Thursday, September 29, 2011

Learning lines

I've been thinking again about the process of learning lines over the last few days.   A few months ago I bought a little digital dictaphone, and have been using that to assist in learning lines for the play, The Mousetrap (as I also did for the previous play I was in, Shadowlands).
I find that while I have a certain ability to listen and learn, I'm much better if I've seen where on the page the lines lie, and remember that as well.  Having that visual focus seems to make all the difference, especially when it comes to odd lines that are disconnected from any other dialogue I have.   It's the single lines that pop up without reference to anything else I've said that I find hardest to place, and often they're the last ones to be learnt.

When there's a chunk of dialogue with just one (or maybe two) other cast members, it's much easier to get a handle on the lines, because in a sense, I just reel them off down the 'page' in my head.   I get to a point where, with a sequence of lines, I can remember them almost as a single 'speech' - this helps, especially if the cues aren't quite right from the other person, or if they miss something out entirely.

The problem is, I think, that I don't tend to learn the cues for the odds lines well, because I don't particularly need to for the sequences of lines.   Plainly I need to do some work on this aspect of line-learning for future productions - if I do any more!

My mother said my father (whom I don't remember at all) had a photographic memory.  He was a top-class chess player in his day.   I don't think I have a photographic memory particularly, but I do have a 'picture' of where lines are on a page - this applies whether I'm learning a poem, or a piece of scripture, or lines for a play.   If I see the formation of them on the page my brain recalls them much better.  That picture seems to be part of the learned process, in fact.   So, while the dictaphone is very helpful, on its own it isn't enough.  Lines learnt in isolation, as it were, don't seem to stick nearly as well as lines learned with a visual clue attached. 

The photo is from the scene where my character, Paravicini, arrives and, in a somewhat theatrical fashion, informs the young couple running the guest house, that he is the 'man of mystery'.   Photo from the Cortland Repertory Theatre, Ithaca.

Dunedin for tourists

Tourism Dunedin reports what the RWC journalists are saying about Dunedin:

St Clair – top spot in Dunedin” - Chris Foy, Daily Mail.

“Dunedin and the Otago Peninusla must be among the better-kept secrets anywhere in the world... maybe even Kiwis from up north underestimate the jewel on their doorstep” - Robert Kitson, The Guardian.

“I could have spent days there (Otago Peninusla). It was paradise” - Phil Vickery, former England captain and British and Lions prop.

“Dunedin is a great place to visit as well as a great place to watch rugby” - David Facey, The Sun.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I've been enjoying listening to Anthony Ritchie's recently-released CD, Octopus.   Because I tend to assimiliate music these days, more than listen directly to - by assimiliate, I mean, I'll have three CDs playing on a continuous cycle, and will often listen to them over and over during a period of some weeks - I get to know the music without giving it full attention.   Probably not the ideal method, but perhaps no different to those listeners of old who first heard Mozart and Bach and Beethoven while having their coffee or talking to each other about the latest social gossip in the court of various dukes and such.   And at least I have the opportunity for repeated listenings.

Octopus itself is a delightful work, an octet, with five string players, a bassoon, horn and clarinet.   The opening has a wonderful underwater feel (though whether I'd think that if I didn't have the title to give me some indication is another matter), with a sense of the creature of the deep swinging its way through its world.   And there are repetitions throughout of a high string swing between two notes that has an eerie feeling in the context, and evokes all sorts of ideas. 

Rites of Passage is for bassoon and string quintet, and, while I'm aware of it, it hasn't quite worked its way into my brain yet; nor has the String Quartet no 2.   They'll come in due course.

The piece for flautist (I hate that word 'flutist' - it's like saying someone 'authored' a book) is intriguing.  Alexa Still plays flute, piccolo and taonga puoro on it, with a hint in the background of natural sounds, such as waves on a shore, or wind....

Meantime, this has proved to be a pleasing disc to buy. 


