Watchman - Day 1

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It's Watchman week!

This means that on Wednesday and Thursday I will be at South Street creating a piece of interactive theatre to show on Thursday at 6pm to whoever comes!

Today I have mainly been working on new sounds.

But I did have a go at dramatising the beginning of a Chick Tract. If you've never see a Chick Tract before check this out . They are terrifying, offensive and hilarious all at the same time!

Please excuse the terrible accents! Here's a taster...

Where Did They Go? by Music for Zombies

Doubledotbash 2011 – Performing and Discoveries

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Exciting band discoveries at the bottom of this post after I ramble on a bit....

Well that was fun!

Last year I created an installation that lasted for the whole festival and so I felt the need to be up and down the stairs checking on it and resetting things. (I did the same for the Dolly Dolly soundscape next door). The Watchman Soundscape which was a room bedecked in builders’ polythene became a sort of chillout room. I’d walk in there now and again and find that people were lounging quietly chatting and working out what the hell it all meant. I’ve been trying to work that out too, my own conclusions may be shared on August 11th when I transform the installation into a theatrical experience…

I was asked this year if I’d like to try performing by the incredibly lovely Doubledotdash group (Reading Music Promoters). I put a lot of preparation time into this, in fact the final show bore little or no resemblance to my original concept. I simply wasn’t sure what Music for Zombies would look like as a musical performance – my process went something like this…

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Once I’d finally got something, the Artistic Director of South Street Arts Centre (John Luthor) very kindly sat and listened to my 20 minute piece. This was a little awkward as we were in a big empty room, with me one end sitting by my laptop, looping and singing and him at the other trying not to put me off. John told me that he enjoyed it, especially the sung parts as they reminded him of an artist called Peter Broderick. Particularly the first part which is A.A. Milne’s “Halfway up the stair” (made famous by Kermit’s nephew Robin) which is sung over a complex (well complex to me) looped choral piece. I immediately bought his album “Home”, which I admit was strikingly similar in parts, it also opened up other possibilities of how I could use looping.

Interestingly, prior to this I had been working on “The Peasant’s Revolt” in which, as part of the show, I created a looped soundscape of the Peasants attacking London. I did this using carrier bags (the crinkling sound makes fire) barbecue forks banging together (sword fighting) and various screams of terror and outrage (including the line “Mummy, why is my face melting?”). I thought that elements of my piece could utilise these ideas but rather than sounds of terror I thought I’d explore the sounds of thew Watchman's memory, whistling and singing looped over the apocalyptic soundscapes.

Eventually the piece ran like this:

1.       1. Vincent Price intro from “The Last Man on Earth” – this is a film based on Richard Matheson’s “I am Legend” (avoid the Will Smith travesty) – the line is Vincent’s character trying to raise anybody on the radio.

2.      2. Switch”  - this is a very simple drone piece that uses the electronic whine of an old reel to reel tape recorder when it is switched on.

3.       3. “Halfway up the stair” – Over “Switch” I start a choral loop and then sing this song over the top (completely different tune, in this context it becomes about being alone.

4.        4. “Mary” a scary heartbeat sequence taken from “Deadman’s Lane”

5.       5. Over this is a group of comedians making fun of creationists

6.       6. Then “Come Alone” with its own special drone underneath.

7.       7. This is followed by a heartbeat monitor drown and a heartbeat monitor going bonkers.

8.       8. Then an improvised looped soundscape

9.       9. Leading into another Vincent Price line

10.   10. Which itself leads into “Sunripened” (I sang this too fast dammit)

11.   11. The piece then finishes with an amalgamation of the soundscapes with looped whistling and singing throughout.

12.   12. And then full circle to the Vincent Price line from the start.

On the day I arrived at South Street at about 12.30 ready to set up. The performance went well, I had a small audience but feel that the piece is worth developing.

I was very pleased with the programme, the artist had used a cartoon rat throughout to illustrate each band and I got a Zombie Rat. Very pleased.

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Following this I saw the following bands all of whom I recommend if they come your way.

Dolly Dolly – This was the best set I’ve seen yet from this fascinating artist, a fantastic mix of nostalgia, sound effects and freaky music. It was also very funny, he has a unique performance style which endears him to the crowd. Excellent.

