Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Guest Blogger - On the home run

So, my last week. Only a few more days and only a hand full of shows until my return. I have been Gavin and been Caught In The Net for the English Theatre of Hamburg for 3 1/2 months and 72 performances. It's almost time to pack my bag, down my last Gluwhein and sink that final Brotwurst because this actor is coming home unemployed. Umm...I mean resting.

Even though it's been an absolute epic experience it really has been an emotional roller coaster. The people I've met, the places I've been, the views I've witnessed and not forgetting the 3:30am conversations about the war with the various dodgy pub bar-flies have really given me a massive insight on many topics.
Three and half months is a long time in many ways; being away from what's familiar, your mates and family over Christmas and your birthday all takes it's toll, ( not saying it wasn't great but just very different ). Also living with the same people you travel and work with, I can't help but feel a little cabin fever creeps in from time to time, even if it's just on a subconscious level.

Caught In The Net has been the most successful show the English Theatre of Hamburg has done for ten years. We've sold out every single show almost since the second week of the run, and the comments and personal emails we've received have all been very flattering and kind. It's been a honour and a pleasure to be part of something that has been received so well.
While I've been here I've been asked a couple of questions. I'll try my best to answer them...

Question 1. What has been the best & Worst thing about this experience?

Well, The best things are just too many to list. I've loved living in Hamburg for 3 1/2 months. I love the city life, I love the fact that German public transport works! I love it that the bars close when you decide to leave them, I love being in a play and performing eight times a week, I love some of the strangest but most brilliant people I've ever met ( Germany really do produce the absolute, top class, Grade - A 'strange people' ) and obviously, being in such a well written play is always a pleasure.
The worst things consist of a very short list, and to be honest maybe it's just my perfectionist baggage kicking in, but I really feel the play itself could be better than we're doing it. I feel various aspects of the production need more work, and have found it, at times very frustrating that other people didn't feel the same.

Question 2. What have you taken away from the experience?

Well, LOADS of stuff. Mainly my insight into the German attitude to the Second World wWar! It's almost moving to hear some peoples take on what happened just a few years ago. But I know that has nothing to do with Theatre so I'll try and relate the question. I have taken a lot of experience away from this. I've never done a production run any where near as long as this before and I've gained a lot of experience on the routine you get in to. Your body clock moves forward about five hours, you're awake late, rising late, etc. I've also worked with people that have MASSIVELY different training experience and work VERY DIFFERENTLY to me in how they rehearse and approach text and so that's all been very interesting and insightful.

Question 3.
Would you had done anything differently?


Question 4.
Does it make you want to try a different directing style yourself?

The English Theatre of Hamburg has been running since 1976, the two artistic directors Mr. Dean and Mr. Rumpf take it turns to direct the four shows a year. They both direct in a very similar way and, to my knowledge, have not changed their techniques or approach to production. The theatre does very well, very often sells out and their way of working clearly works for them. However, I can't say I personally would ever direct in this way. Different people work in different ways and different approaches, and that's fine. But I guess I'm a very open person when it comes to drama, and theatre work and I think communication and honesty is the most, if not the only factor you should work on. (Drama; The communication of your emotional response to the text via performance (David Calder)). This way of working it's a very "top heavy" management system and in some ways very restrictive. I feel that due to various rules and regulations that are put in place and because it's frowned upon to discuss the play, scenes or timings with other actors we didn't make the most of the material that we were given and I found that quite upsetting.
So there we have it. If anyone has any questions please feel free to email me or comment and I will do my best to answer them! The English Theatre of Hamburg and Ray Cooney's Caught In The Net have been very kind to me. It was a great job, a massively successful run and a really fun character to play. I would recommend anyone to come out here if they get the chance and if you ever find yourself in Hamburg why not drop in and see the current show!

Peace out.


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