Monday, 21 June 2010

Projects, loads of them

The Edinburgh Fringe, right, is brilliant. And I'm not even taking a show there this year. For the last month or so, and I'm not entirely sure why, I seemed to have lost my focus a bit. Perhaps it was the commercial failure of certain recent projects - no, actually not even failure, because they were just ignored by the media altogether. I've had a good year which lots of minor nuggets of success (especially with the London stuff), but there was something about May and early June which didn't feel right to me. But then, the Edinburgh Fringe programme arrives in the post and it's like receiving the Christmas Radio Times as a child - it's a bright, inspiring, catalogue of thrilling creativity, it just sparkles with the imagination - the imagination of those who are putting on shows. Of course I'm sad that I'm not in there this year, I've done 4 years in a row and a break from it to go back to the drawing board was certainly needed (and to rebuild finances), but tinges of sadness aside, it's still my favourite publication ever. It's who I am. I've kept it in my bag, and when I feel frustrated (at work, in traffic jams) I take it out. It's basically my version of the bible, if I did the religion thing. It's given me a kick, and it's amazing that when suddenly you feel like you're waking up, being reminded of your ambitions, other things seem to work out as well. All these little projects that I've been working on are starting to be nearly ready - the much awaited albums from Eureka Stockade (recorded my drum parts last October) and Under The Streetlamp nearing completion, the new recording project with Rich Conway and Chris Lilley (we're called 'The Trip 35's' by the way, album recorded last week, should be released soon), the rehearsals ahead of forthcoming recording sessions with Lu...musically, I'm back in action, with gigs booked up and everything. And as a writer, I started writing a play on Wednesday last week and tonight I've nailed the first draft - this wasn't even a play I had intended to write, just one of those that oozes out of the fingers. It's a follow up to my first Edinburgh show, Growing Up With Martin - I'm under no arrogant illusion that anybody cares about the first one and there is absolutely zero demand for a 'follow up', but as a writer I wanted to re-discover these characters again, see what they're up to now. The lead character in the original was 24, I was 24 when I wrote it. Now he's 29, so am I, and I just wanted to go back to 'Martin' and write 45 minutes of cynical, bitter comedy. It's called 'Falling Apart With Martin' and if ever performed will be marketed as a play in it's own right (people don't need to know it's part of a series), and I'm proud of the first draft at least - it's a bit darker than the original, but with a lovely twist, and I just really enjoyed myself writing it, even if I don't ever self-produce it myself. I'm gonna leave it in my 'new scripts' folder now, and, like 2 other plays, will come back to them later in the year and decide if they've got legs. Elsewhere, the rehearsals for 'The Hedgehog Collective' are going well enough, and I'm currently in the process of confirming a long-ish London run for a new version of my 2008 festive show 'On The 12th Day Of Alex' with a new cast, director and everything, how exciting. Exciting times are just around the corner I think, despite England's disappointing World Cup performances, although their pathetic displays have only helped distract me less anyway...

Monday, 14 June 2010

Rainy British seasides/recording

It's been a while since I've written anything here; not because things aren't happening, but because it's all writing and admin-ee stuff at the moment which isn't that interesting to write about. Things seem roughly in good shape though - the material for the forthcoming sketch show is just about there, and the radio sitcom is to be recorded a week later, both of these will need a lot of plugging soon I think if they are to really work. Last week I had some leave from work, which was supposed to be for the Matt Corrall Band European tour (a tour which never happened in the end due to Matt having to move to Bristol) so Juliette and I took some time out to go to Newquay for a couple days - it rained, almost continuously, but there's still something about rainy British seasides that's good for the creativity and I came back with more ideas than I've had in months. The last few days of last week were spent recording with Rich Conway and Chris Lilley. The songs were based around a collection of lyrics I've been working on recently called 'A Rain Forest Full Of Paperwork' and they've turned out very interesting indeed - from the experimental, noise-based spoken word of 'Darling, My Head's On Fire' to the simple folk pop of 'Teddy Sheringham', I think we could be onto something here - ultimately it's just 3 musicians enjoying themselves with congas, guitars, bass, violins, fiddles and a 16 track recorder which cost £50 from a junk shop, but it sounds great. I've not heard the final mixes yet, but hopefully there will be some releasable material in there - and hopefully we'll have a band name soon at some point. All this, on top of promoting some of my Cracking Tunes artists for several hours, as well as writing topical comedy for a BBC Radio show with Alan Morgan and I'm slightly annoyed that I'm missing so much of the World Cup...

Thursday, 3 June 2010

First rehearsal of the sketch show

Just back from the first rehearsal/reading of our new sketch show, The Hedgehog Collective. As like last year's Cambridge Comedy Festival entry, it's a 45 minute sketch show for 2 men and 2 women, and co-written by myself and Alan Morgan. The first session for any sketch show is always horrific for us writers - because it's where the bad sketches get thrown out, yet we don't know they're bad until they've been performed in the rehearsal space and everyone cringes a bit. There was a bit of that tonight, but not anywhere near as much as last year, which suggests I'm actually a better writer 12 months down the line. Or people are just nicer. And as always there's a few surprises, sketches that don't work at all on paper but come good when performed, I've found that with my 'Missing Daughter' sketch, which shouldn't work because it's just wrong but everybody loves it. And my 'Duncan The Superhero' sketch is the best thing I've written in ages according to Juliette, which means a lot to me because I maybe firing lots at the moment, but I'm not exactly firing on all cylinders. Anyway, back on the Red Bull now, anything can happen.