Sunday, 8 January 2017

Blogpology.

Dear Scallypeeps, a quick blogpost apology - a blogpology, if you like.

I've become aware of the fact that xmas songs after xmas are strangely disturbing and a little depressing. I had finished that mash-up I posted in the last blog well in advance of xmas, and it was my intention to post it on xmas day itself - but being with actual people, and having lovely Bucks Fizz(es) for breakfast, meant that plan slipped into a drunken xmas haze. Like everything in life, it's all about the timing. What brought my attention to the unsettling nature of late xmas songs was being in my local shopping center, which starts playing xmas songs sometime in early December, and has them relentlessly spugged out in every corner of the building - supermarket, shops, corridors and toilets - there is no escaping the xmuzak. Up until xmas day, and even up til new years eve, it's irritating but somehow tolerable. However, on January 5th, hearing a poptastic rock'n'roll version of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town provoked feelings of melancholy, anxiety and nausea.

I'm thrilled to report that since yesterday Ria Shopping is back to lowest-common-denominator pop muzak. So, as good as my xmash-up is - and it's fuckin awesome - I should have either posted it on xmas day, or waited until next year. Please forgive me.

 Anywhoo, did y'all know that the original scallywag, STAN himself, takes to the stage this coming Tuesday and Wednesday? That's the 10th and 11th of January 2017. Only a few short miles from the heart of London's West End, the theatre capitol of the world, we perform in the infamous Etcetera Theatre, Camden. And when I say infamous, I do mean unfamous. Front row tickets are already changing hands on the black market for thousands of your English Pounds, so I urge you to snap up the few remaining seats while they are still available.

Buy tickets here.

And please do - if you haven't already - post the facebook event page link into your timeline. Here it is -

https://www.facebook.com/events/946213562179310/

I'd like to finish up this blog with a little etiquette quandary.

Let's say - hypothetically - that someone who may or may not be a family member gave you a shirt for your birthday, and that he actually always gets you a shirt for every birthday and xmas. Now, the last shirt he got you was synthetic, and you've told him numerous times that because you have delicate skin you can only wear natural fibres. You've told him this because he has bought you synthetic shirts before. Numerous times before. His birthday is a month after yours. Here's the quandary - for his birthday present, is it ok to give him that synthetic shirt he just got you, that you have never worn and will never wear?

I think it's safe to assume - hypothetically - that he likes the shirt, because he chose the bloody thing, and like most people buys presents based on what he likes, rather than what he thinks the person he's getting it for likes. And perhaps, if you gave him the shirt back, he would in future remember that you can't wear synthetic fibres, and get you a cotton shirt. Or woollen. Or silk. Or something that's not a fucking shirt.

However, if this person who may or may not be a close family member was - hypothetically - the kind of person that reacts extremely badly to anything he perceived as criticism, would the inevitable and mind-bendingly tedious political fall-out that followed render the possible future acquisition of non-synthetic shirt gifts as too nominal a benefit to risk it for?

Just in case you're wondering, you also assume - hypothetically - that this person that may or may not share lots of genes with you never reads your blog, and is in fact blissfully unaware that you have been blogging for almost a decade.

If you do have any insights to illuminate this entirely hypothetical quandary, please stick 'em in the Comments section below.






Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Tick Tock - Where's My Cock?

Ahoy Scallywagamamasandpapas.

In case you're wondering, the title of this post is not merely gratuitous profanity - rather a carefully crafted cryptic reference to the fact that STAN will strut his stuff exactly a week from today.

So let's get straight into the Shameless Self Promotion part of this blog post.

We play next week on the 10th and 11th of January in the Etcetera Theatre, Camden as part of the Black Box Festival.

Tickets can be bought here, for the nominal price of a Tenner, or 8 squid concessions. Virtually giving 'em away, you're robbing me! I do have some squeezes to give away, so if you think you are a worthy recipient please let me know. If you convince me that you are bringing a bunch of friends with you, a freebie is as good as yours.

Here's the facebook event page, which I'm led to believe is the key promotional tool that I need to be pushing and encouraging you all to share. So please do share it, and ask the people you share it with to share it, and so on, until after 7 degrees of separation, the entire population of the planet will be plugged in and turned onto this event. Probably. Sadly, the Etcetera Theatre won't hold 7 billion people. Not all sitting down, anyway.

For more info about the show, and a lovely lickle review from a German Newspaper, have a look at the last blog post.

