Dirk Gently’s Casebook – File #11

Tempus Fugit: meet Reg

Our guest blogger and SUP veteran Philip de Grouchy plays the enigmatic Professor Chronotis in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

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Mad Professor? Phil as ‘Reg’ Chronotis

Despite knowing little about Galaxy Guiding and Star Trekking – I am more of the ‘Dick Barton’ generation (not that I listened to him much either, I preferred reading ‘Biggles’), I am greatly enjoying my role in ‘Dirk Gently’ as Professor ‘Reg’ Chronotis.

Apart from indulging in his hobbies – which include somewhat ham-fisted conjuring tricks, smoking, leeches (?), and time travelling by abacus, Reg has managed to live for at least 200 years undetected in his Cambridge college rooms, since being appointed to his Chair by mad King George III.

img_4525.jpg Much fun has been had at rehearsals trying to video the above-mentioned conjuring tricks, involving clay pots and disappearing silver salt cellars, so that when projected on screen, the projections will show marvellous close-ups and, hopefully, distract the audience’s attention from the actually execution of the tricks on stage… IMG_4533

Reg is a delightfully shambling, forgetful character, who is nevertheless able, by intense concentration on his abacus and mathematical calculations, to transport himself and others four billion years into the past: prehistoric Earth. And, thanks to Dirk Gently’s extraordinary feats of deduction, ultimately saves… spoilers!

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Taken with a pinch of salt?

I am personally pleased to be appearing on the Nuffield (NST Campus) stage this year, it being the 50th anniversary of my first treading those venerable boards.

Quite apart from my contribution to this show, we have a highly talented company portraying many dramatic activities in the various scenes in which I don’t take part, including hypnotism, ghostly possession and murder – to mention only a few!

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Set design , the caravan and chocolate fingers way

Set design , the caravan and chocolate fingers way

So determined was I to get the details of the set, in terms of entrances, exits, sinks etc sorted before I go into rehearsal (only 3 weeks away, Yikes!) that I took my 1/2 complete model of the set on holiday with me in a plastic bag.  Made entirely out of one Cadbury’s chocolate fingers box, (plus a little bit of crunchy nut cornflakes) when complete there were 3 walls, oven’s (one with an opening door), two sink units, 1 fridge, 1 washing machine,  1xFrench windows, 5 doors, 1 walk in cupboard, 4 windows and a bin.

Not very professional, I hear you cry and I admit I was feeling anxious. Set design  is the area that I really am scared of. I have seen some amazing sets, particularly in some of the new Nuffield shows, Tonight at 8.30pm was brilliant and Last Christmas’s revolving stage for the Nutcracker would have been perfect, however back to reality with a bump. We are a small amateur theatre with a corresponding budget and unfortunately that means something not so grand.

I digress, I had a cunning plan to my madness. For the second half of our holiday we were joining a groups of thespians camping or caravanning in Dorest. It was the annual Masker’s Camp, Loved it by the way, Thank you to any Masker who may be reading this and was involved in the organisation.  A number of SUP members are also member’s of Maskers Theatre Group and one such person is Adam. Now if you check back you will see from my second blog entry that Adam is a person who does a huge amount for the society and amongst other things he is the person with the stage plan of the Nuffield and the set designer.

So there we were, hiding in a caravan, in the pouring rain, in the middle f a field, moving around bits of Cadbury’s chocolate finger box and checking that it all fitted on the plan. Eventually it did.

If you see the show, keep an eye out for a box of Cadbury’s chocolate fingers they will be on there somewhere in homage to our soggy afternoon, who said theatre was glamorous!

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Bridget

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rotating #Theatre set

The thing I am mulling over at the moment is how to get three kitchens on stage for the production.

I watched an excellent production of the Nutcracker at the Nuffield theatre last Christmas where they have built a huge rotating set, A bit like a pie chart, you turned the circle round to reveal the next scene. Check out the review http://herlittlejournal.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/review-the-nutcracker/

I would love to do that as it was stunning however cost is restrictive and also in The Nutcracker they went back and forwards between scenes quite a lot whereas in Absurd you have a different kitchen for each act but never return to it.

My thoughts then wandered momentarily to having one kitchen on either side of the stage, but that would be no good as the audience on the other side of the auditorium would quite rightly be fed up and also this doesn’t solve the issue of the third kitchen.

When Alan Ayckbourn originally did the play, it was in the round and each kitchen was dismantled and the new one set in full view of the audience in the intervals. There is a brilliant video of this on youtube

. and I am completely taken with how they change the floors.

Could do this in the Nuffield, but with the best will in the world we wouldn’t make it look slick and it would probably take ages, which was a bit of a problem with a recent production, so delays must be avoided at all costs.

Thinking caps remain on…