National Theatre, You’re Doing Such a Good Job

Thanks to the stunningly vibrant Bard on the Beach that plays out every summer in Vancouver, I already love Shakespeare. Last year’s production of Hamlet was my first time experiencing that play, and boy oh boy was it something to behold! Their interpretations of Bill’s work is always surprising and delightful.

And now I have a new venue to experience the theatre: my dearest cinema. The National Theatre in London has been live-broadcasting their various productions for some time now, and today I thought I’d write a bit about them.

First it was Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle (who you may know as the director of such films as 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Slumdog Millionaire). I was intrigued by the concept of having the two lead actors- playing Doctor Frankenstein and his Creature- swapping roles each night. And when I learned it was Benedict Cumberbatch as one of the two leads, well I was sold. I saw him twice, once in each role, from the comfort of a movie-theatre seat.

Now, don’t tell the attending crowd they’re “only in a movie theatre” because they don’t seem to know. Many are dressed up. There’s applause. It’s generally an older crowd- but something is changing. This is where the National Theatre’s strategy is bloody brilliant: they’re casting actors that a younger crowd knows and loves in stage productions that said crowd might otherwise not care about.

Agony! Outrage! Culture being forced upon us! Made to endure stage productions we know nothing of to get a glimpse of our favourite film actors!

Just a few days ago I stood in line with a friend, waiting for Coriolanus. It was mostly an older crowd, but speckled with people like us- several groups of young women, who were there for one reason and one reason alone: Tom Hiddleston.

You might know him from “The Avengers” franchise, where he has clearly stolen the show with his depiction of the “villain” Loki.

Now this is where the National Theatre’s strategy gets really brilliant. They draw in this new crowd with a face we can’t get enough of, and then, and here’s the important part, the production is so fabulous in every other merit that we become an audience for the whole of it, not just the actor that drew us there.

The rest of the cast is brilliant, by the way.

And yes you see right, that is in fact Mark Gatiss, from (and co-creator of) such other things as the BBC Sherlock and Doctor Who.

I find myself getting excited for King Lear (you had me at “directed by Sam Mendes”- aka another extremely talented film director). And War Horse. Their little teases of both of these were feeding off of my excitement for their depiction of Coriolanus that I couldn’t help but want to go to them.

They’ve successfully hooked me. They’re productions are so well put together that I will be going to others, even if I don’t know the cast or the director. They’ve had a brilliant go at creating brand loyalty here, and I must say they’ve succeeded spectacularly. A new generation of theatre-goers is upon us, one which was brought in by ulterior motives, but which has been won over. As expected, I’m sure. Well NT, I say excellent work. You are well met by this new audience, and I’m pleased to say that we’ll be seeing a lot of each other in the years to come.

And in case you missed it, and I (or, let’s be honest, more likely Mr. Hiddleston) have inspired you to check it out, there’s an encore of Coriolanus on the 22nd of February.

Because as far as I can figure, this fandom is pretty cray about him.

(Sidenote update: I’m on a two week writing retreat right now- just tooling up ye olde fifth novel, and reading and making notes on two books on the craft, to assimilate into my brain-noodle. Things are going well now, and I feel pretty darn excited about this manuscript.)

That’s all for now, dear readers.
As ever, thank you for reading.
Heidi out.

P.S. For reference, this post took a full two hours to put together, after thinking on it for several days.

Using Visuals to Help Keep Track of Story Structure

My book is just about at the halfway mark.  It’s going well.  Last week was, as you guessed if you read the post, rather rough.

I finished a portion of the story that is happy and uplifting.  I’m trying to keep it close to my heart so I can use it to get through the rest.  I’m getting some great stories and some interesting characters…

…But I’m having trouble keeping track of it all.

My book is a collection of stories from people all over the world.  I have a great program, Scrivener, to help keep track of it all, but at the end of the day, I found it really useful to make a physical map to lay everything out.  Now when I’m typing, I can see the gaps in my story and fill them in.

The timeline is showing me where the gaps are, and where I have overlap that could be moved around.

Already, these little things on my wall have caused me to shift the times and locations of a few stories.

Cue cards are helping me keep track of the major themes, as well as a body count, for each of the segments.  :<

It’s helping shape my story, and helping me keep track of everything.  If it helps you too, do it.  Do whatever works.

As before, I can’t wait to be done with this one.  It’s good, but man is it hard to write.

Side note: I found this comment on Reddit about how the original Enterprise is at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, but that it needs to be restored.

Having just been hooked by the original series, I thought I’d see what we could do about that.  I contacted them about getting it refit; hopefully I’ll hear back!  If not, I will post an open letter to gain support.  More on that later!

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.