My night with “My Night with Reg”

reg

Thanks to my blog post about JOHN, it may appear I have an obsession with gay theatre. However, Twitter was annoying my timeline with continuous praise for My Night with Reg, which drove me to insanity. Fear not! Before I could be carted off to the theatre withdrawal asylum, the lovely Official Theatre and Seat Plan became my heroes of the night. Also, I met a fabulous new theatre companion, Ian from There Ought To Be Clowns, who already praised the show on his blog and wanted to see the show for the second time. These concrete blocks built upon praise left a skyscraper of high expectations for My Night with Reg. I just hoped I would be able to admire the view too.

When I spoke to one of my best friends about the play, he was concerned that the show was besotted with the typical “gay” stereotype. The “gay” person valued for their comedic worth, but never viewed with a tone of seriousness. I guess whether you are gay or not, theatre based upon relationships can be portrayed as a circus environment. Who’s the ringmaster? Who’s the clown? Who’s the dancing monkey and who’s the show horse? However, my friend’s thoughts did make me view My Night with Reg’s all male cast with wary eyes.

Being immediately transported into Guy’s new London flat, the gathering of Guy’s old friends wreck havoc to normality. Guy’s pining for John, his university crush, is shattered when John admits his relationship with Reg, who happens to be with their mate Daniel…But Daniel admits he’s unsure about what Reg gets up to so already has suspicions, but has no idea it’s John. Then, there is the young decorator, Eric, who gets sucked into the drama after innocently painting Guy’s conservatory. Getting confused yet? So did I, just go to Wikipedia!

Personally, I felt the dark comedy overpowered the tragedy. I laughed too much that even my tears were confused whether they should be happy or sad. I longed for a face to appear as this mysterious Reg and his passing made me heartlessly shrug off death. The parody between Reg’s flings left on stage, who scrapped, bickered, discovered and lied in fear of ruining friendships, gave this persistent feeling of lovers’ scramble. Basically, it paved the way for everyone to shag each other in some shape or form.

Throughout the play, I instantly related to Guy’s lost wandering soul. His hunger for love and reluctance to admit his loneliness. His friends believing he is content being solo through the flat warming gifts of “meal for one” cookery books. Satisfying superficial lust with a bit of phone sex, he was helplessly devoted to his one and only crush, John. Guy’s sudden desperation to find a companion made my heart ache. Guy became an innocent soundboard for his friends and the keeper of dirty scandalous secrets, which he sadly took his grave. His story partly echoes some of my life (No! I’m not gay, No! I don’t do phone sex, No! I’m not dead), but the failed romances along with loneliness I know far too well.

Overshadowed by the controversy regarding My Night with Reg‘s bum-in-cheek promotional poster, the nudity appeared near to the end. It made particular audience members become annoyingly immature towards the mature content, but the focus was upon John and Eric’s sexual playfulness whilst discussing their dear friend Guy. At this point of the play, I realised I had taken a fancy to Julian Ovenden’s John, which doesn’t help my blogging proceedings. However, I can assure you that I admired John’s body from the intimacy of Apollo’s Row W and seemed to embody Guy’s spirit.

I’m always amazed with my reaction towards nudity, waiting for my naughty schoolgirl laugh, but the danglings don’t faze me at all. I’m actually quite appreciative of the naked form and always admire the actors and actresses who agree to expose. Most of the time, the stage lighting dims or the positioning of props lowers the examination. This was sort of the case with My Night with Reg, but perhaps I don’t have very good eyesight.

After evaluating My Night with Reg, I would love to see the production again so I can no longer be distracted with the great humour, but dive deeper into the character’s dialogue. It is very easy to leave the theatre and say ‘It was an amazing play’, but when you sit on the train going home and question each of the character’s motives you begin to realise you were in an emotional whirlwind, but chose to be swept away with the audience’s laughter. Damn!

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Into the archive: Q&A session with Wendy Spon

ideastapnational theatre

Before I deleted my old blog, I wanted to keep this post alive- dated 2012. Ideastap invited me to attend their Q&A session with National Theatre’s lovely Head of Casting, Wendy Spon. Here are my notes from the event:

Notes for wannabe Casting Directors:

  • Attend as many theatre productions as you can
  • Go to Fringe rather than West End
  • Constantly search for talent
  • You are only in a position of influence as the power belongs to the Director
  • Be selective and realistic when choosing your actors
  • Discuss upcoming actors with others to see if there is an interest in their work
  • Always bear your ‘chosen’ actors in mind whilst watching productions
  • Make sure you keep in mind what the Director wants for their production
  • Show the Director all the possibilities through the range of actors
  • Make informed opinions about actors
  • You will fall into casting
  • To work in casting: Get experience with agents or offer your friends to help cast their productions or work as someone’s assistant

Notes for actors:

  • Get in a theatre production and tell us you are in it!
  • Possibly send us a show reel (But we don’t always have time to look at them)
  • Question regarding drama school vs. experience– it totally depends on what you are casting! However, there is more of a sway towards drama school because they develop the much needed technical skills. Spon is aware that some individuals can’t go to drama school due to the tough times, but encourages individuals to get that professional training.
  • Do the fringe shows – you may be still considered
  • Reading monologues for auditions is artificial as you can’t judge on the actor’s abilities. It’s very rare being asked to perform a monologue.
  • Coming from an ethnic minority, you’re at an advantage!
  • However, no matter what ethnicity you belong to, you’ve got to have an interesting quality
  • Remember if you face rejection, it’s not because of your acting abilities, you haven’t got the right look for the selected part. E.g. A blonde hair boy in a dark haired family
  • Research into the National Theatre’s productions if you want to be considered
  •  Keep your Spotlight/CV updated!
  • When applying, good idea to send both letter and email

What makes a good audition?

  • Someone who has done their prep
  • Apparent hunger and interest in the job
  • Demonstrates their homework regarding the director and his/her production
  • BE YOURSELF!
  • Ask the director questions before you begin your reading
  • Don’t learn the script as your character is a work in progress
  • Casting director wants you to get the job- you wouldn’t be called in if you weren’t there for a reason
  • Don’t make excuses when going to the audition- e.g. I haven’t had much time to read the script or I’ve stayed up til 3am reading this script etc

Notes for both wannabe Casting Directors and actors- Questions to ask whilst looking through actors’ applications:

  • Who has the actor worked with?
  • Is there a repeat of director? (if there is that’s a good sign! The director wanted to work with them many times)
  • Have they performed in a range of productions e.g. professional and fringe?
  • Are there any recognisable venues?
  • Phone up the past directors and ask what the actor was like working with