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Vertigo Theatre Blog no 2 - M is back

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Well we have been in rehearsals for a good few weeks now and things seem to be moving along nicely, well I say that but we are about 2 weeks behind schedule..... but when does putting a show together ever run on schedule?  The cast are fantastic and are finding the perfect balance between drama/thriller and trashy, not an easy task believe me, so many actors want to give powerful grounded performances but this play is not about that, it’s been hard to adjust to this style but everyone seems to be mastering it now..... scenery is being chewed at an alarming rate.
Act 1 was blocked and seemed to move perfectly, it was exciting to see it come together again, especially since it’s evolved a lot since our original 2009 production.... that is until we started on act 2. Now don’t get me wrong, act 2 is working a treat and the twists and turns are exciting, myself and Adele however did find that we spent a large amount of time rewriting scenes...... I hate rewrites, but as they say ‘you don’t write a play, you rewrite a play’.
Scenes were in and out faster than the speed of light.... and then we had the new ending. The ending of M like the rest of the play pays homage to the trashy thrillers from the 1990s, now the films may have been trashy but my god the endings are complex and this plays new ending is no different. After late nights and many cups of coffee we got it done.... and it works.
So on we went to do a basic blocked run of act 2 and it was going really well, I have to say I prefer this new version to the original, the bitchy lines were delivered to perfection by the cast, the thrills were in the right place, the humour landed just as we wanted and it’s raunchy side came through exactly as planned...... we just had one tiny problem, act 2 came in at an hour and 25 minutes, I of course wept and ran to the nearest window to launch myself out of it.  If I had my way it would stay as it were, after all some of the best plays run 3 hours, but for some strange reason on the fringe scene we always seem to hear critics say ‘it was too long’, I’m not sure when fringe started equaling short, I find it absurd. I gave in though and myself and Adele are chopping away to bring each act in at one hour. It’s a scary thing to do when something works so well, you don’t want to damage the piece in any way, and in a thriller the rhythm of the piece is important, luckily I think we are on the right track..... of course the cast are thrilled with more rewrites.
Whenever you do a new show you always run in to a new challenge..... this time, its sex, that’s right.... sex.  M does not hold back on its trashy roots and just like any good trashy thriller it can get a little raunchy at times. The cast are game and up for anything and I am the least conservative person on the planet, but even I have blushed at some of the moments in M. I find myself having in-depth conversations with Adele about ‘can the actors hand really go there’ or ‘are we going too far by doing that’. The cast keep telling me that they think its all fine; I think they just want to get me in to trouble.  Guess we will see on opening night.
On the production side things are going great, the advertising has started to arrive and looks great, a huge 6ft stand now graces the entrance way to the 3MT venue in Afflecks Palace and the posters and flyers are ready to be sent out. Our company seems to have become known for our advertising, we put a lot of effort in to marketing the plays with eye catching images and professional roll out, the website for M and our other shows designed by Karl Burge our co owner also looks fantastic. I watch a lot of fringe in Manchester and sadly many times audiences seem to have stayed away.

The fringe work I watch is not bad but I look at the advertising (or lack of it) and see the problem straight away. Anyone putting a fringe show on should spend time on their advertising, after all it’s your calling card, and it’s what is going to get people through the door. The fringe scene is so busy in Manchester that you need to stand out from the crowd, clip art and images from Google don’t scream ‘watch me’. I never can understand why you would barely market a show that you are so proud of that you want people to see it. Of course Vertigo have been around for awhile so have a little bit more money to play with but even starting out on our first show 3sum back in 2007 we had 1000s of postcards and posters done. Look online for the best offers on flyers, you will find loads, £66 for 2500 flyers can make all the difference.
It’s tough trying to get websites and news media to try and promote your show, they see fringe and run a mile, trust me I get as annoyed as every other person trying to get a play on, do these people not know that you could be supporting the next big writer/director/play, after all many of the greats came from the fringe scene. More and more sites are turning their backs on talking about fringe and promoting it, don’t let is dishearten you, a few out there still do, and it’s those sites and publications that will help you get people through the door. For Vertigo we still use social media and to be honest we would be dead without it. Our Facebook group for over 5 years now has almost 1000 members and reluctantly I was forced to join twitter, all of it helps though, audiences in one place waiting to see what’s coming next.
Ticket sales are going well, we are almost sold out (and just added an extra performance on) and this week I get to enjoy the horror/excitement of costume shopping for the show (one of my least favourite things, so of course I have many costume changes happening in this show). Oh and I almost forgot, one of my amazing actors (Rick Carter who is returning to us a after a couple of years off) filmed a fantastic trailer for M and that launches this week..... and it looks amazing (I’m very giddy about that).
So that’s it for my second blog, it’s all coming along nicely (apart from the fact that myself and half the cast have flu..... damn you winter), next time one of my actors will be hijacking my blog to talk about their experience working on this show and on the fringe scene in general.
So wrap up warm and thanks for reading
- Craig Hepworth


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