The Winterfood Diaries

The Winterfood Diaries

Thursday, 17 November 1988




Kathakali Dance – Main Hall         - 7.30pm

Press Conference                    - 2-3pm

Make Up                             - 3.00pm

Finish                              - 10.30pm


‘Boys and Girls’ – The Human League


Panto rehearsals

I’ve been extremely busy.  The panto rehearsals are in full swing and were very engrossing.  Directing’s okay, but, god, there are some well SHIT actors in our group.


Getting the ‘actors’ to realise that this is Children’s Theatre, and that they must play things out and be larger than life (big movements, huge expressions, clear diction) proved quite shaky at first.  But Phil was great.  Thanks to his experience + enthusiasm for the project, the others finally began to ‘grow into’ it.  Although, Lee-Anne Jones as DOROTHY did take some rather extensive pushing to do things in the style I wanted.


I feel my direction is working well.  I’ve been taking on their (very few) ideas, and quite often getting up and acting out the scene PRECISELY as I see it and coaxing them gently through it.  They then do their bit, imposing their own ideas (usually spring-boarding at this stage from my suggestions) and a compromise is reached.  It’s all about their and my perception of the characters, really, but the script is pretty much plot, plot, plot, so it’s more of a blocking piece.  The characters are so ‘one note’ obvious, though, that I’ve been amazed that most of the actors have been unable to make any decisions that make sense!  What I mean is, as a director I can help the actors finesse what they’re doing as we go, but it can’t be hard to look at a panto script and go: ‘I am playing a big cat/hungry wolf/pirate/genie/sad fairy/evil queen’ and be able to come up with at least something as a starting point.  And it’s not just me who feels like this; Will has been flabbergasted too.  It’s not like there’s the luxury of time on this project.


Frankly, there are some very unprofessionally minded ‘actors’ in our group – most notably Lee-Anne Jones and Kat Hill whose performances are bland + devoid of thought.  For example, they will notice things, without acting noticing things.  Their performances are just so basic and they just don’t seem to care about what they’re doing.  So why do they want to work in theatre?  Their delivery of lines is monotonous and extremely uninspiring to say the least. 


‘When The World Begins To Look Its Age’ – Alan Rankine


Kathakali Dancers + video

AFTERNOON: The Kathakali Dancers from India (but based in Southampton) arrived, and we put together a Press Conference, with question and answer session, with their spokesperson, Barbara Harrow. 


‘Me name’s Barbrerrr…’


Questions were asked about their history, their cultural location and the whole ritual and religious implications of the work.  This conference was videoed and overseen by Daniel Abbott and myself.


From 3pm, on and off until about 6.30pm this evening, I worked with Daniel on videoing what we could of the Kathakali company preparations for their performance; dressing, making up and going through their rituals, etc.  Throughout, Tracey Joyce was interviewing them and it was hilarious.



I see that the make-up is very complicated given the rituals involved in putting it on.  I notice you’re boiling a kettle in the corner.  How does this fit the ritual?



No, we’re just making a cup of tea.


We cracked up.


Thanks to the somewhat haphazard assistance of Tracey’s interview technique, Daniel and I gleaned a nice amount of video footage.  Unfortunately, at 7.30pm, we were not allowed to record their actual Dance performance, but we negotiated a somewhat unique opportunity to video their Lecture Demo, which preceded the show.


The performance itself was impressive, stylish and enjoyable (if a little too long).  It brought a pleasant change to my perception of dance and mime, and was complemented by quite pleasing musical accompaniment.


My No.1: ‘Hail!  The White Grain’ – Death In June


Donna Davidson

I went to The Spread Eagle and, for some reason, felt suddenly very detached + distant from the rest of the world.  Donna Davidson came in and this was nice, as we conversed openly and freely whilst eating LASAGNE – FOOD OF THE GODS.


Jane Thorne’s house

Thankfully, as I was staying behind late for the Indian Kathakali thing, Jane Thorne (a sort of hanger-on of the Drama Department whose kid we borrowed for Macbeth) agreed to let me stay at her house for the nite, which was really kind.  She’s great, although I don’t know her all that well.  The house is old and huge, but intriguing.  I was hoping it would be haunted; unfortunately, I received no visitations from beyond the grave.


Thanks for the soup + the bed, Jane.  It’ll be remembered.



[Images subject to control of individual Copyright Holders including works originated by Elton Townend Jones, but excluding any images or design attributed to ‘The Situation’ which are copyright of The Situation (see specific acknowledgements in the ‘Thanks to…’section below) / ‘Berwin Groomstool’ is an iteration of the Situation character‘William Whicker’ and falls under joint copyright of Elton Townend Jones and Waen Shepherd / Based on true events and designed as a study of parochial British cultural and emotional life in the late 20th century, this blog is a work of fiction – cultural icons excluded, all characters and incidents featured are entirely fictional / This blog is non-profit; all video clips are used for illustrative purposes and always come from YouTube / No copyright infringement is intended – just trying to get things into context. Never forget: no man is an island. If you think anything I’ve used is damaging you in any way, please comment and immediate action will be taken to minimise offence / This notice was amended on 1 July 2012 and is intended to cover this and all posts on that precede it]


Next time: ‘The Day Pantomime Ended…’

1 comment:

  1. Donna Davidson15:01:00

    Oh Gawd, I remember how much we laughed at Barberrer. And the tea's never left me.....