New plays old plays any plays yay plays


I’m very very happily tired at the end of the day.

Today wasn’t a particularly hard day. Today wasn’t in any way a standout day either. Just a day. Nevertheless I’m tired at the end of it. I’m happy it’s over and I get to lie in my radiatorbed and decompress.

The dark makes me tired. I don’t like it when it isn’t summer. Just being able to slow myself down is pleasant. I’m in Walworth tomorrow doing workshops.

I set my biological clock to an early sleep because I was expecting to have a Lou with me in London today. She is being paid a decent daily rate to be on a job in London but the costumes are still in transit so there’s no point in her being here. Tomorrow she’ll be on the clock to do nothing at she’s gonna stay one more night with the invalid cat and then we get to hang tomorrow instead. I only discovered she wasn’t coming a couple of hours ago. I celebrated by eating a stinky meal of garlic sausages and beans. Now I’m gonna shamelessly starfish across my whole damn bed.

Tom just got home after his first night at Vault. He’s directing a work in progress one person show with someone a little bit starry and by the sound of things the first tester went well and the crucial agent gave it enough seal of approval to be soliciting for those all important casting humans to come. God the degrees of separation between actor and job!! I know why it has happened. I’ve met those people who tell you how they are aCtORs immediately when you meet them. I have tried to work with some of them as they flinch and shout and lie. Obviously this human he is directing can do the job, she’s already got the credits, but still the agent has to check things out before bringing anyone… I did years of Carol before any of my agents came. When they did they loved it but came too late in the run to bring anyone. We are sadly only really allowed to do what people have seen us do already. I hate to think of the years of weird wonderful stuff I’ve done that even I can’t remember. Sometimes I see photos of myself on stage and can’t remember what it even was that I was doing. I was learning. That’s enough. I was growing.

And right now I’m about to start dozing. Lovely garlicky dinner. I might go get a shot of brandy and talk with Tom in more detail about the show tonight. Either way, I’m signing off.

Winter night

Another day of cold calling, sitting in my little patch of light coming across the Thames. Tom is staying for a night or two, directing a monologue at Vault. By the time evening was falling I was looking forward to him coming home. Nice to share space a bit in these dark months. He has a signature pasta Arrabiata that he has banged out in the past, and it came out again this evening just as I noticed I was hungry. We just spent the last few hours talking in detail about all the things. The state of the country, the state of the world, the state of the theatre industry. Which leaders in all three spheres are mad or foolish or brilliant or quitting.

Turkey and Syria have had terrible quakes today, reminding those of us who don’t live on a fault line how incredibly fortunate we are. Liz Truss is blaming those Marxists at the Bank of England for her inability to function as a leader. Rishi is having to reshuffle to try and scrabble for any remaining scraps of credibility. They’ve pulled the rug out from under wonderful Hampstead Theatre. Who is gonna take over The Royal Court? We didn’t get onto Putin. Horrible situation over there in The Ukraine. There IS light, but strangely the darkness is more visible right now. At least the sun shone today on me and my notepad as we worked our way through the list.

I’m done with the cold calling. That’s that forever. If I’m asked to do it again I’ll be too busy doing anything else. It’s nice to say yes to things and saying yes has made a very interesting existence for decades but I’m having to forge boundaries now and that work didn’t feed me at all. I dreaded it beforehand, hated it during and needed to decompress from it after. No more. I’m definitely worth more than that.

Tom’s in the bath and I’m moving the piles of unaddressed boxes that have snuck into my bedroom out again and into the spare room. I can’t welcome Lou into clutterbedroom. I don’t see these things – almost a blind spot to the white noise of stuff – but I know that others do and I want Lou to be happy in my space like I am in hers. I’m looking forward to having some company in London, even if we are both gonna be busy busy busy.

Early-ish bed tonight and a hot bath to come just as soon as Tom is out of his one. Wash off the phone calls and the stinkiness. Epsom salts, warmth, expense, candles and Dr. Bronners hilariously packaged castille soap (rose variety).

This stuff is brilliant by the way. Highly recommended. Very 1970’s, but very natural ingredients and the packaging is bonkers.

Self tape helper

Self tape club. It’s happening all over the world. So many tiny flats in big cities filled with personalities with big dreams. Little bubbles of friendship groups who help each other. The familiar phone call. “X casting director needs Z for Yday”. Usually it’s just a little scene, or two or three little scenes with a weekend turnaround. They come in on a Friday, they go out Monday morning. Fire and forget as often as not. It’s a chance to hang out with your friends.

