Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Becoming


Alexander Geist's SPECULATIVE tour is well underway, so I have been spending a lot of time being him, and taking care of him lately. Just because he doesn't exist (or rather exists only in short but exuberant outbursts) that doesn't mean he doesn't have needs. The dry cleaning and ironing alone takes up half my life, but he will have his shirts pressed just so! Then of course there's the jewellery to polish and pack (Alexander only wears silver, while I prefer gold) and all the eyeshadows to organise for each gig (who knew a person could own so many shades of green?) The Balenciaga boots need a pre-show buff, and Alex needs his own preparatory cocktail of espresso, Coke, spirulina and a few muscle relaxants, served in his Garfield mug before he can step out into the spotlight. I'm also responsible for liaising with the venue tech staff, whilst he takes his power nap, and for briefing security, and any journalists as to the correct protocol. All in all it's a fairly challenging role.



My sister (who does objectively exist) was at the show at HOME in Manchester last week. She and I watched a movie and ate a salad in the break between soundcheck and showtime, that agonising ever expanding, ever contacting period of rocketing anxiety, which threatens to go on forever (or at least until you have lost yr mind with nerves) and simultaneously to end violently, before you've even finished your kit-kat. My sister and I gossiped like a pair of grandmothers in the dressing room, amidst the warm up vocal trills and stretches. The 5 minute call never came, instead there came a thunderous knock on the door, and the squawk, "They've started!" My sister ran to her seat and I was escorted to the stage, barely buckling Alexander's boots before hitting my first cue.

Afterwards she asked, "How did you go from that to THAT in 20 seconds?"

"It's easier than you might think," I replied, "I just leave for a while and let him take over. Some people call it acting, but it's not me up there."

"No," she acknowledged, "It's really not."

I'm onstage, but just in a the capacity of supervisor, I'm there to make sure things happen as they should, but I'm not doing it. I suppose that's why he's called Geist isn't it? (Incidentally not a name I chose for him). Somebody compared the process to the way Patti Smith channels whatever she's tuned into when she's onstage, somebody else suggested it might just be high functioning schizophrenia, but to me it's something else.



You know how her co-stars have often described working with Sharon Stone, and how she has to wait until the character had possessed her before filming can begin? Well it's like that, just like that. Sharon screams, "She's here!", and cameras roll. Conjuring Alexander is a lot less laborious, but equally mystical, and he has always been (up to this point) good enough to show up. So maybe then there's a touch of Bambi Lake to the proceedings too. The iconic San Francisco torch singer, forever without a phone, a steady home, or an email address, who would reply to fraught promoters' pleas that she give them SOME way to contact her with, "Just put my name on a poster baby, and I'll be there."

Et voila, look in the mirror and say ALEXANDER GEIST five times, or better yet, put his name on the poster, and he will appear.

(PS This wk he's appearing at Hackney Showroom on Thurs Nov 17 and Tom Thumb in Margate on Fri Nov 18)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

GIANNI



Oh LOVER! Here I am in Berlin preparing for the role of MEDUSA in GIANNI at Deutsche Oper. Here's a coupla sexy rehearsal pics of all the goings on. GIANNI runs for two weeks, and premieres on Oct 1st. TKTS hier

















Wednesday, July 6, 2016

GEIST gets ONSTAGE



Garfield was with us and we got GEIST onstage. What a mountain that was to climb! On Friday I did not believe it could be done but by the time we got to our FIRST dress rehearsal at 6pm on Saturday it was clear we had it in the bag. I'm immensely proud of what we achieved and very, very grateful to everyone who was involved in making it happen and to everyone who came to see the performances. Exhausted doesn't cover how I feel right now, so let me share with you a few production stills and a selection of our press coverage. Until next time lover!


Production stills by Marco.


The Wharf, full interview here


London Live


East End Advertiser, full interview here


Loverboy, full interview here.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

GEIST WK 3 Rehearsal



This is what the show looks like rn.

Monday! So here we are back at the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club (where loyal readers will remember I spent a lot of time performing "Cover Her Face" a few years ago). The carpet is stickier than ever, but the big tinsel heart has never looked better; that's sort of a metaphor for life.



Tuesday! Act 1 was finally blocked and Act 2 became semi-freddo, the feeling emerged that there's a show in there somewhere. Also of note, a very productive production meeting in which we welcomed our new stage manager, Jo, into the fold, and this artfully decorated chair.



Wednesday! Dear director Robert Chevara, and I hit upon a rhythm to the process, we were even visited by Marie Lloyd in the form of her familiar, this cat. Our system has been to unstitch the text and piece it back together, sewn up with cinematic & operatic references, which remain secretly stitched inside the piece, invisible but felt. A bit like McQueen chalking I AM A C*NT inside the Prince of Wales' jkt.



Thursday! Things got real when we started running in the tech (represented here by the screen and hand of Mickey). We went through both acts and suffered from the humidity (in a terribly Tennesse Williams manner).



Also big shout to this y2k coffee (haven't seen one like this for abt 15yrs). Wouldn't DJ Millennial Latte be a great handle?



Friday! Suffering from the Brexit blues, big time mate. If it weren't for the brilliance of Sobranies I doubt anyone would have finished the day off standing.



On week remains! How will it all pan out? Your guess is as good as mine la. Shows are July 2 & 3 at the Arcola, London.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Geist Rehearsal WK 2


How have we come to the mid-point of the rehearsal process so swiftly, simultaneously so depleted and energised? Let's review the evidence.

On Monday we were all still reeling from the killings in Orlando, the day was long and the queer content of the piece seemed to resonate in a different way. The week ahead of us seemed an insurmountable mountain, the summit of which could only be more disturbing still. Trying to find reason in an unreasonable tragedy felt futile, so we worked somewhat numb, almost as a distraction.



