I was recently fortunate enough to be cast in two consecutive ADP rehearsed readings. The first was at 53Two in Manchester city centre and the second was at the well-known Kings Arms Salford. But I had a guilty secret.
I thoroughly enjoyed both productions, not only from the point of view of the actual performances, but the whole buzz that surrounds putting on a production with scant rehearsal and the need to make bold choices in a short space of time.
The whole process of getting a production from the page to the stage is gratifying for an actor at several points along the way. Firstly there’s the thrill of being cast at all; knowing that someone has seen something that they like in you and is willing to put even a small part of their production in your hands.
Then there’s the fun of getting to know your character. Playing with voices and choices before turning up to that all-important first rehearsal, followed by that, sometimes awkward, moment of meeting the director and the rest of the cast. Looking your fellow players in the eye and hoping that you’ll get along.
Rehearsals give the chance to get to know everyone and to mould the disparate characters into a performance worthy of what the writer had in mind at the time of writing; time for the director to bring together the various ingredients and to turn them into a dish worth tasting.
In a traditional environment this process takes place over weeks or sometimes months, but that’s not the ADP way. Manchester ADP distils the essence of the theatrical journey and serves it up to the actor in a concentrated form. If the normal process is a skinny latte, the ADP experience is a double espresso with a spoonful of caffeine thrown in for good measure! The full nine yards compressed into a twenty-four hour inch.
So, having gone through the first performance without a hitch, I confessed the truth to my fellow players and our director, the delightful Kayleigh Ruth Hawkins. I hadn’t wanted to tell them before the performance, lest it put the fear of God into them, worried that I’d fall to bits with fright as the curtain went up.
The truth of the matter was that my last appearance live on stage was playing Judas in an abortive production of Jesus Christ Superstar some 41 years ago! Yes, I acted between the ages of 5 and 18 and yes, I’ve spent the last couple of years re-kindling my love for the craft by acting in a host of local screen roles. But there’s no substitute for that instant feedback when performing in front of a live audience. There’s nobody to shout “cut!” You’re out there with all eyes on you and the rest of the cast depending on you to play your part. It may have been 41 years since I was last on stage, but it felt like it was yesterday. Thanks to Kayleigh and to Rose Van Leyenhorst for casting me and thanks to Manchester ADP for making it all possible. It won’t be 41 years until the next one!
A post from the wonderful (and creative) mind of one of our absolute favourite people. Mr Mark Russell, you have been the key to our lock, the essence of our potion, the spine of our figure. Thank you for everything. Long may our marriage continue....
As ever, when one is asked to re-visit, remember in detail and commit to Realms of Bloggery the circumstances of a truly memorable occasion it`s almost impossible not to give way to the temptation of re-inventing the narrative in the re-telling. However, most of what follows is unequivocally the truth. The rest should be.
My introduction to ADP was through the `Help Wanted` column of December 2015`s issue of `Desperate Actresses and Directors`, a copy of which I came across on Pension Day at the local Post Office. I remember thinking that both `trades` should combine, form a partnership and launch an independent Theatre Company, but that`s a story to be told by someone else.
The advertisement, almost a begging letter if I recall correctly, stated simply that the services of Photographer were required: quite how desperately required soon became apparent. I replied to the ad, stating that whilst I couldn`t claim to be an actual photographer I did at least own a camera. I was hired on the spot. It was an arbitrary, fortuitous decision that came at a pivotal moment in a tale of Four Thirds.
The First Third, 1951 - 1983, covered three fabulously formative decades culminating in a rather hazy period of Love, Peace and Brown Rice that will forever essentially be `The Who that I Am`.
The Second Third, !983 - 2015, saw my outward transition to Husband, Father and Corporate Monkey eventually managing 8 figure Project Budgets whilst still seeing Jimi Hendrix floating above the head of anyone wearing Pink - and an awful lot of my C M Colleagues favoured Pink Shirts and Ties. For over thirty years Batman`s struggle to keep his secret identity intact paled into insignificance when compared to my Boardroom Subterfuge. I was Ghandi with a loaded P & L and still believed that `All You Need is Love`. As soon as I no longer needed to Work to Live, I baled. Made a funeral pyre of my suits, shirts and ties to the strains of Siegfried`s Funeral March from Gotterdamerung and ran for the hills.
The Third Third, 2015 to ??? saw me leaving the hills and washing up on the shores of ADP, camera in hand, and completely out of my depth.
To be able to say that I`ve been a part of the ADP Story from Chapter One is a source of great personal pride. I`ve witnessed the fabulous personal and collaborative creative endeavour that has fuelled the growth and continued successes of Our Community and, twee as it may sound, have also grown personally in so many ways: The Old Dog/New Tricks myth has, in my case, been well and truly debunked almost entirely due to the support of the ADP community. To date I have had a script performed and have another awaiting a performance date; both enabled the completion of a full script that has already had expressions of interest from two independent production companies. I`m still not a `Real Photographer` but have an ongoing project working with low light, theatrical photography and as I apparently have a `Job for Life` with ADP have no worries on that score.
In short, I can now masquerade as `Not a Photographer who is also Not a Writer`; how deliciously bizarre my life has become; sincerest thanks to you all for helping me along that particular path.
The Fourth Third ???. Who knows ???. Let`s hope that it`s as interesting as The Third. :-)