My first blog. I’ve never struggled with words and always feel I have plenty to say, so I guess this is my chance…
My observations and comments are my own and I will never aim to be deliberately controversial.
Honesty & truth I promise always.
Health & Wellbeing
Being a human being isn’t easy. Each day is a constant barrage of tests and the worst critic of every little minute thing you do is usually yourself.
What I’m learning is to give yourself a break from time to time and expect nothing from oneself.
Switch off your mind from external influences and focus on the white board in your mind that you’ve just wiped clean. For me, as a workaholic, most stimuli can provoke a work related thought and I’m plunged back into problem solving or creativity, my brain constantly active.
Meditation can take all forms but even that sometimes charges you to think you should be achieving something as you do it.
If you didn’t totally give over yourself to the meditation then maybe you weren’t very good at it today and so the internal critic speaks again.
Spend some time doing nothing, no thoughts, no expectation, no clock, no interaction, no emails, no phone, no social media, just a blank canvas in your minds eye. You’ll realise its not as easy as you think.
I have cultivated a programme called ‘The Book of Happiness’ which I am going to impart in future blogs. Like any self development it is no answer for anyone person but it has worked for me and hopefully it will speak to others.
The West End has been shaken to its rickety foundations recently with the premature closure of five major shows that have left creatives, cast & crew reeling. Their projected income and long contract budgeting, snatched from under them and an immediate uncertain future ahead.
To prevent this scenario happening, I often wonder how much ‘true’ market research & data capture happens in Musical Theatre.
The aim to find out exactly what the evolved Theatre goer of today actually wants.
Leading brands rely on extensive feedback, trials & testing before the release of a product, but is this happening in Theatre?
As a theatre goer all my life I don’t think I’ve been asked questions in this vein, ever.
You could argue that workshops and test shows are a form of market research, but these performances are usually filled with industry types who don’t actually ever buy full price tickets or usually enjoy comps. These test audiences In my experience, aren’t always truthful with feedback either, preferring to say their real (and mostly scathing) thoughts to any one who’ll listen once they’ve left the building.
Everyone’s taste is different, so I’m not about to cast judgement on producers choices of what to bring to the stage, but I am confused by some productions that suddenly appear with absolutely no mass appeal and commercial edge. I wonder how they made it past the idea stage and who it was that was scared to say ‘No’ to the powers that be.
It’s a fact that most theatre goers have embraced the juke box musicals culture and are not prepared to welcome new material. Not even stunt casting can counteract this, as most people want to know the songs they are listening to and effectively not work as hard as an audience member.
My view on this is: if this is what people want and it keeps artists, creatives & crew in work, well then go with it. Integrity & art may suffer, but entertainment will live on.
So for the out of work people…what next?
Its a sad and desperate situation, and desperation is never a good look when interviewing or auditioning for a new company or role.
The casting and auditioning trail is one of the hardest parts of what we do. Steeped in rejection and harsh lessons. I commend every single performer who puts themselves through it.
Its many an actor who has happily said to me that the best auditions they’ve ever completed are the ones where they are nonplussed regarding the outcome. Invariably, these are of course the occasions where the job is handed to them on a plate. Excellent money, deal & perks attached etc etc
As an agent, I consider myself one step or maybe half a step away from the front line of this situation.
Its been my battle too, on my clients behalf, trying to procure work and keep the situation happy, positive and buoyant.
I implore everyone to be generous in their well wishes to these people who have been made redundant. I nearly ended up in a violent altercation at a private members club in Covent Garden recently when overhearing the conversation to two men who could barely contain their delight at the news of ‘Stephen Ward’ & ‘From Here To Eternity’ closing.
As they chuckled, bitched & remarked about it, they became so animated, loud and gleeful that I couldn’t contain my disgust and had to confront them.
Probably not wise, but as they were willing to ‘share’ so loudly, I felt I deserved to comment too and defend the people I knew who were out of work as a result of the closures.
I doubt very much that I altered their view, but they listened to my rant and just stared.
I felt better that I’d had my outspoken moment of the week and walked away triumphantly.
The exit felt right at the end of my righteous speech, but I wasn’t planning on leaving and I ended up with nowhere to sit.
