Tuesday 28 May 2013

Frankfurt Calling

Well it's taken a flipping age but here I am again but this time skulking about in the fine Southwestern part of Germany called Hesse and Frankfurt in particular, plying the old trade once more of board-treading and larking about in the name of theatre.
Just about two months ago, a group of us met in a church hall basement on a sunny Monday morning to begin rehearsals on a play called Good People by a writer called David Lindsay-Abaire. I am not proud to say that I had never heard of either. I wish I was one of those actors who hunts around diligently week after week for new plays and new writers, but like many I find this task too overwhelming and give up too easily. It's also very expensive buying these texts, even if it is a business expense. My bad. David Lindsay-Abaire was born and raised in a very tough and neglected part of South Boston in the 1960's. Almost exclusively white and Irish by origin, the community there soon found itself after the Second World War ignored by the police and social services and as a result, criminal gangs and bleak self-preservation took over. For the young boys that meant learning to handle yourself in a fight and then trying your best to keep out of the path of any rivals who might want to take you on. For girls, it meant being raised by the women folk and learning to become the next generation of single parents, as the men soon left or became itinerant drunks. This cheering prospect is what lies behind David's play which he opened on Broadway in 2011 to rave reviews. At it's centre is Margie, a middle-aged single mum whose adult daughter has severe learning disabilities. Plodding from dead-end job to dead-end job, we join her as she is sacked from her latest lousy employment; a check-out assistant at a Dollar Store. From here, her friend Jean and neighbour Dotty step up to try to help her find a new place to work; anything but go to the big factory down the road where line work is too much for anyone who can't move fast enough. Now. You are probably losing the will to live at this point, right? Thinking, 'I just want to be entertained! I don't want to think about all this depressing stuff!' Well, dear reader if so, then I cannot help you! Except to say that in order to survive this awful life, these people have developed the most extraordinary sense of humour. It's dark to say the least! But it is very much a key part of this wonderful play. David has drawn a slice of his own life in this story about a woman's journey back to her youth to try to save her current strife, and in doing so he has filled the characters with a real warmth and depth and the naughty humor needed for anyone to get through difficult times.
 Michael our splendid director, plunged us in to the world of South Boston with books and film, website blogs etc and loads of pictures of the neighbourhood we were going to recreate. We also got lots of help with our very particular accent from a top dialect coach, as well as identifying those American actors whose roots are in South Boston, like Mark Whalberg and Ben Affleck and Alec Baldwin. No offence, but avoid Jack Nicholson if anyone mentions accents.. you seen the Departed?? Interesting. That was my  personal source material of choice because everyone is so damn good, aside from Mr. Nicholson's accent. Some may wonder why we are working so hard to be accurate about a neighbourhood in America when performing in Germany. Well I say poo to you for that thought! We're paid to do this stuff and to do it as well as possible. Getting the feel of a place and the sound of a place is really what we should do wherever and whatever that may be. Daniel Nikolai who runs the English Theatre in Frankfurt is very good at checking that the accents are not too much for people who are watching a play in their second language. The people who come are of course embarrassingly brilliant at English as are many locals here, putting us Brits to shame once again. We really ought to care a little more about learning a second language when we're kids instead of expecting everyone else to learn ours.
So back to the play and our rehearsals, which flew by in no time and soon we were all met at the airport, bags packed and ready to fly. One week of final rehearsals then our tech and dress rehearsals and our introduction to the wonderful set designed by Morgan Large and lit by Richard G. Jones. This was very special. Some designs are clear as can be from the beginning of rehearsals,  but this was a tricky one to reproduce in the rehearsal room, being a compact but complex revolve of rooms. So finally finding this in three dimensions at last was an amazing moment and the final character in our play, giving us that all-important real-looking world to bring South Boston to Frankfurt. We also had great fun getting in to our costumes, a mix of second-hand and Primark-like stuff and genuine American gear for authenticity. Audiences like to see the attention to detail like that- like Morgans' own handiwork adding little weeds growing out of the walls of the alley way where scene 1 takes place and my character's Boston Bruin's hockey shirt.
 We had two previews to get used to our new audience and our mammoth story-  the actress who plays Margie, Jan greaves doesn't leave the stage once through the show, going from drama to drama without a breath- then our opening Gala night where the many sponsors and supporters came to cheer us on. A standing ovation no less and a lovely reception in the theatre bar after. A success is on our hands.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

