Category Archives: Production

Research and Development (Patent Pedrick) (Part 2)

One research material we have been looking at a lot is Towards Retirement. Its a 64 page advice booklet produced by the Department of Health and Social Security for civil service employees to help prepare for retirement. This booklet was issued to civil service employees in the years approaching retirement age. The drawing on the cover of the booklet has a golf club with patent written on it – a spooky co-incidence indeed with Arthur Pedrick and his 4 golf patents.

 Handbook with golf club with patent on it
Towards Retirement civil service handbook

The publication date of this booklet looks to be early 1970’s, the most recent year referenced is 1969 but it mentions £’s so it is published after decimalisation in 1971.

It is written in a very practical tone and there are lots of illustrations in the booklet that also provide strong imagery from the era and echo some of the imagery we created in our earlier development.

Your Retirement: Working
Last day at work
Your Retirement: Holiday
Your Retirement: Pottery
Your Retirement: Funeral
A particularly uplifting retirement illustration

Colour TV / Interlude Films / Testcard F / Intermission Programmes / Trade Test Colour Films

Television is often regarded as a companion to the retired. Pedricks colour TV was a beloved possession and there are references in his patent applications to TV programmes he watched (The World About Us: “the Year of the Green Centre” BBC2 31.3.74) in GB1411354A and TV itself is described as a “window on the world” in GB1420426A. The repeated broadcast of Trade Test Colour Films broadcast on BBC2 between 1967 and 1973 also seem a likely influence/trigger on his patent ideas as many of these films share similar themes with his patents.

Testcard F (1967)
Testcard F (1967)
BBC “The World About Us” (1974)
BBC “The World About Us” (1974)

Interlude Films were made to fill in gaps in the TV schedule, intervals in plays and to also cover frequent technical faults and broadcast breakdowns. The Potters Wheel is perhaps the most iconic of these films. Interludes were sometimes more popular than the regular programming and epitomise a gentler age.

In Patent Application GB1439297A “Initiating A Controlled Fusion Reaction Using Deuterium And Tritium Pellets In Imploding Bullets Fed With Powerful Laser Beam Pulses” (1974) Pedrick cites his inability to raise the financial backing necessary to realise his patents as his Ginger Cat has found it impossible to break into the TV advertising “closed shop” of Tinned Cat Foods, and in fact “Ginger” prefers ordinary Corned Beef to most brands of Cat Food.

TV related patents:
GB1256350A “Television Using Colours Produced By Light Ray Scan Of Prismatic Surfaces On Screens Of Glass Or Other Suitable Materials” (1970)
GB1334503A “Coloured Light Ray Scanning System For NTSC PAL Colour TV Transmissions” (1972)
GB1348477A “Colour Television Using Lightray Created Images” (1973)
GB1391569A “Miniature Image Producing Spectacles And Binoculars” (1973)

Research and Development (Patent Pedrick) at Studio 3 Arts (Part 1)

We have now come to the end of our second period of Research and Development on Patent Pedrick – our new performance work devised around maverick inventor Arthur Paul Pedrick.

This follows on from our initial development last Summer that ended in a scratch performance of 18 mins at The Little Angel HATCH festival last September. From that initial work I’ve thought that there are clues to making the show are in Arthur’s patents. However, I’ve found 163 of them and it has not been possible in the research time to read through 15 years of his work (I’ve read most of them) and also look into the other areas opening up for research such as the music of Lonnie Donegan, the history of the testcard, BBC interlude films, trade test colour films, 1960’s Airplane crashes, light music, testcard music, 60s/70s cat food advertising, the 3 day week, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, the Apollo space program, Einstein and relativity theory, Harrods Exotic Pets dept…

The research for this production has been immense, exhausting and overwhelming at times. But going back into a devising environment you never know exactly what is going to be useful or what kernel of info could be needed. I find quite often a little detail can unlock something much bigger or link up a theme – both often needed in a devising situation – but getting all the little details takes a lot of time.

Sarah-Jane and I stood in Barking Tesco the night before our first devising day as the gods of the reduced section tempted us with party poppers. Could they be useful? Would they be useful? Should we get them? And through the interrogation of the value of these party poppers we unlocked an idea for a recurring motif that will form a strong part of the visual narrative. We got the reduced party poppers (and clubcard points).

We spent seven devising days at Studio 3 Arts. Below are some photos from that time.