Phone, Microwave and Sandwich – Brand new band made up of Ebbs and Flows, Glass Cello and Fields of Barley – I caught the end of the semi improvised set but these three seemingly disparate artists made an incredible sound reminiscent of David Holmes, which in my book is a very good thing.

Sleeps in Oysters – I’ve been following this band for a few years now and was excited to see that they were trying out new material. They are incredibly watchable and had a relaxed rapport with the audience culminating in members of the audience playing their percussion. The songs are always whimsical but their new work seemed much more serious and sad. I wanted to give the guy singing a hug. Bought their new album, (Lo!) more on that later.

Rozi Plain – Every year I like to make a discovery and here she is. Last year it was Drum Eyes, the year before that Sealand. Initially this band reminded me a little of Mazzy Star but the music was more complex and interesting than that band. Bought this album too, (Inside Over Here) which is excellent. The singer (who I assume is called Rozi Plain – real name?) has a beautiful ethereal voice, but the songs have a real humour to them. Super.

Minotaur Shock – I guess I should be honest and say I hadn’t actually heard this chap’s music. I’d heard of him but never seen him, I have to say he’s well worth seeing live. This is very unique, he is a drummer but uses some sort of magical sampler thing which he hits with sticks in time to make incredibly kicking tunes. My god he was good, the crowd went wild.

I will write soon about the next incarnation of “The Watchman” until then, make discoveries, there is so much good music out there and most of it is NEVER played on the radio.

Slogans for Teachers' Strike - 2011

I am currently prepping my placard for the March today and have noticed that there is a dearth of catchy slogans.

The NUT website ones are correct and a bit, well... dull...

So I did a brainstorm, looking for appropriate ones of course, we are teachers after all.

This is probably the best and most official:

"Pay More

Work Longer

Get Less"

So that's going on the front...

But what about the back?

Valueless

So much for increased retention and recruitment

No more teaching!

No more teachers!

How to lose teachers by David Cameron

We are not valued

"Cameron!

Naughty Step!

Now!"

Easy Fix - No Long Term View

How not to get re-elected by David Cameron

Not Blackmail

We can't arrest Gove!

Arrest Gove - Thief

They are not just breaking promises  - they are breaking the law

Boo!

Hiss!

Down with this sort of thing!

Political Slogan

Careful Now!

Oh Dear

The Teachers are Revolting

Gove = Thief

Cameron = Thief

"We signed a contract

We agreed the amount

The Pension comes out of OUR wages

This is OUR money

You are criminals"

Now these are quickly put together, I've nicked two from Father Ted. Most of them aren't funny. But then this is a serious issue. Hope some of these may help you today or in the Autumn...

Scary Poem Number 2 - DON'T

Here is my second scary poem...

DON'T

Don’t venture into deep dark caves where bats and witches dwell
Stirring at their cauldron dark, casting a wicked spell
And if by chance they spy you there, watching in the black
No wish or prayer or hero brave will ever bring you back

Don’t venture out on moonlit nights, when you hear the wolves ahowl
And the vampires hide their withered faces deep within their cowl

Don’t go inside the old dark house that has that dreadful smell
That people say is the home of ghosts and ghouls that crawled from hell

Don’t wander through the deep dark wood
And leave the graves alone
Close the window when you go to bed
Or you shouldn’t be at home
Don’t go home it’s not safe there
Don’t go out at all
Don’t sit in the bathroom
Don’t stand in the hall
Don’t stand still
Don’t move one bit
Don’t breathe, don’t sleep, don’t sit
Don’t lie awake, don’t read a book
Keep everything well lit
No turn off the lights!
They’ll know you’re here!
For heaven’s sake don’t scream
Don’t close your eyes
You might just die
If you start perchance to dream

Are they out to get you?
Will they see you?
You think they won’t?
Whatever it is you want to do
Please for God’s sake don’t
Whatever it is you want to do
Oh please for God’s sake DON’T…

Copyright  © Chris Lambert 2011

Now I've finished it and read it through a couple of times, this jolly little terror reminds me of that great faux trailer by Edgar Wright for the imaginary film "Don't" which was created as a homage to all the video nasties that began with that word "Don't go into the attic", "Don't answer the phone" and "Don't look in the basement" I think.

