From Blank Page to Stage in just Six Weeks!
From the Bonk St Theatre website.
A new Science Fiction Theatre in Liverpool has landed. Directed by Bob Moyler and Art Direction by Ailie Rutherford.
1/3 Temple Court, Liverpool
The Bonk St Theatre will be open for six weeks only. Changing from ideas factory and meeting place, becoming an actors studio and rehearsal space, and culminating in three exciting evenings of science fiction performance on July 29th, 30th, 31st.
Prepare to be amazed!!
June 28th – My Audition
I auditioned for a the play. I have never cold read a part, or even auditioned before. So I didn’t know what to expect, I dressed as a mad scientist and was overjoyed that my audition part was for a mad scientist too! I was quivering! Apart from that I did the best I could and was quite pleased with how I did it.
June 29th – George Auditions
George was really nervous before the audiotion. However he came out all excited and proud of himself afterwards! He did a bit of his part from memory and I thought he did it brilliantly!
July 1st – Double Audition Success!
Both me and George found out that we both have roles! They are both very small roles in the second act. However it is the first time either of us have auditioned for anything so we’re both dead proud! I am playing Mr Spangler, the inventor of the Upright Vacuum Cleaner (Pictured) and George is playing Professor Sarsparella (The inventor of the Time Machine)
July 5th – First Rehearsal and Move into the Lab
July 12th – Stage and Props
There is one major prop in the play. Three minor props and some lesser props. We have decided not to give too much of the plot away on our blogs so I wont be specific! The stage has been built out of fixtures and fittings from the Lewis’ closing down sale. We have been cutting holes into a gigantic U bend to give it character, attach decoration and to and working parts. We know how it will fit together with pipes and inner workings displayed. We have been dismantling toys and rebuilding them to look like something else.
July 13th – Stage and Props
We have the basic structure together for one of the minor props. It’s constructed largely from a large pater pistol! We have acquired a rugged lifting trolly to form a frame for another prop. We have painted the first coat of pewter and can start thinking about how to decorate it. We have also added legs to the U bend, and some inner structure and details. We are drinking a lot of Fruit Shoot because we like the bottles and caps!
July 14th – Stage and Props
We gave the U bend it’s first coats of silver and black hammerite today. A second coat of pewter and created and painted an angled lecturn for the lifting trolly. Â Started painting an old roses tin and sanding down a broom handle for the final prop. The Stage has now been painted white. We had Robbie and Nigel rehearsing a really funny scene today during hot sunshine, torrential rain, hailstorms, thunder and lightning. It felt like some crazy scientist had been manipulating the weather!
July 15th – The Third Minor Prop and Rehearsal
Today we made the third minor prop from a Roses Tin, a fan, a pillowcase and a broom handle. And lots more painting and waiting for it to dry! Later on George joined us and we rehearsed our scene. George, Richie and Gary were brilliant, and I remembered my lines!
July 16th – The sign goes up!
All the components of the props are finished and we did a test assembly and arranged them on the stage. I am not going to post anymore pictures of the props until after the show, we don’t want to give the game away! We had so much fun today! And Bob put up the sign!
July 18th – Full Cast Rehearsal
Fresh from the Pirate Festival I went to the full cast rehearsal with George. This is the first time we have done the whole play together! It works really well! And it is funny and very fresh with the cast improvising over the bits that are misremembered or mistimed!
July 19th – Lights and Chairs!
In addition to painting and varnishing we also took delivery of thirty chairs for the audience! We are trying to work out how to lay these chairs out so that whole audience gets great views and we still have access for the cast. We also tried to understand the lighting system. And failed!
July 20th – Blackout!
July 21st – Rehearsal
George came to the theatre and we rehearsed our scene. George has greatly improved his scene now that he has a prop to work with. We technically tested one of the props and the timing of it powering up in my part.
July 22nd – Goggles!
I wrapped sellotape around a broomhandle, painted shelves, made another blackout curtain. I also got to make the fourth pair of goggles. I wish I could show you pictures of the props! They’re brill! I’ll make sure I post them all after the performances.
July 25nd – Costumes!
We started trying on our costumes today for size and did a full cast rehearsal. I did more spraying and sewing. And made a few tiny props to fit in pockets. The full cast rehearsal was a bit stop start with cast members being at the wrong place at the wrong time (Incuding me!) or forgetting lines (Including me!) or forgetting to turn their device on (Including me!). However it is coming on really well for this stage. We have three more full rehearsals and all the problems will be ironed out.
July 26th – Lighting Rehearsal
An exhaustingly long rehearsal today as the technicalities of lighting the stage and cast were worked through. The theatre is now fully blacked out and torches, footlights, coloured ceiling lights, overhead projectors and strobes have been added into the equations. The stage can now take on a number of different colourful moods according to the scene. I remembered all my lines today and did all the actions correctly! I even got to do George’s bit as he couldn’t make the rehearsal today!
