danieldwilliam: (acting)
I am producing a play. 

Each year my theatre group, the Edinburgh Grads Theatre Group, decide what productions we are putting up.  Directors pitch their ideas for one of four slots. Spring, Autumn and two in the Fringe.  In 2014 I’ve blagged an extra slot for something a little different.  I’m doing a play.

More accurately, I am a producing a  devised, semi-improvised “soap opera” performance on Twitter following several dozen characters over the build up to the outbreak of the First World War from the 1st June 1914 until the first week in August.

Actors will take on the characters of 1914 Twitter users, engaging with each other and with members of the public. Interactions will be improvised, in character, based on characters developed in rehearsal workshops and timelines of key historic, local and character events.

The piece aims to explore the popular experience of the outbreak of the First World War and the other important national and personal events that people were interested in over the summer of 1914, whether social media technology like Twitter would prevent or facilitate another mass war and to contrast the perception of current events with the eventual outcomes.

The piece also aims to explore whether social media forms are suitable venues for drama.

I’m not sure anyone has done anything like this before. Certainly, I’ve never done anything like this before. The RSC did a twitter version of Romeo and Juliet. I’ve seen various attempts to take on to twitter historical or fictional characters but nothing where the entire performance was on Twitter and designed to be mainly experienced through Twitter.  Frankly, I’ll be making this up as I go along. Hopefully, making it up about one week ahead of the performers. The first workshop / taster session is scheduled for Wednesday 6th November.

The general plan is to develop some characters in a series of workshops. The characters should be interesting people and have interests that make them willing and able to comment on contemporary i.e. 1914 events. Characters would then be cross-referenced with a time line of historic events. Not just big, war related events. Specifically not in fact.  What I want to tease out is that for most people in the early summer of 1914 war was an unlikely occurrence and distraction from domestic politics and their own lives. There was a lot going on in the UK in 1914. Irish Home Rule, women’s suffrage and industrial unrest. As a fabulous example in Edinburgh in June the portrait of George V was attacked by a leading suffragist and in June and July she was tried and convicted and then released under the Cat and Mouse Act.    It’s almost as if we needed a war to keep people busy and distracted.  I intend to layer on some continuing drama – the soap opera part. This should give the characters some life of their own, a reason to get out of bed and tweet about something and something for the audience to watch and respond to beyond being a mouthpiece for some history. The combination of the historical and political events and the character events should lead to the creation of a character grid – with topics to tweet about organised by day.

I am excited and terrified in equal measure.

If you are interested in taking part I’d be delighted to have you involved.

Hashtag #tw14t
danieldwilliam: (acting)
I am in a play. Specifically, I have a small role in the Edinburgh Grads production of Julius Caesar. I am to play Varro, an amalgamation of several small subsidiary roles, a citizen, a soldier and cobbler. Varro is one of several amalgamated roles used to show the reaction and actions of the Roman public to the personal and political drama happening before them. He’s a bit of a wide boy – a poor man’s Eric Morecambe playing Jimmy Dean in his own head.

I have some twenty lines, not many at all. However, I am first on the stage and last off it and, as you would expect from a character whose main purpose is to react to things I’m on stage a lot. Lots of my lines are general harrumphing at speeches. I’m actually finding it harder work learning the lines than if I had large blocks of speech or conversations. There’s nothing to hang them on

Rehearsals are going well. There are nice bits in the play and the quality of the acting is pretty good for an amateur production.  The cast are a lovely mix of good humour without being silly. Scenes gets rehearsed, people pay attention, remember the blocking, throw in some constructive suggestions, have a bit of laugh.

I’ve not seen any costumes but preliminary sketches indicate a sort of Victoriana / steampunk vibe and I get to grow my hair a bit. This is quite cool. I don’t love steampunk as a genre but the clothes are quite cool. I wonder if I can get some googles to go with my switchblade.

I’m also getting a chance to do a little bit of improvisation in rehearsals, which is nice. On a few occasions my improv experience has really helped me to work out what happens next. I think the improvisation in my favourite scene will turn out to be very effective.

I’m enjoying watching the directing process and I’m learning stuff about directing as we go. I would quite like to have a go at directing something in the next few years. I’ve been on a few RSC / NTS workshops on production design and these are helping me think about directing.

It’s been nearly 20 years since I was last on stage with a script. It’s nice to

The show runs in the last week of November in Adam House opposite the Royal Museum in Edinburgh.

danieldwilliam: (Default)

My drama group, The Edinburgh Grads have had a successful Fringe. I say my drama group. I’m the Treasurer.

We put on two shows at the Royal Scots club. In previous years we’ve put on one show. So we’ve doubled the amount of Fringe theatre we put on.  This summer we produced Doctor Faustus, Kit Marlowe’s version of the tale of a  man who sells his soul to the devil, and a modern play by Paul Higgins, Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us, about a badly damaged Central Belt family.

The Royal Scots is a new venue for us. It has a nice hall with a small stage. The venue seats about 70, which is a good size for us I think. We sold out Doctor F most nights. A larger venue would have meant more ticket sales but on the other hand the audience for Nobody was a bit small on the first couple of nights and it’s nice not to have a small audience sitting a huge, empty space.  It’s about the risk for me. We could have paid for a bigger venue and sold more tickets for Doctor F but lost money paying for a bigger venue.

Both shows have made money. We’re an amateur group so it’s not vital that all our shows make money. However, we do have overheads to cover and we need to make a profit on some shows. Looks like we’ve made a decent amount of money overall, with good audiences. It’s actually pretty hard to make money putting on a show in the Edinburgh Fringe. (I’m planning a detailed post on the economics of the Fringe soon.) So, it’s really, really good to have made a substantial profit on the season.

Nobody Will Ever Forgive us won an award, The Capital Spirit Award from the Edinburgh Evening News. Which is nice. Both shows seem to have pleased their audiences. Both picked up some decent notices from the critics.

What I’m most pleased about it is that Doctor F made the most money, but Nobody won a prize. Nicely balanced rewards for both the directors and the both the casts.

Our next show is Richard III, which starts rehearsing on Sunday and opens later in the autumn.

danieldwilliam: (Default)
I am in the technical crew (nearly in the Arty bit because things I do appear on stage and I get to take a bow) for a play being produced by my drama group.

We are putting on A Comedy of Errors. It is a farce, with two pairs of twins, a master and a servant each, separated at birth, being mistaken for each other and mistaking each others servant or master for their own. Lots of slapstick. I’m really impressed by the show. It’s laugh out loud funny in rehearsal. I think this is a good sign.

I’m responsible for operating the projector. The projector displays a shadow puppet show of the back story of the separation of the twins and also name cards as characters enter. The shadow puppet bit is quite tricky and I don’t have long to learn it so that I’m as good as the rest of the cast. I’m sure it will be fine but it needs some attention.

I’m enjoying the show. I like being part of the group. It’s nice to be doing something good and something that is creative and different from what I’ve spent the last six months doing.

I wish I’d been able to be in the performance cast but I chose to campaign for democracy instead.

It’s going to be a good show.

Tickets here if anyone fancies booking but there will be tickets available on the door.



danieldwilliam: (Default)

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