We have lift off!

At long last, our first project took place last Saturday!

Our old friend Jennifer Lunn, who spent three years at Rose Bruford College training to be a director while Heidi and I were on the acting course, asked us to direct and perform two short plays as part of celebration of new writing, called ‘Write Here’, at the excellent Brockley Jack theatre in southeast London, where Jen is an associate director. Many first-time writers had taken part in recent weeks in a playwriting course and in pairs or threes had been guided towards writing a 10-12 minute piece, which would then be performed twice for them and their families to see their work up on its feet. Many directors and actors were needed to rehearse and perform all of these pieces, and Jen was kind enough to think of me and Heidi.

Things have been very busy for us recently (sadly not much of it Boffo-related), especially for Heidi with her various youth groups, so we didn’t have much time to rehearse and when we did it was in our own living room! But this was fine. Our friends Carly Caller and Kathy West from the Rainham Amateur Theatrical Society were magnificently kind in, at extreme short notice, playing the third part in each of our two pieces and in only 4 evenings we were ready for the show! Not that it felt like it at the time, we felt severely under-rehearsed and very nervous!

Both plays, as I said earlier, were by first-time writers and each had their shortcomings, but we managed to make something out of both of them. One was a farcical comedy about a weak man trapped at St Pancras between his overbearing wife and his pregnant young French lover; the other a heavygoing drama about a woman unable to pay for her dying old mother’s hospital treatment in modern-day Russia. The former involved lots of ‘business’ – paper being dropped all over the place, heads hitting chairs and tables, drinks being spilt. A bit of a nightmare in the short rehearsal period!

But we did it! The performance day itself was enormous fun, once we got over our nerves. The Brockley Jack is full of wonderfully friendly people, and all the casts got on well and enjoyed themselves. The two performances of each play went well – the comedy got a lot of laughs, which is always an ego-booster! – and the writers were apparently very happy with the results. Jen was very thankful that we all did so well with the nascent material and it was a real pleasure to finally get going and perform together, even under such stressful circumstances!

What happens next, I’m not sure. Our own playwriting continues in fits and starts. Heidi will be very busy over the next 3 and a half months rehearsing for the Olympic opening ceremony – AMAZING! – so there will be little chance for us to do any more shows before the end of the summer. I acted in a short film made by my hugely talented brother Rob at the end of February and he’s editing it now. I wasn’t terribly happy with my performance in the rough cut I’ve seen, but it was a great experience and one I’d love to repeat with him soon. There’s always room for improvement! In the meantime, I shall keep trying to find other projects, if anyone wants to engage my services and it fits in with Heidi’s hectic schedule. And keep writing and reading as much as I can. Slowly but surely we will get there. Chris


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