I think that pretty much does it for Part One of this blog post, with all dem links an' promotion an' dat innit.

Ai! Arsenal match kicking off soon (we play The Mighty Bournemouth) so this is a perfect juncture to take a break from blogging the wankosphere. In Part Two I'll do a bit of a State Of The Nation type thingamiboo. And the nation is in a right fucking state. See you on the flip side. Cmon you GOONERS!

As you are all clearly burning to know what happened in the match, I can divulge that we were down 3 nil after 20 minutes, and equalised in the 2nd minute of injury time through an Olivier Giroud header.

Ok then. Theatre. And that. In a nutshell, the world in general and the UK and US in particular are going down the shitter. Broadly speaking, it seems to me like we have two choices - retreat and hide, or speak up and be heard. Theatre is about coming together as a community to share our stories, engage with each other, stimulate conversation, challenge the norms and change our minds.

Or you can chose to stay at home and watch telly. Isolate yourself. Consume rather than participate.

The latter is easy and comforting. The former is challenging and rewarding.

I'm not suggesting you never watch telly. Some telly is great. But as a theatre maker - and more importantly a theatre lover - I am committed to celebrating the magic of the theatre moment. Ephemeral and unique, with the power to transform and connect us.

Nuff said. See y'all in Camden.

BONUS TRACK - As a Special Somewhat Late Xmas Treat, here's a little mash-up what I did. An Xmash-Up.


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The (Real) Return Of The Prodigal Scum.

My Dear Scallywaggers, you lovely people, you.

Time once again to jizz in the face of the Blogosphere, precipitated by Actual News - past, upcoming and political-cultural.

Despite The-End-Of-The-World-As-We-Know-It (more on that later) Scallywag Endeavours has managed to stay active on the cultural landscape. When I was invited by the redoubtable Ron Bunzl to co-direct a Story Telling Circle project in Huesca, Spain, it was quite simply the proverbial offer you can't refuse. And this time not because of blackmail that would lead to being charged and convicted with a felony - rather because it was an opportunity to be involved in a wonderful project that would engage and stimulate me, that I would undoubtedly learn from, and that had every chance to enrich and transform the lives of the participants. I'm thrilled to report that it delivered all of the above. Plus we made some powerful and moving theatre, and developed and refined some genuinely new ways to reveal process as product and versa visa. In the words of the poet - That's some new shit, man.

Massive shout and nuff respec to all the participants, who were honest, courageous and generous (which makes the job of directing fun and inspiring) and though "amateurs" came armed with a serious arsenal of skills - from concert violinist, to parkour hip-hopper, to kick-ass flamenco dancer, a kick-ass contemporary dancer, and with a music and an art therapist thrown in for good measure. Special shout out to the wonderful musician Simone "the missing link" Giacomini, who arrived for the last 2 weeks of the process and inspired the final stages of our evolution. And finally a mention for Huesca itself. What a great little town! Do yourself a flavour and go visit.

And now, my dear broken and desperate theatre whores (am I projecting?) onto news of upcoming events. The London Theatre Scene is a hard nut to crack - like trying to crack a walnut that's been reinforced with Essence Of Hardness - with a jellyfish. Yet crack it we have. I'm chuffed to announce that STAN has been invited to perform in The Black Box Festival in the Etcetera Theatre in Camden, London on the 10th and 11th of January 2017.


And please do post that link on your facebook timeline, your Twitter "feed" (I think that's the term...) in emails to all your friends, and projected onto the moon in 10 mile high letters. Painted on the side of a giant Zeppelin would also do. Here is that link, to copy and paste how and where you see fit.

https://www.ticketea.co.uk/tickets-theatre-blackbox-stan/

Seating is limited, so please do book in advance to avoid disappointment. I have kept the ticket price down to an absolute minimum (about the price of a mixed drink in a West End theatre) but if you are really skint, and think you deserve a free ticket, do let me know as I have a couple of squeezes ear-marked for movers and shakers. These are generally people that are compelled to see theatre 3 or 4 times a week, so only go and see a show if it has Mark Rylance in it. As Mark was sadly unavailable, there is a chance I'll have a couple freebies going begging. As always, first come does not necessarily mean first served, but do get requests in early, as you'll have more chance of your guilt-tripping sob-story to gain traction. 

