Tuesday, 19 August 2014


Today was a long day. A very long day. We've been in a technical rehearsal for Brass, which is, by everyone's standards a hideous but necessary evil, which made me very grumpy at one stage.

The problem with Brass is that it starts with an astonishingly complicated prologue, which lasts eleven minutes and jumps about from musical style to musical style. Furthermore, it's predominantly in 7/8, which, for those who aren't in the know, is as complicated a time signature as it's possible to get (in the simple sort of writing that I do these days.) I don't really know what was going on in my head when I wrote it. An irregular metre seemed a really good idea to demonstrate a city descending into the chaos of war, but it was never going to be an easy option when it came to performance. Emma B, who plays Grimsby, asked me if I was particularly angry when I put pen to paper. I oughtn't to have been. I wrote it at the end of the week that I got married!

So, in short, the prologue took most of the day to tech, and made everyone, particularly me, feel excessively miserable. Still, in the last session of the day, we charged our way through the piece towards the middle of act one and as a result I feel that we're on the right course. I left the theatre feeling quite upbeat, which is very different to how I was feeling when we took a break for tea.  I called Philippa in a terrible state...

At lunchtime I took young Josh and Huon who plays Bickerdyke to Leeds Minster to see the various plaques to the Pals on the walls there. It's really quite moving to relate our piece to actual people. The thought that, for every soldier who features in our piece, there were another 20,000 men who died in the conflict, is a rather chilling one, and furthermore, that 100 years ago, Huon, and all our male cast for that matter, would have enlisted, been conscripted or gone to jail as conscientious objectors. Each one of those fallen men had a story; a parent, a sibling, a partner, a best friend...

Right, before I enter some kind of maudlin coma, I should get to bed. We start early tomorrow and have a rather full day, as you might imagine! My bed has a plastic sheet on it. I woke up this morning entangled in it. Matt warned me that it was a little like sleeping on a packet of bacon and I had no idea what he meant until I got in. It sort of rustles and creaks in the night, like something you might take camping. I think my Grannie had awnings above her windows which were made out of the same material. It's all rather 1980s. Pass me the video camera!

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