BSC Address

Monday, February 26, 2007

Do you like travel?

When he was aggravated, my acting guru Nat Brenner used to ask:

"Do you like travel?"

To which the answer was normally yes.

"Do you like sex?"

To which the answer was normally yes.

"Then fuck off"

If you like travel, you can see four BSC productions this week:


Let me know if you see them all!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

More reviews

I think this could get boring, but if you're interested in reviews for PROOF, here is the news.

I was wrong. Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph has warmed to the play and given a lovely review, especially for Sally. The Times still hates the play - hates it!

And the audience appear to be loving it!

I find it very hard to understand how you can hate the play. This is because I love the play - the audience love the play. I will set aside the Pulitzer Prize panel and the Tony Award judges - they're American, so don't count. The only person I know who didn't like the play is my cousin Ann - and her husband! The two of them. So I just don't know where Benedict Nightingale or Nicholas de Jongh are coming from. And neither, it seems, do the audience. But what do we know! Thank goodness the critics don't get to decide what gets presented or not in this country!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Opening night

Opening nights are an exercise in mental control. Especially when you've been waiting six years.

I saw PROOF on Broadway in 2001. As the show ended I knew that I wanted to produce it in the West End and play Hal. Six years later...!

When we finished the very good dress there were two hours before the opening performance (which was also our press night!) and it seemed to be a matter of keeping my head clear of all unnecessary thoughts. Actually I closed my eyes...and stood up forty minutes later slightly dazed, which meant, quite happily, there wasn't a thought in my head! This continued until I sat in the wings, where I become absorbed in the play around me and found myself gently, mentally, warming up for my entrance. It was a good feeling and a very enjoyable performance. The audience were relaxed, concentrated and totally up for it.

And the critics? Two reviews in so far. The Daily Mail reviewer, who hadn't seen the previous Donmar production, loved it. The Evening Standard, who saw the Donmar production, hated it.

Saving the Daily Mirror, not a single critic liked the play when it was performed at the Donmar. So it was always going to be hard to present the play again in London. But I love the play - the audiences have always loved the play - so it seemed, in a pure way, the right thing to do.

I reckon the reviews will be split between those who saw it last night for the first time and those who've seen it before at the Donmar. We'll see!

Saturday, February 17, 2007


The more I live with this play, the more I enjoy the mathematical context, the less I think this play is about maths!

At its emotional heart, this is a play about a father and daughter and Catherine’s role in helping her father cope with his mental illness, an illness she thinks she might inherit. Into the situation comes Hal, her father’s student, and the spotlight falls on their relationship. What is involved in trusting someone, what happens when that trust is broken and how hard it is for two people, who work in the same field, to deal with the fact that one of them is more talented than the other - just one of the ramifications of genius. It’s about what is expected from love and whether one’s perception of the truth is more important than the trust between two people.

This week of re-rehearsals has been a revelation. It's wonderful to come back to a text which you have already spent so much time with and discover whole new aspects of the play you hadn't thought about. Every day of rehearsal has revealed another surprise for us all. Even tonight, just two days before we open, having already played it so joyously for three weeks in Birmingham, I've had the most marvellous discovery from re-reading the scenes. It seems to me that this is the sign of a good play, one that reveals itself layer by layer as you unconsciously delve into the characters, the situation, the stresses of the relationships. What a continuous delight it has been to work on.

And we open Monday!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


How marvellous! People are beginning to comment! It's the start of a big conversation! Thank you Chloe and Chris and George and Anon! (If you end up posting through the anonymous portal, please put your name at the bottom of the post, unless of course you want to stay anonymous!)

The PROOF press night next Monday is now full, so if you're thinking of coming, please have a look at the rest of the week. There are tickets at £15 for anyone who phones Ticketmaster and quotes "NORMAN" at them. If you have any problems booking any tickets, please let me know. There have been difficulties with the service!

I had an interview with C4 radio yesterday for PROOF with one of the most clued up journalists I'd ever met. She knew everything about the play and previous productions and we had a free and frank conversation. It was an extremely refreshing experience!

DANNY CHAMPION OF THE WORLD began it's world tour this week, opening in Dartford. It's a truly wonderful and uplifting show, so catch it if you can.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Brave people

All was not lost! Three hundred children braved cold air and slight drizzle today to make it to The Old Rep for the two shows. How they did it, I'll never know. Thank goodness all the schools in Birmingham were closed again today so that no other children were put at such tremendous risk.

Listening to the Birmingham councillor who closed all the schools was an exercise in frustration management. What would he have done if it had snowed for three weeks? And where was his answer to the fact that all the school children wouldn't be studying in school or quietly sitting at home - they will be outside throwing snowballs at each other!

The world really has gone mad.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


It's taken a while, but finally the snow caught up with us.

For the first time in our fifteen year history we had no audiences for both performances of DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD at The Old Rep Theatre as schools were closed throughout the West Midlands.

One wonders what has happened to this country: it was announced this afternoon that the schools in Birmingham would also be closed tomorrow. For a company like BSC it is pretty devastating. With no public funding to support us, losing four sold out performances is a major blow. Some children with parents are trying to come tomorrow but effectively four performances have been lost because the local councils are too scared to allow their schools to open in winter weather. It's shamefull.

If a foreign country wants to terrorise us in the future, they won't need anthrax or bird flu or nuclear weapons. If they can just make it snow for five days, they'll have us on our knees.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Rome wasn't built in a day! I think it took five weeks!

We've only had four weeks of rehearsal to recreate the Roman Empire for HORRIBLE HISTORIES so everyone has had to work that little bit harder than the early Romans!

HH opened this week at Tunbridge Wells. When something has been so successful, it's a hard task to repeat the exercise. The Tudors and Victorians were such a success last year that the task of starting again with Egyptians and Romans was always going to be daunting.

And yet what has been achieved is pretty remarkable. One could even say that the second half of Romans could be the best second half of the series so far. It's an extraordinary achievement for the creative team behind it.

Those of you who get in early should let us know what you think. It was astonishing to see how many people in the audience this week had seen the first two productions - almost half of those I spoke to had seen the earlier shows. It makes the task that much harder, but that much more rewarding, as it proves that theatre can capture imaginations and bring them back into the theatre hungry for more. Time will tell if we have managed to pull off a second coup.

All change

It's all changing at the BSC!

Two of the great women of BSC are leaving for pastures new! Our assistant administrator Louise Eltringham, who has been with us for five years, has become the senior administrator of DV8 dance company - a great new post for the wonderful Louise.

Ellen Mills, our education director, who has been working for BSC for eight years, is going freelance where she will continue to run BSC's education but will also have the opportunity to take on new projects.

So into the company step two new people - Sally Humphreys, who becomes General Manager of the BSC and Michael Thorne, who becomes Administrator. Phil Compton steps up to become Executive Producer. It promises to be an exciting new era for the company!