Last day at the Patent Office
Last day at the Patent Office
The 60s Office farewell
The 60s Office farewell
Arthur and Ginger
Arthur and Ginger
The first patents
The first patents

Research and Development (Patent Pedrick)

In my research on Arthur Paul Pedrick I never found a definitive list of all of the patents Arthur had approved. The Wikipedia article on A P Pedrick at present wrongly states that he “filed for 162 United Kingdom patents between 1962 and his death in 1976”. Through lots and lots of searching on Espacenet and looking up his self references I found 163 of his UK patents. I don’t know for sure that’s all of them but I will still list them here for the benefit of anyone else out there who is looking for a list of Pedrick Patents. They are a real range of serious to silly and show an incredible appetite for invention and imagination that I am massively jealous of. Some of the patent titles alone I love, particularly #73, #121 and of course #153 the legendary GB1426698A.

  1. GB918327A Inflatable air cushioned transporting sledge
  2. GB922386A Combination piston-turbine internal combustion engine
  3. GB922977A Anti-roll ship stabiliser
  4. GB925268A Air cushioning ball support bearing
  5. GB925269A Improvements in air cushioned ball support units
  6. GB926207A Improved air cushioned ball support units
  7. GB929853A Skim Craft
  8. GB929989A Improvements in Heat Exchangers
  9. GB931664A Improvements in skim craft
  10. GB935130A Improvements in fuel element arrangements for nuclear reactors
  11. GB936762A Improvements in skim craft
  12. GB936763A Improvements in skim craft
  13. GB943391A Improvements in air cushioned ball support units
  14. GB944195A Improvements in combined piston-turbine internal combustion engines
  15. GB946200A Improvements in air cushioned ball support units
  16. GB949089A Improvements in automobile vehicles
  17. GB951076A Preventing collisions at sea
  18. GB955922A Improvement in “skim craft,” being craft adapted for movement in proximity to, but in substantially continuous separation from, a flat undersurface
  19. GB955923A Improvements in craft adapted to skim over water or flat land areas
  20. GB957135A Suction apparatus for retaining personnel in vehicles or aircraft in their seats
  21. GB958333A Improvements in naval aircraft carriers
  22. GB960553A Improvements in craft adapted to move in close proximity to, but separated from, a relatively flat land or water surface
  23. GB962298A Improvements in combined piston-turbine internal combustion engines
  24. GB970631A Air film bearings, particularly for railway vehicles
  25. GB981436A Improvements in compression-ignition reciprocating engines
  26. GB984148A Improvements in gas turbine power units, particularly for automobiles
  27. GB992921A Automatic Boot and Shoe Cleaning Machine
  28. GB993808A Improvements in the propulsion of supramarine craft
  29. GB997543A Improvements in combination piston turbine internal combustion engines
  30. GB997737A Reduction in hydrodynamic drag of water buoyant vessels
  31. GB997738A Improvements in marine propulsion utilising energy from nuclear fission
  32. GB997739A Improvements in air layer supported marine craft
  33. GB1006303A Rotary cylinder internal combustion engine
  34. GB1012971A Improvements in skim craft
  35. GB1022374A Marine cargo trains with hydrodynamic drag reduction by air separation layer and propulsion by nuclear powered towing craft in relation to the international transport of Food and other Supplies in Bulk
  36. GB1031309A Apparatus for growing crops on sea areas
  37. GB1032689A Improvements in radio controlled nuclear energy propelled marine towing craft
  38. GB1038320A Apparatus for growing and watering crops on sea areas
  39. GB1042541A Distillation of sea water employing nuclear energy
  40. GB1047735A Arrangements For The Transfer of Fresh Water from One Location on the Earth’s Surface to Another at a Different Latitude, for the Purpose of Irrigation, with Pumping Energy Derived from the Effect of the Earth’s Rotation about the Polar Axis
  41. GB1047736A Improvements in the irrigation of large tracts of land
  42. GB1053508A Improvements in “Floating Fields” and “Farms” with Desalination of Sea Water by Energy from Fluid Fuels