Tuesday we broke out a new scene and a new set up, and with it came a sense of possibility, not of forgetting but of forward motion however staggered. We spent a lot of time in discussion around soft furnishings, trying to decide which pillows would most likely be found on the sofa of our central femme fatale Kate Peters. (Pictured are a pair which didn't make the grade - sadly they were just a tad too Costa Coffee but we wish them all the best for a long and fruitful career).



Wednesday called for increased fire power in the form of liquid ginseng - it was just like being back in Hong Kong la!



The real star of the week was Fran Lima however, with whom we spent 3 days filming the central scenes for GEIST.



Thursday was all about sound, mainly unwanted. We have been shooting opposite a building site which has slowed down the process by about 20%, an annoyance we had grown used today. However when the skip rolled in to town the camel that is my mind broke her back. We sat around gossiping until their was a moment of quiet and then hurled ourselves into action stations every time there was an audible lull. Somewhow we made it through 15 pages of dialogue, but just imagine what we could have achieved with budget for a sound studio.



So then came Friday as she does, when we had to reel in the biggie, the face off between Kate and Imogen, Frost .v. Nixon style. Food poisoning visited the cinematography dept. and the upstairs neighbour's washing machine harmonised beautifully with the builder's across the street at semi-regular intervals, but somehow we forged on. If I have made this week sound like nothing but a cheerless chore I apologise. Besides the vomiting, the noise bleed, and the spectre of constant violence, it was actually quite a lot of fun.



This is what my head feels like rn.



If you want to see how that translates onstage then BOOK HERE: http://www.arcolatheatre.com/event/geist/2016-07-03/

Saturday, June 11, 2016

GEIST wk 1 Rehearsals




Well now lover, as you it's something of a signature of my practice to blog the rehearsal process, so here we are beginning a whole new journey together.



Monday was the first time the cast came together, always a nerve wracking moment. Onboard are Fran Lima, playing Kate Peters, Helen Sheals as Imogen Hampstead, and Alex Theo as Nick Cumin, all of whom are all 'round good eggs and 100% fair-trade. We had the mixed-blessing of reading the show through a couple of times to get a feel for how it sounds when read aloud. This is the true test of a script, if it can leap from the page to the stage. With a few minor adjustments this one seems to have that ability. True Jedi that I am, I slugged through a light sabre full of green tea during the proceedings. You've gotta get those anti-oxidants lover, if you're going to slay the dark side (i.e. rehearsal fatigue).



Tuesday was the day we realized that Agatha Christie was too much of an influence on the script, quite how she crowbarred her way in there idk, since I was aiming for Raymond Chandler really, but such is life. In order to ramp up the unhinged sex appeal of it all (and give the whodunnit angle a rest) we tried to channel Sharon Stone, the patron saint of stone cold foxes. We set fire to a Chanel 2.55 and in the smoke saw the face of Sharon, who revealed all her secrets to us. What did she whisper? Well, you'll have to come and see the show won't you?



Wednesday was a game of two halves. Firstly we recorded the lovely Helen Sheal's lines, during which she revealed several explosive secrets about her time as Mrs Wigan on Downton Abbey. Faves included the one about a certain unnameable lead actor who CLAIMS to be vegan, but insists on eating cartons and cartons of Dairylea Dunkers in between takes! (This is a lie).



Thursday was sponsored by Nairn's gluten free oatcakes, in co-operation with Garfield the cat. Our director Robert Chevara and I ran through the blocking of the first few acts. For the first time, in the process, I got that wonderful feeling that this show was actually possible.



Friday, that meanest of all beasts, roared as she rose, but she was no match for we fair maidens of the footlights. We spent the whole day filming Alex as Nick, no short order, as the script comprises 36 pages of fragmented single take speeches. Head chucklemeister and set-designer David Curtis-Ring was on hand to dress the stage, and make sure everything looked suitably cinematic. He even brought along a special tea that only successful people are allowed to drink, and gave us all a sip to help us on our way. What a gent! Happy to say we made a severe dent in the pages to be filmed, and after a minor slippage with the vol-au-vents set up a very productive rhythm which will carry us over into next week's adventure.

Who knows what awaits us? More migraines and oatcakes I expect, but really, at this stage it's anyone's game. And if you fancy buying tkts, you can do so here: http://www.arcolatheatre.com/event/geist/2016-07-02/

Monday, May 30, 2016

GEIST

Well, well, well. It's finally happening. GEIST is coming to the Arcola July 2 & 3.


With nods to film noir, rock documentaries and conspiracy theories, GEIST explores my core themes of gender and identity, but from a brand new vantage point. A radical departure from my previous work, a move from absurdist cabaret and autobiographical performance, into interdisciplinary theatre. I have developed the alter-ego of Alexander Geist over a five-year period, culminating in this eponymous piece. Originally a live art performance, in the vein of Sophie Calle and Rose English, the persona of Alexander Geist was devised to externally examine my own place in the world, and to discuss notions of performative masculinity. Initially intended for presentation in gallery spaces and live art venues, the charisma of the character and the insistent quality the songs he wrote, led to requests for Alexander Geist to appear in nightclubs and at festivals, programmed on line-ups with iconic artists such as Peaches, Lee Ronaldo, and The Hidden Cameras. The success of these shows led to three magazine covers, four singles, and five-years of international touring, with Geist appearing everywhere from Tokyo to Rio. In GEIST the persona has come full circle, back to an experimental theatre setting, in which all of the materials, footage, images and videos created over the past five years are reworked into an nightmarish narrative, blurring the line between fantasy and reality.

TKTS HERE: http://www.arcolatheatre.com/event/geist/2016-07-03/