Wednesday, 5 May 2010

UNIVERSAL EARLog: Day 2

This morning we are joined by our Production Designer Elly Strigner, whose poster (poster is not word enough for this object-advert) for our Lumpenbal has already caused much gasping around Nexus; also J Addy who will assist her; and his friend "I" who has requisitioned some arts materials from a publicly funded educational institution (due to the Institute's current economic crisis the UNIVERSAL EAR production is entirely reliant on donations and, let's say, quasi-donations). We warm up and sing, then go to work building a set to represent the Romanian mountains circa 1861. The Nexus Art Cafe garden is being "done" today and, given our remit (and desire) to merge the UNIVERSAL EAR production with the day-to-day life of the cafe, I am pleased to see Addy bringing us branches, leaves, bits of bench etc. for our rural backdrop. It soon turns out that he has completely bypassed the cafe garden and instead raided the parks and tree-lined streets of Manchester's city centre. Later, Nexus's own Hannah Mosley brings us some legit foliage and my conscience is assuaged.

Our first auditionee for the role of the real Nola Luna arrives, and we immediately recognise her as Marie Louise Cookson - yes, the promising new Future Films engineer who has been put to work compiling a blueprint for the UNIVERSAL EAR episode Bloodless Offering in B Minor. Professionalism dictates that none of us can acknowledge our mutual familiarity, and a tense and peculiar reading follows behind closed doors. Professionalism further forbids me going into detail here, but the audition is a tempestuous stew of emotions both real and performed (and the distinction is not always clear). Cookson leaves and Lockwood and I agree we picked the wrong day to give up Digestives. The role of the real Nola Luna finally goes to Briony O'Callaghan, despite nearly blowing her audition with an over-convincing Romanian accent: I consult my sound people, who tell me we can warp it down to the quality of accent generally portrayed by the Institute's stock performers in post-production.

A postcard is dropped anonymously at the Nexus counter, without a stamp, addressed to me: it is from the house band. They are, they say, recovering in hospital having become fossilised within a cloud of resolidifying lava somewhere on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. They will not be able to perform at the Lumpenbal as planned the following night. Disaster! I ask 1st AD Rowan to make some calls, and she is able to book us Manchester's premier nightwear-wrapped music act Pyjama Party, who - whilst understandably unable to commit to performing a representative cross-section of "all the world's music, ever", as the house band had planned - boldly promise to segue some classic
concrète from across the centuries into their repertoire. Saved!

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