  43. GB1066049A Improvements in the propulsion of marine and supra marine vessels or craft
  44. GB1066050A Improvements in means of propulsion for marine and supra marine vessels or craft
  45. GB1067703A Submarine cargo trains, with arrangements for the use of obsolete or surplus nuclear submarines
  46. GB1080189A Sea bed anchorage device
  47. GB1085459A Improvements in gas turbine jet engines particularly for vertical take off and landing delta wing sub and supersonic aircraft
  48. GB1086697A Emergency descent arrangements in rear jet mounted subsonic and supersonic aircraft
  49. GB1096897A Machine for producing spheres of compacted material, particularly snow, for transfer by pipe line to a desert area, for the irrigation thereof
  50. GB1098212A Air cargo trains, for use in an integrated world transport system using standard freight containers
  51. GB1111845A Improvements in hypersonic VTOL aircraft
  52. GB1117054A Gas turbine heated hot air buoyant airships
  53. GB1119948A Laser ray beam gun, or concentrator, for use in polar regions, accelerating crop growth, and promoting nuclear fusion reactions
  54. GB1121630A Improvements in the Flight Direction and Location of Golf Balls
  55. GB1130107A Desalination of sea water by reverse osmosis using tidal energy
  56. GB1132199A Floating cities for relieving population pressures on the land masses
  57. GB1134312A Improvements in sailing ships
  58. GB1141138A Desalination of sea water, using reverse osmosis, in vessels submerged at depths for sufficient hydrostatic pressure
  59. GB1153249A Tower With Revolving Restaurants and Other Amenities
  60. GB1155660A Survival Capsules for marine use
  61. GB1174717A Coupling for Lengths of Pipe Line
  62. GB1175916A Hot Air Bomb, or Internal Combustion Boiler, particularly for Producing Underwater Bubbles, for use, especially, in Polar Regions
  63. GB1192139A Improvements in the Design of Golf Clubs
  64. GB1195946A Fan or Multi-Swing Wings, to Reduce Wing Loading in large Multi-Seat Passenger Aircraft to Make Possible “Pancake” Emergency Landings, Using a Stabilising Parachute, and to enable an Aircraft, Convertible to an Automobile to be Stored in an Automobile Garage
  65. GB1203136A Improvements In The Irrigation Of Deserts By Snow Piped From Polar Regions For The Purpose Of Minimising The Impending World Famine
  66. GB1203166A Swinging, or Suspended, Multi-Deck Cities
  67. GB1204639A Internal Combustion Capsules
  68. GB1204648A Improvements in Semi-Buoyant Tubes
  69. GB1204649A Cruciform, Kite and Parachute Aircraft
  70. GB1205200A Improvements in Artificial Respiratory Devices for Purposes Similar to those Fulfilled by Devices of the Type Known as “Iron Lungs”
  71. GB1206260A Wave Length Selective Light Screens
  72. GB1206580A Sonar Pulse Emitting Submarine Cable For Guidance of Surface and Submarine Vessels, and their Detection with Special Reference to an Investigation of the Loch Ness Monster
  73. GB1207698A Generator of Electricity from Waves of Gaseous Plasma, Preferably Produced by Lazer Beam Initiated Nuclear Fusion Reactions
  74. GB1209290A Improvements in the Design, Structure, and Safety of Large Aircraft
  75. GB1211937A Airscrew Sailing Ships
  76. GB1215611A Prime Mover or Motor, Operable by any Pressurised Fluid, Particularly for Incorporation in the Wheel Structures of Automotive Vehicles
  77. GB1237189A Emergency Landing System, Particularly for Aircraft with High Aspect Ratio Wings
  78. GB1237190A Apparatus for Towing by Ships for Removal of Oil Slicks and Other Forms of Buoyant Pollutants from a Water Surface
  79. GB1246069A Improvements in Polarising Spectacles based on a Double Helix Structure of Light and other Electromagnetic Waves
  80. GB1251780A Improvements in Tees, or Devices for Supporting Golf Balls prior to a Driving Stroke Particularly for Practicing a Golf Swing
  81. GB1254810A Improvements in Bumper Bars or End Guard Members to Destroy the Rectangularity of Planform of an Automobile, to Reduce the Injurious Effects of Impacts with other Automobiles, or Objects
  82. GB1255915A Fluid Pressure Motor, Particularly for Automobile Propulsion