Here's a bit of marketing blurb and a nice review - 

STAN is a small man with a big mouth. He's not afraid to say what's on his mind, or on your mind. He is the Anti-New Man. Loud. Aggressive. Unapologetic. But his abrasive exterior also hides something more fragile - the small boy inside, lost, alone, confused and frightened.
STAN is in some way a reaction to modern 'civilised' man. The man who has suppressed his basic urges, who censors his primal animal instincts. The man who is emasculated by modern, powerful Independent Woman, who at the same time as demanding his dicklessness, despises him for it.
The cracks in STAN's Psyche are sometimes revealed through moments of self reflection - "Do you ever feel like you're being manipulated?" He asks the audience. "It's fucking weird!" STAN chooses to live in denial about the fact that he's a puppet, unwilling to deal with the horror of this reality.
And here's a nice review from the Nurnberger Zeitung -
The one-man-show "STAN" again proves that the best humour is not just slapstick but has discreet depth. At first sight STAN is the archetype of a chauvinist: sexist to the threshold of pain, testosterone driven and in an absolute yet inadequate manner sure of himself. But behind this facade lies a sensitive inner life. That this identity crises is so fascinating can alone be accredited to Jim Barnard's accomplished performance and his remarkable physical skill. He is a puppeteer with both feet and one hand in his Alter Ego.


I've performed STAN in theatres and festivals all over the world, from Holland to Germany, Slovenia to Belarus, Norway to Spain, Cabo Verde to Bolivia to name but a few. Last year we had a show in Croydon, but this will be the first show officially in London. Now, I'm from London, and the character STAN is from London, so this does feel a little special. 

So do come down to share a special night, the real Return Of The Prodigal Scum.

You know what? I was going to write a bit about the resurgence of The New Right, and the role/responsibility of the artist to ask questions and stimulate a conversation, so we don't blindly slip back into the Dark Ages. I was going to examine what we might have learned from Brexit and Trump - and Leicester winning the Premiership (yeah yeah, and the Cubs too.) But I think this blog post is long enough, and there will be more Shameless Self Promotion before the shows in January. So I will save that stuff for then. Something to look forward to. Oh yes, and a very special Scallywag Xmas Mashup... You lucky people, you.

In the mean time, take care and stay well lubed. 


Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Re-Re-Launch Of Scallywag Radio

Scallywaggers near and far.

Some order can now be restored to the world, as Scallywag Radio now has it's own platform, and Scallywag Theater can go back to blogging about theater (or Theatre, for the English).

As you'll see, I defected to Word Press for the Radio blog, coz it looks better, innit? But it doesn't seem to work quite as well as the old faithful blogspot, once you were a good blog, but now you're not. Except you still are. What...... Ever!

To be honest, I'm now not convinced that having blogs and content in 2 different places is such a hot idea, and I may even consolidate the whole damn thing into a Scallywag Productions blog...

Wadaya fink? Your opinions as always are very welcome.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Scallywag Radio Presents - Unfinished (Yet Another Micro Audio Play)



Ging Gang Scallywaggywaggywaggy Wash Them.

Well fuck me ragged, I'm on a roll with these. This one's only 2 mins 15 secs, and has no clever environ-flippin-mental soundscape - but I think it's my favorite to date. That could just be because it's the newest, and new things are very attractive. But I like to imagine that it's the quality of the writing. And the performance.

Everything I want to say about this is in the last post. So if you give a monkey's, do check that out. If not, fuggit, I say art should stand for itself, and no amount of background info is gonna make bad art better.

I'm considering making a new Blog that is dedicated to Scallywag Radio. But in the mean time it will continue to piggy-back on the broken shoulders of Scallywag Theater.

For your comprehensive listening pleasure, here's the first two Micro Audio Plays.


Fast And Spurious.


Like That.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Scallywag Radio Presents - Like That, Another Micro Audio Play




Zdravstvuyte Scallywagska,

Despite underwhelming popular demand, Scallywag Radio is proud to present the second eagerly unanticipated Micro Audio Play - "Like That". That's right, we're not fucking around here, believe you me. You me. You me. Odd that. Or perhaps that's just the massive dose of mescalin I had for breakfast this morning?

In any case, "Like That" is an entirely different kettle-of-marine-life than Fast And Spurious, altogether. What's that, dear imaginary reader? You want me to explain and expound on the origin of the text, the ideas that drive it, plus the mode, means and manner of it's transformation from words on a page to Micro Audio Play? Well. Just 'cause it's you, let's see how far we get with that. But I'm not promising anything.