Here it is.


Scary Poem Number 1 - Masks

Today I wrote a scary poem, it's for my school's Arts Week and this acts as filler while scenes change...

It occurs after a scene where a child realises his parents are aliens...

So thematically it works...

       Masks by Chris Lambert
Who is behind the mask?
What if there is just another mask behind the mask?
And behind that another?
And you pull it back and there is another?
Each one blanker than before?
And you keep pulling at the masks?
And they are piling at your feet, their blank eyes staring up at you?
But those empty eyes are nothing compared to the mask that looks you in the face.
So you pull at that mask.
And you are staring at the first.
And it starts again…
Pulling and dropping, pulling and dropping.
Mask after mask after mask…

Another one soon...




Running On Air - Adventures in Audience Participation – Sitting in a Camper Van with Five (lovely) Strangers

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I almost missed this show.

I had left it a little late, it began at 9pm and I was planning to cycle to South Street Arts Centre. At 8.45 I got out my bike and saw that the tyres were both flat. So I started pumping the back tyre but attacked the task so vigorously that I broke the pump valve. This led to me borrowing my wife’s ancient and very heavy bike with child seat and cycling like merry hell to the venue. I arrived with a minute to spare, wheezing and gasping and plonked the bike next to a camper van.

The performer Laura Mugridge then came out of the van and greeted the audience (five of us) and took us to her camper van and introduced us to it. She called the camper van Joni, she had brought it with her husband and this evening she was going to tell us of her various adventures in it.

We were let into the van one by one and given specific places to sit and distinct roles. One audience member whose name  I remember as John was given a cardboard clock to illustrate the times in which various incidents concerning the breakdown of a vehicle. The lady opposite me was given a calendar, the lady next to me used a slide whistle at certain points to illustrate falls in temperature and the chap sitting in the passenger seat behind me (the rest of us were in the main cabin) was in charge of music. I was sitting next to the door and I played the part of Laura’s husband Tom.

The great thing about this show was its intimacy, not only with the performer but also in the strange relationship you built with your fellow audience members who were trapped alongside you. You absolutely had to be willing participants in the whole adventure, Laura was in complete control of the material but it felt organic and real and very quickly the outside world (which in this case was a noisy concert (Dodgy were playing!) with various revellers smoking and chatting outside) faded away completely. I was concerned that my wheezing might drown out the sound of Laura and that I was sweaty and smelly from my mad bike ride (you’d have to ask the others about this). You have to invest in a show like this, you realise that its success relies on you as much as on the performer, you are in the performance space being asked questions and participating.

Laura is a stand up comedian and her work over the last few years has experimented with storytelling and intimacy from performing in a cupboard to one person in Milton Keynes, to three in an art gallery and now five in a camper van.  We went on both a physical (Edinburgh to Lands End) and an emotional journey in which we shared the highs and lows of the last few years. There was an ingenious use of props, I didn’t have to worry about learning lines or improvising for the role of Tom (although I was concerned at one point that I might when she asked me what I ate on one particular night in her story) as she provided me with a tape recorder with the real Tom speaking his lines. When we got lost in Cornwall (a projection on the whited out windscreen) John had to find a crumpled map behind him and give directions (the map was crumpled because Laura had got angry with it earlier).  The piece de résistance was a beautiful model of some hills near Keswick where she spoke of a revelation concerning her life and career upon which she placed a tiny model of herself. It was like being in a Wes Anderson film (except funny and with actual humanity).

This was a fascinating evening of theatre, one that I completely recommend to any human being. As you can see from previous posts I am getting a real taste for theatre that is totally involving and engaging, you need to commit to performances like this, this is not for a lazy audience.

A lot of this play concerned the trials of Joni breaking down again and again. Interestingly on the way home (cycling back in the dark) the back wheel of my wife’s bike stuck and I had to walk it home the rest of the way. In the van Laura played us a song by a band called “Vampire Weekend” (I’m not very down with the kids and hadn’t heard it before) and said that this was playing when the camper van broke down so they felt the song was jinxed. We then proceeded to sing it together, now it’s either a coincidence or my bike must have absorbed some of this song (it was parked just outside)and gave up the ghost a few minutes after leaving.

