From Edinburgh August 2018 Part 2

Great Brecht again with over 40 including our dear friends from Stratford. How good of them to come up to support us…they loved the show along with everyone else. It’s all very fluent now except for the tech issues which continued this morning. Yesterday I was calm and understanding and patient ( not bad for me ) but two days in a row and I’m pretty annoyed. Running quite late but we can’t do anything about it except wait for the techs to catch up. Eventually we’re right as far as the piano is concerned ( thanks to our band working it out themselves ) Anyway, the show is absolutely terrific. Everyone being on edge might have been a good thing.

LUCK! You need a fair bit of it to be successful here. Reviews are a very big part of this. We knew that long before we came and to a degree banked on good ones. Still, you need The Scotsman in particular, so when they E mailed to say they were sending a reviewer, you can imagine.

Imagine again then when the reviewer comes, writes the review but it fails to appear. Jenn W contacts her and she responds saying the she enjoyed the show very much but it was up to The Scotsman to publish.

Broadway Baby is a significant reviewer. Early last week the reviewer wrote to us apologizing. She was called away from Edinburgh unexpectedly That’s the way it goes and you have no option but to suck it up and get on with it.

Went to see The Beggars’ Opera at Kings Theatre. An internationally acclaimed professional company. The play began with anarchy: actors and musicians tearing about the stage to loud sound effects, the band settled, down right, mostly strings and the first song began. The choreography was amazing and I thought yes that’s what professional is and I settled back intent to enjoy a rare treat. The next 2 hours were awful beyond description! I know the original opera well. Actually Roger Daltery from The Who was Macheath in a Jonathan Miller directed version many years ago. Here, the adaptation is nowhere near as powerful as the original. The contemporary language is awkward, the syntax horribly contrived and often needlessly gratuitous. The direction is mindless. The actors and singers are highly skilled though…the modern costumes at odds with the title of the piece.The design had not taken into consideration sight lines so that for about 200 full price seats, the audience watched ankles speaking and singing for a good fifteen minutes before we returned to floor level. I was so close to leaving and asking for my money back. Why did we stay?

Cynically, to help promote ourselves. If you don’t know, The Beggar’s Opera was adapted by Elizabeth Hauptmann and Bertolt Brecht into The Threepenny Opera and of course this is what we explore in TBB. Lydia, Jen, Pete, Callum and Lyndsay saw the opportunity to promote Nuworks so they ‘fliered’ the exiting audience. I stood apart and aloof from the shamefaced exhibition! Was greatly amused when Callum’s wonderful sales pitch: “ Come see how Brecht turned The Beggar’s Opera into the Threepenny Opera” was met with a blunt: “I’d rather die!”

All of the plays we have seen in small spaces and on less than a shoestring budget have been eminently more thought provoking, entertaining and enjoyable than this.

Mavis Hambridge about 6 hours ago

Absolutely incredible show! The careful use of Brecht's own technique was superb! Characterisation from the ensemble was enthralling! A must-see, wish I could see it again!

Anyway, Sunday morning, a bit of a sleep in. We’re off to see ‘Grace’ today. Look out the window and yes, it’s raining again so giving the football a miss as I have a cold. Edinburgh is awesomely beautiful and brilliant to get around BUT! The weather is a sad affair indeed.
The view from Pete and Lydia’s window with Paradise Green centre with blue banner

Andy and Sam have recovered, the forced rest doing the world of good, so Electra back on tomorrow morning. We’ve cut some songs to help Andy through a marathon. We’ve lost some momentum and that will affect our sales but it was the sensible thing to do, no question. We have another reviewer tomorrow for Electra and again our friends from Stratford in the audience, so let’s kick ass!

A little back tracking…so the American professor I spoke about has sent me an E Mail and I know Ross, you and Michael in particular will enjoy reading it. Neil refers to the conversation we had about publishing. He had insisted that I pursue this with the play text and I said that as a general rule, I’m not interested in publishers or anyone who might seek to change or alter the way I write or even have an opinion…the luxury of being my age..why would I care? So, I’ve sent Neil the text as promised:

David, thank you so much. I am excited to share it with others.

And thank you for the work and insight you invested in the production.

Do you have any other plays with a similar didactic flavor? (I hope you see my characterization as a compliment for I mean it as praise.) I would love to read them.

As I listened to you speak of your reluctance to mess with publishers, and that verb is apt certainly, I tried to compare the attitude I have brought to publishing with yours. I have published 57 books (counting all the various editions of particular books) and 160 law review, economics, and higher education journal articles.

Your attitude is much cleaner than mine, more principled. I have with some pieces compromised because I was not all that proud of the work in the first place and was therefore less concerned about the work's fidelity to my intent. But those writings that I have tainted by compromise with publishers and professional opinion played a huge role in my being able to speak to much larger audiences with the writing I did believe in. Means and ends. Means and ends.

I think you will enjoy the following quote from Harlan Ellison. He so wanted to be a science fiction writer. He tried and failed, but always wanted to revisit that dream. He went to Hollywood and became a highly successful screenwriter. BUt he always felt dirty doing so; his feeling is captured so well in the following quote.

"When you rise each morning and climb a mountain of turds so that you can reach the rose on the apex of the mountain, will you even be able to still smell the rose?"

Best wishes,

Neil

Neil Browne Bowling Green State University

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‘GRACE’ was interesting. This show is from home. It got rave reviews at the Adelaide Festival before moving to Edinburgh. It’s actually advertised very extensively and I would imagine expensively. Yet there was only fifteen people in the audience. The actor was lovely, although I thought she seemed anxious..perhaps the small audience and both Jen and I found it a little confusing. Nevertheless another good experience. Met Pete for a Whiskey Sampling Experience! What a lovely way to pass the afternoon becoming more knowledgeable about one’s favourite tipple while downing a few into the bargin. Pete bumped in to Dave Kral at an earlier show so he’s coming to Electra tomorrow.

Monday and the start of a new week. Swapping the shows over today with Electra at 11am. Supposed to be a reviewer in this morning…we’ll see. At any rate it is an awesome show with Andy and Sam in particular setting the pace, albeit everyone is on song, even me at the sound desk: Yeah!!!!!! Terrific response and everyone feeling the love. All the changes worked a treat and the whole show is so much tighter and pacier now. Our Stratford ‘groupies’ leave today. It was so good of Pamela and co to come up to see us, oh and Dave Kral too!

The true spirit of the festival manifests itself. As you start to unwind; become less obsessive about reviews and stars and the vast nature of the event becomes less intimidating, you appreciate the lovely things that are happening now. This is particularly apparent when folk from other shows drop in to see us. Met the cast of Bad Things Happen last night and they were glowing in their appreciation of Brecht as we were of their show when we saw it a few days ago, Accolades keep coming from all over, people from Germany, USA, Ireland, Scotland and England. The praise really is universal and mostly it’s accompanied with an appreciation of the writing, the text and the songs, so that’s nice too.


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