Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Ssh. Tell No one.

Oh no. Oh dear. I am falling into staying up-until-ridiculous-time habits. Like now for instance.
It's 2.29. AM.
But no, no, no, do not mistake me, friends. It is not the internet keeping me up to unholy hours. No. Although it really doesn't help. It is my cretin of a brain, which clearly just doesn't want me to sleep well.
I think it is all down to being on holiday (YAY). I am therefore doing essentially nothing with my brain all day - so it then wishes to carry on working at a low (but never-the-less disruptive) level ALL NIGHT LONG. 'ARGH' I think is the word.

Moving on from my body clock.

Do you like the title of this post? I like the title of this post. It is mysterious. As is the 'society' I am about to tell you of - so can you keep a secret? Can you keep a secret really well?
If someone ever asks you 'Have you heard of Secret Cinema?' be assured, you are about to enter a world which hitherto you probably thought didn't exist. Secret Cinema are an off-shoot company of Future Cinema, and you may have heard whisperings about them.
But only whisperings.
Every three months, they put on a film. And they do 'put it on', just like a production. If you have signed up for tickets you are told nothing. Nada. Zilch. All you get are little snippets of information via email, Facebook, Twitter - little clues that you can interpret in any way you wish. You get this and, of course, you get instructions for what to wear. Oh yes. Costume.
Audience participation doesn't cover half of it. Also, anyone who has been to the show must keep the details entirely secret for the length of the run... word must not get out!
So you arrive in your getup at a meeting point (most recently, this was Euston Station). There you are greeted by actors who are already inhabiting their roles; everyone, including you, has to be in character.
And then the location.
Oh the location.
Secret Cinema transform deserted buildings and areas across London to become the set of whichever film you are watching... the effect is phenomenal. My favourite so far has been their screening of the Graham Greene film 'The Third Man', starring Orson Welles. The picture below is of myself and my darling Belle (whom you may remember from this post) in our costume.

<--  And then the incredible, atmospheric location.

We felt like film extras! We thought we were in heaven!

I was lucky enough last year to be selected to join Great Britain's National Youth Theatre (another heaven moment) and it was through them this year that I spotted an opportunity to be a 'supporting artist' with Secret Cinema. Having been to a couple of events previously I thought I had a pretty good guess as to what that title meant... I was right.

So that's how, for a week, I became the luckiest person I knew. I hopped on the tube in leafy Essex (skipping the last lesson of school - oh, bite me, why don't you) and hopped off it, backpack on, in not so leafy Euston. Off I went (and I knew a short cut by the end of it, so how smug did I feel) and soon arrived at my arcane destination.
Cue Instagram photo. 

So you see a sign like that and know you've arrived at work. This is my kind of life.
This time (and I can reveal this to you without being afeard for my life, the 'run' ended two weeks ago) Secret Cinema screened 'Prometheus' the new Ridley Scott film, which is a prequel to 'Alien' - this is unusual for them, as they usually screen classics (p.s see if you can spot me in SC's short film!). The interior of the deserted, ex-NHS building was transformed into a spaceship - a spaceship which I had to learn to find my way around. Pretty fast.
My job as a 'supporting artist' was to basically do what the (paid) actors did, but I didn't have a specific role in the whole thing. Each night us supporters would get assigned to different places; Embarkation (bringing people from Euston), Decontamination (spraying them with water, FUN), or numerous places inside the ship like 'Mother' the core computer system (and light display). We were there to enhance mood, essentially, and boost numbers.
The complete control audience members surrender to you is startling, and quite a power kick. At no point can you lose character, so any real-world-speak has to be met with bafflement;
'So, can you tell me, what is this space used for normally?'
'Well this is the Mess Hall, recruit, so this is were we crew take time to relax and enjoy ourselves.'
'Oh, no, no, I mean in real life. Reality.'
'Pardon, recruit?'
'When we're not here. What is this place used for?'
'Well, this is the ship's maiden voyage, if that's what you mean. It usually stands empty.'
'Oh... ok. Thanks...'
And that went on with one of the real actors standing right by me. I was quite proud of myself.
Another great one was a member of the public (no ticket) at Euston Station. She'd clearly gleaned quite a lot of info from my colleagues and was gripping one of our flyers;
'So you aren't really going into space, are you?'
'Oh... sorry, madam? We are, our base is just around the corner...'
'Someone told me you're actors. That this isn't real.'
'Is this your way of telling me you don't believe is space travel, madam. Because I can assure you it is real, and a lot of time, money and effort has gone into the mission going up today. It is very real for us. We will be living it shortly.'
In the same way people take the initiative, and come up to you and play the game. On my last evening I was placed in the Infirmary, and had just finished doing some post-hypersleep checks on people - which they took very seriously, despite the fact I had made them up on the spot - and this occurred;
'Hello, doctor?'
'Good morning, recruit. How was hyper-sleep?'
'Ok thanks, but I'm a bit sore.'
'That's quite normal, recruit. Two years is a long time to be prone and completely still.'
'Doctor... I'm a bit worried.'
'Well, I woke up from hyper-sleep, and I was dusting myself down - you know, usual checks - when I came across... a rash.'
'A rash, recruit?'
'Where is it?'
'Well it's... down there.'
'Ah. Nothing to worry about, recruit, it's probably simply lack of movement, lack of... usage.'
'Something to do with the air circulation too, maybe?'
'Oh, undoubtedly.'
'So should I give the area some air?'
'Yes, recruit, that's an idea. Perhaps retire to your bunk first. Here I'll give you something for it too... take this with water, and come back to me if your... unfortunate eruption... persists. Got that, recruit?'
'Absolutely, Doctor. Thank you.'
And of she went with her date, grinning from ear to cheeky ear.
Best. Moment. Ever.