I mentioned in my last post about going to see The Help last night, and how the picture quality seemed not as sharp as it might have been.   I suspected it was something to do with the cinema's projection system, but perhaps that was the way it was meant to be.

Or perhaps my wife and I have been spoilt by having a digital TV (acquired two or three months ago because our old TV was struggling to keep up) and being able to see movies in sharp definition.  Certainly the digital picture quality is excellent, sometimes to the extent of your being able to see how much makeup some of the actors have on...

A friend of mine swears by bluray.   (Which always looks like blur-ay to me, and isn't at all indicative of its clarity!)   He watches all his movies this way, and delights in how well this presents the visual aspect.   As it happens I haven't seen any movies on bluray as yet, so I can't judge, and it's not likely we'll be getting a
bluray home theatre system anywhere in the near future, or perhaps in the future, full stop! 

A home theatre system might be a great way to view movies these days - certainly I'm much more comfortable on my own couch watching movies than I am on the seats at the cinemas, where I always wind up with a sore bum.  Don't know whether it's something to do with the cushioning of the seats, or the fact that they're all very wide - the arm rests being too far apart to lean on both sides at once - or what.   However, even in a relatively short movie like The Help I got uncomfortable before the credits began to roll (while Viola Davis seemed to walk for miles down a suburban street).   Maybe, of course, it's just old bones, and not enough padding on my rear end!

And while we're talking about video/movies's a superb piece of puppetry from Sesame St - singing about the letter G.  

The Help

I began to read The Help in a bookshop the other day and put it on my list of books to catch up on at some point.  In the meantime my wife and I went to the film version last night; that's probably spoilt some of the surprises of the book, but no doubt still leaves the pleasures of the writing for the future.

The movie deals with the bunch of incidents and stories effectively, as well as with the wide range of characters.  There are strong performances from the black members of the cast, and some slightly over-the-top ones from the white actresses (actresses being the operative word: men hardly make any impact in this movie).  This is, I suspect, intentional: one of the many contrasts in the movie.

The story, as probably everyone knows by now, is about the black women who act as maids, housekeepers, grocery shoppers, cooks, cleaners and general dogsbodies to the white community in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 60s - at a time just on the cusp of the huge changes that would come between blacks and whites in the US.  Emma Stone plays a white woman who's been brought up by the family's black maid - a very common approach to child-rearing, apparently: one of the other major characters, Aibileen (the narrator in the book and played here by Viola Davis) is in the process of doing the same thing for her white family during most of the movie.   This curious bit of interracial leniency in these families is in stark contrast to the insistence by most of them that the black maids don't use the same toilets, or plates, or sit at the same tables - nor do a host of other things while working in the house.  (Toilets play quite a big part in this movie, incidentally.)

Stone's character Skeeter is an aspiring and compassionate would-be journalist, and latches onto the real stories of the black maids, and how they feel about the whole process of being degraded by the whites.   The revelations are both grim and hilarious, and Stone  publishes a book on the topic - it's also called The Help.   (The real author of The Help, Kathryn Stockett, struggled to get her book published: she received some sixty rejections in all before it took off.)

As a movie, The Help is consistently entertaining, sometimes troubling (we know that many of these issues have been overcome, but no doubt there are also many lingering ones), beautifully filmed, with a cast of excellent actresses.  (As I said, the men barely get a look in - only Skeeter's boyfriend has much screentime, and even he proves to be much less than she demands of him).  That wonderful actress Alison Janney makes frequent appearances as Skeeter's mother - wearing an appalling set of wigs.  I don't know whether this has something to do with the fact that she is supposed to have some form of cancer, but only once does Janney look anything like her gorgeous self: mostly she has dreadful black things stuck on her head.   Viola Davis also appears to be wearing a wig, and it seems a little less than suitable as well.   Both actresses overcome this minor issue with aplomb.   Bryce Dallas Howard plays the nastier of the white women with extreme venom, and may or may not be redeemed in the end.   Sissy Spacek appears as her alcoholic mother, but doesn't have quite enough of a role to really get to grips with. Cicely Tyson plays the old maid who brought up Skeeter; she isn't in the movie much, but brings great depth of emotion to her two big scenes.  However, like most of the black actresses she is difficult to hear at times.  I don't know whether it was the particular screening we saw of this movie, but the black women seemed to be mumbling their lines in some scenes in such a way that it was hard to understand them; as well, there was a lack of sharpness to the focus of many scenes.  Perhaps both of these were faults of the cinema rather than the moviemaking.   And it wasn't just my ears: my wife had the same trouble understanding some of the lines as well.