I was in Camden today as the sun set over the HS2 station. I was in a flat with a very friendly cat. The room we used to use has been turned around and now has an occupant so we built into the living room. It’s involved. Two tripods to hold the screen, and then attach the screen. Two tripods to hold the lights and then open out the diffusers and screw in the bulbs, then adjust the “heat” of the light with white muslin and reflectors. One more tripod to hold the mobile phone. My friend is using a paid for apple app so can at least frame her own shot in the selfie camera. She’s learnt the lines, even though some friends of mine swear by paid for autocue apps (“It’s brilliant but it can be a shock if you get an in person recall!”) Three scenes. Short but learnt. The cat wanders as he pleases. Occasionally the new flatmate goes to the loo or talks loudly on the phone.

I find myself thinking back over the sheer volume of stuff I’ve learnt for these occasions. Scenes from all sorts of styles of story. Flashes of story from all over the world. Today we are in Scotland. My friend grew up there. My dad and most of my remaining family carry that idiom. I’m reading an ineffectual husband to my friends practical angry wife. “Let’s only do one or two takes per scene,” she says at the start which is a good shout as you can get unnecessarily mired in detail otherwise. Still it takes time. There are three scenes, one static, one mobile and one post coital. They need to feel different and the difference needs to feel considered, even if this is just a pitch. “Hi! I’m a human! I could be this human for you?!”

The sun goes down while we work. The end of the work blends with the beginning of conversation and reminiscence and gossip and friendship and I’m driving or we would likely share a bottle of wine but instead we find a local kebab shop and have it with chili sauce and I drive home hopeful that my friend will get the job, happy that I could help again, and ready once more to completely forget the whole experience just as the lines she learnt so well over the last few days will now slowly fall out of her memory unless she gets that happy daytime call from the agent…

It’s a strange thing, being mister pretendyface. It’s the best thing in the world when it works. The fellowship is extraordinary. Even last night as an example, to fit in to a 25 year old’s awesome house party without feeling like the creepy uncle. But… the unpredictability and the GAPS! Ugh. Something in March please, universe. Something in March would be really really nice.

Reluctant partygoer

Seven o’clock on a Saturday evening. I just got out of a hot bath and I’m tired. Bed feels warm and welcoming. The rest of the flat is cold.

In less than an hour I’m going to go to a party. I’m sure there were times where the prospect of such an endeavour would have filled me with anticipation. “What curious conversations will I find?” The party habit got smashed when we all splintered into solitary fearfulness. Now I am trying to marshal my energies so I can do this instead of just staying in the warm place switching the light off and snoozing until morning. I almost went to Vault Festival this evening but the thing was sold out and I think that didn’t help my mood. Plus it has been grey all day and now it’s dark. Dammit February, you’re letting me down.

My friend has started sending me selfies from Vault now. She’s tempting me out. Doesn’t want me to flake. Vault is a kooky lovely mix of theatrical strangeness. She’s all dressed up and is also going to the party after watching a show. “I was sad too but then I got dressed up.” Damn. She’s right though. Change the outside and the inside changes with it.

This party… it is gonna happen whether I feel like it or not. I might galvanise with a cup of coffee and then put something ostentatious like a frock coat and hat on and drive there with the last of the Christmas prosecco in shotgun. Then I can celebrate my friend and donate alcohol and it’s Sunday tomorrow so if I do end up getting sloshed I can come back to get the car in the morning, and if I’m restrained then I give myself a comfy ride home to warmth. And I’ll have a disguise which will allow me to be gregarious. Having the car will be an incentive to behave well as this place is the other side of town from me and it’ll either be multiple buses or too much money in an Uber, one of which I don’t fancy and the other I can’t justify.

London London London. Always the prospect of something to do, but the expense of it all and the crowds. Right. It’s twenty past. It is time to haul up and consider the bizarre and disorganised contents of my wardrobe.

Well that was easier than it could have been. Jacket and trousers courtesy of Os de las casas, hat courtesy of uncle Peter. Tie and waistcoat John Jones. Cravat by Lou. I feel a bit more like someone who goes out on the town. Now it’s just the business of doing it.

I did it mummy I did it! Lovely people in a house all the way across time and even though I brought the average age up by about ten years I was happy to have made it and felt included. I also didn’t reflexively drink loads to try and stop myself from feeling awkward. I had a single prosecco and ended up taking some old friends home. It’s not quite 1am and I’m liable to be back in bed soon, although typically now I’ve been at the party I’m wired on company. I do like people and talking long hours about the nature of things. Didn’t that used to happen virtually every night?

