Twelfth Night Blog: Introduction

Originally posted on BOAT’s blog.

Back after a two-year hiatus, while the world dealt with masks, social-distancing and closed theatres, BOAT now returns to shores to whisk you away to the land of Illyria, and meet the merry and mad folk in Twelfth Night. If you haven’t met us before, we are Brownsea Open Air Theatre – BOAT for short. We perform an annual Shakespeare production in the beautiful setting of Brownsea Island, sitting in Poole Harbour. This summer we invite you to join us to revel in madness, confusion and music! Over the next few months, this will be your one-stop-shop for all things Twelfth Night: introductions to the play’s cast of characters, we’ll give you some behind-the-scenes peeks at the rehearsal process and keep you up-to-date with the show’s progress.

While the actors may have only just begun rehearsing – our read-through was last Sunday – the off-stage creative team have already been hard at work getting our costumes, props, set-design and music sorted before we even picked up a script! In February, the cast and crew managed to find a spare evening to meet, greet and get to know each other (of course with snacks and drinks!). This officially and excitingly marked the start of the show process. Then, back in early March, our cast had the chance to pick the brains of Andrew Jarvis, a seasoned RSC veteran and proud lover of all things Shakespeare, for a masterclass on the verse. It was also a great opportunity for the cast to bond and begin to create the ensemble that is so important for a play like this to work.

Twelfth Night Read Through.

And so, the time ticked by from our casting in January, to the 24th April. Slowly, the read through crept up behind us until, last Sunday, it arrived. We packed ourselves into the hall and over three short hours, the black ink on our pages of script grew a voice, and filled the space. And what a read it was (if I do say so myself!). It was delightful to get a first taste of the diverse voices of Illyria: drunkards, madmen, lovers, fighters and everyone in between inhabit our little island. Even after our Director – the brilliant Brian Woolton – assured us performance was not necessary at the read through, we actors could not help ourselves and began to find our characters’ voices and make them heard.

And now here we are, almost at the end of our first week of rehearsals. We start the process by blocking the play. This involves going through the entire play scene-by-scene and deciding on and making note of all of our entrances and exits. It’s the rough sketch on the canvas before we start painting the picture, if you will. What we all do on the stage once we’re on is what the next twelve-or-so weeks of rehearsals are for. While the blocking process may not have the nuance and energy of the rest of the process, it is a lovely chance to begin to get a feel for the shape of the play, as well as joining together and revelling in the excitement of the start of rehearsals. It is also a chance for Brian, our director, to talk with us about the style and vision he has in mind. The wonderful thing about Shakespeare is that his plays are so versatile, but with such a multitude of subtly different interpretations comes the added challenge of creating our play with a cohesive and consistent vision, so it does not feel confused or self-contradictory (except where that’s the intention!). The blocking process is a quick one, taking only two rehearsals, but is of paramount importance. The sound of pencil leads furiously scribbling exits and positions stops, and we can sit back – for a moment – and know that this will make the coming weeks easier, and more enjoyable.

Twelfth Night Read Through, Black & White

Phew! Well that brings us up-to-date with our goings-on for now. Finally: tickets! Tickets are on sale and selling fast, so grab them soon if you don’t want to miss out. We look forward to seeing you on the island this summer and showing you all of our hard work!

Salisbury Fringe

Excited to say that I have been cast last-minute in Salisbury Fringe‘s Comedy Highlights at The Chapel. I am jumping in to replace an actor who has come down with covid-19. Should be a fun experience and really great to be able to help out some fellow actors and creatives in need!

The show consists of six short comedy plays, of which I will be performing in three. The show will run on Friday and Saturday the 18th and 19th March. Tickets are available here for the 18th or here for the 19th.

New Headshots

I’ve had some fantastic new headshots done, courtesy of Nick James. He was a true delight to work with, professional and friendly, with some amazing advice to offer on starting out in the industry, as well as some juicy anecdotes! I am so pleased with how they have turned out, and I will definitely be a returning customer, thank you so much Nick!

B.O.A.T – Twelfth Night

I am delighted to have been cast as Sebastian in Brownsea Island Open Air Theatre‘s (B.O.A.T) production of Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. I will be playing Sebastian, twin brother of Viola, who is shipwrecked in Illyria, and mistaken for his sister, who has disguised herself as a man.

The production is in support of the National Trust, and having seen past productions, is sure to be fantastic. I will be joined by Brooke Camilleri Agius, a fellow graduate of Guildford School of Acting, who will play Viola.

Many thanks to the BOAT team for this opportunity!

Dyssomnia

Dyssomnia is a short film I made for the final project of my degree at GSA. The project brief challenged me to produce a short film solo – I had to write it, perform it, edit it – the works.

The film is a brief delve into the mind of someone suffering from severe sleep deprivation, with a hint of supernatural thriller thrown in the mix.

The opening scene – a time lapse of the main character, Tristram, attempting to sleep, is over a piano score I wrote myself. The score becomes more and more riddled with (deliberate) mistakes, to reflect Tristram’s mind becoming more and more affected by sleeplessness.