This is an excellent ensemble piece, and well worth viewing.   I'll still read the book, I think!

PS I should have mentioned Octavia Spencer, who as Minny, has the other major black role, and steals several scenes.   She is superb.   And also that the movie has a satisfactory ending which suddenly unwinds in the last scene.  Which is probably appropriate. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Break a Leg!

The other day I posted a couple of limericks here relating to the Rugby World Cup.

Just while I'm in limerick mode, a friend tweeted me that typical good luck greeting - Break a Leg! - in regard to The Mousetrap.   It's a very peculiar thing to say to anyone, let alone an actor - the last thing an actor wants is more drama!   So here's my response, limerick-wise:

When supporters say Break a leg,
Actors feel they’ve got egg
On their faces and
Go through their paces and
Hope it won’t be on one peg. 

For anyone who's interested in following up the possible origin of this peculiar expression, check out the page focused on it in the Glossary of Technical Theatre Terms. 

Monday the Rabbi Took Off

Finished another Harry Kemelman yesterday: Monday the Rabbi Took Off.  It’s one I started to re-read a while ago and didn’t get into at the time.  It’s a big long-winded compared to the Tuesday book in the series, which I read earlier in the month and enjoyed.   

In Monday the Rabbi literally takes off to Israel, leaving behind the usual group of disgruntled board members trying to decide whether they want him back or not.  We have this subplot going on throughout, but the main story takes place in Israel with a couple of bombings and two deaths and a lot of stuff about what it’s like to be an Israeli in the homeland, and what it means to be religious there and so on.   The murder is solved a bit perfunctorily right near the end, but the victim isn’t really a major character and so you feel a bit disconnected from that part of the story.  There are several other elements to it that make it all a bit like too much story for one book.  It’s still an interesting read, and gives insights into the feelings of Jews in and out of Israel, and perhaps that’s what the book is more about: Kemelman trying to 'write out' his own feelings about how he stands as a Jew in the time the book was written....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teach the Teacher

We all know that scene in the movie (any medical movie - take your pick) where the consultant sweeps in with his retinue of newbies in tow, barely nods at the bewildered patient, (who's wondering what all this attention is about), snaps his or her finger at one of the students and in a disdainful voice dares that shivering student to say what Mr Smith/Jones/Bulkoski has wrong with him, and why, and what he's going to do about it. 

It was one of the ongoing features of that long-running TV series, Scrubs, a programme we endured more often than we wished to, since our younger son seem to find it extraordinarily funny.   Screenwriters think it's something audiences can get no end of enjoyment out of.   It ain't so funny if you've actually been a patient in the real-life equivalent, of course.

Which is why there need to be courses for medical people, especially now that they're no longer automatically assumed to be God.   A teach the teacher course (also known as a train the trainer course) is a way of teaching doctors how to teach trainee doctors (it may possibly go wider than that).  

The teaching the teacher course is only one of a number of courses available to the medical profession.  You can go on a consultant interview course (for when you're planning to leave that nasty hospital where you're not appreciated by those in management, and where they blame you for everything from the superbug that's hit the wards to the dust on the tops of the pictures - those funded by the hospital Art Fund). 

