The Singing Librarian on film - Marty's Project
Posted Oct 31, 2010
For the last year or so, I have been involved with the creation of a short amateur film, Marty's Project. I play one of the main characters, and also lend my vocals to a couple of voice-over people (a radio DJ and a computer character). This was an intriguing experience, as I have not done film before, and am therefore accustomed to doing things the theatrical way. I think I prefer theatre, really.
Anyway, the film will do the rounds of the various relevant film festivals next year, and in the mean time can be viewed on-line should anyone wish to watch it :
If anyone is unsure who I am, the h2g2 t-shirt my character sports in a couple of scenes should help!
Changing my mind
Posted Feb 15, 2010
[Condensed from a rambling blog post]
Over the past few months, I've noticed my mood, my self-image and my general state of mental well-being getting worse and I think this is down to some destructive mental habits I've developed.
I find it very, very hard to accept a compliment. I someone gives one, there is a loud voice inside that says “yes, maybe, but…” For example, if someone tells me they enjoyed a performance of mine, I immediately draw up a mental list of reasons why they are wrong, a list of people who could have done it better and probably a list of reasons why that person is biased, ill-informed or otherwise not the best person to make that judgement. This extends to other areas of my life as well. I am very quick to decide that things are my fault, frequently call myself stupid and tend to say “I can’t do this” at least once every day. I am always perhaps too aware of the need for improvement in my theatrical endeavours, of failings in my professional life, of ways in which I am socially awkward, and I have a tendency to look in the mirror and despair.
It has been pointed out to me many times that all of this is not healthy, particularly for someone with a history of mental illness. Recently, a peculiar combination of a few blows to my ego from external sources and a surge in unsolicited encouragement has convinced me that I need to do something about it.
It’s a little late for New Year’s Resolutions, so I’m starting small with a New Week’s Resolution. For the next seven days, I am not allowed to say anything negative about myself, or utter the words “I can’t do this”. I’m not sure how well I’ll manage, even for just seven days, and I know it won’t transform my life instantly, but I’m pretty sure that it will help. Maybe not saying these things will mean that I think them less as well. Other steps are obviously going to be needed for long-term change, but this is, at the very least, a start.
Snow, shoes, sticky floors, students and stubbornness - a day in the life
Posted Feb 11, 2010
Yesterday, we had light snow showers predicted, and sure enough, snow came swirling past the windows every so often but did not settle. I was to be heading to Folkestone for a rehearsal of When Midnight Strikes with costumes after work, so had half of costume on (trousers and shoes) and the other half with me as it would have been too flashy to weat at work (I did, of course, have other clothes on...). Got on the bus, and before long we had ground to a halt. The driver announced a change of route to Folkestone and I had to text to say I'd be late. A while later, and we began to see snow. Real snow on the ground and the roads and so forth. And then we stopped at the top of a hill.
"Sorry", said the bus driver "I can't take you any further, as there are loads of abandoned cars on the hill." We couldn't turn back either, so we had to get out and walk. Through unfamiliar territory, down a steep hill, in heavy snow. My shoes were, to say the least, impractical, and I kept slipping over. An hour or so later, I made it into central Folkestone, realised busses wouldn't be going *anywhere* and thought I may as well pop in to the rehearsal on my way to the train station. I was greeted with immense enthusiasm, even though they were winding up. I did a bit of work, then headed to the station after promising to let them know how my journey went.
It didn't. The trains had given up a couple of hours before I got there, when I was still on the bus. I stayed hopeful until 11pm, when I had to admit defeat. I was stuck. After texting my fellow actors, I was told to join them in the pub and I was welcome to stay over. So I waded, slipped and slid my way back down Folkestone High Street to join them. Once again, I was greeted with enthusiasm (this time tinged with alcohol, of course), which was partly driven by the facty that they were planning to go clubbing and thought it would be the Best Thing Ever if I went. They were happy to deposit me in their flat if I wanted, but knowing that their return eould wake me up anyway, I thought "why not?" OK, so I hadn't been to a club for at least 10 years, OK so I don't ever drink to get drunk, OK so I was tired, but for some reason it seemed like a good idea. Back out into the snow we went, heading for the nightclub and gradually turning into walking snowmen and snowwomen.
And so it was that I found myself in a wee nightclub, dancing with a group of students (or rather, attempting to dance), discovering that nightclub floors really are as sticky as legend has it (I knelt down for a photo) and shocking them when I soon switched to non-alcoholic beverages as I knew I'd be working the next day. I actually rather enjoyed myself, at least while the DJ played music I was familiar with. Footloose, Queen, classic cheese, that sort of thing. None of that modern hippety hop for me.
When we left, we found that the snow had turned into a major blizzard and there were already between 2 and 3 inches laying. After the obligatory kebab stop-off, which I opted out of, I had the immense enjoyment of climbing a smallish hill with a group of inebriated performing arts students, certainly an experience never to be forgotten. I was in the rearguard, as I had to help one of them up step by step, which she was very grateful for. Between my slippy shoes, the slope, the snow and her slight mental fogginess, it was quite a trek. We did eventually crest the rise, to the impatient joy of the others, and made our way to the place where I would be spending the night. Everyone stayed for a little while, then eventually those of us staying there could retire. Sadly, I didn't manage to sleep, but did at least get to lie down and switch odd in the warmth.