The Last Hurrah

Well, the last two weeks of Theatre by the Lake's summer season flew by in a blur of chesty coughs and as many activities we could squeeze in weather-permitting as well as making the most of our remaining shows. For some that meant a flurry of 'important' industry type people who came to see Roma & the Flanellettes which has gone down so well in the studio with all kinds of different audiences. I'm still baffled by the one night when we had at least a third of the audience  bored and restive all through the show, culminating in us doing a curtain call to several utterly glum faces and zero clapping. Ok, on the other side of the space, another lot from the same college were whooping and screaming like they were at a Lady Gaga concert. Turns out they were all blown away by it- they were studying drama somewhere nearby and I guess were a little over excited.. You never can tell.  It's a real lesson in not judging your audience. So many actors come beetling off from their first scene in front of the live audience and complain about it being bad; it's such nonsense! The idea that 80 never mind 380 strangers can all have agreed to be collectively uninspired by your work is tosh. 'Bad' usually  just means quieter ( or just different) than last night's.. bad is when people start booing, throwing things and walking out!!
There are lots of useful things I learned from good actors when I was starting out and trying to understand the audience, one of which is that an audience is an audience is an audience; don't get all beside yourself  just because Steven Spielberg is in the house. It shouldn't make any difference. Your performance should be for any one out there and sometimes the smallest audience can be one containing just one person who might offer you a job so the pressure to be your best should be the same every night. Once you take that on board, that's actually a liberating thing and you will have much more chance of turning in a focussed and living performance and of having fun with your fellow actors in each scene. I guess some of us are never happy; they have the belief perhaps that as an artist you can't ever be satisfied because you might get lazy or arrogant. Poo to that too! We have to be able to have some idea of giving ourselves our  own positive  feedback- it goes back to the idea of actors needing to be director-proof. Not a nice idea but a true fact that you will at times find yourself working with someone at the helm who doesn't seem bothered by the burning questions you've had about your part, so you must when necessary take care of yourself; take responsibility for yourself. Likewise with the other actors. We can't expect to hit it off with everyone we get paired up with so we can't expect that other actor to agree to play a scene the way we think it needs to go even if it seems blindingly obvious in the way it's written! So long as we then can drop the self-protection as soon as we realise that we can trust our colleagues, it's all good skills, baby!
 On our final show, we lucky Dry Rotters got to meet the wonderful widow of the author John Chapman, Betty  who had learned all our names on the train up and who told us all that we had restored her faith in the play.  We also learned John had written Dry Rot  so that they could make enough money to get married. Not a dry eye in the house that night!
Weather-wise, the mountain goats in the company were able to enjoy a couple more outings up them thar hills when the cold weather brought a generous dusting of snow on the tops, thus making those snowy caps the objective. It gave a tiny hint of the deeply harsh conditions that can strike in these parts above 700 metres. With warm sunshine in the valleys below, we struggled up a north-facing slope in knee-deep drifts that were starting to thaw, soaking our legs and creeping down into our boots. Looking up, we stared straight into the sun just peeping over the top ahead of us, making us quite blind to whatever we were walking into! The view at the top was totally worth it  though and it reminded us that snow had still clung to the tops when we'd all arrived back in April. Eons ago.
Somebody dug out a photo taken of us all back on our first day and the sight of those innocent little faces all those months ago really brought home the experience  quite literally in the flesh. Most of us back then sporting neat little hairstyles, now all bedraggled by nightly curling and wigging our hair into submission with sprays and mousses; several faces  now several pounds lighter from the exercise of three different shows seven times a week and all of us looking sooo much younger before  our marathon!! Signs that a holiday is much needed by all. Or a break to go and do another show for those with packed diaries!!
 I think we must have had about four end of season parties one way or another, my excuse for not posting last week, with copious amounts of 'we must do this or that thing as it's the last time we'll get to (delete where appropriate):  drink in Magnolia/  Toast marshmallows on an open fire at Nick's/  Go for a swim & spa at the Lodore/  climb Castle Crag/ go to Cottage in the Woods for lunch/  dance at the Loft/ kayak around Derwent Isle/ breakfast at the Filling Station/ skim stones on the Greta/ feed ducks/ ride horses/ spot red squirrels. The list is nauseatingly long I'm afraid as this has been an epic job when it comes to quantifying all the excellent things we got to do on and off stage.
To end,  George insisted ( as a half Polish person) that we take part in a Polish toast on our final, final last night party. So for one last time in Magnolia, thanks to Phil of course for allowing us to take the place over once again, we all went round saying one thing to each other that we liked about them and one thing we wish for them in the future, followed by a shot of vodka.  Needless to say it all got very messy very quickly, with people just standing about clinging to each other and mumbling 'I love you!' over and over again. This wasn't just the actors thank you very much, but Sam our wardrobe queen, Tara, Daisy, Jasmine, Robyn and Jo Jones our awesome stage management team. All blubbing away like troopers! Even those folks who had maintained rather distant demeanors throughout the seven months crumbled in the face of such warmth!
So on we go with our lives and careers with an experience under our belts and tucked in our hearts forever. I think it was Jess who said that if this job were to be the last one she ever had ( no way ) then she would always know that she had had the most amazing experience and done the best
work that she could be proud of.
I have some fantastic new friends and some of the most incredible memories as well as a fist full of great reviews to show anyone who might not have made it up to Keswick, unlike Chris Monks, David Thacker, Peter Rowe, Joe Sumption and other show biz folk who made the effort to see our work. Steven Spielberg was unavailable for comment.
To everyone who walked with me, swam,  built fires, drank, sang, danced,  shopped, ate and movie-d with me. You know who you are. Thank you.
It's quite an achievement to get along with so many people for so long and to do such good work too but we did it. Hats off to the whole Theatre by the Lake Summer Season 2012 team. I will miss posting this but it's exactly what I wanted it to be: an amazing record of a tremendous year. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard and to Ian, Stefan, Mary and Abigail who gave us the opportunity to do so.
Thanks for reading!