It's possible, of course, that you may actually be to blame for the superbug, in which case you'd be wise to go on a medical teaching course and bring your knowledge up to date.  As for the dust on the pictures, try a medical management course where your skills at handling the Dust Management Team will be honed. 

Whatever the course you go for, it can only improve your skills in the medical field.   With the extraordinary number of complications that can arise in that area, it's wise to keep on top of things!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rehearsing The Mousetrap

Rehearsals for Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap continue apace...the two late additions to the cast (the young man who stepped in to take over the role of Sergeant Trotter - Sam Irwin - and myself - replacing an actor who fell ill) are making great strides at catching up with the rest of the actors, who've been rehearsing for five or six weeks. 

The cast have rehearsed in a variety of venues, and on Tuesday have their first night in the theatre for a technical rehearsal...the set is being built that day too, and painted, so it may be an interesting occasion for all concerned!

Today (Sunday) we had a photo shoot down at the Railway Station, using some of the ready-made 'sets', and wandered around in our costumes, which entertained - and bewildered - some of the tourists.  

Five more days to opening.   Phew!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

RWC Limericks

A couple of other tweeters and I have considered writing some poetry relating to the current Famous Game that is receiving endless attention here in New Zealand at the moment (first quarter of an hour of the news tonight dedicated entirely to it, as well as all the normal sports news from half way through the News).  

Here are a couple of limericks written, it must be admitted, with a little speed.... 

There once was a Rugby World Cup
That made many sane people fed up,
With the constant insistence
And petty persistence
On every dread detail close up.

There once was a very small game
That somehow acquired worldwide fame,
In spite of its shallowness
It gained status All Hallowness
Making most other games seem quite lame.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I just came across a news website called Fascinating stuff if you're into US politics in a big way - and by 'big way' I mean a really, really big way.   Every jot and tittle is covered until your brain is soaked in the stuff.  It's like being in New Zealand during the Rugby World Cup; supposedly nothing else goes on in people's minds except the awful game (and of course, I mean 'awful' in the old sense: awe-ful - don't I?)  Talking of which, though I hadn't intended to, the USA beat Russia yesterday; bit ironic, huh?

Anyway, back to  It's the online version of a real newspaper which has a relatively small circulation of 32,000, according to Wikipedia.   However, that's bolstered more than a little by the 6.7 million (unique) visitors the online version gets each month.   It kind of doesn't matter that the paper version is so small, when you add those two together.  

Politico focuses on the backstories, rather than the big headlines - according to its mission statement - and they aim to make their stories just as interesting as talking with the reporter over a sandwich or a beer.   Amongst of heap of stories floating around their site, I found this line: post-Sept. 11 veterans suffer a 23 percent unemployment rate. “After a decade of war, it’s time to focus on nation-building here at home. And our veterans, especially our 9/11 generation veterans, have the skills and the dedication to help lead ... 

There's a great deal about veterans on the site; it's plainly a big issue in the US, but not one that has hit our newspapers here with any great impact.  Our involvement has been so minimal, comparatively speaking, in the so-called war on terror, that we can practically count our lost soldiers on one (maybe two) hands.  Not so in the States, where thousands of men and women have died fighting a war that, IMHO, should never have been.  But it was, and now the US is facing the consequences of that.  There are sites where you can find information on a Military VA Loan for instance (I'm assuming VA stands for something like Veterans' Association, but I could be wrong). and the need to get veterans back on their feet is obviously very high on everyone's priority list, including Obama's.   Veterans can get home loans with no down payment, for instance, and the maximum loan you can go for is a whopping (by NZ standards) $US719,000.   That's some loan, but hopefully the Vets are getting enough in payments to cover that sort of mortgage.  

From where I sit (and I'm not likely to be alone in not understanding the full ins and outs of the current American monetary crises) it's hard to appreciate everything that's going on in the US economy.  (It's always been hard, mind you, not helped by the overly involved system that's evolved over there.)   For me it becomes a big clutter - even seven seasons of West Wing didn't help greatly.  I guess the way to understand it better would be to focus on something like the Vets and their situation.  I'm not sure that I'm going to be able to focus like that, but at least, when you're faced with a major issue, breaking it down in some way helps!

