Crowdsourced Sundays Week 1: Reads

#crowdsourcedSundays

I can take no credit for this idea – despite my contribution of a Sooty eggcup on the first week of an experiment by @himupnorth to produce a blog post from randomly generated Twitter photographs.

It worked… and the idea has gone viral. Well nearly.

This week’s blog post over at blogupnorth.wordpress.com saw tweeters contributing pictures of their current reading material.

I have this morning finished “What I’m Currently Reading” (‘FlashForward’, a science fiction novel by Canadian author Robert J. Sawyer) which was infinitely better than the American TV series that it spawned. Falling ratings in the UK led to the series finishing abruptly halfway through, so I never did get to find out what happened; and apparently Season 2 was never made, so disappointingly the TV version’s ending was never resolved…

Now at least I know what happened…

(This Could Be The) Start of Something New…

Musical theatre fans – please forgive the lame reference to High School Musical – the closest I am likely to come to that particular show is as an audience member, being far too old now to play the only part that would appeal –  ‘baddie’ Sharpay Evans.

As to the ‘something new’, well, I have started a Blipfoto journal – a daily photo journal of images seen by highonahill.

'Empty Swing' - the photo I used for my first Blip!

By way of explanation, I have always taken lots of photographs. On the shelves above me as I write are probably 50+ albums documenting most of the last 25 years of my life, and on the computer I am using are another 14,000+ digital photos, taken in the last 8 or so years since moving to a digital camera. I now take so many photos that I am way behind with printing the best for the albums, which stop at August 2008.

Last Christmas, Husband of Mine bought me a superzoom bridge camera – so called because it ‘bridges’ the gap between compact pocket cameras and DSLRs, but is able to offer complete manual control without the hassle and expense of changing lenses. Now I am slightly more knowledgeable about photography, I understand there is a slight trade-off in image quality, but at the moment I can live with that.

I have been following several other ‘blippers’ as they are known, as well as other bloggers with an eye for photography, for quite a while now, and have been inspired by the quality and creativity of their photographs. I have found Twitter is also a wonderful place to share and explore the art of photography; no prizes for guessing I follow some talented Lake District photographers for my daily Cumbrian fix!

So I finally decided that it was time to get more critical about the shots I keep, share and showcase so that I continue to learn, improve and enjoy. I could have done this on here, but for me, the posts on this blog that I feel have worked best are more about writing, sometimes illustrated by photography; rather than photography with a few words.

At the time of writing I still have my Blipfoto ‘L’ plates on, with less than 10 days of photographs under my belt. You can view my latest entry via the RSS feed in the sidebar of this blog, or click on the Blipfoto logo.

Are you curious to find out what is seen by highonahill?

I’m Bloglovin’ it…

I’ve not yet found a completely satisfactory way, to me at any rate, of keeping track of the blogs I’d like to read. There are a few that I dip into regularly, but there are so many more that I find by accident, read a little of, vow to return to and yet never do.

I tried Google Reader but find its layout so bitty and unattractive. So I was really pleased to discover Bloglovin, a web-based reader that is extremely simple to use and easy on the eye as it displays each blog in its original design.

First impressions are great. And there are iPhone and Android apps so you can easily read posts on mobile devices too.

So far, I’m Bloglovin’ it – try it for yourself and follow my blog with Bloglovin

Putting the memories to bed

“All this will be gone soon… the room will go probably.”

And so it did. On Sunday morning, after just a few hours sleep, the cast and crew of The Memory of Water assembled at the theatre to take down the set; dismantle the now infamous bed that has dominated my recent posts; strike the green tin box with chrysanthemums on it, the joints and the other props; tidy the dressing room; clear up the bar and clean the toilets. Yes, really – that’s what being part of a production at The Priory Playhouse in Arundel is all about.

I feel so fortunate to have been involved in The Memory of Water; being drawn into it through a whole series of coincidences.

I found out that it was being produced locally when talking to the director at another production at The Priory Playhouse. I asked to read the script, prior to auditions. It only took a few pages of reading to fall in love with the play, and specifically with the character of Mary – the challenge of such an intense yet still comedic role would be such a contrast to my usual portrayal of the ditsy or – in the words of Mother-in-Law of Mine – tarty, character in any piece.

Just two days after devouring the play cover to cover, the monthly e-newsletter from the fabulous Theatre by the Lake in Keswick arrived in my in-box. Keswick, in Cumbria’s Northern Lake District, has always been a favourite place of mine – it’s where Husband of Mine and I, and now The Family, do most of our ‘serious’ walking. We had already booked a week in August, going with In-Laws of Mine and staying in a Victorian house in Stanger Street. And The Memory of Water was on, for just the one night, during the time we were there. I think I phoned the box office straight away. And then asked (nicely but firmly) if the In-Laws could stay in that night to look after Children of Mine; fortunately they said yes.