  83. GB1256350A Television using Colours Produced by Light Ray Scan of Prismatic Surfaces on Screens of Glass or other Suitable Materials
  84. GB1280928A Apparatus for the Comparison of Coded Pressure Pulse Registrations for Use in Filing Systems in Space to Improve the efficiency of the International Patent System and Application to the Recognition of “Voice Prints” to operate Devices by Words of Command
  85. GB1282391A Improvements in Laser Beam Compression Guns
  86. GB1287207A Improvements in Semi-Buoyant Tubes
  87. GB1299270A Apparatus for Perforating Material with Very Small Holes Using Electrode Spark Discharge in an Evacuated Space in Magnetic Fields Between Like Magnetic Poles
  88. GB1311140A Minute Particle, or “True Atom”, Beam Microscope Intended Primarily for High Magnification of Living Cells, or Biological Structures, Particularly for Cancer Research
  89. GB1317330A Converting Electrical Energy to Kinetic Energy in Massive Fly Wheels for Reconversion to Electrical Energy to Meet Peak Demands in National Electricity Supply Systems
  90. GB1319510A Improvements in Steam Jet Reactive Marine Propulsion Units
  91. GB1325996A Massive Steam Driven Flywheels for Combined Electricity Generation and Desalination Plant, Particularly for the Irrigation of Littoral Areas of Deserts
  92. GB1331655A Improvements in the Design of Saucer Shaped Flying Machines
  93. GB1331862A Arrangements for Establishing a Pipe Line Across Deep Snow, Subject to Frequent Fresh Snow Falls, in a Manner Such that the Pipe Line will be Retained on the Surface of the Snow Layer
  94. GB1332025A Improvements in the Construction of Automobiles
  95. GB1332079A Electromagnetically Operated Tubular Pump
  96. GB1332202A Inclined Ramps for Engagement by Vehicles to Generate Electricity
  97. GB1332203A Road Trailer for Hard Top Automobiles
  98. GB1332209A Electro-Magnetically Operated Diaphragm Pump Particularly for Use with “Iron Lungs”, or Other Respiratory Apparatus
  99. GB1332529A Improvements in Supersonic Transport Aircraft
  100. GB1333157A Improvements in Air Screw Sailing Ships
  101. GB1333194A Improvements in Electrical Comparison Systems
  102. GB1333343A Improvements in Plant for Generating Electrical Energy and Desalination of Water
  103. GB1333348A Improvements in Automobile Construction
  104. GB1333548A Internally Explosive Nail
  105. GB1334497A Improvements in Flash Boiling, Steam Jet Reactive, Marine Propulsion Systems
  106. GB1334503A Coloured Light Ray Scanning System for N.T.S.C-PAL Colour TV Transmissions
  107. GB1334640A Speed of Light Regulated Clock
  108. GB1334880A Small Power Gas Turbine for generating Electricity from Carboniferous Waste Materials or One Candle
  109. GB1335771A Vertical Take Off and Landing Wingless Aircraft
  110. GB1336082A Endless Tracks for Ships and Amphibious Vehicles
  111. GB1336473A Small Solid Fuelled Gas Turbines
  112. GB1337383A Generating Electricity by Using Worked Out, or Uneconomic Coal Mines, as Compressed Air Reservoirs, or Gas Turbine Combustion Chambers
  113. GB1337936A Apparatus for Initiating Deuterium-Tritium Fusion
  114. GB1338121A Vacuum Tube Trains for Fumeless High Speed Overhead Supra and Submarine Transportation of Animate and Inanimate Loads
  115. GB1339414A Exploding Bombs To Create Underground Shelters
  116. GB1339707A Cross-Shaped Wind-Driven Electricity Generator
  117. GB1340664A Variable Speed Magnetic Motor with Minimal Servicing or Maintenance Requirements
  118. GB1345288A Improvements in Aerial Ships Supported by Vacuum Balls or Other Forms of Evacuated Vessels
  119. GB1346165A Generating Electricity by Burning Oil or Gas on the Seabed
  120. GB1348477A Colour Television Using Light Ray Created Images
  121. GB1350746A Using Warning Lights to Prevent Motorists Bashing into, and Killing Each Other, Particularly on High Speed Motorways in Fog
  122. GB1350885A Arrangements for Using Wasted Energy
  123. GB1351926A Improvements in Tea Strainers
  124. GB1353727A Apparatus for Producing Electricity from Thermonuclear Reactions
  125. GB1357769A Reactor for Release of Energy from Nuclei of Atoms by Centrifugal Disintegration without a Chain Reaction
  126. GB1361962A Earth Orbital Bombs as Nuclear Deterrents