Archer's Goon

Continuing on with my Diana Wynne Jones phase, but having put aside the Dalemark series, of which I read the first and began the second only to find them all a bit gloomy, I've just finished Archer's GoonThis is a neatly plotted story with a major red herring running through it for about the first two-thirds.   It also has a superb character in the concisely-spoken Goon.   It's hard to convey the way he speaks in an extract, so I'm not going to try.  Suffice to say he's one of Wynne Jones' more delightful and quirky creations. 

The Sykes are a fairly straightforward family into which the Goon suddenly interposes himself, his long legs seeming to take up most of the kitchen where he insists on sitting until Quentin (the family father) produces his 'two thousand'.   The two thousand aren't pounds or dollars, but words, and why they've been requested is a mystery that takes most of the book to solve.   Quentin's been producing them every few months after a bout of writer's block several years ago, but the words have nothing to do with writer's block. 

The other members of the family are Howard, who seems a straightforward boy on the surface but is anything but, as we eventually discover; Awful, his sister, nicknamed thus because of her propensity to scream very loudly when anything upsets her, and a young layd with an enjoyment of nastiness; and Catriona, the mother, who is the only one initially who can put the Goon in his place.   There's also Fifi, the student who's staying with them.   Fifi's role in the story seems minor at first, but she's the catalyst for some rather serious stuff later.

When I say 'serious' however, it's not to imply that this is a serious book.  It's as good-humoured and witty as Howl's Flying Castle, though equally full of strange and scary people.  Wynne Jones obviously had a thoroughly enjoyable time writing this book, and it shows through on every page.   (She doesn't seem to have had quite so enjoyable a time in working with a scriptwriter on the television version, but admitted that scriptwriting is not her field.  There's a very detailed writing-up of the television series which points out its high and low points - and gives away all the plot.  Don't read it before you've read the book.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rabbi Small

It's a long time since I first read any of Harry Kemelman's books featuring Rabbi Small.  We've had a few of the series on our shelves for years, but not the whole set of seven.   I see that the whole series is available on Kindle at very reasonable prices,which could be dangerous!  (In fact there are five more books featuring Rabbi Small, which don't form part of the original series.)

The one I've just re-read, and which I'd pretty much forgotten (except for the bust of Homer and how it came into the story) is Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red.   Rabbi Small seems a meek youngish man, but looks are deceiving.  He has an excellent and very sharp brain.  He also has a fairly obstreperous congregation of Jewish business people, who slip and slide in their support of him, and who seem more concerned with things of the world than things of the spirit.   Although in this book Rabbi Small makes a good case for Judaism being all about care of this world and this in it.

One of the features of these books is that they're not just about an ingeniously crafted murder mystery, though that's always part of the story.   It's the way in which we get a picture from the inside of what it means to be a Jew in the modern world (well, the world of the 60s/70s, that is - these books have been around for quite a while now), and how the Jewish mind thinks.  This book gives the Rabbi several opportunities for discussion with a class of students, some of whom are Jews, some not, and this allows the reader to see beyond the usual view of what makes a Jew.   But the Jewish way of thinking comes through in a number of other more subtle scenes, and through the sharply-drawn characters, major and minor.

The book doesn't inhabit an entirely Jewish world: it mostly takes place in a University that has decided that leaving out 'Christian' from its name gives it the opportunity to take in students from a wider background.  Thus there's something of a Jewish/Christian debate shuffling around in the background, but equally there are discussions about what it means to run a University these days: is it a place for the students to learn or merely get credits?   Is it a place for the teachers to teach or merely push themselves up the academic ladder.   The Rabbi's insistence on truth in the midst of all these discussions often gets him into hot water, but he has some strong friends who know what he's like, and doesn't lack for support.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The 'New' Music

Just listening again to some of the tracks from the Resound series that are available for downloading via the Concert programme.   The composers include Jack Body and Jack Spiers, Eve de Castro Robinson, Ross Harris, and others.