Cold calling

“Your realise alcohol is a depressant so its the last thing you should go to if you’re sad…” Wisdom.

I woke up bright and early this morning somehow. Mostly the egregious tinkling of my alarm which hauled me out of a very interesting dream to fully awake in a moment. A few minutes trying to remember why I set it so early, as I half wanted to climb back into the dream and then I remembered. Cold calling. Arse.

Espresso in the aeropress and blearily looking at the script I’ve been given. It’s not an easy one, plus I rarely if ever do this sort of work. It isn’t sales at least. It’s just trying to get a list of names of sixth form students in Yorkshire who might want work experience. Problem is, a stranger ringing up a school and asking for information about their pupils isn’t a way to inspire confidence. “Is everybody at this company of yours DBS checked?” asks one receptionist. “I am… and it’s a global company so I’m sure safety will be a priority.”

I make notes in my very crowded notebook, and the hours tick by as I’m sitting in a patch of bright winter sun coming into my window from over the river. Thank heaven for the lack of clouds today. Vitamin D helped balance the fact that I really didn’t relish the work I had agreed to do. I learnt that lesson years ago – never commit to work you know you’ll hate. Hasn’t stopped me, but it’s only a day and a half and it won’t define me.

Those few teachers I do get through to are thoughtful and friendly, but my list is pretty weak. They’re a kind breed, teachers. I get why they’ve been striking too. I’ve seen how hard they work, and the care they take for every individual personality, rolling round year after year. The schools where I get through to someone almost all don’t HAVE a sixth form. They’ve all already left. The company want something like 150 names and I finish a whole days work with nowt but a few contact numbers and a lot of people who never got the original email. I’ll have to follow up on Monday now I’ve sent it to them. Now I’ve made my notes it’ll be much less frustrating. Demoralising though, but a friend of mine was having a similar experience with the other half of the list and we could communicate which took the edge off as we could corroborate the experience.

This week of work experience we are trying to fill could be really positive for the right candidates. A bit of a boost and a way to meet other proactive young people right at the start of their working life. Maybe even a route into a good first job. It was never the route for me, but for some … I’m trying to connect young adults to something that might shift them onto a fruitful and happy track. So at least I don’t encounter that bitter taste you sometimes hear in the unfortunates who call you unexpectedly to flog something they couldn’t care less about. I know this could be a valuable opportunity for some. I like to try to bring positivity, and … at least the sun was shining on me through my cold window while I went about it.

All that and trying to overlook the fact that, by drinking yesterday, I only made it harder today to be in a happy mood. Kinda managed it helped my a pint of apple and ginger juice, but the voice of BED is calling loud now and maybe it’s time to finally try and get back to that interesting dream I was having. If only I could remember what it was about…


I have been throwing my diary around and attempting to stitch possibilities together. A large chunk came out of one of my molars, adding to the narrative that I’m gonna have to go to Turkey and get them to make my ivories less dead. It’d be nice to have a meal and not have to dig it back out of my face. But if all of that was working…

Well. I’m not your posterboy. I just spoke with Lou and she could tell immediately that my line is squiffy. I was sad and so I opened a bottle of wine that I had brought back from Binissalem in Majorca. It made me momentarily happy, but in the long run it just made me slow. Maybe the slowness is what people pay for? All I know is that my state was not welcomed and now I’m attempting this writing. Nobody pays for my writing. This blog is just noise. It might even have contributed to the imagination-fail that means I’m actively looking for work in March instead of being central to the operations of a forward thinking and brave company.

Who knows? I’m just here… just me being me forever, but … discreet forever. So I found the perfect dayjob match, but the world energies closed in to remind me why I’m actually here.

I’m off to bed and thankfully it’s early as I’m not really sure who I am right now. I can only really open one eye at a time. Still, being asleep before nine? Excellent. Tomorrow I’ll be cold calling a load of schools in Leeds. I think the wine happened when I thought about the difference between what I want to be doing and what I’m doing. Life, eh?

I’m ok. I’ll go as far as to say I’m happy. But bed and sleep is needed… I’ve had a lot of wine. It’s barely 9pm and yesterday without any chemical augmentation I slept at 8, woke at midnight and slept again at 3am. I might try a similar pattern. Apparently it was a thing back in the day when we lived by the sun…

February fever

February is upon us. I like February. It’s a hopeful month. It feels like its trying.

Likely named for Februus, an Etruscan death god taking in purification, it is a month of cleansing. One of the last months added to the calendar by the Romans, it plugs the gap in my imagination between the dark and cold of winter and the warmer wet of the coming rains. The worst is now passed. The dark is shifting back. Things are starting to wake up and the world is not quite so cold. That’s what I’ve told myself, having just got into bed before 8pm cos I’m suffering in the flat without the heating.

Another late night call from my agent and a chance to be involved in an institution. Past versions of me will have reacted differently to the chance, but it might be the catalyst I need to get out of here by May. It’s just an idea at present, but I’m open to things shifting. It has been unusually quiet recently. But the world has been hibernating. February is bringing cleansing light back.

If I’m gonna do a detox I tend to do it in February. It’s short, and a marginally less depressing month than January. The mood swings caused by the broken habits are not as sharp as they are when it’s colder. I’ve been doing pretty well at cutting back on the things that hold me back anyway. There’s so much to do, and I’m having to start relying on my diary and on making lists in order to make sure I stay on top of it all. No official detox this time round, but a general reminder to continue to unblock myself and shift forward, particularly with this flat. Too many years of comfortable stasis. That’s gonna be my Februa purge. Stuff.

Februa likely originated our word “fever”. When all your body is pushing toxins out of every possible orifice. I’ll be pushing stuff out of my flat. It will be sweating books, leaking furniture, coughing up pictures and then at the end of the month I will likely be spitting myself at high speed south across Europe to Majorca again.

It’s still dark but we can believe in the light. It’s still messy here but I can believe in getting it emptied. Lou will be staying in a week, working on The Brits. Right now there are three books and an iPad on the bit of bed she’ll be sleeping in. I am gonna have to improve my habits. Normally I get to go to her considered and soft flat in Brighton when I want to see her. I’ll have to do something about the lighting in here, and get some good sheets on the bed… Throwing things out, but the right things and in the right way. Ideally I should rent a ground floor flat out of London and get all the furniture out of here so I can get to work turning it around.

Cats and near misses on nice work

A gentle wake-up, and an early morning visitor from California. The original keeper of Tessy the pedigree cat with a heart condition. She comes over with pastries for us all and a coffee for me. Gently we trick Tessy into her carrier and bring her protesting down the stairs and into Bergman. She’s going for a check-up. She was given a year to live. It’s been a year. She’s fine.

We drop her off and then Lou and I both have work to do. For me it’s emergency tax return. She’s making clothes for DJs. We sit together companionably and work while the cat mummy is having a boozy lunch.

Hours later Lou and I try and make sense of all the arcane inner city traffic restrictions in Brighton, to pick up drunk cat mummy and go back for Tessy. In trying to avoid closed roads I pull up on a pavement directly opposite a camera. I expect there’ll be a letter in the post. So be it.

The cat is well. £1000 worth of well. All she needed was more medicine but they wouldn’t release it without her being checked out and cat cardiology is an expensive business it seems. “Money lubricates everything,” announces cat mummy from the back of Bergman and I’m not sure if she’s happy or sad about that situation. There might have been a cheaper solution, I think. But I get it. It’s a very special being that little beast with a prune-sized heart. And I still have this suspicion that cats help those who are good to them in all sorts of strange energetic ways.

As soon as Tessy was deposited back home safely then I shot back to London thinking I was going to be late for a Factory rehearsal. As I was coming in on the M4 my agent rang. 6.30pm. She just happened to be in the office and being wonderful she picked up and there’s a film I taped for where they think they might lose an actor. He’s tested positive for COVID. Can I drive up north tonight? Damn right I can. I divert home and pack an overnight bag. It’s only a 4 hour drive. I do that sort of thing before breakfast.

“Wait until they confirm,” says Esta, and I do. Time passes. She calls me back disappointed. “Apparently he doesn’t have COVID after all,” she says. Perhaps he’s neurotic, I think. Self sabotaging? Panicking? I stand down. Missed The Factory now. Oh well. It was worth it to roll the dice.

I’m glad I could say yes and I’m thrilled the casting director tried me and had a positive experience. Sure I didn’t get the part first time – it was the one I did in the corner of my hotel room at The Headland in Cornwall, with awkward natural light and my phone gaffer taped to my suitcase handle. Nice that there was some effect. You often never know if you’ve come close. The things we do send ripples.

Cold flat. Warm bed. A good day today and I’m glad the pussycat is well.