02 December, 2005

Chocolate Christmas

A little something I did for the holidays.
Singy voices provided by yours truly.

23 October, 2005

'Deep Chess' by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Life itself like championship chess
dark players jousting
on a checkered field
where you have only
so much time
to complete your moves
And your clock running
all the time
and if you take
too much time
for one move
you have that much less
for the rest
of your life
And your opponent
dark or fair
(which may or may not be
life itself)
bugging you with his deep eyes
or obscenely wiggling his crazy eyebrows
or blowing smoke in your face
or crossing and recrossing his legs
or her legs
or otherwise screwing around
and acting like some insolent invulnerable
unbeatable god
who can read your mind & heart
And one hasty move
may ruin you
for you must play
deep chess
(like the one deep game Spassky won from Fischer)
And if your unstudied opening
was not too brilliant
you must play to win not draw
and suddenly come up with
a new Nabokov variation
And then lay Him out at last
with some super end-game
no one has ever even dreamed of

And there's still time-
Your move

-- Lawrence Ferlinghetti

15 September, 2005

Hello Autumn...

Autumn arrived today with a sort of moody reluctance... time to break out my cosy red coat!

As lovely as summer is, there is something truly magnificent about being bundled up nice and snug in the lovely red coat...

07 September, 2005

Simon Callow's note

When Simon took over in the role of Count Fosco, there was a big ballyhoo. In an attempt to make the role "his own" he requested a few changes to the previous Fosco track, and called actors individually to his company to discuss ideas. These invites were presented on (not IN) posh white envelopes and placed at the entrance of our dressing room doors. Imagine the following in huge calligraphic scrawl:

"Al DEAR. I don't want to disturb you when you might
be snoozing/ winning the all-england soduko
championship/ writing a memoir of your Glasgow youth
BUT... Sir T Nunn asked me to "free up" A GIFT FOR
LIVING WELL [his song] and I have one idea which would
include you. I am in the [makeup] chair from 7 and
can't possibly move. Could you BEAR to pop down and
discuss it?
x Simon"

... that is fine.

01 July, 2005

On the steps on the Palace...

Happy July!

Our first week in this amazing theatre, absolutely huge, ornate, glorious and beautiful. Grey lacquered cherubs line the dress and grand circles. 2,000 seats, 4 levels, state-of-the-art sound (you can whisper and it is heard!), a revolving stage, and an amazing projected set. It is so utterly overwhelming. But it is feeling more natural, I just has to convince myself I belong here... in fact, if I wasn't here right now people would be looking for me....

Lovely Dean Chisnall (also straight out of drama school) and I, were sharing our awe. So what if we are green! We have a right to our first moments as professionals on the actual stage! It was marvelous.

I feel myself becoming more confident with each bit we go over in the space, and all the backstage labyrinthine madness is slowly starting to make sense. Yet... I think Ruthie, Michael, Damian and myself feel THE OPENING approaching, and simply do not feel ready for paying punters in the least.

I feel vocally prepared. Only the tiniest bit nervous about The Finale with Michael... it feels under-rehearsed, lacking in the "muscle" required for total confidence. Ruthie calls this "bruising it in" to the voice. I know what she means. You need to sing it every day, more than once, possibly overdo it, find the places you are going to be need to utilize every day, work them up to the desired standard. That way when it comes to delivering 8 times a week, your voice is strong and the technique is in place to cope with any variations (illness, exhaustion, etc).

We had one very public FIRST Confrontation rehearsal in Soho Laundry: having to learn the blocking (without the very necessary revolve), discover the moments and motivations, as well as vocally deliver in front of all the creatives (including Trevor) as well as the entire company. It was very uncomfortable. Eventually one has to switch off to everything but the given circumstances and the presence of Trevor, Michael and myself. Who cares what everyone else thinks, it has to get done! And if it didn't get done that day... well, it wasn't going to get done at all.

I am certain it will all become crystal clear in time.

Also, so much fine technical detail to remember. Two microphones, the wig, the piano, the projections, the revolve. I also have 11 costumes, and every single change except for the first one is a quick change. They all have to be rehearsed within an inch of their life. Helen. Wonderful dresser Helen has been an angel and very very patient and helpful. We will get it!

I am writing it all down.

But the great thing is, I am learning it all from the top. This is how it is DONE at it's best. And though the learning curve is high, everything else after this experience will seem easy. It seems to be in the stars that I learn most of my lessons this way. It is no bad thing, even if it causes momentary discomfort.