Sunday 28 October 2012

Week 29: The Down-Hill Final Run.

The last couple of weeks beckon us on and the theatre bustles ever onward with its new projects. So we start seriously examining the weeks beyond and new projects for each of us. Some already with jobs to go to, others auditioning, the rest hunting around for gainful employ to take us back to our lives before Keswick or BK. The lucky few with jobs already in place are quietly getting on with learning their new parts and organising their personal lives in the short time they might have between contracts. Others are depending on partners to sort out house moves and improvements while their new jobs run straight on from this one without a break. That is lucky and quite rare in the grand scheme of things, but jobs can often be like buses. Then you can sit and twiddle your thumbs for six months and wonder what happened! It's times like that that really test the relationship an actor has with their agent. A good agent keeps you feeling positive despite the lack of meetings, doesn't leave you feeling that it is somehow your shortcomings as a human being that means no-one wants to cast you! Examples? " You're at a funny age" Gee thanks. That one is great for denting the ego! My favourite was when I had sat for too long watching bad tv. I kept seeing adverts with actors in who looked like me, so I phone the agent to discuss the question of why I hadn't even been to castings for these adverts. I was told that these actresses didn't actually look like me but were my perception of me.. Eh? Talk about messing with a girl's head! ( It wasn't long after that dear reader that I got rid of that one).  The good agent buoys you up and cracks on with the job of breaking that hungry gap asap, but doesn't cajole you into taking a job ( any job just to get you off their backs) that you won't be happy doing. It's a very lucky actor who finds that agent and keeps that relationship going. Most settle for a slightly prickly relationship where the agent often tries to take on the role of bossy parent, treating the unemployed client like an ungrateful or unwanted child! I wish I was kidding! The trouble is, an agent is pretty essential in this game, unless you are born into show-biz and have an address book full of useful contacts  and so we hang on often too long to a bad relationship, all too aware that a poor agent is better than none. We all forget that they work for us and not the other way round; it's just such a crowded market place, definitely the agents have the upper hand. Gone are the days of actors hanging around the Equity union offices first thing in the morning, waiting for a tip off about an audition. Someone would dash in and announce that they were casting down the road at the Strand and everyone would beetle  down there to do their stuff! Now it gets harder to get that foot in the door, so you've got to want this job very much indeed. Accentuate the positive and save the terrible nightmare stories for those merry evenings with good friends who will help you laugh it all off. Once you've heard a few dozen of the ghastly stories that actors often find themselves in, you understand why we get a bit giddy when things go well. And go well things have very much done here at Theatre by the Lake. And continue to go well. No end of term ennui here amongst this bunch (mostly); everyone still jumps to the warm-up and the show to do with gusto and interest.  Of course the other important matter here is organising the best end of Season parties we possibly can just so we mark this amazing time in the most excellent way, not missing a single significant moment.
You have two more weeks of lovely stuff to come and see; make sure you do!

