Day 3 - Spent this morning talking to Drew Altschul, psychologist and behaviourist. Talked about the psychology of groups, synchronised EEG waves in study groups, the psychology of embarrassment, and the BITE method of brainwashing and control in cults (Behaviour, Information, Thought, Emotion). Spent this afternoon talking to Ben Mallaby about his PhD research into comedy audiences. Discussed ways to give audiences agency and space in which to explore play and spontaneity rather than having them accept passive or pre-determined roles. Conceived the idea of staging an event that combines his research with mine and specifically explores methods for orchestrating audience control within a live comedy environment.
Day 4 - Spent today with movement director Grace Gibson, looking at how to physically express the emotional and conceptual journey of the show. Used David Copperfield as a physical model for the central character of the show, choreographed the opening and established three “rules” for the character’s movement - No Inactive Arm; Breathing Into Movements; Planted Stance. Choreographed another section of the show by thinking about embarrassment and how to physicalise it, and layer it.
Day 5 - Spent today with Grace, Ben Target and Miranda. Shared the physical discoveries Grace and I made on Day 4, and looked at how those 3 Rules of Movement can help to choreograph other complicated setpieces in the show. Thought about use of space, and ownership of space. Examined the structure of the show, and established that it follows Kurt Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorian laws of time, rather than occupying linear time. Decided therefore at which points we see the character’s “truth” and at which points we see him lie. Recorded a rough stagger-through of the entire show’s structure, then discussed. Realised the show, as now conceived, answers a question I asked myself in 2014 but failed to answer at the time - “Can I make a show that looks like a smashed mirror?”
Day 6 - Spent today with Alex and Ben discussing outcomes of the stagger-through. Reworked the climax of the show to make it more concentrated on one idea, and worked out how to seed that idea throughout the show. Read through the full script of the show and explored sections to reword and simplify, moments that require less explanation. Decided the show needs to tell plot, structure and concept, but show emotion, theme and meaning. Rehearsed mine and Ben’s interactions to find more play within them and to clarify their function in the story.
Today Ben and Roisin & Chiara are coming over to record voiceover dialogue for the show’s audio sequences, so that’ll be Day 7! I’ll update on the second half of the R&D next week. I hope a few of you found this interesting!
A Cool New Thing In Comedy - The shortlist for the British Comedy Guide Awards is out! There’s loads of cool shows nominated, give some nice things your votes!
What’s Made Me Laugh The Most - I’m not at all embarrassed to say it was this video of a horse farting. I’m also not embarrassed to say that this was actually research.
Book Of The Week - I’m reading To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s one of those books I probably should’ve read about 20 years ago, but didn’t because there was a stage version at the Salisbury Playhouse that I saw a bunch of times because I worked there so I thought “I know what happens in that.” But it’s a great book! Long overdue. Atticus is an absolute dude.
Album Of The Week - Meat Loaf just died, and spookily, at the exact moment he died I was watching Bat Out Of Hell, the Meat Loaf musical, at the New Wimbledon Theatre. I spent this week listening to his 1986 album Blind Before I Stop to prep, because it’s one of only 3 Meat Loaf albums I’d not listened to yet. It’s not his best, but in tribute to the big guy, who meant a great deal to me, I’m going to make this unremarkable album my Album Of The Week. Rest In Peace, Marvin.
Film Of The Week - Not seen any. Too much Succession to get through.
That’s all for this week! As ever, feel free to let me know what you think of this week’s Tape, and if you wanted to send it to a friend or encourage others to subscribe, I’d be hugely grateful! Take care of yourselves, and see you next week,
PS Here’s a great pic by Miranda of me learning how to levitate: