No longer as truthful as should be deserved, some names, places and events deliberately vague to protect identities that aren't mine

Saturday, 31 March 2012

In love with Downtown Crossing...

One week down...

Yes that's right you still have to cope without me for another 3 weeks, sorry about that.  And trust all of you to start falling apart the second I leave the continent.  Or rather, start falling apart even more.  I am, of course, always here for you, but there's only so much that I can do from several thousand miles away.  That said, the break is doing me good.  Oh sure I've been unemployed and not doing much for a few months now, but the actually getting away from it all, taking a break from all your worries part of the holiday is doing exactly what it's supposed to.  After even just a week, I'm missing you all more, I'm feeling a lot better within myself, I'm feeling more refereshed, and feel prepared to face all those people I've been neglecting over the past 2 or 3 months, and that includes facing the consquences of neglecting them so.  By 4 weeks I should be ready to go... (you may begin playing Republica right about now)

So it's been a hectic, and expensive week.  Could everyone stop shagging around 4th July, or just in the summer in general.  There are way too many march babies and that all costs money with dinners and drinks etc.  I stayed my first few nights in Providence with Terence and Brandon.  That was... fun, as you might expect.  One psychotic break and a night spent avoiding cops later, as well as playing with a boy's snake - not like that you filthy lot, I just really like snakes as pets, I find playing with them really relaxing, and I eventually escaped that madness to the Cape to stay with my friends Patrick and Nate.  I love those boys bless 'em, but as Lauren put it "for a gay man's house, it really needs a woman's touch."  And it's the Cape in the off season and I didn't have a car, so it was a lot of dull daytimes, though they were more than made up for by nights out in Providence, Boston, & Hyannis.

Oh yes, by the way, I met Lauren!  My Ameritwin, Terence's best friend.  We've been talking via facebook for about a year or so now but had never actually met.  She's about my height, we have the same birthday, she's a boston lawyer who doesn't drink, doesn't do late nights, and is at the gym at 0445; I'm a club kid who hangs out with porn stars, goes to the gay sauna each week and gets high on various different chemicals.  Somehow we totally hit it off.  Mostly through a love of Jack's Mannequin and trashy TV and retro movies.  She and her friend CJ (who is muscular and rather hot so I was in no way complaining) came down to the Cape to hang out one day which was amazing and meant a lot to me.  Lauren is already planning to come over to visit London and EuroDisney next March.  I'm super excited.

Today I'm in Boston, tomorrow I'm out with Lauren, Terence and a few others in Providence celebrating our twinday.  Sunday I head to NYC to see my first ever New York Rangers game.  That's hockey in case you hadn't guessed.  You may wish to turn off my twitter stream at that point.  Though it'lll be midnight - 4am UK time so most of you will probably miss it anyway.

We're going out in Boston tonight but I came into town early.  Not because I had any plans, just because I really love Boston.  I just wandered round the city all day, getting my mental map of it sorted in my head, and enjoying all the beautiful buildings.  I've said it before, Boston is one of the very very few cities I've ever visited that I could quite happily live in for the rest of my life.  And I love that for various reasons, whilst I've probably only spent 3 days in Boston, some of the strongest memories I have are associated with it, so it's nice to wander round and be reminded of them.  And at the end of the day I can go to Starbucks, plug in my laptop, sit with a coffee, and write all my random thoughts down.  The last 24h have generally been filled with feelings of contentment.  I can't explain why, I know you all think I'm mad, but I really love being in the US, even just getting the coach from Hyannis to Boston today, okay it was 40 minutes late getting in, but I still loved the journey.

As a rather surreal train of thought, I once again find myself thinking Chris would probably really really like Cape Cod and Boston, and he should really come visit sometime, it's a shame he probably never will, and yes I know that's my fault :P

On another note, I am currently scheming on a certain subject which only a select few know about.  I am drawing up a mental list of favours I will either be cashing in or begging anew from all of you over the next few months, be prepared ;)  *insert ominous music here*

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The short, indirect, and somewhat abstract version.

There are certain things I cannot post right now, because they would complicate matters.  I have and am writing them down; those posts are delayed and will appear at some point in the future when I can disregard the consequences of my actions.

There is one thing I can post.  

And that is thank you.

Thank you to all of my friends for the last week.  To all of you who didn't judge, who accepted, and who just got it, and smiled at me from across the room because you not only understood, you could see everything I was talking about, because it was shining out of me.  I used to change my friendship groups a lot, there's plenty of posts in the blog where I get pissed off and just write most of them off and start again.  And with one significant recent exception that I thought I'd never have to make, I haven't done that in a long while.  Because I have worked hard to find the friends I did, who are people who don't judge, who don't ask, who don't even need to know why, just that it's something to do with you, and they will come running, and rally, and accept whatever they are given, for you.  And so many of you did that for me this week and you are all exactly the people I want in my life.  And three people in particular blew me away with what they did for me, they completely changed a few lives this week by just making a few simple comments.  And they are far from unnoticed, and I can never express enough gratitude for them, but the difference they made will be felt for a long time.  So thank you to them, thank you to all of you who were thing week pure and simple, nothing less than, good friends.  I will spare you when the revolution comes... :P

Thursday, 8 March 2012

What does a man do?

