Dirk Gently’s Casebook – File #13

Here we go: Dirk is about to take to the stage

Cast rehearsals have ended and the theatre and audiences await… production manager and cast member Kevin Bowers reports from the final Dirk Gently rehearsal

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The get-in and technical rehearsal are almost upon us, and we’re gathered at the Annexe – very close to NST Campus – for our last run-through before we enter the Nuffield theatre proper. We are live, onstage, and ready to rock from next Tuesday 30th January! And you only have until Saturday 3rd to catch all the fun, craziness, colour and comedy of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. You can book here.

The Annexe is a great space to work in, with a wonderful lecture theatre giving the cast a real sense of the space they will need to fill once they get onto the NST Campus stage. Voices will be raised, gestures slightly exaggerated and sight lines worked out.

So, as exam time at the University of Southampton draws to a close (and the students head to the bar) the cast and crew of Dirk Gently still face their greatest test: we are about to see just how well the months of preparation have been used.

Do we know all the lines and our moves?
Are we ready for our cues?
Is the stage crew ready to set the scenes?

Our audiences are in for a treat, that’s for sure. Yes of course, it’s a nerve-wracking time for our director Lorraine – but one in which she also sees the fruits of her labours. Everybody involved in the production has put so much into it – and the excitement is really building.

Transporting scenery and props has been planned like a military operation; everyone knows where and when to be. It’s going to be a mammoth logistical task, for sure, but one we’re ready for. We’ve also got a couple of days of promotional walkabouts at the University, with cast and other SUP members – some in full Alien costume – accosting students and staff near the Students’ Union building, handing out leaflets, promoting the Save The Rhino International charity, and trying to tempt students one last time with a special ticket offer.

It’s been great fun getting Douglas Adams’ weird and wonderful characters from the page to the stage, and the whole team now is missing only one element, but it’s the most important one: the audience. When all the elements are mixed together, we can’t wait to experience the reaction…  we’ll see you next week!

 

 

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Dirk Gently’s Casebook – File #9

A New Year’s message from our director – and a show preview by The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Appreciation Society


Director Lorraine Biddecombe writes…

It’s less than a month away from my second show at the Nuffield theatre in Southampton with SUP Theatre Company, and things are getting exciting… Everyone has worked really hard finding their characters and learning their lines, and we now move into full-run rehearsals, which are good for everyone – and especially poor Dirk himself, who until now has had to cope with rehearsing scenes (and running all of those complicated lines) out of order! Paul Cresser has stepped up to the challenge magnificently – and we’re all expecting great things of the entire cast and crew!

There is so much going on in this production – much like Douglas Adams’ writing! We are using a large screen for animation and film, we have magic tricks, time travel – and even a full-scale dance number! What more could audiences want?  So… have you bought your tickets yet?

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Members of the SUP Dirk Gently cast rehearse a complicated dance routine…


From ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, the club for fans of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… http://www.zz9.org

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: live onstage in 2018

NST Campus theatre, Southampton – Tue 30th Jan to Sat 3 Feb 2018

Adapted for the stage by James Goss and Arvind Ethan David

ZZ9ers may be interested to know that a new stage version of the original Dirk Gently novel is being performed by Southampton’s SUP Theatre Company in the New Year.

“We’re thrilled our production follows so closely on the heels of the reconstruction and release of Adams’ unfinished Doctor Who story, Shada – parts of which, of course, he re-used along with elements of City of Death to create Dirk Gently,” says Paul Cresser, who plays Dirk in the new show.

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Paul Cresser (above) in character as Dirk Gentl

Paul describes himself as “a huge Douglas Adams fan – and we want to make sure that we do justice to him. Everyone involved is giving 100 percent. For me, that means making sure I capture the essence of the character and that I get his rather long and complicated speeches and explanations spot-on.”  

SUP is an award-winning community theatre group affiliated to the University of Southampton. It performs at the Nuffield Theatre on the University main campus, raises money for charity and appears at other venues and local events including the Totton Drama Festival.

In January 2017, the SUP stage version of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment – which featured a seven-foot Troll – was extremely well-received by theatregoers including the many Pratchett fans who came along, with Discworld Monthly giving the show the thumbs up. SUP hopes to achieve the same success with Dirk Gently.

“Some changes have obviously been made in this adaptation for the stage,” says Lorraine Biddecombe, director, “however, it remains faithful to the story and the spirit of the novel. We want audiences to revel in the imagination and wit of Douglas Adams.”

The brand new production mixes live action with specially commissioned computer graphics, film and effects – plus some dazzling alien costumes.

▪ You can book tickets and learn more at the NST Campus website

▪ Call the NST Campus Box Office on 02380 671 771

 

Dirk Gently’s Casebook – File #2

Everything you didn’t know about Douglas Adams but were afraid to ask…

Douglas Adams was a very tall man: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m). A remarkably creative man, he also stands tall in the annals of books, radio and television. Most famously, he created The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, first pitched as a BBC radio series in 1977. The Hitchhikers’ Universe later spun off from radio into books, TV, comic books, computer games, and a posthumous Hollywood movie. Featuring the adventures of Arthur Dent across space and time, it became embedded in our culture.

But did you also know he formed a writing partnership, in the early 1970s, with Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame? And that he actually made two brief appearances in the fourth series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus broadcast in 1974?

For six months, Adams was also the script editor of Doctor Who during its 17th season, in the Tom Baker era. The three stories he was involved in writing were The Pirate Planet, City of Death – which famously achieved the show’s highest ratings ever, with 16 million viewers, after strikes took ITV off air – and Shada. Production on the latter story was abandoned in 1979, again due to industrial action. However, it was recently announced that previously unmade sections of Shada had been recreated as colour animations with new voice performances. The brand new reconstructed version will be shown at the British Film Institute’s NFT1 in December 2017.

Interestingly, Adams also co-wrote scripts for the animated TV series Doctor Snuggles with producer John Lloyd, the man who created Not The Nine O’Clock News and who produced all four series of Blackadder.

With elements drawn from two of his Doctor Who stories, notably the Cambridge-set Shada, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency was published in 1987. Adams described it as a “a kind of ghost-horror-detective-time-travel-romantic-comedy-epic, mainly concerned with mud, music and quantum mechanics.” A sequel, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, followed in 1988.

Adams was a noted environmental activist who campaigned on behalf of endangered species. This included, in 1994, taking part in a climb up Mount Kilimanjaro whilst wearing a rhino suit. SUP Theatre Company’s production of Dirk Gently is proud to support the Save The Rhino charity.

Fascinated by religion and “a radical atheist” – his own words – Adams died of a heart attack in California in 2001, aged just 49. You can visit his gravestone, where his ashes were laid to rest, at Highgate Cemetery in north London. His memorial service was reportedly the first church service to be broadcast live on the web by the BBC. A few days before Adams died, the Minor Planet Center announced the naming of asteroid 18610 Arthurdent. In 2005, another asteroid – 25924 Douglasadams – was named in his memory.