Thanks Laura.


For more info tour dates for this show click: www.lauramugridge.co.uk

New Mix of Saint Mary Project

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I'm getting all nostalgic.

In October I was priveleged to perform a massive soundscape at St Mary's Butts.

I have been meaning to update the mix so it included the spoken word elements. So here it is just for you...


  The Spirit of Saint Mary by Music for Zombies

New version of Decuman Tale - The Horror!

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I like this story so much I thought I'd give it another go, this time revising it as a horror...

Influenced by Hammer. Where the last version played fast and loose with the dark humour of the tale, this looks at the horror of the story.

Set in a monastery on a dark and stormy night, a crazed man tells his tale of terror...

Enjoy!

  Decuman - The Horror by Storytelling by Lambert

First Rehearsal/devising Session for The Garden - A piece written especially for Doubledotbash

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Today I have been working on "The Garden" (working title) which will be a 20 minute piece for Doubledotbash (Reading Music Festival @ South Street on July 2nd) - I am dividing the piece into sections using a pre-recorded soundscape as a guide. The performance is developing as a piece of autobiography. It is a completely different way of performing for me, I am having to keep my eye on the timer on Jingle Pallette, start loops with my foot, sing, speak (i'll be adding in other weird instruments soon) The pieces I create for Music for Zombies are finished when they are performed but not this...


    The Garden, tiny extract of first live rehearsal by Music for Zombies

Taking a Custard Pie

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Just a little diagram showing what I have learnt over the years about taking a custard pie in the face.

A lot of it as with all comedy is to do with clocking reaction and timing.

Very important not to clean up straight away. Stare at the audience let them revel in your discomfort.

I was pied four times on Friday. I will be pied six times next Friday. It is an intrinsic part of our show...

Check out the video below for more info and see how it's done...

Theatre in Education - Teaching and having fun?

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I just had a soaking.

This is because I was washing down two groundsheets that had been covered in the UHT cream that I had been struck with yesterday in the name of education. (The reason I am soaking is that I was washing them outside in what felt like a force ten gale and they kept flapping about, so the water kept blowing back into my face...)

This was all for Exiled Theatre and Theale Green Community School's Theatre in Education project.

The aim of this  project is to teach Year 10 students how to create a piece of Theatre in Education for younger children. Year 7 students study "The Peasant's Revolt" and so this seemed a topic ripe for adaptation.

Controversial Bit
In the past Theatre in Education has been the mouthpiece for Personal and Social education in which students are encouraged to create pieces of work on subjects such as Drug Abuse, Healthy Eating, Relationships and Road Safety. As much as I admire the professional companies that tackle these issues, when students attempt them the results are often glib, cliched and lacking in theatricality (often inspired by Soap Operas). I'm giving away a little of my own tastes here but, in my experience, it has been easier for younger students to create Learning Plays based around historical events. The plots are essentially already in place as are characters and key events. These events, such as The Peasants' Revolt, also have huge contemporary significance and so can tick many of the PSHE boxes (if that's something you feel you need to do). Also in terms of the amount of time that Year 10's have a piece which involves jumping straight past the discussion and right into rehearsal can only be a good thing surely.

I have created oodles of resources for this, from lesson plans and power point presentations as well as audio elements that students can act out to.

  The Collector by Storytelling by Lambert

The key thing is that the creation, rehearsal and performance of Theatre in Education pieces should be fun. Over the next month we shall be taking this piece to various schools around the county and I hope that we can enthuse students about TIE, about the methods we use and about the subject matter.

Going back in time at the South Street Labour Exchange

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Last night I went back in time.

Press the button below to simulate timetravel sound effect to accompany the text below...



  Time Travelling by Music for Zombies

I arrived at South Street just before 9pm on Thursday 28th, 2011 and within minutes was taken back to 1933 when 21 South Street opened as Reading's Labour Exchange.

