LATEST NEWS AND HAPPENINGS
|May 2, 2010
Well it all went in a whirlwind. Monday we did the Shakespeare Birthday . I must have some allergies stirred up in this Manhattan Spring air because my eyes have been burning. Tuesday my producer and very dear friend, Maire Martello and I went into NYC to look at the lighting and the stage at The Jewel Box Theatre. It is a small intimate theatre, good lighting system, black floor and black moveable boxes. We rented an ornate chair to suggest a throne and a music stand which holds Gielgud's letters.
Michael Palmer is the stage manager and does the lighting. He also did the lighting for " The Lodger" which I did at the same off Broadway location but in the theatre downstairs. A creative guy, easy to get along with and does a very good job with the lighting.
I trimmed the show to make it shorter, but there are 45 pieces between the letters, the sonnets and the speeches. It is difficult trying to decide what goes and what stays since they all string together in a chronology. I had to move one of my favorite letters to the end. It is one of Gielgud's early letters to his mother. "Dear Mama, ...Yesterday was most eventful, did the first 15 minutes of Shylock.." as he wrote the letter "still in piles of makeup" .
Met an interesting man from Chicago, living in Arizona and studying Shakespeare in New York. And Jeff Hardy, an Australian who sounds very English, from the Players came with regards from an old friend who now also lives in Australia, Lewis Fernander ( still looking for the right spelling, apologies..) who is now 72, yet I still have a visual picture of him as if he were still 22...lol and OF COURSE I still look as if I were 22 in my memories of our old friendship as well.
I had a nice surprise one night, when I came back on at the second act - the audience had a nice long applause for me as I entered the stage. I was really touched.
Michael Palmer, did a favor for me and took photos for me when I was in rehearsal. I am so pleased with them. I have been meaning to get some to include with my press releases but never had the timing right. Thank you Michael I am so grateful for your kindness and appreciative of your many talents.
Last night we raised our glasses in celebration of Shakespeare's birthday. Many actors met at NYC's The Players and several were asked to read some of the great works of the Bard. Harris Yulin was one of the actors who participated. He directed "The Lodger", which we did off Broadway last year, and is married to Kristen Lowman who starred in the same play.
Harris had to leave just after his performance at the club He is preparing for his staring role in June Finfer's The Glass House, presented by Resonance Ensemble at Theatre Row's Clurman Theatre, May 9-June 5, 2010. And as always, it is good to meet up with old friends and familiar faces. In this business, we are always in so many different venues all over the world, so it is always enjoyable when our paths cross
I had three passages I had to perform last night;
Marc Antony, Woolsey and Richard II. As I was about to complete my
speech, the staff at the club started to collect the dinner plates,
bottles and glasses. A cacophony of sound resulted. The irony of the
passage I was doing was not missed as I was required to shout...
Charles E Gerber was there. What a talented and versatile
man. Very nice to meet up again. He works closely with the
Workshop Theatre Group where I did "The Lodger", and
"Gielgud's Ages of Man" last year, and will be doing "Tribute-
Gielgud's Ages of Man" in the Jewel Box Theatre . within the
Workshop Theatre, tomorrow through May 1st, 2010 . Charles has been
acting, teaching, coaching and directing Shakespeare in NYC steadily
The nice thing about the internet and having a website like this is that I get letters from people all over the world whom I would never ever get a chance to meet.
I received a letter from Ann Wilson , from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada who was researching the background of her family.
She asked me if I was related to a George Watson Innes "Geordie" another actor...from another time - almost 100 years ago. Her great grandfather.
In 1918, Ann's grandfather, Reginald Talbot Beresford Innes immigrated to Canada from Farnscombe in Surrey ( In fact another coincidence, for that was where John Gielgud went to school ) after the birth of their first child, Ann's mother . He had been a Private in the 12th Reserve Battalion of the Canadian Forces where his duty was 'photographer's assistant'. He had served in the Canadian Battalion during WWI and had been gassed during the war and never fully recovered from the effects of it. This is him carrying a grandchild in a carry bag.
Are we somehow related? I never followed genealogy and my family has all passed away. But as a matter of coincidence, my father was in the RAF in Canada training Canadian troops during WWII.
It also seems Ann's whole family shares the creative spirit... Music, Acting, Photography. I have spent many years with my camera as my angel on my shoulder. I love the black and white genre, shadows and light and have spent hours in the dark room developing and editing my shots.
Ann sent me a photo of her great grandfather, and surprisingly he resembles my father...And so the mystery continues..
On the back of the photo there was a note written by Ann's great grandmother. "Geordie" was performing the role of Capt. Hardy in a play "For Sweethearts and Wives" a three act naval comedy in 1918. I was able to find his play being referenced, and even though on tour in the United Kingdom it was brought in to a larger well known theatre for a special performance on November 12, 1918 the day after WWI ended.