  127. GB1366285A A Control System for Regulating the Speed of Deuterium-Tritium Tip Bullets Required to Implode upon One Another to Produce A Controlled Nuclear Fusion Reaction
  128. GB1374399A An Electron-microscope for Use on Living Cells
  129. GB1388367A A Process for Producing Hydrogen and Electricity from Sea, River or Lake Water
  130. GB1388517A Electrically Operated Index and Comparison System
  131. GB1391569A Miniature-Image Producing Spectacles And Binoculars
  132. GB1394639A Improvements in Automobiles Driven from the Back Seat
  133. GB1395137A Photo-Electric Generator, Particularly for Recharging the Batteries of Earth Orbital Space Satellites by Laser Beams, with a Possible Explanation of Colour Sight
  134. GB1405575A Propelling Automobiles without using Petrol, or Gasolene
  135. GB1405737A Large Flat Based Aircraft, Capable of Hovering Flight, Particularly for the Transport of Lengths of Pipe Line
  136. GB1405739A Vtol Aircraft of Cruciform Shape with Parachute Landing Capability in an Emergency
  137. GB1408689A Improvements in Arrangements for Examining or Drilling the Seabed
  138. GB1409210A A Plant for the Thermonuclear Fusion of Deuterium Obtained from Sea Water
  139. GB1411203A Using Gas Turbines to Generate Electricity from any Waste Combustible Materials to Overcome the ‘Energy Crisis’
  140. GB1411354A Using Electrostatic Levitation to Reduce the Resistance to the High Speed Movement of Ice or Oil Filled Balls in Tubes, with an Explanation of the Enigma of the Nucleus of the ‘Splittable Atom’
  141. GB1414286A Nuclear Power Plant with Emergency Ejection of Reactor Core
  142. GB1414601A Using the Pull of a Beam of Light on a Liquid Surface to Explain Colour Sight, with the Provision of a Chromatic Selection Device
  143. GB1415487A Reducing the Tendency of a Golf Ball to Slice or Hook, by Electrostatic Forces
  144. GB1415629A Improvements in ‘True Atom’ or Graviton Beam Microscopes, Particularly for Cancer Research
  145. GB1416666A Sea Bed Crawling Submarine Craft
  146. GB1420426A Electricity Generation by Nuclear Fission Reactor and Closed Cycle Gas Turbines, with Core Automatically Shut Down by Coolant Flow Failure and Dropped out of Plant for Sealing if Temperature is Excessive
  147. GB1420589A Improvements in Nuclear Fission Reactors with Arrangements for Ejecting the Core in an Emergency
  148. GB1421240A Improvements in Mortarless Brick Work to Reduce House Building Costs
  149. GB1421521A Improvements in Centrifugal Nucleon Disintergration or CND Reactors
  150. GB1421712A Improvements in Centrifugal Nucleon Disintergration or ‘Streaked Nuclei’ Reactors
  151. GB1424509A Improvements in Streaking Nuclear Reactors
  152. GB1426580A Using Magnetic Coils to Produce Periodically Applied Forces to Maintain the High Speed Movement of Bodies and Vehicles, Particularly in Tubes Evacuated of Air
  153. GB1426698A Photon Push-Pull Radiation Detector for use in Chromatically Selective Cat Flap Control and 1,000 Megaton, Earth-Orbital, Peace-Keeping Bomb
  154. GB1426983A Nuclear Reactor for Release of Nuclear Energy, without a Chain Reaction using the Simultaneous Implosion of Three, or more, Atomic Nuclei
  155. GB1428297A Apparatus for Maintaining the High Speed Movement of Bodies in a Tube
  156. GB1438618A Improvements in ‘True Atom’ or Graviton Particle Beam Microscopes, Particularly for Cancer Research
  157. GB1439086A Large Flat Based Low Flying Aircraft Using Fasces, or Bundles of Bodies of Existing Large Aircraft, such as the Boeing 747
  158. GB1439297A Improvements in Arrangements for Initiating A Controlled Fusion Reaction Using Deuterium And Tritium Pellets In Imploding Bullets Fed With Powerful Laser Beam Pulses
  159. GB1439440A Internal Combustion Engine Operative on Encapsulated Fuels
  160. GB1442869A Apparatus for Inflation in an Emergency to Provide Additional Buoyancy for Boats, Yachts or Ships in Danger of Sinking or Capsizing
  161. GB1447848A Using Neutron Beams for a Microscope for Cancer Research or for Cancer Surgery
  162. GB1447940A Improvements in Construction and Propulsion of Ships, Carrying Oil, or Bulk Cargoes
  163. GB1453920A Apparatus for Extinguishing Fires in High Rise Block Buildings of Uniform Transverse Cross-Section, or Plan