Friday 19 October 2012

Four Weeks To Go & How Far We Reach!

This week has been a time to really consider the reach of this mighty little theatre in the region of Cumbria. Now maybe we are getting a bit carried away with the idea of great distances when talking about Carlisle, Cockermouth or the Old Man of Coniston, but it is very impressive to be wandering about in any of these far-flung places and to have someone suddenly pounce on you and say how much they enjoyed the show they saw you in at Theatre by the Lake.  Some of the girls   went shopping in Carlisle and met a large group of students who had seen Roma & the Flanelettes and who became quite hysterical at the sight of Brenda & Delie in the flesh. It also reminds you that you can never judge an audience by what you might see from the odd glimpse at them from the stage or even by listening to their reactions! The night those students came was a very unsettling one, as they sniggered and fidgeted about throughout or appeared to be lounging about in utter boredom with the whole thing. Turns out we blew their minds. Who'd have thought? Maybe they don't know how to behave when they enjoy something in a social situation? Should we create an app for that? Honestly! I have worked with a lovely man called Neil Bartlett who used to run the Lyric Hammersmith and when large numbers of school children arrived to see a show, he would invite them in to the theatre for a chat. Seriously, the man knew what he was doing; many young people have never been to the theatre and don't know the way to behave, don't understand that talking, walking about, texting & listening to music on your iphone isn't what you do once the play has started! He would be very kind but firm about it and I take my hat off to him.
 The lady in Cockermouth almost fell of her chair because she'd seen the show only the night before and suddenly Delie and Jean were in her shop, but somewhat altered, in the wrong clothes. That disconnect is something you forget about; something can can easily confuse people. You need only to bear a passing resemblance to a fellow actor; same hair style & colour for instance, and you can be constantly mistaken for the other one. This can lead to all manner of paranoid thoughts if you're not careful, and you have to try to grab some perspective.  For example, the theatre here often uses members of staff as models for the show posters, which actors have very mixed feelings about for obvious reasons, but it is a practical matter out of our hands. To then hear a man walking past the green room open windows say how much he thought that the young man in the poster was the best actor in the show makes you realise that these mistakes happen all the time. David Hockney is famously often confused with Alan Bennett and I believe now they both simply sign each others' autographs and don't even try to correct the erroneous autograph hunter. There are more important things in life to worry about I guess!
So we enter the last three weeks of this marathon and splendid experience at Theatre by the Lake. Come and see us while you still might have the chance! The trees around the lake are turning and some mornings the waters are like glass.. fires have been lit and the fine wines await. Pull on a fleece and sensible pair of boots and join us before winter closes in!

Thursday 11 October 2012

Autumn Leaves..