Have had some lovely chats with Anthony and Edward lately. Edward is such a hoot, I want to be his niece! He was telling me about his dream the other night: the grey cherubs from the theatre came to him and said "New Cast is awfully good, eh?"

I have only recently realized my life has suddenly been flooded with a new cast of characters.

And 22 years old tomorrow.
Mom arrives for a big visit. She will attend my Graduation in Glasgow for me, and then back to London for the opening.
What a Birthday Delight, the happiest in a very long time...


Laura is the face in the misty light
Footsteps that you hear down the hall
The laugh that floats on a summer night
That you can never quite recall

And you see Laura on a train that is passing through
Those eyes, how familiar they seem
She gave your very first kiss to you
That was Laura, but she's only a dream...

16 June, 2005

Woman in White Announcement on Playbill.com

. . .

"She could not have reached this white serenity 
except as the sum of all the colors, 
of all the violence she had known.
-The Fountainhead

28 May, 2005

"We are the victims of an absurd disease..."

Victims of an Absurd Disease:
Jeux de Massacre and Ionesco's Theatre of the Absurd

by Alexandra Silber & Justin Flagg

(these consequentially became the programme notes for Here Comes A Chopper, Glasgow, May 2005)


Man: We are the victims of an absurd disease.
- Eugene Ionesco, ‘Here Comes a Chopper’, 1970

Paris, 1968. The French establishment is rocked to its centre as the country is brought near to civil war by student and worker protests. The times are rife with civil unrest: in America, the Vietnam War has caused a massive popular backlash; in Eastern Europe, the Prague Spring provided a glimmer of hope for those struggling under the yoke of Soviet domination, before being brutally crushed by Russian tanks. To this maelstrom of clashing mobs of humanity, Ionesco offered a ridiculous reply.

Born in Romania in 1909 and raised in France, Ionesco toiled variously under Romanian monarchy, German fascism, Russian communism, and French socialism. He watched his father blindly (or perhaps deftly) switch allegiances at the drop of a hat, believing power to be the only true virtue. Over the course of his life, Ionesco saw the people of his Europe arbitrarily slaughtered in two world-wars, abandoning their ancient religions in droves, and living under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation. They were the victims of the most absurd disease of all: their own society.


“Two fundamental states of consciousness are at the root of all of my plays. … These two basic feelings are those of
evanescence on the one hand, and heaviness on the other; of emptiness and of an overabundance of presence; of the
unreal transparency of the world, and of its opaqueness. … The sensation of evanescence results in a feeling of anguish, a
sort of dizziness. But all this can just as well become euphoric; anguish is suddenly transformed into liberty. … This state
of conciousness is very rare, to be sure. … I am most often under the dominion of the opposite feeling…”
- Eugene Ionesco, 'Le point du départ’, 1955

This play is about death: how each of us will face it for ourselves. Do we gracefully surrender to the inevitable end, or do we fight until our bodies collapse beneath us? Who will bury us? Who will inherit? Who will weep for us? Who won’t?
It is also about loss: how we face the death of our friends, our family, our lovers; parents losing children, husbands losing wives; losing control of our daily life, our food, our water; losing the sense of our responsibilities and our place in the universe.
Finally, it is about society: does it really have the power to save us from the scourge, or is it in itself the secret cause of our disease?
The allegory of a town seized by plague, and ultimately destroyed in spite of the best efforts of the council and the populace has clear connections to the world we know. One need only consider the unavoidable headlines that assault our senses on a daily basis: The endless debates over the cause and response to global terrorism; epidemics, poverty and starvation in Africa; AIDS, Cancer, MRSA and an ageing society; and the scientific and religious quarrels over the beginning and ending of life, to name just a few. Reflecting on our own predicament, the absurd behaviour of Ionesco’s fictional townspeople becomes hauntingly recognisable.


“Laughter alone does not respect any taboo, laugher alone inhibits the creation of new anti-taboo taboos; the comic alone
is capable of giving us the strength to bear the tragedy of existence. The true nature of things, truth itself, can be
revealed to us only by fantasy, which is more realistic than all the realisms.”
- Eugene Ionesco, ‘La démystification par l’humour noir’, 1959

Throughout our creative process we have, to use Ionesco’s own words, attempted “to communicate the uncommunicable”. We have employed many different genres, toyed with notions of gender, incorporated multimedia elements, and pushed the limits of popular taboos (perhaps exceeded them), all within a stark and grimly disturbing landscape. And we have tried never to forget our sense of humour in an attempt to present an absurd existence that allows us to realise how close to absurdity our own existence really is.
It was Ionesco’s hope that through confrontation with the harsh and terrifying truth of our condition, we can learn to accept it. Only then will we be liberated from our overwhelming despair. Of course, Ionesco would be the first to suggest that the whole exercise may be doomed to failure from its inception. But that’s for you to decide.

Mme Martin: Quelle est la morale?
Le Pompier: C’est à vous de la trouver.
- Eugene Ionesco, ‘La Cantatrice Chauve’, 1948

22 April, 2005

Rabbit Hole

So my Mom was mowing the front lawn when she saw a biggish hole in the grass.... luckily she stopped mowing for had she not, she would have heinously killed these lovely newborn bunnies who had found a temporary home. Priceless!

15 March, 2005

WIW Audition: Footnote

Dear Alexandra,

Further to my message and e-mail you also need to prepare a short classical speech (Ibsen, Chekhov, Wilde, Shakespeare etc) for presentation to Trevor Nunn.

James Orange


27 January, 2005


~ composed by Alexandra Silber, Finalist for The Edwin Morgan Poetry Prize, 2003; Glasgow, Scotland ~

The moon has kidnapped the kidney of my lover. (Not the heart or soul or anything one might expect under these circumstances). Replaced haphazardly with a chunk of moon-rock counterfeit stitched zigzagedly with a white-hot needle and silver fishing line never cut. He is still attached to her!
“This explains why the Moon always follows me home,” he whispers.

Oddly, he does not long for the kidney only for the Moon Herself, who is slowly sucking life from that gash in his side, like fruit from a goblin market.

His skin once lithe and radiant has gone white, developing irregular patches of pale, slippery clay. (Sometimes I have to laugh because he really does smell like cheese…)
Every night he digs his knees in to the shore and stares at the sky, praying with his eyes, the hollows are intense and vacant; grey as a turned-off television screen, growing hollower.

I know the Moon will forget him.
I know she has seduced before.
I know she has filled her bowels to the brim with the organs of a million soulless, searching men wandering the cosmos in vain.

I will destroy the Moon.
I will conquer Her.
I will plunge my victory flag into Her milky spleen and gut her
like a chilled coconut.
Then, I will go to her valley of viscerals
fish out the grimy, forgotten kidney,
and eat it.
To spite her.
Because the wrenching is unbearable.
Because I want to taste their love;
be as close as I can.

We are two
Unutterably empty women;
The moon and I.

16 January, 2005

Old times...

It's snowing! And it is staying on the ground! Oh, it is ever so peaceful. I am absolutely exhausted and feel a tremendous anxiety about the weeks to come: these mock auditions, Carlton Hobbs, Showcase.

Why must everything be so ephemeral? You can't ever hold on to a moment, you cannot bottle things for safekeeping. How I long for a bottle of April 27, 2001 when the romance has left my life. Or what about the bottles marked Essence of Interlochen or Singing with Michael or Long Talks with Dad...? One could go to the shelf, pop the cork and be met with a rush of euphoric sensation, or contentment, security, tenderness. All of these at the pop of a cork.

Equally, I suppose, one could be met with a rush of indifferent air: odorless, colorless and lacking the desired rush of feeling. It would be a gamble. That would only be fair. "Subject for a short story..." as Trigorin would asses.

When one is fortunate enough to be blessed with the gift of memory, one can collect and arrange those memories like jewels in an ornate memory box, if you will. Dust them off, polish them, see them anew, hold them to the light, reassess their value.

But it can have a vicious sting. You remember the ugly, the agonizing, they throb in your mind, they remind you of your inadequacies. Or the worst of all: you remember, they do not. They never do. Was it more important to you? Did it ever happen at all? A long mind comes at a high price; and costs, always costs.

05 January, 2005

'Between the Material World and the World of Feeling' by Jane Hirshfield

Between the material world and the world of feeling there must be a border -on one side, the person grieves and the cells of the body grieve also; the molecules also, the atoms. Of this there are many proofs. On the other, the iron will of the earth goes on. The torture-broken femur continues to heal even in the last hour, perhaps beyond; the wool coat left behind does not mourn the loss of its master. And yet Cavafy wrote, "In me now everything is turned into feeling-furniture, streets." And Saba found in a bleating goat his own and all beings' sorrow, and this morning the voice of that long dead goat-which is only, after all, a few black-inked words-cries and cries in my ears. Rilke, too, believed the object longs to awaken in us. But I long for the calm acceptance of a bent-wood chair and envy the blue-green curve of a vase's shoulder, which holds whatever is placed within it-the living flower or the dead-with an equally tender balance, and knows no difference between them.

-- Jane Hirshfield


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