Research & Development (Patent Pedrick) at Slung Low’s HUB

The HUB allotment! (so that’s what happened to Altern 8)
The HUB allotment! (so that’s what happened to Altern 8)
Our lovely space for the week
Our lovely space for the week
Pedrick Materials
Assorted odds and ends we had to start making the show with for our first week of R&D
Experimenting with the OHP.
Experimenting with the OHP.
Some more leaving party drinks OHP work
Some more leaving party drinks OHP work

Patent Pedrick: R&D Day 1: Retirement Party.

Patent Pedrick: R&D Day 2: Exotic Pets Dept (Chameleon Test).

Exotic Pet Shop: “I’m looking for a small-ish pet”
Exotic Pet Shop: “I’m looking for a small-ish pet” Big fish, Little fish, Cardboard box
Exotic Pet Shop: “Don’t tap the glass”
Exotic Pet Shop: “Don’t tap the glass”

Patent Pedrick: R&D Day 4: Moon / Golf.

Some tabletop work on “Ginger” the cat
Some tabletop work on “Ginger” the cat
Devising rule #38: If in doubt, get an umbrella out.
Devising rule #38: If in doubt, get an umbrella out.
GB1206580A Sonar Pulse Emitting Submarine Cable For Guidance of Surface and Submarine Vessels, and their detection with special reference to an investigation of the Loch Ness Monster
GB1206580A Sonar Pulse Emitting Submarine Cable For Guidance of Surface and Submarine Vessels, and their detection with special reference to an investigation of the Loch Ness Monster
A “Pedrick style” Nessie sighting in the HUB
A “Pedrick style” Nessie sighting in the HUB
End of the week: Time for a drink
End of the week: Time for a drink…
Cheese and Meat Pide Fresh from the Venus Supermarket
…and some eats. Cheese and meat Pide fresh from the Venus Supermarket

Site Visits: East/South East

Final two site visits this week. On Tuesday we headed off to Norwich for a look around The Garage. We didn’t make the Dartford toll this time and so ended up paying a whacking £2.00 to head East for the day  – but it was completely worth it! the sun was shining, The Venue is ace and the on site coffee was very nice (I even got to hug the poorly sick “Scooby” who gave us a tour of the space and the rest of the venue!). Another huge plus point to this venue is that we have SOLD OUT!!!! That’s right people – Handheld Arts, a new(ish) company on their first tour have a sold out show – and whats more, Scooby informed us that the show had actually sold out even before the posters went up! He actually apologised for there only being a few posters up saying that as we had sold out they needed to highlight other shows more. I am more than happy about this situation – particularly as the two Paper Tom posters that I spotted at The Garage were two more than I spotted at some of the other venues that we have visited and where we are far from sold out!

Going in for a hug with Scooby

The following day we paid a visit to The Gulbenkian Theatre, which is part of the University of Kent in Canterbury. This is one of the larger venues that we are performing in. We were shown around the space by Jake (the most dapper technical manager I have ever encountered!) before snatching a bit of time with Jess from the marketing department to see what we can do to get a few more bums on seats.

Site Visits: The North

Square Chapel: You could probably fit 3 double decker buses in here. You wouldn’t however be able to squeeze them up through the stairs.

This week Sarah-Jane and I headed up North to visit three more of our Paper Tom tour venues. The 900 mile round trip started early as we left Croydon at 5:30am and just made it through the Dartford Toll with only 8 seconds to go before it started charging at 6am. We made it to the venue in Halifax bang on schedule for 10:30 and had a good look around. First impressions: It’s a very very wide space.

Arts Centre Washington: Sarah-Jane is upstaged by a chair

Next up to visit was Arts Centre Washington. No wing space here but good backstage crossover space. More importantly it has a real cosy vibe that as soon as we walked into it we looked at each other and smiled as it just felt right. Why do some spaces just make you instantly feel that way?

The Lowry Studio: A rare studio space where you can actually see the outside world (until the blinds come down).

Final stop on the road trip up North was Salford to visit the Lowry studio. I have been here before for a couple of nights with a show in 2008 but I definitely needed to see the space again to refresh my memory. I don’t think it has changed much and is kind of how I half remembered it. After looking at the space in the morning we stayed on to see the studio show that night which was The Alchemystorium by Gomito Productions. It was on in Edinburgh the same year as our show but we didn’t manage to catch it then so it was good to take this opportunity to see it out on tour. It is really useful to check out the spaces but it is even better seeing them in action and in show conditions (and even more so when you get to see a good show too!). After watching the show we headed back to London and despite diversions, the rain, and the massive to-do list we made during dinner we really enjoyed our road trip up North.

In summary: Loads done, loads to do.

Site visits

Yesterday Sarah-Jane and I combined the delivery of the last bits of print with a couple of site visits to venues. First up as we traveled through torrential rain Eastbound on the M25 was Harpenden Public Halls. This is one of the bigger sized venues we are taking the show to. They were setting up for an antiques auction when we arrived but we got to have a good look around on stage and back stage. Opened in the 1938 there are some nice echoes and a warm feeling of history to the Eric Morecambe Hall. (This feeling of history was maybe perhaps accentuated by the various antiques being laid out in the auditorium). We’ve never had a stage curtain situation before and I’m not quite sure yet how we will technically do the bits of projection for the show so I will need to have a little think about that over the next weeks.

Harpenden Public Halls (Never before have we had so much wing space)

We then went on to the Riverhouse Arts Centre in Walton-on-Thames. It’s a really lovely place with a great programme of events and activities.

Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre (Audience + Paper Tom goes in here)

It was lovely to get out to have a look around these venues prior to our performances and lovely to meet the people behind the scenes and the emails. Hopefully we can visit some more over the next few weeks before rehearsals start.