Well, once more I'm sat writing this as the rain falls with unrelenting determination. I can't quite believe there's anything that can withstand this marathon of wet, and yet the fells stay stubbornly as high as they were 6 months ago, still clothed in ankle-deep mosses and ferns, not dissolving into tiny hummocks with all this precipitation. Nature. Blooming amazing. Only yesterday, it was brilliantly sunny and we were able to sit cat-like in the sun and dream of Spanish beaches and a healthy tan.
For four whole days folk have set their alarms and got up as many big hills as possible, thinking quite rightly that this might be our last chance to do it. So, Blencathra, Skiddaw and others were conquered. Now we resume searching for creative ways to fill our days indoors. I'm jesting. This bunch are super-creative what with all their writing projects and other such stuff and the theatre too is buzzing with activities; this time with an open day for school children who will find out all about the production team and the roles of everyone involved. Actors taking a back seat for a change.  In the scene dock is a great spread of Blue Peter-like bits and bobs necessary to make a convincing wound or bruise and various members of the stage team will be on hand to describe what they do and get the kids to have a go. This kind of thing will help keep theatre staffed with  people passionate about live performance. Hats off to them all.
The late posting of this here blog is  partly because I've been gadding about enjoying all manner of treats courtesy of this gorgeous crowd, who made me birthday this weekend past go with a proper bang. In all my days I've only ever been able to  celebrate my birthday when doing a theatre job twice. In 24 years.  Says a lot for the frequency of jobs in this game.. Or just that October is a lousy month for theatre work..? Anyway, a bit of a 'do at the local winebar Magnolia, with tremendous gifts and a sinful chocolate cake with balloons and general quaffing of alcoholic beverages, then a fine walk up Castle Crag on the Sunday and a slap up meal with a movie at Zefirelli's in Ambleside. Castle Crag is one of our favourite walks, being kind of small in comparison to the fells around it but having all manner of delights, including one of the best views at the top of Derwentwater & Keswick with Skiddaw in the background.
I tackled Skiddaw on the Monday and thought at one point that maybe the mountain would win. That is a relentless climb with little cover around, making you feel very small and frail in whatever weather is all around. This time it was blazing if distant sun, making every slatey surface shine and every step upward pretty tricky, until it levelled out a little. The other 'treat' about Skiddaw if approached from Keswick is how you 'lose' the top behind other lower peaks which deceive you into thinking you've made it, only to see the trig point marking the highest peak sitting far off towards Scotland. Still, I did it and it feels great to look at the big old lump and know I've been there. THe views from the top are incredible and totally worth the effort!
So the few precious weekends remaining are now earmarked for more good walks followed by a movie night or  big old cook up at someone's house.
Worst. Job. Ever.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Counting Down: 6 Weeks To Go.

So after a few months of running a show or shows, a person can get a bit comfortable. Ok. I admit it. It's reached that point where I was thinking about what to buy at the supermarket when I was tucked up in bed on stage as Susannah in Bedroom Farce. So sue me! Let he who is without sin cast the first stone etc etc..! We are all human and when lying still in semi darkness while everyone in the audience watches someone else doing the acting, the mind will wander. It's a bit of a challenge to stay focussed when listening to something so familiar, that like the shipping forecast, the repeated lines spoken by others send you off into a reverie,  so you end up with a situation a bit like if you've ever tried meditation. The trick there is to  empty your mind and to keep it empty, pushing thoughts away gently but firmly so that the mind can clear and peace settle upon you. It's becoming a popular antidote to our increasingly stressed lives and can be a handy mental  skill.  So onstage, you try to keep focussed on the scene going on around you and push away thoughts of tonight's dinner or tomorrow's shopping.  The most heinous crime for anyone in a bed on stage is of course to fall asleep. Again, our frailty that makes us good interpreters of the human condition is just what can also make us suddenly snap to and realise that the last few moments have been a blur!
No one is going to admit to that here... The level of comfort that people settle into after a longish run can vary from person to person, but  a lot of book reading goes on, puzzles get filled in and ideas and future projects get discussed while folk wait for their cue backstage. Stage management are not immune: where once they made use of any 'free' time backstage to catch up on little jobs for other shows-  for example, many Great Expectations props were tended to during Dry Rot & Bedroom Farce runs, with little heaps of fake money & copies of letters cut out and hanging up on lines to dry- now the sudoku is out and a figure dressed in black can occasionally be seen sitting under a light quietly filling in numbers before having to get up and do a vital thing to push the play along, before settling back to continue the numbers game.
I've been creeping about during Dry Rot- where I have an hour or so before I have to go on stage- with my camera, attempting to catch the little moments before folk go on in the wings. I am trying to catch my favourite glimpses of Fred & Alf or Beth & Mrs. W as they wait behind timber flats that make up the magnificent set of the Bull & Cow. I might also tiptoe front of house to do the odd email. Many actors would choose to have a 'late call', meaning they can stroll into the theatre as their colleagues are already busy on stage. I don't feel comfortable with that idea; I like the feeling of being a part of a company and that means the preparation and beginners, regardless. Perhaps on a long run like in the West End of London I might change my mind after 6 months, but not here! People have too much fun in this company and I ain't going to miss out on that!