Way back in 2014 I was deeply immersed in the development of a new technique for making small-scale puppets. Inspired by my new creations, I wrote a monologue ostensibly but not exclusively for this little old lady.


As a matter of historical fact, I did actually have the profound pleasure and privilege to perform the monologue with her at an extraordinary little event that is certainly worth a short digression. It was January 2015, and I was staying down in Barcelona working as Studio Slave for sculptor and social hub/svengali Frank Plant (if you like large scale drawings in steel, buy one of his pieces and it will improve your life immeasurably). A friend of his (and now mine) Josephine Grundy organizes a "Salon" in her apartment every couple of months, in which her living room turns into a performance space and auditorium for about a dozen people. People bring food and drink to share, and over the course of an evening a vividly mixed-bag of artists - professional and amateur - present everything from text-based theatre to contemporary dance, from live music to storytelling, from experimental video projects to puppetry, and any and everything else in between. Wonderfully, with a resounding "fuck you" to main-stream culture, nothing is monetized. No one pays or is paid. Everyone is there purely for the love of sharing all forms of time-based art. I would encourage all of you to switch off your computer and get involved in something like this. Right after you finish reading my blog, obviously.

At the time of writing "Like That" I was also inspired by a new-found fascination and study of The Theatre Of The Absurd - in particular the works of Beckett and Ionesco. Through the playful liberty of deconstructing language and stripping away its meaning, I was especially drawn to exploring what was not said in a text. It is into these cracks that an audience must create their own meaning. The previous year I had written two scenes - a monologue and a dialogue - for a production I directed in Tallinn, that was entirely made up from unfinished sentences. (I plan to transform the monologue into another Micro Audio Play.) By furnishing the empty spaces in the text with their own ideas and experiences, an audience creates order from disorder, making the content of the scene intimate and personal to themselves, and perhaps even uncovering their own meaning for the ethical, psychological and emotional issues that have been raised.

Perhaps in my next BlogSpotPost I will delve deeper into the notion of how time-based-art as heterotopias are places of opportunity, sites of interactive disorder generating new orders and of order transforming into regenerative disorder. But probably not. Even imaginary readers have a limit to how much shamelessly verbose pseudo-academic theatre-theory wank-fest they can stomach.

Interestingly (for me, at least) the musicality and dynamics of "Like That" are in some way an exact mirror image - or perhaps better, a negative image - of "Fast And Spurious". In "Spurious", the delivery of the text was absolutely and intentionally monotone, the dynamic range and musicality came from the environmental soundscape. In "Like That" the environmental soundscape is monotone, and the voice has as much dynamic range as the microphone could handle and my performance could muster. The music - 2nd Movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony, mangled to make it sound like it's being played from an old gramophone - is strangely both a character and a background sound, because on a purely rhythmic level it is having a "dialogue" with the voice.

Ok. Even my imaginary reader hasn't made it this far, so I will finish up with a quick dialect note. For the non-native English among my imaginary listeners, the word "nowt" in the last line of the play means "nothing" in Northern English vernacular. (Yorkshire, Lancashire, possibly.)

Right then. Nowt more to say. I've stuck "Fast And Spurious" in below here, for those of you that missed the last post. As always, neglect to leave your comments in the "Comments" section below.




Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Scallywag Radio Presents - Fast And Spurious






Hola Scallywagistas.

"What? Another one, already!?" I hear your imaginary voices ring out across the World Wide Cybernet, "But what new news can Team Scallywag possibly have to share so soon after the last blog posting?"

Well, dear imaginary reader, Scallywag Productions is thrilled to announce the re-launch of one of our most exciting departments, Scallywag Radio. And better still, rather than reporting on work that we've done, or giving notice of upcoming Scallywag events, today's BlogSpotPost is a platform to present ACTUAL CONTENT. Dis shit for real, you feelin' me fam?

As the more observant of you will have noticed, that in a break with tradition I have stuck the content at the top rather than the bottom of this post. This is to give you direct and easy access, so that you don't have to scroll down past the turgid and barely coherent text. In this case, to quite literally cut-to-the-car-chase.

The re-launch of Scallywag Radio also represents a small but significant shift of focus and intent. Due to a shit-storm of circumstances that I won't bore you with, Scallywag Productions is currently in the hiatus of a self-imposed exile in a rural backwater of the Iberian Peninsula. (This is neither as good nor bad as it sounds. Or it is as good and as bad as it sounds.) As an artist, I need two things - the opportunity to make work, and the opportunity to present that work. The opportunities to make and present theatre down here are at best limited, and at worst non-existent. In the words of the Buddha (probably) "Focus on what you do have, rather than what you don't have." What I do have down here is the opportunity to create audio content, and to present it on the Interweb. "Fast And Spurious" is the first in a planned series of Micro Audio Plays. The follow up "Like That" is already in production.