All too soon, I had to creep out of bed, so as not to disturb the other guy sleeping over in the same room as me, and attempt to get to the sparkly new learning centre. At 07.10, I left the house, and was immediately stepping in snow up to, and sometimes beyond, my ankles. On reaching my destination, I found that nowhere had been gritted and was adviused by the man on duty that nothing would be running, so I should just go home and enjoy a day off work. "But I can't go home!" I wailed inwardly. I couldn't even really return to the flat, as everyone else was asleep when I left and I would hate to wake a group of people who were probably rather hung over. I trecked to the train station once more, slipping over a few more times in increasingly comic fashion. Of course, the trains were all listed as 'delayed', but what else could I do but wait? It was 07.30 and I was due to start work at 09.00. The journey between Folkestone and Canterbury normally takes between 40 and 60 minutes.
I finally walked into the office, tired but triumphant at 12.30, having been on three different trains and having passed through Folkestone twice, once heading to Dover and once heading to Ashford. I had sat on a high-speed train that did nothing for half an hour, I had admired the wintry view in more spots than I care to remember, and I had eaten more rubbish from vending machines than I probably should have done. Tonight, I shall eat, bathe my aching muscles and go to bed early. I did enjoy spending the night with my student friends, even if it was not how I would ever, ever, normally spend a night. I loved looking at the snow and walking through it, whether in pristine stillness or mad blizzard. It was a day of experiences that took me out of my comfort zone and demonstrated a serious stubborn streak. But frankly, I'd rather not repeat it!
Posted Aug 10, 2009
This should make enough to feed quite a lot of people!
750g lamb mince
2 sticks of celery
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 large can sweetcorn
[You could probably chuck in a courgette or some mushrooms or some such too if you felt like it]
50g plain flour
A good glug of Worcestershire sauce
2/3 pint of lamb stock
A good long squeeze of tomato puree
150g plain flour
150g cheshire cheese
Thyme (or mixed herbs, but thyme is better)
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 (190c)
Chop up the veg
Rub the flour and butter until you have breadcrumb texture
Grate the cheese and mix this and the herbs in with the breadcrumby stuff, and leave for later
Fry the chopped vegetables in vegetable oil for 5 or so mins - use a BIG pan!
Add the lamb and cook until it's nicely brown
Mix in the flour, Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, stock and any seasonings you may desire
Place the mixture into ovenproof dishes
Sprinkle the breadcrumb/cheese/herb mix over the top
Bake in the ven for about 45 mins
Eat! Good with green veg and mashed potato, or on its own as leftovers snack.
The smell of the cheese and herb topping is...
Original recipe taken from Sainsburys website. Greatly adapted!
West Side Story Diary
Posted Jul 8, 2008
So...on Sunday, I started rehearsals for West Side Story.
"But...David, aren't you rehearsing for Titanic?"
Yes, I am, but the rehearsals don't clash, thankfully.
"But...David, aren't you too old to be a Jet or a Shark?"
Yes, I am indeed. Which is a shame. However, I'll be playing one of the four adult characters, Doc.
"But...David, aren't you a few decades too young to play Doc?"
Yes, right again... So how did this happen?
- - - - -
A few weeks ago I had a chance encounter in the pub with the lady who is the musical director for this production, which is being mounted by a local Performing Arts school. I asked her how the production was going, and enquired about the adult cast members, explaining that whenever I've seen the show, I've been disappointed by the adults, who are just not anywhere near as good as the Jets, the Sharks and their girls.
Then, last Wednesday, another friend (who had played Bill in Me and My Girl) contacted me via Facebook and said "How about putting your money where your mouth is?" It transpired that they were down one adult male member of the cast, and my name had come up. So I went along, read the parts of Schrank and Doc for them, and they decided that they would transfer my friend from Doc to Schrank and have me as Doc, as we'd be better that way around. Half an hour later and I was rehearsing a scene with the Jets and Anita, where I shout at everybody. What a wonderful first impression to give them! This was the first time this scene had been done at all, and it was quite a horrible one, where the Jets taunt and almost rape Anita.
It's more thana tad scary coming in when the rehearsals have been running for quite a long time. The kids all know each other and know what they're doing. Old Doc/new Schrank at least knows them, but he's now at the same place as me in terms of knowing what he's doing - Schrank's scenes have not been rehearsed yet (though, to be fair, he hadn't done Doc's scenes very often).
The part is a nice one. Entirely spoken, no singing or dancing, but the scenes I do have are quite challenging, displaying a range of emotions. It'll be a challenge. Doc is normally played as quite old. He doesn't have to be, but I will still have to act and look a little older than I actually am, as he's supposed to be a surrogate uncle figure to Tony, the male lead.
It should be fun. Challenging, but fun. Performances are one month away, so I've got to learn and perfect this quickly. But I'll enjoy performing with my friend again (haven't done so since Me and My Girl in 2006), enjoy working with the talented energetic youth, and enjoy doing something somewhat different.
David B - Singing Librarian Owl