BSC Address

Monday, November 29, 2010

2010 and all that

The BSC has had an extraordinary year. Back in January things were still tough but in October 2009 we had turned the corner and were fighting back against the recession. It's interesting being an unfunded company in the midsts of a downturn - every ticket counts!

As the year progressed it got more and more exciting. TWELFTH NIGHT was a dream as it travelled around Syria and the UAE; GEORGE'S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE continued it's extraordinary run around Britain and is about to arrive in London; HORRIBLE SCIENCE did the impossible and actually made science fun; THE FIREWORK-MAKER'S DAUGHTER followed and is flaming amazement on the audience in Birmingham - a real show of the imagination; the long-awaited production of BAGPUSS opens in a week at Soho Theatre, and HORRIBLE HISTORIES beckons with a new Ruthless Romans script by Ciaran McConville; the cast of SKELLIG are starting to receive their visa's from the US Embassy for the trip to New York and THE JUNGLE BOOK starts rehearsing the morning we get back. Meanwhile....a secret new project is about to be launched in January....!

Nine productions, with the same creative team creating wonders, plus new faces adding to the magic.

All of it financed by you, the great British public - and our friends in the UAE who love Shakespeare. We make a good team!


Here's someone else who had something interesting to say. This had a huge influence on me when I read it in my early 20's. And nothing has been more true.

"Until one is committed, there is hesitance, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of whichs kills countless ideas and splendid plans - that the moment one commits oneself - then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."

Peter O'Toole

Back in the early 90's I interviewed some well known actors to help raise money for the BSC. One of them was Peter O'Toole. Here's something interesting he had to say:

O'Toole: "I know it's a risky business. If you can do it, you're all right because when the jobs don't come - and they often don't - it's still alright. It's the poor buggers who can't do it who suffer. They don't know what's wrong, they can't solve the problems, their lives are a misery. The chief problem for most actors is that only a dozen can really do it."

Me: "You are among that dozen?"

O'Toole: "Yes. I use 'a dozen' figuratively. A very small minority. So when I don't get work, I go home and read a book and I'm alright because I know that I can do it."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Spike Milligan

Climb every mountain
Forge every stream
Follow every rainbow
Till you find you're knackered

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Firework-Maker's Daughter

The reaction we are getting to THE FIREWORK-MAKER'S DAUGHTER from the schools that have seen the show this week is unlike anything I have ever seen in eighteen years of producing theatre for children.

And the teachers are almost speechless.

The cast and creative team of this production have produced something truly special.

Do whatever you can to see this show - it has quite the most extraordinary effect on the human soul.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


When I was given the role of Ronald Cave and three smaller parts in ONE NIGHT IN NOVEMBER at the Coventry Belgrade I began to wonder during rehearsals if I could disguise myself in the smaller roles without using any facial disguise, just using my voice and a different energy.

One character would be easy - he wears a gas mask! The final character is very similar to my main role and difficult to differentiate without it becoming caricature. But could the local policeman be the one...?

It involves a quick change of costume so no time for anything fancy, but I persuaded the designer to let me paint on a thin moustache - he was doubtful it would would work but no-one can see it's not real - when I tried it in the rehearsal room people thought I hadn't shaved. Most importantly, during the third performance it dawned on me I could make this policeman a lot younger than Ronald Cave and more frightened.

I was also fortunate that the policeman appears almost immediately after Cave has just walked off. Suddenly there's a new character which the audience haven't seen before - a local Coventry policeman.

Then to complete the challenge, in the final part of the scene when I am looking in horror at the burning city in front of me, I walk right to the front of the stage and stare straight into one of the lights - face front-on and fully lit.

To date, two of my closest friends have watched the scene without realising it was me - and I asked my Dad at the weekend what he thought of the policeman....."Who played him?" he asked.....!

The joy of sweet success!

Monday, November 08, 2010

George's triumph

We like receiving emails like this on Monday mornings....!

I just felt I must tell you how wonderful the performance of George's Marvellous Medicine was at the Wyvern theatre in Swindon on Saturday evening. I have, over the years seen many children's shows and this show was absolutely amazing. It kept everyone engrossed from the first to the last minute. The cast were fantastic and everyone (even Dads and teenagers!) in the audience participate where requested, proving it was a show with universal appeal. A great evenings entertainment.
Susan Bushnell

Well done to the extraordinary cast who have been performing this show since October 2009 - with the wonderul new addition of Richard Mullins as Dad!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Interesting! I wondered if working with people who are colleagues rather than employees would be different, but it isn't. Which is making me reflect on both experiences with a smile. It's a great group of people here in Coventry in every department which has made the fist day of tech for ONE NIGHT IN NOVEMBER actually enjoyable! (I know, an enjoyable tech?!). It's great to be out of the rehearsal room and onto a beautiful set for the show. Everyone had their hair cut 40's style today and they look fabulous!

I watched some of rehearsals from the circle and it looks excellent from above. The first preview has completely sold out, so we're set for a run of packed houses. In these days of austerity, it's wonderful to know you'll be walking out to a full house, which always promises a particularly special atmosphere. Coventry, this is one hot ticket!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


The cast, creative and stage management team behind THE FIREWORK-MAKER'S DAUGHTER have pulled off a terrific coup with a fantastic production of Philip Pullman's wonderful story.

Mr Pullman has said "I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the company is telling this story, and everyone concerned deserves an enormous success. This is one of the best productions of my work I've ever seen."

BSC can proudly boast of three amazing shows now touring the UK - GEORGE, SCIENCE and FIRE. Well done all on an extraordinary achievement!


Saw the premiere last night of a wonderful new film THE FIRST GRADER, the true story of an 84 year old man who goes to school to learn to read in Kenya.

It's not often you see films these days that dispense with car chases, aliens and gadgets to concentrate on a human story, beautifully played by Naomie Harris and Oliver Litondo. Distribution has been secured in the States and the producers are now waiting for a decision from Britain. Let's hope they get it!


The BSC sometimes seems strangely connected to world events.

Back on 11 September 2001 we were finalising the set for JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, which ends in New York.

Our designer had created three profiles to create the backdrop of the city and half way through the meeting we reluctantly decided to cut the World Trade Center. Fifteen minutes later the first plane hit....

Now we're producing THE FIREWORK-MAKER'S DAUGHTER in which the heroine Lila climbs the volcano Mount Merapi. Which exploded yesterday.....

I suppose we should be grateful our production of THE WOEFUL SECOND WORLD WAR passed off without incident....