Dobrý den …

It was first mooted as ‘a bit of an idea’ over a coffee in the middle of last year.

By October proposals had been written and forms filled in, and then an email arrived. I still have it. It reads thus:  Dear Ros, Degna and Alison, we are delighted to tell you that your production has been selected to perform at Fringe Festival Praha 2010 …

Blood & Money was alive, scheduled to perform and we hadn’t even written it yet. Gulp.

I’ve kept the website up-to-date with some of the process that followed: extracts from early drafts performed at First In Three; deadlines; preview reading at The People’s Theatre and most recently a preview performance at Live Theatre.

A week after said preview performance we boarded a flight to Prague … well, some of us did. One of our cast had her flights moved about due to the BA strikes, leading to a delightful six-hour solo wait in Brussels Airport, while another followed on the next day. Anyway, I digress. We all made it there in the end.

With 38 shows performing in 7 venues across 9 days there is no time for slacking.

The day after we arrived, two of the company – Jill and Faye – performed a short scene from the play as part of Fringe Sunday. A laid back, good-humoured affair hosted by Fringe co-founders Carole Wears and Steve Gove, it’s an afternoon when companies perform extracts from their plays. The crowd were fantastic, up for a good time and supporting everyone all the way. Our piece went down well – it was a good start. And we were now officially international artistes!

Guide book in hand (in Roz’s hand I hasten to add, if I was put in charge of directions we wouldn’t have made it out of the Apartment building), Roz and I went round local cafes and bars leaving flyers and posters. Unlike at the Edinburgh Fringe, the people of Prague don’t get bombarded on the streets as flyering is illegal. On the one hand this is frustrating because you don’t get to chat to people and see where the flyers are going. On the other it’s fantastic, because I can testify from personal experience that there is nothing so soul destroying as trying to flyer a disinterested public, especially in the pouring rain.

While we spread the word in Old Town and New Town, director Degna led the cast in last minute rehearsals in the Apartment in Mala Strana. They pushed all the furniture out of the way and marked out the size of the stage on the floor. That’s one of the great things about Fringe, it’s pretty ad hoc, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants theatre! Our actors really rose to the challenges and did us proud.

The show opened on Tuesday 1 June at Divaldo Na Pradle-Kavarna. We had spent the morning convincing ourselves that no one was coming. I tried to drown myself in a glass of Pilsner, while gnawing off what was left of my nails. But amazingly, 3.30pm rolled around and there was an audience. They came. This must be what Kevin Costner meant when he said “if you build it they will come”. They will indeed Kevin, they will indeed. Phew.

And they kept coming. On the Thursday we played to a capacity crowd, which was fantastic, and topped off with a reviewer calling the show “a high point of this year’s Fringe”.

After four performances it was all over. All the work, all the stress, all the money, all the organisation, all the logistics – all folded up with our set and tidied away. It was both the longest and the shortest week of my life. Sitting here now I can’t believe it’s over – that we’ve been and done it and lived to tell the tale.

In hindsight, debuting Rascally Scoundrels at an international Festival was pretty ambitious – Roz, Degna and I did keep catching each other’s eye and laughing at the audacity and stupidity of it all. But, we did it. And any future projects will seem like a doddle in comparison!

Fringe Festival Praha 2010

Some of the highlights: Blood & Money (obv!); that chocolate pancake; Carol, Steve, Giles, Honza and the team; The Harbour; sunshine; visiting the British Embassy; Horse, the views; other people being able to read maps; Municipal House; making it through in one piece …

(Lowlights? A few. Wylliova Tours in the pouring rain; the shows we missed; the crushing disappointment of the Astronomical Clock; there not being enough hours in the day for another pancake)


Blood & Money @ Live Theatre

On 24th May, Blood & Money previewed at Live Theatre. Still half way through rehearsals it was a work-in-progress, but a chance for people to see where we were going with it.

Thanks to the sterling work of director Degna and the cast Jill, Faye and Mat, the show was up on its feet and heading in the right direction.

Hats off to Amy Watts who designed, constructed and delivered our set – based on the concept of ‘ties that bind’ it’s a gorgeous construction of wound wool and string. Beautiful to look at, a nightmare to untangle I expect (not that it will ever happen, and if it does we have scissors and spare wool!)

Thank you to all at Live Theatre, and everyone who came along to support us and donated so generously … x

Some photos from the night … [click] to enlarge:

it will be ‘ringbinder status’ before you know it …

You know you mean business when you break out a folder dedicated to the task in hand. Today I created the Rascally Scoundrels folder. When I say ‘created’ I mean, took out a cardboard document wallet (orange) and wrote ‘Rascally Scoundrels’ across the front in marker pen. Oh yeah baby, play time is over.

So, the latest on Blood & Money is that it continues to be in development for Prague. Following the Northern Stage showcase, Roz and I are working on re-writes with the deadline for a rehearsal draft by mid-April. We’re also looking into some preview performances for end of April/end of May – details to be announced.

We bid a sad farewell to Anna Bolton from the First In Three cast, and are delighted to welcome Faye Greenwell in to the fold as Elle/Tina.

Also hello to Amy Watts, our set designer with the unenviable task of trying to create a set for two (very different) plays that can fit in to a suitcase. So good luck with that one, Amy. You’re in our prayers!

In other news … erm … my new short play Tittle, Tattle, Tattletale was performed as part of Live Theatre’s Different Stages Festival a couple of weeks back. Great night, great actors, good time had by all. For details about the play, click [here].

Oh, and back to Rascals briefly. There is a rumour we are getting t-shirts printed. Badass, or what. All the kids will be after them. Word.