Squinting towards the future

Time for me to make a contribution to the blog. I’ve decided to come out to the National Theatre café to write this entry and I shall explain why…

As I mentioned before, I’m not a natural writer – so I’ve decided to put myself ‘in role’ to try and get this bad boy written. I’ve come to the National Theatre café with the idea of assuming the identity of one of those arty/theatre-ry people that can often be seen here who, without hesitation/procrastination, sit tip-tapping away on their MacBooks with only a latte for company looking all intellectual, creative, and cool. I’ve got to be honest, I’m not really carrying it off not least because… 1) I don’t have a Mac (don’t like them and can’t use them) 2) I’m all squinty as my glasses broke the other day and I don’t have the money and/or time to get new ones sorted out just yet – so It’s squint or wear my prescription sunglasses inside the NT café… BUT… I’m about 180 words further along in writing this blog entry than I have been for the last eight weeks so I think it’s had the desired effect – although the fear of coming out with the one remaining working computer is also a driving factor of coming home with this blog ready to upload.

We’ve suffered a few challenges over at Handheld Arts recently – technical and otherwise. Alex managed to bring this netbook back from the dead after it threw a wobbler but the other 3 laptops and one PC that we have in the house are all in various states of decay which is not ideal when we are swamped by lots of admin based tasks at present and will shortly need to update the visual media for the show.

We also had the news that Ilana has decided not to join us for the Autumn tour, which comes as part of her wider decision to give up the whole theatre thing as, with turning 30, her imminent nuptials and the mooring to be paid on the boat that she owns – theatre just hasn’t provided her with the right ratio of effort to financial reward. Maybe in another company this declaration would have caused what I think is called a ‘shit-storm’, but the fact is I think we completely understood where she was coming from. I often used to think about how great it would be to finally be at the stage as a company/theatre maker where I would be off rehearsing and then touring our work – and part of those thoughts about touring included the idea that if I was touring our work then it would mean I was making my living out of doing Handheld Arts – ‘living the dream’ – if you like. Well, touring the show and receiving funding from the Arts Council England to do the show this year is a dream come true – the reality is that the wages I receive from this tour won’t reflect the hours and money that have gone into getting Paper Tom to this point. Sometimes, having to choose between having the central heating fixed and sorting out the plumbing for the sink so that I’m no longer in a position where I’m cleaning my teeth via the bath tap this December whilst wearing a minimum of three layers, and paying for your accommodation in Edinburgh (and needing to choose the later because you’ve already paid the venue and the fringe registration fee) takes it’s psychological toll on you and how you feel about wanting to make theatre as a career.

I was originally going to do a blog about the five and a half hour long chat Alex and I had with Ilana after hearing about her decision to not do the show. I’d thoughts of calling it “Breaking up is hard to do” and talk about the totally clichéd break-up moment that came at the end of that long chat where we all laughed together, got frustrated about the challenge of it all together, got depressed together and then just generally felt a little bit lost about all this theatre/life lark before we concluded with Ilana giving Alex and I an invitation to her wedding and me a box of chocolates (for my birthday) before I handed over a bag of her things that I had found at my house. It contained items from various visits and shows that she’d come over to make – a tupperware box, a tea cup and saucer, a pair of jeans, a top, some tracksuit bottoms, a pair of pyjamas – a toothbrush and some CDs and the cliché would have been complete. Having had a bit more time to think about it all though (and procrastinate – it is writing after all!), it seems that whilst breaking up is hard to do, it can prove even harder to stay together and keep going.

With this in mind I’m wondering how Alex and I will be feeling at the end of this process. We’re already beginning to feel quite overwhelmed at the moment and often find ourselves wondering whether Handheld Arts are at the beginning of something great or the end of it – I imagine only time and tour will tell us that. I think I’m managing to stay positive about it all though (it might not look that way from the face I’m pulling at the moment – it’s getting dark outside now which has intensified my squinting and left no room for the sunglasses option to see to get this finished) as I know what an achievement it is and how pleased we are to have made it this far with the labour of love show that is Paper Tom. To be taking it to the venues that we are, is something I was only able to imagine a year ago.

There is certainly an opportunity to feel positive about the challenge of taking on a bigger role in the performance by doubling up my part of Lucy with the character of Rachel (formerly played by Ilana). I’m usually very much an ‘ensemble’ style performer within shows – and I’m really happy with that. I l like to be a part of shows in performance but for me the real challenge, thrill and joy of performance is in its creation. I’ve always felt fortunate to be involved as a performer (and often musician) in shows that I was in – but not so in it that I wasn’t able sample a little of what the audience were getting from watching it (or maybe I’m just greedy and want to have my cake and eat it).