I had an amazing time, and really want to write a proper post on how Secret Cinema do things - but at a later date, when it's not the early hours of the morning. The people there were so welcoming, so friendly and so scarily, awe-inspiringly creative and involved. Their project seemed everything to them.
I shall never, ever forget my week there.
Or that woman's rash.

And so I leave you with a cheesy picture of me in my attractive boiler suit/space suit uniform!
p.s from now on you have to call me Esther Heeley, data scientist.

Friday, 13 July 2012

An Ode to London's Flight Paths

The Globe, I'm not sure if you knew it,
is open, all up in the roof bit,

So for helis and planes
that circle, sans aim...

some fucking torpedoes would do it.


This limerick is dedicated to everyone who has ever tried to speak, or listen, over any ZSCSHOOOOOOOMING over Shakespeare's Globe on the South Bank. Heaven knows, that's a lot of people.

Seize the Day

How in hell does one review a play like this?
This will test my mettle.
I shall make it easy for myself by stating NOW that this shall be a short review.
Because a) I saw it a while ago.
b) I need to just write the damn thing.
and c) I really think you should go and see it, and make up your own minds.

Well, for a start, when you walk up to a play and see this picture, it's a pretty good start:

'Ten of the best young actors we've seen on stage since The History Boys' - Time Out

High praise indeed. But, having walked into Posh by Laura Wade thinking 'Oh really. That's a big statement, that is, 'coz I've SEEN The History Boys and they was BLOODY GOOD', I can confirm that every single young man on that stage was also BLOODY GOOD.
Quick summary: story of boys at an Oxford gentleman's club, supposedly based on the Bullingdon club, old haunt of Cameron et al, called here 'The Riot Club', they cause lots and lots of trouble, and are essentially a dying, upper class breed, with no real place in the world, or so it seems.
My mother walked out of the theatre at half time for some air, and I could tell something was up. She and my uncle were both quite quiet, which, if you knew them, would be enough to tell you something was indeed very much up.
Friends were gathered. Drinks collected. My uncle lit up an obligatory half-time ciggie. Quietness. Mum, what's the matter?

'Well... I think I'm... I think I'm... shocked.'

The very same emotion then rocketed around our circle of friends.
My mother is a hard woman to shock. I know. I've tried. Laura Wade, congratulations. You shocked my Mum. You have triumphed where so much has failed.
I would like to shake you firmly by the hand.
'Posh' is one of those rare and sad things that can widen any generation gap. It can age a 30 year old in minutes. The older generation of our party just did. Not. Get. It.
This is mainly if not entirely down to the humour. It's bawdy - no, bawdy is wrong, 'bawdy' is Shakespearean, archaic - fine, it's FILTHY. Full of 'your mum'-esque humour, except it all sounds so much more detestable when coming from the mouths of ten titled young men, off their posh tits on champers.
What was so shocking for me wasn't the actual humour - I, regrettably, hear it every day, often all day, from male peers ('such a lad' etc ). Whether or not I should hear it is a whole different topic, and a can of worms I shall not deign to pry open on this particular occasion... but no, it was not the content that outraged. Everything took on a very different hue; maybe it's because that type of 'joke' is so close to me in every day life, but I found myself genuinely disgusted by these men - you could practically hear them thinking of 'make me a sandwich' jokes whenever the young, naive waitress entered the scene.
I still found them very beguiling. Perhaps that was because I was rather taken with one (ahem). Perhaps it was because they were Oxford boys, and that's where I hope to be headed in a year. I don't know. For me, a teenager, they were infinitely watchable, and even in some cases, I could get past the apparent snobbishness and misogyny, and actually find quite a harmless human being. Infinitely watchable, but not infinitely likeable; Leo Bill as the most hideous of the bunch was occasionally terrifying, and consistently repulsive. The rest only mildly better.

Oh but the music. Playlist please:
- I'm Sexy and I Know It
- Moves Like Jagger
- Pass Out
- and I've forgotten the fourth...

ALL SUNG - no word of a lie - A CAPPELLA. BY ALL THE CHAPS.
They need to make a CD.

I am deeply ashamed to say that I am far too ignorant and sheltered to comment on the political impact or message the play renders. It is clearly coming at a tender time; it clearly spells out a message that I'm sure members of our current parliament would like not to hear; but how far it strays from reality into satire, I don't know. Go and see for yourselves - I think you get what you look for out of this play. But be warned; in the words of The Observer, 'it packs the nastiest punch.'
Oh dear, this wasn't a short review, was it...
Some stand out moments were; a newbie's defence of an heirloom teddy bear from his fellow club members, the English student's rendition and Riot re-working of Henry V's 'One more unto the breach, dear friends' which I wish for the life of me I could remember, and finally, a phrase which, I'm ashamed to say, both I and my step-brother have adopted.


And on that lovely note...