We met the Lord Mayor who spoke of his plans for the building and then were led into the building where we saw Huntley and Palmer employees hard at work after which we joined them for tea and biscuits. Macdevitt's Bar was transformed into a lively canteen in which we sat with the workers and eavesdropped in on their conversations.

We were led out and found ourselves in the 1950's where we saw the arrival of Titus from the West Indies, we followed him upstairs to his bedsit and then watched him settle in and develop a warm relationship with his landlady.

When we came downstairs it was the 1970's, a strike was in progress outside and members of NALGO handed out leaflets and lead us on a march into a club where we experienced punk and the pre-Thatcher years first hand.

Finally we gathered in Macdevitts and celebrated the victory of Thatcher in the election of 1979. I didn't raise my glass to her.

Then without warning I found myself back in the present day!

You can press stop now if it hasn't already finished...

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This was a really eye opening piece of community theatre. The play, an excellently co-ordinated piece of promenade, used a mix of professional and youth theatre actors to great effect. It was meticulously researched and the entire building was transformed (several times over the hour long performance) to represent the different eras. Each movement through the building took us to a different time period in which the combination of performance, costume, setting, lighting and incredibly impressive sound design (throughout the building) created a deeply evocative atmosphere, making the jumps in time absolutely seamless. Because we, the audience in our modern dress were mingling with characters from the 70's, 50's and 30's it forced those eras to be compared with the present. It threw into sharp relief the current economic situation and it's mishandling by government, revealing that governments never look back and learn from their mistakes.

What I loved about the whole experience was how it transformed the space and allowed the audience to experience the history of the building. It made me consider that every building has a history, that each building in the world has a collection of stories to tell. This reminds me of when my father, on his 80th Birthday, visited his birthplace only to discover it was now an estate agents, they kindly let him see the room that he was born in. Every house and  every building regardless of age, (although the older buildings would have more stories) has collected families, workers, people with different experiences. Potentially every house or business premises could have a piece of theatre made about it.

Think about where you live.

Think about where you work.

Do you know how many families have lived in your house? Do you know anything about them?

It is absolutely fascinating.

Life is fascinating.

Find out, go on.

Do it.

The Incredible Story of Saint Decuman - A Watchet Tale

monkThis little audio play that I made today is based on the incredible story of Saint Decuman. He went to Watchet in Somerset to build a church and got far more than he bargained for...   The Legend of Saint Decuman by Storytelling by Lambert

The Bicycle Bell - A New Soundscape

  I found a bicycle bell in my mother-in-law's shed just the other day. The soundscape you hear is made from one ring of the bell which has been manipulated and distorted. I am looking for sounds for "The Watchman" and I quite like this one. Look at this as part of a bigger aural picture. The Watchman will be in Research and Development in August at South Street Arts Centre, it is a mix of sound installation and live theatre.

 The bike bell by Music for Zombies 

Sarah Jane's gone, let's celebrate her adventures by having an adventure ourselves on "The Terror Trail"...

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I feel very sad today as I'm sure many do.
The above game is taken from the 1977 Doctor Who Annual, the two people with the Doctor are Harry and Sarah-Jane, as you can clearly see.
Ideally find someone to play with, preferably two then one of you can be the Doctor and the other two can be Sarah and Harry.
Otherwise if you are in a household where your sense of profound loss isn't so keenly felt, then play against yourself, maybe you could use some old Weetabix Cardboard Doctor Who figures to mark out the different and changing positions.
I hope you win, Sarah always did.

Dessicated Rats

PhotobucketFound these today in the dark corner of a garage I was cleaning out.
Poisoned over ten years ago.
Poor little things, they died in an embrace, it's like rat Pompeii.


Detailed interview with my uncle Richard Crane about his play Mutiny! - recorded circa 1983 by me aged 10.

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Today I feel like a bit of personal nostalgia.

An interview with my uncle Richard Crane about "Mutiny!" when I was about... 10 this must have been 1983, I've tried to tidy up the sound a bit. It was recorded on an internal microphone on a very shoddy tape recorder which recorded mainly white noise. It's very short! Best question "What did you do then?" He wrote it. He was very patient with me. The sound is quite strange so do bear with it!