I've been listening to the Assassins' soundtrack over and over and over, letting it work both consciously, trying to work out where cues and effects should go, and subconsciously, letting moments come to me suddenly despite it being the 20th time i've listened to the track.  I've got some staging ideas, they're not ideal yet and certainly not what I'm going to be the design based off, but it's really all just brainstorming at this point and eventually I'll put what I'm happy with together.  It doesn't have to be perfect, I don't even have to know how to build it, it just has to be practical and actually work.

However much I try, I just can't get into 'Unworthy Of Your Love', or 'November 22nd, 1963' though.  Oh sure, there are songs in the musical I'm not huge fans of, but I can at least get them into my head and think about what I wanna do with them and such.  Those two however I just can't come up with a single decent design idea at the moment.  I don't like them at all.  They're just dull points in the narrative to me.  Hopefully that mindset changes at some point...

Monday, 5 March 2012

Ce bel amor qui ne peut mourir... (redux)

There are two other posts from long ago on my blog with this title here and here.  They are fairly transparent without specifically mentioning their subject matter, but its not hard to make an educated guess, and if you know enough about my life, or pay enough attention to the things I've posted on here, you'll know exactly.  But I stumbled back across them myself whilst going through my old blog posts, and realised it's really only fair at this point that another representation is made, and so without further adieu...

I miss you so much.  It hurts.  Like hell.  Every single day.  I know I made my choice and I stand by it and don't regret it and you've even stated the situation couldn't be changed nowadays.  And that's fine, but I still miss you.  I still love you.  I still want to be with you even though I can't.  I miss the feel of you.  I miss your smile.  I miss how easy we fit around each other.  I miss curling up against you in bed even if I knew I'd never sleep.  I miss how you'd buy me Oreos and Hersheys and chocolate milk when i'd had a bad day.  I miss that you made me genuinely want to be a better person.  I hate that I've barely seen you since.  I hate that it's so hard to see you, because every time I walk into the same room as you I get the same feelings I got when I saw you for the very first time.  I hate that lets be friends is hardly what you could call it.  I hate that I still hurt for you so badly, and yet I know it doesn't work.  I'm scared you'll stop loving me.  I'm scared for when you find someone else and I have to accept that although it was my decision, your life is no longer mine. I wonder if this will ever get any easier for either of us.  I wonder if we'll just drift apart, like people who went to school together, fundamental to each other's lives for so long and then relegated to 'emotional baggage'.  I love you.  I miss you.  I need you.  I want you.  Please be mine.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Everybody's Got The Right...

I haven't done any lighting design work in ages.  And I find myself missing it.  I'm not actually first rate at design.  Don't get me wrong, I'm damned good at my job, and I *can* design, but I'd much rather be Production Managing or Stage Managing; I'm much better at those jobs and I get a lot more out of them.  But way way way back in the day when I was first learning all the various bits of stagecraft, I did a lot of design work, I was designing a different show (or more) every week.

The last major bit of design work was now a year ago, for a show that launched January 2011.  So I miss design; in fact as much as I love PMing, I love going back to the other roles of crewing every so often, LD, LX/SX op, flies, even simple set building and painting; I feel it makes me a much better PM by going back to these roles once in a while, and I do honestly love looking at a lit stage, or a piece of set, or a particular effect and thinking "I did that, I made that happen" and sure PMing allows you to do that about the entire show, but sometimes its nice to have something distinctly tangible or demonstrable to do that with.

When I see a show, like most technicians, I spent most of the time not looking anywhere near the stage; i'm looking around at the rig, mentally noting how they've done certain cues, what jarrs with me, what i'm impressed with... directors seeing shows tend to do the same in terms of the blocking, deliverance, and well, direction.  They just have the advantage that they can do the actors the courtesy of looking in the direction of the stage whilst doing so.

So I decided to do a fantasy design, which are just another way of doing practice - it involves going through almost exactly the same steps as when designing for a show that actually goes up; most of the design you never actually SEE until a few days before the production, most of it has to be in your head.  If you're lucky you might have access to some powerful and expensive visualization software, or you might just draw it out and colour it in.  Unfortunately I'm not that good at drawing, I can envisage it in my head just fine, and I can write out all the technical information to translate that into a lighting plot, but it does mean I won't be able to post any nice pretty pictures of what I've come up with on here.

So instead, this is more a series of blog posts about the process I'm going through in my head.  Maybe other LDs out there totally disagree with how I go about it - design is a very individualistic process and everyone does it in different ways; by and large most designers respect this fact about each other, though of course it does make it difficult if you have to work with opposing styles and methods.  At the very least it should serve as an interesting record for my friends that read the blog as to the sorts of things I get up to in my working life.

I started by looking for ideas, if I'm going to do an imaginary design I'm going to need some kind of show to do it about.  I see no point in trying to design for one of the big name things, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Evita, A Streetcar Named Desire, etc unless I happen to have some outstanding unique never before done idea, I am not afraid to admit there are far far better designers out there than me (for the record, the 2 LDs I have the most admiration for and go to see shows just on the basis of their involvement are Max Keller and Neil Austin) and they are probably already working on the big shows (in fact, Neil Austin is the LD for the current Broadway production of Evita), that's not to say I don't want to work on them, just I know what I'm good at, and I know what I'm ok at, especially at a high end professional level.  So I asked twitter for some ideas, and a friend suggested the musical Assassins, which so far is a distinct possibility for me, though it has its problems as I'll go into.  From my own ideas, I would love to work on a Dario Fo play, so am rereading through some of those that I have, however due to the performance space Fo had access to, they are generally single settings with no scene changes, and have very scripted lighting design, naturalistic indoor room scenes, or special spots etc for phone calls etc, which brings me to my next point...

The beauty of design is you can completely let your ideas run away with you.  Anyone creative in whatever sphere they work and however they create will always tell you it's better to dream big and tone it down, than be trying to cover inadequacy with greatness elsewhere.  And yes you can completely ignore all scripting, and all stage instructions, and all suggestions or hints that a performance should be conducted in a certain way, but at the end of the day, tropes exist because they work; their familiarity means we understand what is being conveyed through certain information and why it has been put into that particular place in a specific manner.  So yes I could redesign a Fo play to be completely different, but a lot of the design that is scripted is what most designers would do anyway, because purely and simply, it makes sense.  The idea of lighting design, of any design, is to instill certain ideas in the mind of the audience, and evoke certain responses from them as a result.  Lighting is used to demarcate the boundaries of rooms, to show the passage of time, to reflect mood, to highlight a out of character moment or foreshadow future events.  If you do it right it should be so unobtrusive the audience doesn't even realise the lighting is part of what is evoking their reaction, they will put it all down to good acting.  Such is the manner of being a theatre tech that we all accept and embrace as part of the job description, if you've done your job well, no one should know you ever exist.  At the end of the day, you could work very very very hard to create a sense of danger, aggression, anger, heat, with some unusual design, and if you've got a good idea, then go with it, but red is a warm and angry colour to most people, just as blue makes things feel cold and stark, and green makes people look ill if used in a period drama piece.  Standard design techniques, like stereotypes, exist because they work, so don't try and reinvent the wheel.

So a Dario Fo would be lovely to work on, but possibly quite dull to work on when I have the whole realm of theatre to imagine a design for.  Assassins is a musical which allows me to be a lot more creative, but suffers a serious setback in that I do not have access to a copy of the book, whereas I do have copies of the scripts for multiple Dario Fo plays.  This isn't necessarily a HUGE problem as there are detailed synopses available online and I can of course listen to the soundtrack as much as I like which is where a lot of the interesting design work would be and where most of the important plot points happen, but it does rather complicate matters.  For most Dario Fo plays, and Assassins, I have not actually seen a staged version of the shows, which in some ways limits me, but also means I'm not constrained by preformed ideas other than what the script/music suggests to me in and of itself.  The major downside in this is I have to give a basic consideration to all the other areas that would normally be covered by other people, that a LD works in conjunction with, but it means they can focus purely on the lighting without needing to come up with ideas such as blocking, set design, costuming etc all of which affect the lighting.  I don't need to plan these thigns out in detail, but I do need to have a basic concept of what the show might look like staged in my head in order to do the lighting plot and that's harder when you're starting at square one.  At least my PM experience means I do know the basic concepts of all these different areas, as that's sort of my job as a PM, to pull all the different strands of the technical requirements together, get them working with each other, and orchestrate presenting the whole thing as a single uniform project.

So that's basically where I'm at at the moment.  I'm thinking about Assassins, doing a lot of work listening to the soundtrack, which tends to be the starting point of design for any musical, and rereading my Dario Fo plays to see if anything jumps out.  Basically I'm in that great and fundamental starting point of design work - sitting there looking like I'm doing nothing, throwing things at the wall inside my head, and seeing what sticks.  Design is a long process that never finishes and is generally kept in check by things like deadlines and budgets.  Probably some time next week I'll pull out some sheets of paper and start drawing some very rough sketches (which is advanced as my draftsman skills get and like my handwriting, tend to be fairly indecipherable to anyone except me, but if you're lucky I might post them) of sets, stages, things like that, and post some more thoughts on how the whole process is going.

Comments muchly appreciated.  Is anybody reading this?  Is this in the least bit of interest to you?  Did most of this not make sense to you because I'm talking about things which tend to only make sense if you work in that industry?  I know its a  blog mostly written for me and my random thoughts, but it is nice to know you're all out there and what you think occasionally.