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Sunday, August 31

Well, what a weekend! Actually, I've achieved very little and slept a little too much. However, today managed to get a bit of pace after I'd finished vacuuming and reorganising some CDs. At 6pm, I found a challenge. Could I walk to the cinema in time to see Terminator 3? This was the ultimate combination of some of my priorities:
  • Exercise
  • Be entertained
  • Achieve challenges
  • Keep out of naughty food's way (although the hotdog stand at the cinema is naughty, it's also too pricey to be a temptation)
The film was indeed very silly and I managed to enjoy it and then get home in time for a largely fruit based evening repast.

Heck, I've even cracked the back of my ironing and done the washing up.

Oh yes, I have also managed to complete the play I've been writing. However, since it's to be a comedy musical, and the songs are still to write, and since it would rely heavily on the as-yet-unsigned-co-writer, it's more of a completion of the first draft of the pipe dream. I must confess, I've been a bit hard on the character I intend to play if we stage it. Do anything for the laughs!

Friday, August 29

I love it when websites dissect lyrics. I went looking for some Tim Rice lyrics to try to find out where the version of Jesus Christ Superstar I saw last night came from. What I found was this religious site which attempts to explain why the show is "Satan's opinion on Christ". I'm sure that Tim Rice would be impressed that his lyrics were taken so much to heart, even if the reaction was negative. I'd recommend reading their analysis of the lyrics. What's interesting is that, when you read the lyrics without their religious dogma, you realise that they almost entirely disprove the points that they're being quoted to illustrate. Perhaps you need a bit of prior knowledge of the show to get that, but trust me on this if you don't immediately see it.

The production I saw last night was impressive in many ways. To think that they got over 100 kids to do a difficult show after only two weeks' rehearsal is incredible. The problems they had with the end result were caused by:
  1. Not enough male members of the cast - the sound was quite tinkly
  2. The standard amateur production problem of songs not opening with strong first notes - though it was not too noticeable
  3. A Judas without the range to hit the high notes
  4. One or two minor principals who didn't have strong singing abilities
  5. Jesus lost some of his momentum because he isn't experienced enough to make the long-sustained notes... plus the orchestra was dragging some of the songs which made it harder for them all
  6. An orchestra which didn't have any strings - this killed the final number, which is meant entirely for strings as an instrumental over the dead crucified Jesus
  7. Dramatic motivation - some of the staging and choreography lost the point of the characters' intent... only a small amount, which is a shame, because they had so much amazing work - to get just a handful of details glaringly wrong is silly. In addition, people should think about the lyrics they are singing and phrase them to make sense. The rhythm of the tune can be adjusted slightly to accommodate making sense of the words - you're not just reciting a song, you're acting!
  8. Their ending - intended as an upbeat curtain call... it was wrong - it brought the cast onto the stage, but that could have been done differently. "Could we start again please" was the song they got wrong in context (dramatically) and it didn't fit its task as a curtain call.
The verdict - pretty damned good. I was disappointed that it could not be excellent, since they had the raw material for it to be excellent in most respects. I felt the standing ovation that some people gave was undeserved for the final result, though I have the utmost admiration to the group for achieving what they did.

God I'm turning into a harsh reviewer.

Wednesday, August 27

Back home. Fringe diary completed... what can I say I've been doing. Well, I went to work, came home and completed by diary. What a dull day.

However, life begins right now and it's a new month on Monday!

Let's see if life can be interesting before the ennui sets in.

Thursday, August 21

The fringe diary is still being updated and I'm currently enjoying a few seconds of glorious broadband... Wow... mobile phones suck!

Monday, August 18

Not dead, just lazy. However, I have caught up with the writing of my fringe diary and I'm off to have my final week and a bit of this fine festival.

Friday, August 8

Still up to date on the fringe diary which is nice... having fun here in sconny botland. Off for some breakfast now!

Cheerio!

Thursday, August 7

Damn that cheeky sleep thing. It steals you away from the world when you most need to be out doing things. My two hour alarm-to-awakening delay today was very off putting. Today is a big day. I'm performing two gigs and there's the results of the UK Songwriting Competition to look forward to. I need to know that I've definitely failed, rather than just assuming it.

Anyhoo... I've updated the fringe diary enjoy that. Plus there's an amendment to day 2's - regarding the heckler at the bad gig I did. It's a nice detail.

Wednesday, August 6

Keeping it short and to the point, there's the fringe diary to read now. Plus I'm doing more gigs... see the gigs section of my AshleyFrieze site.

Monday, August 4

I have been here for 5 hours and I've already been involved. Thanks to Davie Firestar Simmons - the Canadian Celtic Cowboy - I became a roadie for the duration of his set. And he thanked ME! Surely I should have been thanking him!

Sunday, August 3

Getting Ready for Eddy

Well, after a busy week's gigging, which I enjoyed for the most part, it's now time to get ready for the Edinburgh festival. I'll be performing my wee show Claustrophobia Cure EXTREME - in a lift, of course and a few stand-up spots here and there. If you see me wandering round Edinburgh, stop me and be nice to me.

I really must sit down and finalise the script for CCE - it's basically a rework of my usual stand-up with the show's framework holding it together in a themed sort of a way. Should be fun... I hope!

