It’s Murder – Take Two

It’s Murder – Take Two

A Jolly Sinister Jape: a director’s journey

This week’s blog is by Kevin Bowers, director of SUP’s upcoming A Jolly Sinister Jape by Elliot Strange. A longstanding member of SUP, he’s appeared in productions including THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, MONSTROUS REGIMENT and DIRK GENTLY. This is the first time Kevin has directed for SUP.

My first task was to find a play, based on the following criteria:

1. One-act play only.
2.
It should be funny.
3.
It should connect to the other play on the double-bill, and SUP’s January 2019 show.
4. And h
ave a relatively small cast.

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19-20 October at 7.30pm, Rose Theatre, Eastleigh – book at http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/sup

A frantic online search later and I’d found it! A JOLLY SINISTER JAPE is set in the 1920s and takes place in a large empty house… which may not be as empty as it first appears. The play has four protagonists: businessman Biffy and his actress wife Ophelia, on their way to a film set, plus Lord Stubbs – on his way to a party – and ‘Fatty’, an old school chum of Ophelia.

As always when selecting a play, it’s important that you love it: you have to be able to see it, feel it and know it inside out and back to front. If the play is a comedy it needs to make you laugh, hopefully out loud. You then move to a reading so you get to see if others are laughing as much as you do, and then… Auditions!

I was away for the first round of auditions so handed duties to a friend, an experienced writer and director, who’s assisting me in the staging of the show. Peter gave me notes on the auditionees and following a mop-up session that I could attend, we got our heads together and came up with the four actors that will bring our story to life.

Plotting the moves the characters will make on the stage – blocking – can take a lot of time but allows you to quickly get the actors in the play and on to the development of their roles. The director has an idea of how they feel the part is played but, until the actor steps into the rehearsal room, you never know where it will end up. The cast I’ve been lucky to acquire have already challenged my original ideas and brought their own perspectives to the characters they are playing, and are already a team in a collaboration. As the director, I get the final decision – but I also want to make the process as fun and as interactive as I can possibly can.


A JOLLY SINISTER JAPE appears on a double bill with THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND at Eastleigh’s Rose Theatre, 19th-20th October 2018. Tickets are only £11 standard and £9.50 concessions – with no booking fees payable

You can book tickets here

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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!

Dirk Gently’s Casebook – File #4

This week: the view from rehearsals

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Up close and personal: Phil de Grouchy and Paul Jones hit the deck during a rehearsal for SUP’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Kerrie Brady plays Sergeant Gilks…

“I’m new to SUP. I’m really enjoying the play and the atmosphere during rehearsals. I haven’t carried out anything acting-related in over a year, the last time being my Drama A-Level, so I was looking for a theatre company to get back out there! SUP interested me because the information online described how often they performed and how experience wasn’t required. That made me feel really comfortable because it had been a while for me – and I do get quite nervous!

“The character I play is Sergeant Gilks, the police detective looking into a murder. Gilks has met Gently before so she’s well aware of his antics and gets frustrated with him. She becomes aware that Gently is looking into the murder as well, for his own strange reasons, but carries on regardless as she is professional – unlike how she perceives Gently to be. Dirk Gently feeds on the rigidity of Sergeant Gilks, which will provide some entertainment for the audience.”

Group

A recent SUP social at Ocean Village: Sophia is in the centre of the picture

Sophia Cameron is also appearing in her first SUP production…

“I joined SUP recently, and I’m also a member of the Committee. I’m very happy to have joined such a friendly and dedicated group which are serious about their craft, without forgetting that ultimately what the members want is to participate, learn, challenge themselves and have lots of fun in the process. I am a good example of this… having never acted before!

“The production of Dirk Gently is challenging and our director Lorraine is cracking on with a play with a four-billion-year time span and a cast that includes ghosts, aliens, Cambridge dons and, of course, murder – all without flinching one bit! Brave lady! As for me? Basically, I’m a dead body that gets interfered with, I dance the night away without a care in the world, and get invited to a posh do in all of my finery – though not necessarily in that order!”

Director’s Blog: Auditions with #doodle

Over the past two weeks I have auditioned 36 brilliant people for 6 roles and now I need a lie down.

I find auditioning hard, I know some directors run auditions by letting people use any audition piece they like but I  am not that skilled or brave. In order to know how someone would be in the part, I have to hear them reading the actual part and usually 2 or 3 different snippets from different scenes particularly if they are portraying different emotions. This makes for a long session, actually it ended up being four evenings which is the most I have ever had to do.

I know from auditioning myself that it gets boring hanging around waiting and that when you do audition you want your fair shot at everything you may have read through at home. Quite right to, so I need to organise an evening where people don’t get bored but also everyone gets the time they need.

This year I came up with a secret weapon, a doodle poll. In past years, auditionees have all completed an audition form on arrival stating which roles they want to audition for. Usually most people want to audition for more than one. This means that at the start of the evening you are presented with a big pile of papers that you have to immediately sought into order and work through in as much order as possible. This is where things go wrong, a big pile of papers in my world tends to spread all over the table, drop on the floor, and get completely mixed up and cause stress and delay. No more. this year by the wonder of the internet and a doodle poll, everyone signed up in advance to say which evening they were coming and who they were reading for. One piece of paper replaces 36.

I did get it dreadfully wrong in one case. I was working from left to right on my doodle poll taking one character at a time and trying I thought to be efficient. It was only at 10.15pm that realised that one person had only chosen to audition for the part furthest right on my page. If I had done that part first she could have gone home, rather than spending 2 and a half hours sitting waiting. I did feel bad.

Seeing people on different nights is not easy, memory problems get in the way, so my learning for next time is to video on an ipad and watch at home one after the other for comparison purposes.

At the end of the day what I can report is I saw some really great auditions and met some really lovely people. I am so happy with my wonderful cast and at the same time quite sad that I couldn’t offer roles to a number of people who were also excellent but perhaps slightly too young or old for the roles.

I hope everyone who auditioned will keep involved in some way. Backstage, Front of house, sourcing props etc, There is so much to do.