July 27th – Rehearsal
Another full rehearsal today. I added some more finishing touches to a prop, made a sci-fi belt and straps. The play is starting to hang together well and some new plot devices creatively used to fill what is missing! However there is still so very much to do!!!
July 28th – Final Rehearsal
The final full rehearsal was today! The play is really coming together! It is intimate, busy, atmospheric, entertaining and funny. I have almost finished adding finishing touches to George’s costume. I just need to use stronger sticky stuff next time to stop it melting on stage!!!
July 29th – World Premiere!
The world premier was today! I rivetted together George’s costume. It was an absolute pleasure to have Vikki, Jeff, Lins, Gav, Nick and Emma in the audience. So we were guaranteed a friendly audience! We got our parts right. In fact we did them better than ever before! We were even asked to sign programmes. Although admittedly they were for our mates!
July 30th – Penultimate Night!
I was exhausted today! A full day at work meant that a sleepy Warren and George walked into the theatre forty minutes later than the rest of the cast. However because we only have a tiny part in the second act that just served to keep us out of the way while the main cast put on make-up and got into costume. In fact we decided to wait until well into the first act when most of the cast were on stage before we even started to get changed! The second night was followed by a night out on the town. Our weather control experiments had produced a hot and humid monsoon evening so I chose to wear Safari suit! A not so quick enough drink in a noisy and rowdy Flannigan’s was refreshingly followed by a thoroughly entertaining evening in the Kazamier. Here Rosie treated us to her delicious and potent absinth and Laura and her band treated us to their fabulous Krunk music!
July 31st – Reviews
The chap reviewing for the Echo described the theatre as a Counter Tardis Experience and like entering a fairground ghost train. I was extremely flattered by a resourceful use of various props and Heath Robinson contraptionsÃ‚Â. Proof, that theatre, like all those Blue Peter pastimes of old, can be achieved on a string and a prayer. I think the reviewer was extremely unfair to the actors and didn’t wholeheartedly acknowledge the fact that the play was just a blank piece of paper six weeks ago, was cast four weeks ago, and we only started building the stage and props three weeks ago and that all tickets were given away for free. Anyway since this is the first time I have built props for a play I am absolutely thrilled by the “resourceful use of various props and Heath Robinson contraptions”Â line! And how dare he suggest I am not wearing a serious hat!!!
Liverpool Daily Post
“From Beyond Iron Mountain offers a short blast of something strange, occasionally frustrating, and ultimately enjoyable.“
“From Beyond Iron Mountain was great fun, and the sort of thing Liverpool should look to do more often.”
Resourceful use of various props and Heath Robinson contraptionsÃ‚Â. Proof, that theatre, like all those Blue Peter pastimes of old, can be achieved on a string and a prayer.”
July 31st – Final night and Wrap Party
The final night of the show and although we were exhausted spirits were still high. It was a great final night. Having an audience has really helped us up our game as we work out which bits work and which ones don’t! After the show we went out to Flannigans and The Swan. I was originally feeling a little bit guilty about dragging George into noisy bars, however I was thrilled and surprised to see George have an unexpectedly wonderful time while being admired by his fans! When I was tired and exhausted at 2am George wanted to carry on partying!! We got home at about 4:30am!
August 1st – Reveal!
The play has finished it’s run! I am now allowed to show you what we did! The play looked absolutely marvellous!!!
The Props! or the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Heath Robinson contraptions”Ã‚Â
The main prop was a weather control machine and was on stage most of the play and needed to be in modular components to be built (And broken!) by the actors on stage. And be sturdy enough to survive the rather violent earthquake scene! The prop was very much a collaboration between Ailie, Bob and Myself and represented most of the work!
Vacuum Suction Bag!
The prop for my character Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mr James Murry Spangler”Ã‚Â was a bizarrely constructed vacuum cleaner. This was pretty much all my own work, under the tight artistic guidelines set by Bob and Ailie! However they did help paint it. It had to inflate live on stage while I wheezingly presented the device to the Science Convention while being distracted by dusty surfaces. The most annoying part was counterweighting it enough so that it didn’t fall over in the final scene! I cannot believe how heavy I had to make it!!!
The prop for George’s character “Professor Sarsaparella” was a time machine. This prop was made by Ailie (Although I did help paint it!). It consted of a trolly, an old telephone switchboard handset and a commodore 64. Also a rather outrageous “Cerebral Control Helmet”.
Costumes and other seamstressing
I have little experience in making costumes, and never claimed to have any! I’m not sure Sir Henry at Rawlinson End counts! Although this is something I would love to be able to do with confidence. I do however know how to use a sewing machine and hand stitching. I was entrusted with machine stitching blackout curtains and handstitch two head holes for the Microbe characters in the petri dish. I finished Professor Sasparella’s costume off with a belt and the wristbands for Ryan Hall’s amazing cardboard watches!