If you enjoy the opening and want to watch the whole thing, you can find it here on my YouTube channel

The opening scene of my short film, Dyssomnia

MA Acting Showcase

Guildford School of Acting has released our MA/MFA Acting Showcase to industry professionals. It was an absolute pleasure to rehearse and perform alongside two brilliant actors – Brooke Camilleri Agius and Matthew Ackermann. I am very grateful to have been given this chance to reach so many professionals with my work.

If you are an industry professional who has not been contacted by GSA themselves, you can request a link to watch the showcase by emailing gsaevents@gsa.surrey.ac.uk. If you would like to just watch my scenes, they can be found here.

If you have watched the showcase and you are interested in representing me, please email me at chris@christopherwareham.com.

Borrowed Time – monologue

This is a monologue I wrote as part of my acting training at GSA.

ROBERT

Hi, Dad… Do you know me today? No! Don’t worry if you don’t. I’m not gonna keep you long, Dad; I just wanted to say:… I love you, Dad. I do. And I know you won’t understand…can’t understand. You always said I was your Hero – Dad – that I’d do  such amazing things. Then you…

Long pause.

It’s in my brain, Dad. They missed it before… Dad, I’ll be gone before you… Nothing special in my life, none of the big adventures you said I’d have… They won’t even let me out and have one last hurrah… I am stuck, I am stuck, Dad. Here, in this room like a fucking memorial to myself. Do you remember when we were little and Aaron or I had had a shitty week and you’d just pack the car up and go off down to Swanage and stay in a caravan for the weekend? I want to do that one more time. Would you like that, Dad?

Beat.

Please, Dad, if any part of you can hear me, just say something.

A Good Person

A short scene I co-wrote with fellow actor Benedict Kennedy. If you would like to watch the scene, you can find it here.

EXT. day. A bench by a lake. HARVEY sat wearing disheveled, somewhat formal attire. JAMES enters in formal attire. HARVEY stands and they shake hands. Both sit down.

JAMES

First of all I’d like to express my condolences.

HARVEY

As would I. How are you feeling about it all?

JAMES

It’s tough, I won’t lie. Particularly for my mother. I’m just glad my father isn’t here to… You?

HARVEY

Yeah. It’s been a rough few weeks.

JAMES

I’m sure you miss her very much. 

HARVEY

Yeah.

JAMES

I don’t blame you. Emma was a wonderful person. Shame about her taste in men. Has there been any news on the bastard who did this? 

HARVEY

Actually, that’s why I’m here. 

JAMES

I had wondered. 

HARVEY

The case has been dropped. 

JAMES

What?

HARVEY

You heard me. They’re not investigating.

JAMES

Why not?

HARVEY

There was DNA all over the body, but DNA is only useful if there are suspects. And no one seems to be willing to talk. After a certain amount of time, other cases take priority.

JAMES

What other cases?

HARVEY

I’m surprised you haven’t heard. You clearly haven’t been into London recently. We can’t cope.

JAMES

I’m sorry about that. Emma deserved better.

HARVEY

I know. But what can we do eh?

JAMES

Stand up.

HARVEY

Excuse me?

JAMES

Stand up.

JAMES begins patting down HARVEY. He finds a USB stick.

HARVEY

You really do due diligence, don’t you?

JAMES

One has to unfortunately. So many bright young minds on the force these days.

The pat down is concluded.

JAMES (cont’d)

I assume everything I need is on here.

HARVEY

There isn’t very much on it. I’m hoping you could help with that too. I’d pay. 

JAMES

I refuse. 

HARVEY

I insist.

JAMES

I refuse. Just leave it with me. 

HARVEY

When will the funeral be, do you think?

JAMES

Probably Friday. You’ll be told in due course.

HARVEY

I understand if you’d rather it were just family.

JAMES.

You are family.

HARVEY

I want you to know that, when this is over, I will still have a job to do.

JAMES

And I will be a big part of that job.

HARVEY.

Precisely.

JAMES

You know, you lot have put a great deal of blood, sweat and tears into putting men like me away. But at least we have a code, honour. We don’t smuggle drugs in the bellies of pregnant women. We don’t put boys on the streets with knives to do our dirty work. 

HARVEY

If I ever miss you, I’ll be sure to send you a postcard.

JAMES

Make it a pretty one. You know my sister… She wasn’t involved in the family business. I want you to know that.

HARVEY

I know. She was a good person.

The Old Man

This is one of the first poems I ever wrote. It’s one of very few from my teen years that I am still fond of.

I sit and stare
At the wrinkled man,
His gnarled face
And spindly arms
Never move or sway.
Not now.

I try to talk 
To the old, wise man.
He merely stays silent - 
Not even a whisper.
Not now.

I try to protect 
The kind, sleeping giant.
He does not think 
Or know what I did for him.
Not now.

I stand my ground
For this pillar of strength.
He does not think 
Or know what he did for me.
Not now.

And then they came
To take my friend away.
But he did not struggle.
Not then.

He went in peace 
As they cut him down.
His leaves will never whisper;
His majesty will never rule again.
Never would he sway in the breeze,
Or creek, or crack, 
Or just stand and think
Never again.

Dedicated to my grandfather: Ronald Kendall