June 12th 2013

The title is only significant in that I couldn’t think of one. The only significance of that date is that it’s today’s!

The last post was instigated by a bout of procrastination from a fisheries assessment – that got done, and I’m currently indulging in a bit of a break from going through comments on that first draft, which I need to address before it goes out to peer review. But it’s been a pretty busy couple of months on all fronts – a proper pro acting gig, quite a bit of tech work and some science thrown in for good measure. Quite a mixed bag…

I was thrilled to be cast for a script-in-hand performance of Daniel York’s short play¬† Song of Four Seasons, which was produced as part of Tamasha Theatre‘s Music and Migration-themed scratch night at Rich Mix in May. The play was a lovely three hander, inspired by the titular Song of Four Seasons and the tragic life of the lady who sung that number, Zhou Xuan. Here’s a video of her in action, from the film Street Angel…

It was a pleasure to work with actors Jennifer Lim and Michelle Wen Lee, with a day-and-a-bit’s rehearsal plus tech and dress before a performance to a full house on the Friday evening. The concept of a scratch evening is to encourage and develop new writing, and the range of pieces presented was diverse and exciting. It ranged from reminiscences of a family of times and places from their past (Her Ashes), to our own poignant study of displacement and belonging, to a brilliant physical piece (Glue Music) devised and performed by the actor in response to her uprooted childhood, to an extract from a documentary on the history of vinyl in Southall (For the Record). The audience is encouraged to provide feedback on all the pieces, which is given to the artists. It was a brilliant evening, and left me feeling really satisfied, engaged and inspired. If you should get the chance to go to a Tamasha scratch, do – I wholeheartedly recommend it, and will be getting my ticket for the next scratch in a couple of months. They tend to sell out, so book early to avoid disappointment!

I’ve been going to quite a bit of theatre this year, partly to support BEAA friends/colleagues, but mostly because it’s addictive and occupationally encouraged! Here is a list of recent outings:

  • If You Won’t Let Us Dream, We Won’t Let You Sleep (Anders Lustgarten), Royal Court. A clever piece of agit-prop on the consequences of austerity. Real eye-opener.
  • #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Wei Wei (Howard Brenton), Hampstead Theatre. Benedict Wong was brilliant in the central role, and there was strong support from a largely East Asian cast.
  • A Human Being Died That Night (Nicholas Wright, based on the book by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela), Hampstead Theatre Downstairs. Utterly engrossing two-hander: two people’s experience of the process of truth and reconciliation in South Africa, post-apartheid. Themes of evil, remorse, understanding and forgiveness. Still thinking about it a lot.

Am booked to see Chimerica at the Almeida next week, and hopefully will catch Yellow Face at the new Park Theatre on Sunday. And Othello in August! Can’t wait for that.

Meanwhile, I recently auditioned for a part in Eastern Angles’ pro-am production Dark Earth, a new play by Forbes Bramble. It’s set at the time of the drainage of the Fens, and will be performed as a site-specific piece in September at Flag Fen. It’s a good script, and I’d like the chance to get to know my “local” theatre company, and to work with director Naomi Jones, formerly of Out of Joint, who trained under Max Stafford Clark. Watch this space, I guess – they’re still casting.

In non-acting news, I recently attended the Shellfish Association of Great Britain’s annual conference, which is held at the amazing Fishmongers’ Hall, on London Bridge. I’ll be honest – the lunches are great, and reason enough to attend as far as I’m concerned – but it’s also essential to attend to find out the latest developments in the shellfish industry; pretty much everyone important was there, including the Minister, Richard Benyon, who gave the opening speech. There was a good variety of speakers on the programme, ranging from someone from the EU talking about origin labelling (think champagne and Stilton) for fisheries products, to academics presenting on ocean acidification and effects on shellfish, to an update on norovirus and assessment of risk, to an account of the Cromer & Sheringham Crab & Lobster festival.

About a week before the conference, I had to present the results of some data analysis I’d been doing at a Working Group on shrimp management. It’s a bit of work that has dragged on for quite a while due to issues acquiring the data and, subsequently, analysing it (and then finding a mistake so I had to re-request it) – so it was good to get it done. Just a bit of finishing up and I can send out the reports and send out the final invoice, which will be a relief too. Have been doing some tech support work and web design, which, along with the acting, have constituted my main receipts recently. It will be nice to have some money coming in from the science stuff, too.

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