So I saw the play for the first time in the intimate atmosphere of the Studio at TBTL, and laughed and cried alongside the rest of the full house that Monday night. Then in the interval, there I was, three hundred and sixty-five miles away from my home town, part way through watching a play that I knew I would be auditioning for in the autumn, and I bumped into a couple who I have acted with, and been directed by, at The Priory Playhouse. They were seeing the production in the main house that night, but were going later that week to see TBTL’s The Memory of Water.

Audition day: I read for the parts of both Mary and Catherine. At the end, the director asked if I had a preference for either part. I gabbled something about really, really wanting to play Mary, but that as I already loved the play so much, I just wanted to be in it, so not to let that rule me out completely if she saw me as one of the other female characters. I got the part of Mary, and the other roles were filled by wonderfully talented actors – and friends – old and new.

Rehearsals were hard work, but immensely fun, with some deep discussions with the cast and our fantastic director about characterisation really making the whole process emotional, thoughtful and creative.

“You do this deliberately, you wilfully misinterpret what we do because you think it’s funny or something…” – Teresa
“You put words into my mouth… you in particular, you mangle everything into something else.” – Vi
“And you just look irritated. You’ve no patience with me. No tolerance.” – Vi
“Sometimes when I’m talking and I know you’re not really listening…” – Vi
“…looking so bloody superior.” – Teresa
“…her breathtaking, fucking arrogance.” – Teresa

For me, it was as much these comments about Mary by the other characters, as it was her own dialogue, that gave me a huge head start when thinking about the characterisation – I was able to draw on my recollections of someone in my past who I think had traits that I wanted to bring out in my interpretation of Mary. Not, obviously, someone I’m in touch with now.

Saturday night’s final performance brought a strange mixture of emotions – the ‘high’, that any performance gives; the ‘low’, when it actually sinks in that the current production has come to an end. I hung around at the theatre that night until the last possible moment, drove home incredibly slowly (for me) and, after banging on all week as Mary about just wanting “another hour’s sleep”, felt wide awake and unable to go to bed.

Which brings me to the next set of coincidences. Saturday, 27th March was World Theatre Day and I had been following the folk at the World Theatre Day blog on Twitter. So Saturday I joined in with tweeting by mentioning how I was celebrating WTD10 – by appearing in The Memory of Water. Within minutes I had a good luck message from them, and later that day I was exchanging thoughts with an actor and director in Canada, Trilby Jeeves, who was fresh from directing her own production of the play.

Checking Facebook at 1am is probably not a great idea, but it did mean that I also saw that the Theatre by the Lake had succumbed to Twitter. Another coincidence, which meant I couldn’t resist sending a 140 character version of the story above to them, resulting in a lovely reply on Sunday.

My final glance at Twitter led me to the final coincidence and back to my new-found Canadian tweeter to read her blogpost for the day – World Theatre Day and More! – in which she salutes her own cast and crew for The Memory of Water. Spookily, she was celebrating with them that very night; I posted a comment, and discovered the next morning she had read it out to cast and crew. As she says in reply: “… how fitting we meet on World Theatre Day with the merging, across the nations, of our experiences of “The Memory of Water.”

And as for the tin box, full of memories from another generation, well I’m not sure it’s green or has chrysanthemums on it. It’s probably not at the back of the airing cupboard either… but I know it’s waiting for me to open it. One day.

Snogging, blogging and online trainspotting

The last week of rehearsals for The Memory of Water is in full swing now and the cast is working hard to perfect the finer details for the already sold out houses.   I think I’m right in saying that Charming On-Stage Lover and I even got a ‘highly commended’ from the Director for the finer details of the new, unrehearsed action on page 30 last night.

I just feel there’s something missing from my off-stage relationship with Charming On-Stage Lover.  It’s been reduced, not in a detumescence kind of way, but in the ‘how-was-your-day-have-you-seen-any-good-films-lately-how-are-the-Small-People-and-Her-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed’ kind of way.  There’s just not the time for normal conversation; no time to chat or exchange pleasantries before 25 pages have gone by and he’s knocking at the window like Heathcliffe (or was it Cathy?). 

Hence why snogging and blogging seems to be our only contact at the moment.  We haven’t even had time to discuss the blogging face to face – the conversations have all been keyboard to keyboard like online trainspotters who sit at their computer wearing grey shoes, drinking something alcoholic with a deranged look on their faces.  (Yes, there is actually a site for online trainspotting – why not try it out?  There’s no alcohol though, just a nice cup of tea on offer.  Accept at your own risk.)