Before I have my "Edinburgh" debut, I'd like to say this. A year ago, I didn't think I'd be doing this. Performing stand-up was an ambition I'd dropped. After the last Edinburgh festival, my dream of having my own show on the fringe resurfaced. Rather than throw my savings away on a whim and launch my own one-man show this year, I decided to build up a stand-up act by working as hard as I could (among my other commitments) and see what would happen. In a few days' time, I'll be performing on the fringe - albeit on the fringe of the fringe. Last night was my 20th gig (I only just realised) and I felt relaxed and confident - indeed, I did it with the least amount of worry (regardless of the reaction). I suspect Edinburgh will be a turning point in my performing career - a place I used to decide how much I want to do in the next 12 months. Before it all happens, I'd like to state publicly that the ride has been fun so far. I'm glad I've decided to give this a go. If it all goes arse over tit, it will still have been worth the effort. LIVE THE DREAM!

Well, I had a lovely weekend... and I've still done no packing! D'oh.

Blackburn was excellent fun. The crowd were going to have a good time no matter how I performed, and it was actually good to be able to loosen up after the gig without the threat of a long homeward journey to deal with. Thanks also to Keith's family, who amiably let me gatecrash his cousin's 21st birthday party. The coincidence of finding fellow geordies (well, I'm an adopted geordie now) in Blackburn was too good an opportunity for celebrating!

Thanks to the hen party at the gig for spoiling it a bit and then making up for it by oozing charm at me afterwards. Thanks to the people who bought me drinks and made me feel a million dollars (I've heard the tape, I was nearer 12 Euros) and thanks to the people of Blackburn for having a nice cheap economy. Everything was cheap - the beer (economies of scale perhaps) the accommodations (good value) and the taxis (given the lack of anywhere to go, there's only a limited amount they can charge).

Edinburgh has a lot to live up to. I'm sure I'll have fun there too! If you're in Edinburgh, then get in touch - come and see me perform or meet me for a beer... it's all good!

By the way - check out the updated Edinburgh performing schedule over at the AshleyFrieze site. Please note - this year's Edinburgh diary is blank... but I'll fill it soon enough.

Saturday, August 2


The Media

After months of not feeling that I had anything to post in the multimedia section, I've finally capitulated and stuck a series of sounds up for your pleasure and delectation. There's a range of stuff and, unfortunately, it's all longer than 10 seconds... I've decided, I can't really find any one-liners in my act at the moment.

So, have a look in the media section and you'll find out what I do.

I've done two gigs so far this week and I think that they went pretty well on the whole. I've a lot to learn, but I'm playing the field and learning it. I'll be in Edinburgh soon, but will try to post regularly to keep this site up to date.

By the way, I've given this mini-site a slight facelift - well, my face to be precise, and I've also fixed the archive, so you can now see the old posts... yay!

Friday, August 1

Although gig related, this is not necessarily the story of a struggling performer. I think that something in this world is trying to teach me a lesson. That lesson is probably how to be confident without being arrogant. I admire confidence and usually find arrogance to be shallow and dishonourable, yet it's often hard to be the former without accidentally achieving the latter. Humility is important as the backdrop to any endeavour. This is why I play down my own achievements as much as I do and always strive to improvements in the things I pride the most. However, I do let my guard down.

Following Wednesday night's gig, in fact following the conclusion of arranging this week's activities (prior to going up to Edinburgh), I've been on a high. I've probably been oozing the joys of spring and boring people left right and centre about what I'm up to. The implication when you tell people of your exciting schedule is that you think it's wonderful and, therefore, so are you. The implication when you play down how good it is going to be is that you're using false modesty to make yourself sound better. It's probably better to keep quiet entirely, but I can't help it that I'm excited about what I'm up to - this has been an ambition and it's one I'm having a good honest go at.

I made the mistake, following a review of the recording I made of Wednesday day, of believing in myself a little too much - I think I raised my expectations a little higher than necessary. This can lead to complacency and it can lead to presuming how the next audience will react to your material. I was quite surprised, therefore, when last night's audience did not eat out of my hand the way that Wednesday's did. They were on side and enjoyed the show, but each small moment where it didn't work was magnified by my higher than normal expectations while on the stage - thus putting me under more pressure and straining the rest of the performance. So, I left the gig on Thursday feeling I'd lost it, compared with the all time high of Wednesday's performance.

The lesson of humility didn't end there. You see this was an expenses-paid gig. Indeed, with the cost of petrol, I was even going to have a couple of quid spare- for the first time. My expectations again... So, it was a surprise for me that I had to pull off the road about 20 miles after I started and check into a Travelodge - the reason being that I'd developed such painful cramps in my abdomen, that I could not safely continue the journey. The hotel room, of course, cost more than my expenses payment, and I ended the evening curled up in agony on a strange bathroom floor, doing whatever came naturally to attempt to rid myself of the pain. Over 48 hours I covered the spectrum of the performer's life - from the cheerful high to the "make the pain stop" low.

In fact, I woke up feeling a lot better, started my drive home, got stuck in tons of traffic, giving me time to review the tape of the performance - it was still one of my better gigs. I'd have enjoyed it more if I'd started with a little more humility and an open mind... and perhaps I should not have had that sandwich as I left Newcastle.

To anyone I've bored with tales of my forthcoming performances - I'm sorry. I think I've learned my lesson.

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