I found this up in my loft, so I haven't listened to it for years, weirdly I sound a lot like my son. I do remember that we recorded the 56 second interview in our utility room, we lived in a large Rectory in Dorset when my uncle came to stay with his family.

It's very exciting hearing this, if you want to know why I write stuff, it's because of him.



  Detailed interview with Richard Crane about Mutiny! by a 10 year old Chris Lambert by Storytelling by Lambert

It's Like He's Knocking

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Last night I saw an amazing piece of theatre.

Sorry for the hyperbole but it really was.

I went to see "It's Like He's Knocking" by Leo Kay.

The small audience (it's supposed to be small) left South Street Arts Centre at 8pm and walked down the street and then down an alleyway (by RISC). One of the audience members knocked on a locked door and we were let into a bare bedsit room.

The small square room contained rough  wooden  benches, the windows were covered in cardboard and taped up. A bare bulb hung from the ceiling. The actor sat in the centre of the room whilst we entered and a musician sat to his left.

Leo gave out shots of vodka (he also offered orange juice which was great, as I was driving) and proposed three toasts one of which was to his father.

The following hour was filled with Leo, in a conversation with the audience, telling us stories of his Grandfather and Father's lives. This was highly charged and claustrophobic. The performer locked us in with his gaze and with his evocative storytelling.  The stories were very personal and interspersed with Brazilian music and looped soundscapes that were created live. It was hard to see where Leo the performer ended and where the real Leo began, the two personas merged into one.

It is hard to do the show justice on paper as it covered so much in an hour. Leo usied the stories of these two lives and the play itself to work through his grief for the death of his father.

It was incredibly personal and I felt priveleged to be part of the experience. This was theatre as very effective therapy.

Now David Cameron wants us to be a happier nation, as well as resigning immediately and taking that turncoat Clegg with him he could also get Leo to perform this play in every city, town and village, in bedsit flats across the nation and encourage others to follow Leo's example. Leo gave us the opportunity to reflect on our own lives and pasts, something that we don't have the time to do. This show explores and demonstrates very effectively how creativity and art can have a real healing power, it makes us realise how much we need to listen to our parents, find out about them and their lives before they go.

This will be touring again, I urge you to see it.

The Tale of Florence Wyndham

Just come back from holiday, went to Watchet Museum in Watchet and heard this great story about Florence Wyndham, thought I'd turn it into an audio piece... enjoy!

This is a much better way of doing a blog...   Florence Wyndham by Music for Zombies


 

Kill the Messenger

I am cream-crackered, Kill the Messenger was a great success and audiences at all three venues were very positive in their response.


I'm looking forward to the next one!


Kill the Messenger and Deadman's Lane

About to go watch a rehearsal for this "old" play. Will try and get some photographs up.

Also have finished first draft of "Deadman's Lane" see groovy pic below as appetiser!




What to do?

Twitter Novel is going well. Am just getting the hang of how the whole Twitter thing works. Now I need to get back to the regular novel-writing. Really want to finish The Jesus Man. Watch this space.

The Twitter Novel

Not being one to jump on a bandwagon I have jumped on a bandwagon and started the world's first (probably) twitter novel. I have just discovered Twitter and like the fact that it makes you reduce the amount of info in your writing. I am going to be writing this with Steevan Glover - it will take ages, but you can see this book build day by day and sentence by sentence over the next year.

New Novel

I am getting somewhere with this!

It should be good, I have started a new way of writing. As I have so little time due to my job I speak into a dictaphone in the car and then type up when I get a moment! It creates an instant drafting process - albeit not a very good one.

I find this picture, which is a mash up of an old victorian print and a clipart to be a real inspiration for this time travel - religious satire - I will give no more away until I have finished!







Burning wood in my outdoor oven thing. The wood that I had chopped off the tree was too damp and created lots of smoke. I took a picture of the lampshade through the smoke. I thought this would be a good cover for one of my novels, the one set in collapsing suburbia. I must get on and write this!

Hello

Welcome one and all to this my blog.


I will be using this primarily for my writing and other experiments (I might use it for my AST work in which I will outline techniques and resources that have worked. I may upload lesson plans and workshops too!)


Obviously  this is early days and I hope that I can keep up the entries. We'll see.


Happy New Year!


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