Is it any wonder that I enjoy hearing from all the
strangers and unmade friends who share untold their stories with me.
Thank you to you all.
|April 21, 2010
No phone call this morning.. I'm outta here.
As the John Denver song goes..."My bags are packed and I'm ready to go...The dawn is breakin and it's early morn
...I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again..."
Will write from the States
|April 20, 2010
The photos out of Iceland are really something. Dramatic shots of electric lightening storms amongst the eruptions... The farmers trying to save their livestock and the land... It is like watching a science fiction movie. My thoughts and good wishes go out to them.
|My Flight is cancelled
again. I dread hearing the phone ring about 6:30-7am . Usually it is
Sherri in the USA , 11pm her time... saying "guess what! "
..I am going to try to go straight to NYC. No time to go see the kids. But I will only be gone a few weeks then back in Texas for May.
Friends in Las Vegas have gone to the airports and are taking home stranded passengers. The same with my publicity manager in California. They are giving them a chance for a hot shower, a meal, phones to call home and a bed to stretch out on and take a rest in some peace and quiet. I understand quite a few people all over the USA are doing that, and I am sure they are doing the same here and in Europe. And probably all over the world.
|April 19, 2010
My flight is cancelled again. Things are getting desperate at the airport. I found this picture of over 15,000 bags piling up at the airport. What a mess it must be.
I am also getting a bit concerned . I have three bookings in NYC. A theatre has been rented by Maire Martello for "Tribute" in NYC. I don't want to let anyone down.BACK
|April 17, 2010
Still waiting to get out. At least I am in a flat with a nice cuppa , the telly and a bed at night, I feel so badly for all those at the airport or trying to find a place to stay in town. Today's Flight was cancelled again. Amazing photos coming out of Iceland. Been on the phone quite a long time today with Continental Airlines. They have been most accommodating. I imagine it is a bit stressful over there. Sherri just happened to turn on her computer first thing in the morning in California . Continental had just sent me a cancellation notice exactly one minute before by email, and she was able to book one of the last remaining seats on an April 19th flight.
|April 15, 2010||
WHAT A DAY..!!!!
I just got back from the chaos at London Heathrow. The volcano in Iceland started what appears to be violent eruptions disrupting air traffic all over Europe and closing down British Airspace the first time since WWII. Pretty scary stuff. People were crowded into the airport, confused and unsure of what to do next. Yet everyone was civil to each other and surprisingly patient and understanding. No one knows how long this will last. Parents with small children and not enough nappies or food were trying to find a way back London not knowing if there were rooms available or how long they would be stranded. Many had been on holiday with their finances already depleted after being away for their Spring Break. I wish them the best.
To get to the airport I have a long long tube ride with multiple changes. I always over pack, ( treats and sweets that are favorites of my daughters and my two grandboys) and I struggle with my cases on these journeys. This time , on the way back, surprisingly I had many offers of help as I clumsily rumbled my way down the aisles of the tube. Very British...and very nice to know you can count on a Brit to be there in a crisis. I have to contact Sherri, my publicity manager and Maire, my producer to see what arrangements can be made to rebook a flight out of here . I am a little anxious as I have to be in New York City next week.
I had been quite relaxed before this planned trip, having enjoyed a lovely Easter with friends up in Yorkshire. I could only spend the Easter Weekend because I had to be ready to leave for the USA today.
I am off to do a few exciting things... other than be with my family again. I can hardly wait to see my lovely daughters and my energetic grandsons. I do miss being away from them. We get to speak often on land lines and on cell phone . I am a son of the Trans-Atlantic Cable Days . When Sherri, my young American wife first came to England in the 1970s we used to have to book a telephone call back to her family in the USA and were given a time when the call would go through via the international operator. Oh how times have changed
I am off to do a Shakespearean reading with several other actors in celebration of the Bard's Birthday at The Players, a theatrical club in New York City.
On April 28th I am to open at
Theatre Group (Jewel Box Theatre) New York City,
Wednesday , April 28 – Saturday, May 1, 2010
with my show 'Tribute-Gielgud's Ages of Man'
|March 22, 2010
Well Spring has finally come, at least on the calendar. I, for one, am really ready to move away from this winter.
I've wrapped things up at Baron's Court Theatre in London. The last night was a bit of a challenge. Because of the traffic at the time I needed to go in, I had to travel by tube rather than drive. Whatever was happening on the different underground lines that late afternoon, trains weren't running, lines were on a temporary close down, and so I hip hopped from line to line in a naughts and crosses pattern across London in order to get to the Theatre on time.
I really enjoyed working at such an intimate theatre, it gives you a lovely opportunity to sit and chat afterwards with the audiences who have come to see the show. And a great opportunity to go for a drink afterwards to relax and have a good laugh.
Members of the Sir John Gielgud Trust and many friends of my Producer, Maire Martello, all whom are involved in the entertainment industry, came to see the show. I am always reluctant to use their names in a little news letter like this, but I am always pleased to be able to share what wonderful and interesting people there are in this world.
One couple had performed "Journey's End" at the Barons Court Theatre 10 years ago. They were delighted by all the wonderful improvements done by Christian Deal and Ron Phillips to this vaulted theatre. Back then, they described it as a "scruffy" little place. Now it is warm, intimate, seats about 60 people and has a nice lighting system. Chris helps with technical advice, and both Ron and Chris are helpful with advertising and promotion of the shows . The couple are still very active in theatre and the woman has written a play about Henry Irving called "Henry The Great" and is passing on a copy for me to read. I am really looking forward to that.
One evening several people from the Garrick Club came to see the show. The membership of is one of actors, authors and those who are immersed in the dramatic arts. It is a beautiful club, formed in 1831, and in the heart of London's theatrical district. It is also a "sister club" to The Players in New York City where I am a member, and I am lucky enough to get to enjoy the beauty and camaraderie of both.
John Gielgud had been a member of both clubs, and the people who came for the show recounted wonderful warm memories of Gielgud, and sadly remembered the last time they had seen him at the Garrick just before Sir John's steep decline in health.
We laughed at the stories of all the dogs , the noise and the raucous chatter of the countless birds that Gielgud and his dear friend and companion, Martin Hensler kept. I told a friend of the stories shared with me that evening of Martin always painting the place he and Gielgud shared and then coating it with gilt until the place shined as if Midas himself had lived there. We decided that Martin was a lovely man who must have had a bit of a "Gilt Complex"...
Thank you to all of you who came as a friend, or a lover of Shakespeare, or of Gielgud. I truly enjoyed meeting ALL of you and loved you sharing all of your stories with me. Joanna Conner who had been a producer in a previous production wrote a letter to Ron Phillips management of the Barons Court Theatre, which he shared with me. She called the show "superb, and mesmerizing" and said how the show illustrated what a "really lovely man John Gielgud must have been"...I agree...he must have been.
|March 9, 2010
We opened up the show last night. A nice audience. The pub which is attached to the theatre has many of the LAMDA ( London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) students meeting there since the pub is just around the corner from the school. I went to LAMDA and won the Shakespeare Cup when I was there so it was good catching up on what has been happening ( including a new location)
A big shout out to Maire Martello , my producer in NYC, who worked hard to make sure the new programmes got to me, and works with the Gielgud Trust. She has become a good friend. And a thank you to Christina who ran the lights and fed us.
We did have a few glitches and hopefully they will be worked out tonight. We never got a chance to fully run the show with the music and some of the music cues were off. Beautiful music, the audience loves it and am looking forward to have Stephanie there before the show and during the interval to entertain everyone with her lovely lute.
|March 8, 2010
Well today is my birthday, thank you for the birthday wishes that so many of you sent to me via this website, and to the www.britmovie.co.uk website , for your good wishes, wonderful notes , fantastic screen shots, and the You Tube insert of the Good Life" from Brigger. It is great because my daughters were not even a twinkle in my eye when I did that, and they have never seen me quite so young) ... Thank you all for taking the time .
I will have Sherri share a story with you on the Britmovie site about a screenshot Cornershop15... (thank you) uploaded. It is with a good , dear friend of many years, Derek Ware who was a stunt coordinator and sitting next to me in shot from The Italian Job.
We spent today going over the lighting for the opening of "Tribute - Gielgud's Ages of Man" at the Baron's Court Theatre, London, opening tomorrow March 9-14. I worked with Stephanie Feeney who will be playing the Renaissance Ebony Lute during and before the show. She is very talented and has a beautiful voice. Listening to her sing and play brings a little sunshine into these cold days we have been having.
I am looking forward meeting the Sir John Gielgud Trustees who will be attending one of the evenings. Their kind cooperation has allowed in the creation of this show.
Also, I am looking forward to a few old mates coming . I ran into John Marshall, a lawyer now, but we were 14 year olds in school together. We hadn't seen each other since . What a surprise when I saw him at the Salisbury Pub, an actors' pub in London a little while back. One would think we would be unrecognizable after all these years. But we had a good laugh and shared many old stories of the mischief we used to get up to. His wife Veronica, is a comedienne. and their daughter Elizabeth will also be joining him. Evenings like these lend themselves to making new friends who stay behind to chat, or having reunions with old friends who time, and family and work have kept apart.
