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

Writing and writing…

A quick update from Chris – I’ve started writing a play (for adults, not the children’s one Heidi mentioned before, though that’s also in the works) and it’s been enormous fun! Early days but I’ve come up with some interesting characters, a plot that’s working itself out as I go along and some (I think) entertaining dialogue. The play’s a contemporary piece about the lives of several disparate people over the course of 24 hours in the area where we live. Next I should probably write a two-hander so Heidi and I can get performing by the autumn! I’ve also been reading a variety of plays, some inspirational and some that could, if we can get the rights, be just the sort of thing for us to do together. Meanwhile we write and write and write…

A plan coming together!

We’ve somehow ended up in February!  Time travels too fast.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that we’ve finally decided on our first few projects!  Now all we need is to find time to work on them. AAAAArrrrgggggh!

I’m again busy working on a play at our local Oasthouse Theatre.  “Kindertransport” will open mid-March, for six performances, and will end just in time for me to start rehearsals for the Olympic Opening Ceremony!   Again I would like to say, Aaaaaaarrrrrgggghhh!

But alongside these projects I am also directing my youth theatre’s production of Caucasian Chalk Circle, planning the next adventures for my other youth group, Musical Misfits, and of course attempting to move Boffo forwards to a prosperous 2013.

We’ve been discussing what the purpose of Boffo should be, trying to force ourselves to choose a direction, but we’ve quite happily settled on something very simple.  We would like to entertain.

Like I said, we’ve finally decided on our first few projects.  We’ve put together the synopsis for a children’s play that we are intending to offer out to wherever there is a performance space available.  I don’t want to say too much, but it involves gigantic toyblocks and lots of homemade cushions.  :-S

Our second project is also for children.  The storyline will be created by our two children, aged 4 and 6, and so far it includes a pyramid, sinking sand, cowboys and squids.  It’ll be an interesting one.

Our third project will be an evening of shorter plays for adults, and so far none of them include squids or cowboys.

Heidi x

Prof. Connection 2

Hello again!
I’m on a train from Charing Cross back to Kent after the fourth acting session with Tony Middleton from Professional Connection. I realise I’ve only told you about the first session, which again tells me how rubbish I am at updating this blog!

In the last few weeks we’ve had an extremely tense and emotional session exploring and interpreting each others physicality and thoughts/reactions, we’ve rehearsed a few scenes from a new play with the playwright present (eeeeek) and at the end of last week’s session we were given homework.

This homework has haunted me for the last seven days…

We were given questions to answer from an observation of someone. Pretty straight forward. The bit that made me nervy is the bit about using these characters through improvisation. I am so glad I forced myself to go because it was an amazing session.

The actors I’m working with are wonderful and they are all very supportive of each other. It’s an open space where you feel safe enough to explore freely, without worrying that you’ll make an idiot of yourself! Refreshing! They’re all extremely skilled and professional and a great joy to work with!

The characters that were created in our rehearsal space today are worthy of their own production, and it is really sad to see them go. I’d go into detail, but I might just use them all in a play myself. I’ll let you know if they come back to life. 😉

Once again I’ve come out full of enthusiasm and inspiration. I don’t want this workshop to end.
Heidi xxx

Professional Connection

It’s Saturday morning, 5th November, and I’ve just attended an acting course in London.
After having spent so many years directing and teaching acting, I felt a great need to go through some professional development and get some new ideas. After searching through the Internet, I discovered a real lack of opportunity for this locally and in London, especially for the sort of money I could afford.
I did however find Professional Connection, which offered just what I was looking for, a 5 week acting course for professional actors, to brush up on skills and to enable out-of-work professionals to work with others in the same position. I booked on before I had time to chicken out. :-S
So on Saturday morning, 5th November, I got on a train to London. When I got there I met the director, Anthony Middleton, and six other actors. It was very comforting to discover that we were all terrified, not just me.
We spent the next two hours, doing exercises that took me back to my drama-school days. Proper warm-ups, zip zap Boing, vocal work, throwing balls etc.
Today’s class focused on Shakespeare, so I was in my element. We worked on one speech, from Midsummer Night’s Dream, for over an hour, and we all performed it twice for the others. Once, then a second time after being given direction.
I’ve left the class feeling more confident and excited about Boffo’s future and I’ve met some very lovely and talented people. I can’t wait for next Saturday!
Heidi xxx

It has started!

Hello everyone!
Once again it has been awhile since we’ve written anything, and things have happened. Nothing life-changing, but still. We’ve finally finalised our battle-plan, so we go towards Christmas with a clear idea of what we want to achieve with our little theatre company.

We are still choosing plays for our first season. It’s taking a lot longer than we expected, but we don’t want to rush into anything. We’d rather take our time picking one so we know it’s the right one.
We are planning acting courses that we are aiming to offer from next summer onwards, and that fills us with excitement! Again, takes a lot of planning to get it right.

In the meantime, we’ve kept ourselves busy. I taught a workshop for children at the Oxford Playhouse for the first time a few weeks ago. Despite the awful journey there and back it was worth it purely to work in a bright open space with lots of imaginative children.

This morning I travelled to London to take part in an acting course for professional actors. It was a relief to find wonderful, open people to work with and a very kind director helping us brush up on our skills. I’m writing this on the train back to Kent, so I apologise for the quality of these scribbles!

My wonderful youth group had their opening night last night, performing a children’s play about a journey to find toys. They’ve worked on this play since this spring, and a lot of hard work has been into it. 5 more shows and it’s all over.
On that depressed note, I’ll say goodbye/ha det for now and I will endeavour to bore you more often.
Sweet daydreams!
Heidi xxx

One day…

We are finally able to spend proper time working for the theatre company.  Promotional material has been ordered and we are waiting for the delivery with great excitement.  We have also spent a lot of time researching venues in Kent, Surrey and London.  There are a lot to choose from so letters will be going out to them all and hopefully quotes will fall through our door before we know it.  On the script-front it’s all a bit chaotic!  We have so many scripts to get through and not enough money to buy them all or time to read them.  Attempting to plan a whole season ahead is not easy when you are juggling your time with other work and small kids!

One day we will get paid to do all this work for our theatre company, but until then we keep smiling!