It's an interesting thing - to my mind - that there's a kind of uniformity of expression amongst many of these composers: the extreme angularity of vocal lines, for instance; anything that smacks of melody has to avoided at all costs.  The setting of words that never highlights them but merely uses them as sounds.  The dissonant chords that waft in and out in a random fashion.  The fiddly bits on wind and brass instruments that don't seem to connect with the rest of the piece: flutes fluttering without focus, trumpets butting in with little edgy moments.   Long sustained chords that go nowhere.  Instruments used for a few bars and then forgotten.   Rhythmless movement. 

And at the end, an audience that isn't really sure that the piece is finished. 

What surprises me is that there's so little parody of this kind of music - or perhaps the music is already a parody of itself?

To be fair, some of the music I've downloaded off this site, even where it's off the wall, is actually music, in that it knows where it's going, enjoys setting words, uses electronic elements intelligently (and musically), and has rhythm.  Father's telescope, by Kit Powell, with its surreal text, is a lot of fun, for instance.  Nelson Wattie is the baritone stretching up to notes that seem curiously out of reach, and Barry Empson is the 'actor', speaking lines in and out of the music.  

Friday, September 09, 2011

Norton report on cybercrime

A new report from Norton - the people who do online security - says cybercrime is costing New Zealanders $256 million in cash costs and $300 million in lost time.  They claim that 72% of New Zealanders reported having been victims of cybercrime.  At one point the figures are noted as 'extrapolated' costs - big figures worked out from little ones, in other words.   The way these figures came about are towards the end of the report. 

One of the more curious statements is: Cybercrime victims are twice as likely to have been a victim of crime in the physical world than non-cybercrime victims.  I guess there's something to back this up somewhere in the report, but I missed it. 

The report was based on information from almost 20,000 online interviews.   These took place not just in New Zealand, but around the world.  How many people were interviewed in New Zealand, then?  
You can see the actual report here - it's quite comprehensive, and laid out as a long strip of information sliding from right to left.   There are animations scattered throughout which are supposed to explain more, but some of them seemed to add to the lack of real statistical information.   

If you read through the report, you find that where the costs are coming from seems to be more the cost of time spent in fighting cybercrime, rather than loss of money via stolen credit cards and the like.  Statements like at $388bn, cybercrime is more than 100 times the annual expenditure of UNICEF ($3.65 billion) are placed throughout the report.  

My suspicion throughout this report is that it's a glossy way of advertising Norton's products.  While these may be worth having (as any security online is worth having), this rather takes away from the value of the report.   According to Norton there are 1 million victims of cybercrime a day: the crimes listed are malware and viruses, scams and phishing.   Yes, all very annoying, but hardly about to bring the globe down around our ears. There are finally some definitions of what 'cybercrime' is, in the context of the report, way towards the end.

Catching up on HitTail after a spell

It's quite a while since I checked out HitTail's results for this blog - I used to do it regularly (partly for something to write about), but I notice that they've got results going back to March this year which I've never looked at.

That's okay, we'll sort that in due course.

Meantime, I also checked the search words that people have used that bring them to my site.   Amazingly athlete's hand continues to do well - it's at the top.   One little post from I don't when - and a joke post at that - and this is the result.   Crazy.

The second in line is a bit of a newbie to me:  I looked at that and wondered what the heck it was, since it seems an odd thing for someone to enter in Google's search box.   Anyway, doing exactly that, I find that it comes up with an explanation from Google's help desk itself.   I began to read the explanation, got bogged down a couple of sentences in, and let my brain say, Pooh, don't get that - too difficult to understand without concentration. 