When I got back to where I am staying, there was a lovely basket from Fortnum Masons from my daughter Curzon filled with wine and chocolates. And a loving message on the answer machine from Gable, my oldest daughter. I am a lucky father. I am having to put off the celebrations until the end of the week to keep a clear head.
LAST TWO WEEKS OF FEBRUARY 2010
Last week I finished helping on a project with some film students from Arts University College Bournemouth England , AUCB. The previous week I was working with some other students from the same university on a different show.
They are young, enthusiastic, and pitch in and help and support each other. AND NEVER COMPLAIN.. no matter how difficult or uncomfortable the situation. So it was a pleasure to work with them and I them the best for what looks to be a promising future.
Kalis Kyriacou, was one of the young directors. I was working on a dream sequence on his film "Abaddon" . In the film my son is trying to calm me down and protect me from the horrifying memories that I am having of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
I had arrived by train in Bournemouth the night before we were to film, since we were to have a 7am call the next morning. I was disappointed at the time of the call since the warming smell of breakfast was making me hungry but they did not served until 8am. I checked out, and waited outside on a bench in front of my B & B. And of course it started to snow and the wind blew. And I waited.... Until it was too late for that belly filling breakfast that was being served just inside. I finally got a message that they were running late so I went up the road in search....and finally found a place that served " Breakfast Around The World " and I relished every morsel..
Eventually a car arrived and took me to the students digs where I could change into my costume. We were to film at an abandoned village that the Army had taken over for a firing range during WWII. And it was a long drive from Bournemouth.
When we got to the rectory, where the scene was to be shot, there was no roof, no plaster on the walls, no doors or windows not even a floor. The building was riddled by the bullets left by soldiers over half a century ago. What there was ... an unceasing very very cold north wind that whistled through the structure. Occasionally, I could escape to a lovely untouched 13th Century church to try and see if I could get feeling back into my fingers again, but the students stayed behind and worked, competently and together with no complaints ..not even when the public and their dogs would walk through the shot. (It was a public site open to all)
There was a glitch though, ahh, such is the way of the inventive and creative student. The first film magazine was broken inside, so they used a second. When we ran out of film, and were too far away to go back, they finished the scene on an SLR (Single Lens Reflex Camera) And then I was off to the station... frozen and not unlike the abominable snowman. Got back to London about midnight and that hot cup of tea was worth its weight in gold.
The following week,last week, I got a call from Duncan Christie asking to to help out another group of AUCB students.
Michael Rendell was directing "Highway Patrol Man" , an American setting storyline. I was playing a DUI driver who thought he had hit a young girl ( which in fact turned out to be a young calf) They had a beautiful 70s pale blue Aston Martin there. I would have loved to have driven it, but did not have a chance. It put me in mind of the Aston Martins on the Italian Job, and the car Raf Vallone drove, and will one day finally get around to including some of those stories in the Behind The Scenes page on this site.
We were filming on an abounded American airbase in Rushton . It was once a base where the Silent Wings, the gliders of the World War II were towed into the air. Now all that remains is a few concrete air strips, a pig farm, and a field where a bloke stores some containers.
It had threatened to be a pouring rainy day, but in fact turned out nice and sunny. Deja vu.,!!!...the cold and freezing winds swept off the plains and carried the cold and smell of the pig farm to my very bones. If only we could have filmed behind that pile of hay!
It was nighttime, and we ran out of electricity. The director had asked me to read a prologue that he had written. At the end of the day and without my glasses , which I did not have in my costume, in the icy dark evening air, they held a torch so I could read the words. I felt very Orson Well-sly... Missed the train back to London by one minute, and finally made it home after 1am..too tired for even a cup of tea.
February 22, 2010
"I KNOW!! I have been terrible about keeping up ( I have an excuse...the friend who does this website was out of town for 5 months...yet still not too much missed out on. But I DID do a student film as a favor for a couple of young chaps, and am getting ready to open a revamped version of Tribute- Gielgud's Ages of Man, at the Barons Court Theatre, Curtain Up Pub, 28a Comeragh Rd in London, March 9-14, 2010 at 8pm, 8-10 Pounds. Stephanie Feeney from Britain's Lute Society will be providing music on her beautiful Renaissance Ebony Lute, and I have included more of John Gielgud's wonderful words ...so full of humor with a special outlook on the world and life.
I am working on updating this and getting more stories for Behind The Scenes on this website. Our house got earthquaked in California some years back and I lost all my photos from the many shows I was in. We are diligently cruising the 'net' looking for screenshots, etc. to include in the stories for Behind The Scenes.
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