It is an uncomfortable truth that most stage managers and assistant directors do not like actors. This is because a) they spend a lot of time with them and b) they are human opposites. SMs and ADs are efficient, hard working, well adjusted individuals who look around a room/set, see what needs to be done and get on with it. They don't get any glory, I don't believe there are any SM/AD award ceremonies, they get responsibility and a pint of lager. It is not that all actors are hazy, lazy and crazy, exactly, more that they have to live in a slightly parallel world. During the rehearsal period for a play, a stage management team organises everything from call times and coffee to the buying of props and the building of rehearsal sets. Actors will spend a lot of time having cups of tea and cigarettes/herbal lozenges. They will discuss the merits of various agents/producers/casting directors at length. They will lose their scripts/reading glasses/plastic bag with a banana in it. They will leave the rehearsal room at the end of the day without a thought about all the detritus that will magically disappear by the morning. This is because they are going home to not learn their lines and then to worry about not learning their lines. In the morning they will have to miss the bus/train/plane or have their car stolen or broken into. They will have a mysterious back injury or throat complaint. They will be depressed/anxious/neurotic/paranoid. Some of them will already be sleeping with each other. After lunch they will run through the whole play and it will be like having a kindergarten class perform 'Les Sylphides' on ice. People will crash into each other, fall over, appear in scenes they were never in, fail to appear in scenes they were always part of. The director will cry. On the inside. On the outside they will smile and say either "That was a great start but we have a way to go." Or "That was shit. I hate you all." depending on their temperament. The actor will cry. On the inside. On the outside they will say, "I'm going to the pub". Last year I took a production of a play to New York. I co-produced with one of the other actors and although we had done the show before, in Glasgow, it was a different production that required a whole new rehearsal period, set and costumes. The original cast of 7 was re-assembled and we had to ship the entire thing to Manhattan. As a producer with my own money as the budget, I was part of the stage management team, getting the coffee, putting out the set in the morning, booking flights, hiring costumes, renting containers. I saw the actors from the other side of the sticky green tape that marks out the set on the floor. I still loved them but for the first time I saw how sometimes, they might not be that lovable. Not that I was any great shakes, bossing everyone around, freaking out about visas and still not remembering my lines even though I knew the play backwards. The play opened well in New York, we got good reviews, good bookings and after the nervous breakdown of the first week, things settled down. Happy days. The World Cup had started and we could watch matches in the afternoon and get in to the theatre for the evening show. The closest call was the day of the England-Portugal Quarter Final, but it seemed that even with extra time we could still squeak into the dressing rooms if we watched the match in the Italian restaurant opposite the theatre, which was playing it all on a big screen behind the bar. And that was where the American stage manager found me, 10 minutes before the curtain was due to go up, make-up in my lap, feverishly glued to the penalty shoot out. I don't care about football. I was producing my first play. In New York. I had worked on the show flat out for 6 months of my life and given up a TV series to do it. I had learned how to put a contract together, how to set up a non-profit company, what fire permits I needed for the set fabric and what the royalties were for an author's estate. But at that moment, I looked at the stage manager's face and knew on which side of the green marking tape I stood. I had forgotten everything. And I was in the pub.
Funny and gentle Francois Ozon set in the 1970's. An opportunity to watch Depardieu and Deneuve at play.
NEVER LET ME GO
A close adaptation by Alex Garland of Kazuo Ishiguro's heartbreaking novel. Like the book, the film leaves you with plenty of questions about the world it depicts but it does so in style. Beautifully shot with strong performances and sailing very close to home.
Following his excellent Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck directs this slick heist movie set in his Boston home town. Tense.
THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (El secreto de sus ojos)
A beautiful slow-paced thriller from Argentina. Strong performances from Soledad Villamil and Ricardo Darin. A treat.
THE OTHER GUYS
Extremely silly but very funny buddy cop movie with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
THE KILLER INSIDE ME
If you've read Jim Thompson's book on which this film is based, you will have some idea of the difficulties involved in making and watching it. First person narrative of a charming killer. Truly disturbing. Not sure if that's a good thing.