Ah well, maybe we’ll have time to talk after The Memory of Water.  And before this year’s 24 Hour Musical, when we’ll both be awake from Friday morning to late on Saturday night in the name of raising money for a very worthy charity.

My hope for this year’s musical is that it’s about what I’m used to.  A bed.  That way I won’t even have to get up.

So how about Bedknobs and Broomsticks?  No? 

What about Hair, with its song that pays tribute to an old mattress?  No – even more clothes to take off than in The Memory of Water

Other songs sung on a bed are… oh no, I’ve got that sinking feeling…

… ‘My Favorite Things’.  That’s it.  The Sound of Music.  Charming On-Stage Lover and I will be transported back to 1983 and our first production together.   

Suddenly there is meaning where there was none before.

Race to Which Mountain?

Here I am again.  Children of Mine are now in bed.  Husband of Mine has gone to the local pub with his ukulele and the other half of The Renegade Dogs to launch their new career as folk singers and buskers.  There are a hundred things I could or should be doing: including sitting down for the first time this week in a comfy chair, in front of a roaring fire, with something decent on the telly and a glass of wine in my hand (or more likely, a nice cup of tea).  But instead I’m sitting at the computer, adding some more memories to this growing collection.

Actually, this could become a bit of a competition.  You see, Charming On-Stage Lover has been so inspired by my collective ramblings that he has decided to start his own online memory box, wittily entitled ‘Better Offer?‘.  Let’s hope he doesn’t get one before opening night.

I’m actually quite flattered that he’s taken the time to read and digest my musings, and delighted too that, like Artist Masquerading as a Manager did for me, I’ve provided the inspiration for him to start on his own creative journey.  

In his blog, he makes reference to the coincidence of his very first performance on stage in The Sound of Music being not only the opening inspiration for my blog, but also being our first show together.  I was a mere child at the time, and dressed in a nun’s outfit to boot, so back then we would have had no inkling that we would ever end up playing opposite each other in quite the current manner.  It occurred to me though that we have been in many productions together over the years, and it’s going to be really interesting seeing how our individual recollections of these times differ.

So perhaps a blogging race might develop over the coming days, weeks or months?  Perhaps it won’t.  Certainly not if it involves me having to get all my scrapbooks out of the roof.   Not just yet, eh?  I had heard a rumour that summer was on the way… and surely sorting out the roof is an autumnal activity?  So in the absence of The Sound of Music memorabilia from 1983, I thought it fitting to concentrate on adding a page for a more recent reincarnation of me in a habit – playing Sister Robert Anne in composer Dan Goggin’s Nunsense.

Theatrical rivalry?  Never.  Shared memories and blogging tips and tricks?  Of course.  And I’m always saying I could do with a tame IT professional. 

But who will lead the way up the blogging universe that towers above like a formidable mountain?  The answer is to leave you with the memory of the opening moments from the film version of The Sound of Music – a sunny alpine meadow, Maria twirling, arms outstretched. 

But where is she? 

Why High On a Hill, of course.

Blogging as ‘storage’?

Half term holiday began today for me at 12.00 when I left work. I spent some of my free time learning lines (a necessity, as it’s ‘books down’ for Act 1 on Sunday) and then a few usual Friday-ish chores before picking up Children of Mine from school. Husband of Mine is cooking (hoorah!) so I thought I’d get down some thoughts for today’s post while I get the chance.

I’m going to try hard not to be too clever on this blog (shouldn’t be that difficult actually!). Coming to this as late as I do in the life cycle of blogging, I don’t have any grand agenda – I don’t want to be a writer; and I am not someone who is full of witty insights, or an expert in the latest trends. Put simply, I like what the online world has to offer in comparison with the more traditional world of diaries, journals and scrapbooks and hope that a blog will serve that purpose.  For me, it will be the diary that I always started writing every year and never finished; where I can record things that happened that day, remember and reflect on things that happened in my past, and ponder on things that may happen in my future.  It will be the scrapbooks that I’m always promising myself I will update and never have; merely tossing memories into a cardboard box to sort out ‘another day’. It will also serve as the photo album for what I consider to be my best snaps, as opposed to those that I keep, regardless of whether they’re any good or not, but simply because I can’t bear to throw them out.

And of course, adding my show archives slowly but surely – today is the turn of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s Honk! A Musical Comedy.

A thought – is all this cataloguing a bit geeky?  Of course it is – and as Husband of Mine would say, it’s just another outlet for my obsessive need for ‘storage’…