Another curiosity keeps coming up on the list - it's currently third in line: Zirka circus.   The post I did on this in 2010, has obviously drawn some people over and over.  Zirka circus is a NZ-based group, with mostly an Asian cast.   Some very good stuff in it too.

Surprise, surprise, my own name comes up fourth on the list.   Wow, I must look for myself an awful lot, or else there are a lot of other Mike Crowl's out there doing the same thing.   (One was a headmaster at a high school in the States who got himself into strife, being accused of harrassing his staff.  He resigned, and I haven't caught up with what happened subsequently.)   In, by the way, this blog comes up first if you enter Mike Crowl as a search term.

Zirka Circus review gets fifth place, and The Great Divorce notes sixth.   This latter search term has been one of the tops for a long time, although you won't ever find any 'notes' on C S Lewis' The Great Divorce on my blog.   It's just the fact that the blog title has 'notes' in it that makes the difference!

Nintendo jewellery and Brent Stavig make seventh and eighth - again two items that have earned pride of place on this blog for their regular appearances (mostly because I keep writing about them because they keep turning up on HitTail - it's a bit of a Catch 22).

James Berardinelli and Frederick Buechner marriage are the last two in the top ten.   I haven't mentioned Berardinelli for a long time: he's the film reviewer who has hundreds of reviews on - not as I first typed: they have a site too, and it's also about movies.  Cunning!

People must look for the quote on marriage by Buechner and find it on my site.   Guess it's a helpful thing to use at your wedding...

The hundreds of other search terms that make it onto my list are often repeats of the above ones in some form or other, and all the old favourites are still there.   Before I go I just need to mention some of the 'keywords' that have sent people to the blog; some quite intriguing heavy body builder, armwrestling my wife, [like that one] skinny ties versus normal ties, where to buy cigars in Dunedin, drugs corner cut off of credit card [what?].

It has to be said that if you went looking for any of these in an Encyclopedia it's doubtful you'd find them.   Good old Google!

Google Cup

Nice one, Google!    One of the few enjoyable things to come out of the RWC.  

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A role in The Mousetrap

Well, the last couple of days have had added to them the need to learn lines for The Mousetrap, which opens around the 24th of this month (or 24th inst, as a character in the play would put it).   For those who haven't caught up with what's happened, a person had to drop out of the cast due to illness, just last weekend, and so I've taken over his (thankfully fairly small) role.   The character is Paravicini, who may or may not be a fraud, and who - as he hints more than once - isn't quite what he appears. 

To my amazement you can get a 52-page study guide to The Mousetrap.   Crikey...the script is only 69 pages long as it is!  Let's hope they don't give away the denouement - it's traditional to ask the audience before the play starts not to do so.   The study guide has things like Historical context, critical essays and overview, and much more.   Two interesting points from the historical context: Food is in such short supply in England that 53,000 horses were consumed for food in the previous year to feed a population that now exceeds fifty million people. And in London, a four-day smog kills more than four thousand people.

Makes you glad to be living in 2011, doesn't it?   The characters mention ration books in the play, and there are several other lines that have had to be elucidated for younger members of the cast - and such a discussion has reminded those who lived in the UK in the fifties of some of the privations they and their families went through. 

The other interesting thing about reading the script for the first time, is the way Christie's wit shines through it: the rather dour photo that appears of many of her book covers doesn't indicate just how much fun she can be as a writer (I've found one that shows her warmer side better).   Some of her books are more humorous than not, and certainly The Mousetrap has some very funny lines. 

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Blogger (under Google's management these days) has just update its interface, for the first time in a while.  The last time it did it, I went back to the old interface, because the new one was a bit of a pain.   This post is by way of a test, to see what happens when you try some of the features.
Well, firstly it's saving like billyo.  Ever couple of seconds the save button up the top is flicking on and off, presumably keeping tabs on what I'm writing.
I'm just looking to see what's new...there's something called a 'jump break' which does this...