Monday 24 September 2012

Week Twenty Six: Pre-emptive Nostaglia

We are now getting into the habit of sitting about compiling lists of things we'll miss when this fantastic job is over. Terrible really, but we are all so aware of the speed with which the last few weeks are flying past us, as the time has shot past us since April the second, with barely a how do you do and things always speed up as the end draws near! Yet in an odd way, this job has become so massive in our lives, some folk speak of never having worked anywhere else- and I'm not talking about our baby debutante Jess, but  old & almost middle-aged ( yes, you heard me ) folk  like Mr Hannon who certainly had a full and busy career before heading to Keswick!  I think he might even do rather well in future.. So to sum up, this job can do funny things to a person's brain and definitely messes up a person's grasp on time. Perhaps it's all the cheese consumed late at night,  as Beth Barton so rightly points out in Dry Rot, "Shouldn't eat cheese last thing!"  if you want  to remain lucid. Then there's all that ale and fine wine, home made cakes and especially the addictive Hermans going round.
Hermans for the uninitiated are  live culture sour-dough cakes that you share with others, passing the living gloop around in little tupperware boxes and feeding for days before dividing it up to pass on and baking one lot into a lovely cake. People have taken to customising their contributions with choc chips and goji berries ( healthy and bad for you at the same time), apples & cinnamon, blueberries & bananas. I tell you it's a good job we dash about like mad things on stage and up and down the odd mountain from time to time or we'd all be fat as a December turkey. 
             It turns out that there are some very talented people in this company when it comes to baking and all manner of cookery. How could we forget James Duke's breath-taking truffles and that lemon tart still warm from the oven? Then there are Jess's mighty chilli and  baked sweet potato dinners,  followed by Zoe's chocolate biscuit cake,  also Chris'  moreish fish pie, Jamie Oliver style and a cheeky lemon syllabub to follow? Ridiculous high living that conjures up an image of wildly overpaid thesps frolicking about mostly for their own delight.
             I'm not about to be so vulgar as to mention our salaries here at TbtL but suffice to say it's better than many in the business. Nowhere near what someone might be paid to work in IT or retail, and we have to manage our own accounts and tax bills. That takes a bit of getting used to at the beginning of our careers, but you soon get the hang of filing away a chunk of your pay to give to the taxman after Christmas. Yes, nice seasonal timing that! Not only have you got to budget for Christmas but you have to put aside a big old chunk for HMRC. Boo.  I can't believe I am talking about tax on this blog. I think the  wet weather has started getting to my brain! If that's an Indian summer out there, it must mean Southern Indian style monsoon. Twelve hours of non-stop rain and counting.  No flood warning in place yet, but my little spot  by the river is looking  closer to the churning brown waters than it did yesterday!
 We've been diverted by the post-show discussions for all the shows, where the audience can talk with the cast and director about anything interesting about the production in question. It can also mean a few slightly cringe-worthy moments when an audience member plunges in with some clearly much thought out probing question, but without pausing to say that they enjoyed the show. For example, one man described a show as 'over the top' and wanted to know why everyone was 'o. t. t'.! This obviously sounds rather critical to an actor's ears. Some time later to clear up any confusion, one of the cast asked whether the man had enjoyed the performance and the poor chap fell over himself to express that he had.  Honestly, we sometimes forget how nervous people can get when about to speak in front of strangers and how those nerves push good manners & propriety out of their minds!
An especially lively debate followed Roma & the Flanellettes, as the theatre's new play for the 2012 season; a good turn out of about 30 resulted in much discussion of the issues raised by the play and the writer was put through his paces to describe how he wrote the play. The response to this play has been incredible and houses nice and full. We've just got ourselves another great review to help sell what tickets remain. Will this show have a life beyond TbtL?
 Things at least to keep us busy in the dry indoors include more new writing for some of us to read before a workshop day on Thursday; lots of books bought at some of the excellent charity shops in town; a matinee on Wednesday and 'gis a job' letters & emails to send out in the hope of landing something nice to follow on from this job. You never know in this business; jobs can appear from anywhere. I remember the first job I did, playing a little boy who finds a red balloon in the play of the same name, was the thing  many people would mention when I met them several years after the job ended. We would all like to jog some producer's memory a little sooner than that, but most theatre jobs will be already cast for anything starting before December 2012 and so we're all hunting down other forms of gainful employment to keep busy and afloat. We're a resourceful bunch, most of us all with other strings to our bows, ranging from teaching, nannying, fitness coach tour guides & through to  garden designer.
I can't go without a hushed mention of our end of season party, in which folk get up to all sorts of tribute high jinks and sketches sending up key people and plays.. what will it be and who will do what? Watch this space!
 I see that the rain has changed direction, now heading from right to left, so at least that makes a nice change.. apparently strong winds are next. Indian summer my ****!