We met with our actors the other day to measure for costumes and to have a read through of the script to see how it worked with me playing both female characters, and it was fine. I didn’t really feel too weird if I’m honest – but I think that’s because it hasn’t really sunk in that I’ll be doing all female ‘acting’ bits now. It just felt like I was reading in, keeping Ilana’s seat warm. I imagine at the moment that it will only sink in at the start of the first show when I turn to do the special warm up ritual that Ilana and I had developed between ourselves for just us girls (it consisted of a rhythmic slapping/clapping rhyme, a chest bump and then a quick sniff of a vicks inhaler) and she won’t be there.

Pre Production Work

Part of this blog is to show that making a show is not just rehearsals & performances – there’s loads of different tasks that need doing to support the production. Boxing up publicity to send to venues is one of those things.

There’s an art to packing up all the different quantities of print. I think we might be closest to Mondrian in our approach.

Boxed up & ready to go!

It’s also time to start sourcing, collecting and replenishing props for the upcoming performances. Anyone who knows the show will understand why the offer below caught my eye. (If you happen to be reading this and haven’t seen the show it’s still a Eccellente deal you might want to take advantage of…)

Ambassador, with these half price Rocher, you’re really spoiling us


Since I started working in small scale theatre in 2007 this seems like the toughest time for new work with the primary problem being getting audience in to see the work. Combining the presentation of new work with us being a new company and the challenges are even greater for us. We don’t have anyone famous off the telly performing in the show and Paper Tom isn’t adapted from an existing film or book. What we do have though is a great show that I am really excited and proud to be touring around England this November.

So with the Autumn tour now pretty much finalised, I’ve been sorting out the publicity print material (flyers & posters) for our venues. Throughout the lifespan of the show we have been searching for the magic words that translate into people booking tickets. There have been so many versions of the show blurb and at every point prior to performances it has been revised. I feel pressure to get these words right and always to make the most out of any given word limit as it potentially has a direct consequence on ticket sales.

Following our experience of performing Paper Tom at fringe festivals I have major doubts over how effective flyers and posters are in the fringe environment. For us they don’t seem to have done much to the overall marketing. Their cost hasn’t translated into an improved return in audience numbers. It just seems like they’re done to make everyone feel better, like you have a presence and exist and to also add colour to the insulated fringe environment. Our handmade customised ‘homing pigeons’ have proven more effective in getting attention for the show. Sarah-Jane gets more use out of the leftover flyers as business cards in the months following the performances.

A bag of birds. Every little helps…

As the tour is all made up of one off performances this adds to the pressure of getting things right first time. Programme and website blurb for each venue has all gone off and is now out there but with our tour flyers and posters it feels like another opportunity to reach our new potential audience.

The first version of our Paper Tom blurb was done to describe our work in development performance for Pulse Fringe in 2010. We had a storyboard and a rough idea of what the show was going to be about but we hadn’t even been in a rehearsal room when we had to submit our blurb for printing. Near the end of the initial devising process I remember us all looking at what was written and feeling a responsibility to make sure that what we were performing covered the key points in the blurb we submitted. Looking back this seems a bit silly now especially when it was a work in development but maybe doing this kept our focus on the original impetus that inspired us to make the piece in the first place.

the show blurb on our Pulse 10 flyer (now a collectors item)

Following our feedback from Pulse and the changes we made to the show we then went a bit Ronseal with the blurb (ie matter of fact – does exactly what it says on the tin). In retrospect this unfortunately presented the show as quite dark and perhaps off-putting to a casual fringe theatre audience. A review of the show from the Buxton Fringe even went as far as to say that the show “sounded at best depressing, at worst harrowing” and stated the show had “a much wider appeal than their publicity blurb suggests”. So following this we decided to soften the language a little even though I don’t think this would’ve made much a difference in getting more audience in. Theatre shows with a serious subject matter seem to have it tougher in a fringe festival environment.

Following our Buxton and Edinburgh Fringe performances we got some good review quotes we could start using. The benefit of having some good review quotes is that we can use those to say the things that I find awkward to put into the blurb – like how the production is presented and how it emotionally engages with the audience.

The focus of the blurb has always been to try to sell the show truthfully as best as possible but now I’m of a mindset of perhaps less is more. Instead of trying to encourage people to come the aim of the blurb is to also not put people off with what can seem like a heavy subject matter and show. It almost feels a bit like damage limitation. I think we’ve got it right this time but I also hope the environment outside of the fringe is more considered. I am cautiously optimistic that flyers and posters at the small to mid scale play a significant role and positive impact on sales unlike the fringe environments we have previously faced.