Malificent – Angelina Jolie
I’m not going to say too much about this film apart from it is a must see! Angelina Jolie is incredible in a defining role she was destined to play. Apart from looking stunningly beautiful (even with cheekbone implants & horns) she is an actress who is constantly proving she is one of the greats. She scares me a little with her unpredictability and all the great actresses I know personally, possess that. It’s the borderline madness thing which I personally find exciting.
In addition, incredible costume design, a gothic heaven and incredible special effects make up and post production. If a film leaves you wondering ‘how did they do that?’ they they are doing something right!
Book – You Can Heal Your Life – Louise Hay
This is an old favourite for me, a reference book that gets pulled off the shelf time and time again when I’m seeking support, inspiration or answers to the complex situations we are faced with daily.
For me it never fails to deliver. Louise Hay has created a self help industry and world renowned publishing company, not to mention inspirational seminars and workshops and I think this book is where it all started. So from this seed a great number of personal breakthroughs can be accomplished. Read it now!
If you are struggling with recurring health problems that you haven’t been able to shake then move to the symptom sorter at the back of the book. An easy, at a glance guide to what is the psychological reason for your ailments.
When I first read the book in my early 20’s, every single thing that seemed to be wrong with me was related to fear. I didn’t think I was actually afraid of anything at the time, but as I peeled back the layers I realised I was fearful of most things in my life at the time. This book highlighted that for me and helped me work through those issues.
Reading the book at my current age is like reading a brand new book. As you get older the chapters mean different things to you and different idiosyncrasies & neurosis have developed over time which a fresh reading helps to eradicate.
If you don’t ‘hear’ this book when you first pick it up, then don’t read it until you feel ready. Surrounded by people, noise, crowded trains etc is probably not the best environment for the lessons it holds. Centre yourself and clear your mind first and the message will speak to you.
TV – The Bates Motel
Now into its second season, Bates Motel is compelling viewing. Not in the same way I’ve struggled to sleep without watching one more episode of ’24’ or ‘Prison Break’ but I’m hooked nonetheless.
Norman Bates is an American anti-hero and this is an interesting origin story set in the present day, but with a quasi-50’s influence and styling as David Lynch created for ‘Twin Peaks’ in the early 90’s. This production design is also reference to the original ‘Psycho’ film by the legendary Hitchcock.
The format of each episode keeps your attention by giving you so much content throughout. Something major seems to happen in each episode so your drama thirst is quenched at the climax.
Rather than talk about story lines, I would recommend people to watch, if not for anything else but the excellent unhinged portrayal of Norma Bates by Vera Faminga. She is incredible.
Music – Caustic Love – Paulo Nutini
Highly recommend Paolo Nutinis new album ‘Caustic Love’.
As an artist he has always kept growing, stepping out of his comfort zone to explore different ways to produce and refine his sound. Each offering keeps getting bettter.
The inclusion of samples and other assorted audio make this album a listening experience rather than just an album of music.
The concept transports you musically through a plethora of urgent eclectic styles and is an exciting addition to the iPod.
Lastly though Paolo’s voice is just incredible. He is one of the greatest vocalists of his generation. Gruff, yet tender, soaring then calm he is in firm control of his instrument and is a Masterclass for any vocalist studying him.
Gold star from me goes to the futurist & contemporary design from AQ/AQ formerly AQUA.
Absolutely loving the clean, strong lines and exciting graphic prints in the Menswear. Always been a fan of their affordable yet innovative designs. When producing my West End show ‘Revolution’ based in the future, Aqua provided some iconic looks that we’re weaved into the tapestry of the show.
Check out their women’s store on Fouberts Place off Carnaby Street. Male store is nearby
The forward thinking Hospital Club, Endell Street, Covent Garden is a superb offering to the media & entertainment industries. Fantastic facilities, friendly staff, immaculately presented and a versatile space incorporating, film, events, screening room, restaurant, bars & brand new music venue, The Oak Room.
I always enjoy introducing my clients to this facility and look forward to the constantly evolving ideas that come from the team there.
Food and Drink
The best drink in the world right now is Vita Coco Coconut Water. Several flavours available but I prefer the original. Their current tag line is #hydratenaturally and you feel the goodness from this fat free beverage. I think I’m gonna start buying in bulk!