So, dear imaginary reader, a few words about "Fast And Spurious" for those of you who are interested. As you may have guessed, the inspiration for this Micro Audio Play is of course the insanely successful movie franchise Fast and the Furious (almost 4 billion dollars of box office over it's 16 years and 7 moves). The content of these movies is so breathtakingly simplistic, that I felt I could reveal the essence of all 7 films in 2 and a half minutes of audio. (I've only actually seen two of the films, but am pretty sure the other five are exactly the same.)

Action movies aren't typically known for their depth and thought-provoking content, yet I believe Fast and the Furious has taken this genre to it's absolute, steroid-pumped, mindless limit. I saw one of them (6, possibly?) on telly the other week, and was struck and slightly disturbed by one element in particular. Now, the format is basically a series of action sequences glued together with a rizla-thin plot - which could actually be written down on one rizla. These action sequences are spectacular, monstrously kinetic, and certainly largely responsible for the success of this franchise.

It was however the "character" element which I found somewhat disturbing. For those of you not familiar with the F&F franchise, the action centers around a group of hard-nuts (male and female) who are mavericks that operate outside of the law, have some noble and important mission to accomplish, and because of the moral high-ground imparted by this mission, can do whatever the fuck they want with total impunity. And they drive fast cars. Really fast. Each member of the group is pretty much the same character, only distinguished by barely two-dimensional cartoon personas. The black guy is "funny", the beefcake is "serious", the chiseled jaw-line GQish former-cop character is "brooding", the Hispanic woman is "feisty" and the Asian guy is, erm, just Asian, really. But that didn't disturb me.

This did. The "narrative" as such, is a series of problems or obstacles that need to be solved or overcome to achieve their final goal. In every single case, without exception, these problems or obstacles are solved with either violence or the threat of violence. These characters are the good guys. The heros. They're cool and good looking. They have seemingly limitless financial resources. They are driven (no pun intended) to do the "right thing" and are willing to take ridiculous risks to achieve this. As an audience we are supposed to aspire to be like them. To be them. And the way they deal with every problem they encounter is violence.

As I was watching the movie and noticing this, I started to wonder if violence was the way our heros were really going to deal with every situation. Then a scene started which looked like it was going to deliver something else. Four of the group - two guys two girls - are visiting a scrap yard, because the guy who works there has some information they need. The two guys start readying themselves to go down and beat the crap out of him, but then the two girls step in. "Hey", one of them says "sometimes you need a feminine touch..." followed by a coquettish toss of her hair they then wiggle off towards the scrap-yard guy, everyone exchanging sly grins and knowing glances. The two girls start questioning the scrap-yard guy, using their feminine charms. But he won't tell them anything. So they beat the living crap out of him.

Now, violence is part of the human condition, and has an important part to play in drama - indeed, for as long as there has been drama there has been violence in drama. Even the direct ancestor of this genre movie, James Bond, was at times very violent. But for Bond, violence wasn't the default way of handling every situation, and was most often the last resort. Bond would usually rely on his ingenuity, wit, guile and often charm to solve problems.

I'm not squeamish about violence, and am not for a moment suggesting that movies shouldn't have violent content. Violence is a dark side of human nature, and as such a powerful component of drama. What disturbed me was to see violence not merely condoned, but unashamedly celebrated. The message of these movies is very clear - violence is the best way to deal with all your problems, and anyone who is physically superior or has the biggest gun, has the absolute right to use force to achieve their goals. As a message to the young and impressionable, this is a little worrying.

However, if these movies do have any depth, then it is the geo-political message behind the vapid spectacle - specifically, this is a justification and celebration of American foreign policy. The guy with the biggest gun and the most violent disposition has the right to appoint himself Sheriff, and bully or kill whoever the fuck he wants to.

God bless America.

For those of you who didn't listen to Fast And Spurious at the top of the page, or who want to hear all 2 minutes and 34 seconds again and can't be bothered to scroll back up, here it is once more. With a slightly different graphic.

Watch this space - even "follow" this blog! - for the upcoming Micro Audio Play "Like That".

As always, please do post your comments right here, below in the "comments" section.