Countdown to Performance Part 4

It’s been longer than I intended since the last post, but I’ve got some exciting stuff to communicate this time for those that haven’t already seen them on my social media platforms.

First of all a massive thank you must go to Tony Ward at Topcolor Fotoworx on Hessle Road in Hull, and to Chris Corbett, for their collaboration on our advertising poster for An Ordinary Hero: The Jack Harrison Story and our new logo for the Jack Harrison VC MC Statue Campaign.

Production Poster

At this point, because this is our production poster, I do have to tell everybody that this production does involve flashing images, strobe lighting and smoke effect, you need to be aware of this if you’re planning on getting a ticket and coming to see it.

Our cast continue to work extremely hard, indeed Chris Corbett and Chloe Oldridge-Field were brought in for an extra rehearsal this week because the chemistry between their characters, Jack and his wife Lilian, is absolutely all important, so they have to be completely natural with each other, which only comes through them having time together rehearsing, along with director Laura Suter.

As you will be able to see on the poster, which is very obviously adorned by Chris, tickets will cost £10 while concessions, including forces veterans will cost £8 for any of the performances, they are available now at Park Street Performing Arts Centre and online here as well.

Of course there is another agenda here that goes way beyond selling tickets for this production, that is because we are aiming to raise enough money, however long it might take, to have a statue of Jack erected in Hull City Centre, which is where all the proceeds from this production are going, while also educating people about this incredible true story, as well as reminding everybody we’re still here.

Jack Harrison logo

It also happens to be the nearest weekend to Jack’s birthday, which is on 12th November. I was also told something quite interesting by our director recently, she says she was told about some funding we may be able to access from two massive organisations which are usually reserved for just such a project, I will be chasing these up this week.

I will finish for now, but make no mistake, it will not take as long again for me to post in here, see you soon. #Statue52 #2Legends1Man #JackHarrisonVC

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Countdown to Performance Part 3

Well it’s been slightly dramatic since I last posted here, but I can assure you that everything is very much under control, and indeed very exciting.

The big news is that, due to unforeseen circumstances, Kathryn Tinson and our director Cassie Patton, have both had to drop out, although they will be still very much a part of the production, it will be in different ways.

Their replacements are the fabulous Chloe Oldridge-Field, who will be playing the part of Lilian, and Laura Suter who has taken over as our director. Laura very much made her presence felt in the photo shoot we had on Friday, handing out rehearsal schedules, being very much in harmony with the cast and discussing some very good ideas with yours truly.

Chloe, who I know having worked with her on a previous production this year, is a very talented lady, who I can’t wait to see on stage in An Ordinary Hero: The Jack Harrison Story, and from what I understand, she is excited to be in it. She has a BA (Hons) degree in Drama from University of Lincoln, so everybody immediately knows she is top notch.

I also need to thank Topcolor Fotoworx on Hessle Road for their help in doing the photo shoot for the advertising posters/flyers that will become very prevalent in the coming weeks, I also believe some of the pictures will be used in the special souvenir programme that will be available at the performances.

I can assure you, our cast are working incredibly hard to bring you a production to remember, one which will live long in the memory, which will also be seen by members of Jack’s family with any luck at all.

I’m also in discussion with another writer, who may have something to show you, which has definitely got my interest, for reasons which will become apparent later.

Finally I need to remind people, we are all volunteers in this enterprise, doing what we’re doing to raise funds for the Jack Harrison VC MC Statue Campaign. We have had some donations from people and businesses for the production, but we also need people to donate to our JustGiving page for which they will receive very public appreciation and maybe a bit more, but it all depends on the level of support that is given.

It doesn’t matter how much you can give, absolutely every penny is vital to what we’re trying to achieve.

I’m sure I will be posting here again sooner rather than later, definitely this week, so please keep your eyes open, your support, in whatever form it takes, is hugely appreciated by myself, the cast, and all associated with the statue campaign.

Below, you will see a picture that is very self-explanatory for why I’ve added it. #Statue52

Lilian with the King. HD news

Countdown to Performance part 1

Here I am again, with more news about An Ordinary Hero: The Jack Harrison Story, the play I have written for two reasons.

It never ceases to amaze me how few people know anything about Jack Harrison VC MC, so that was one of the main reasons why I decided to sit down and write this play which will be performed at Park Street Performing Arts Centre on Friday 8th, Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th November.

Originally I wrote the short play Our Jack, which was part of the work in progress at the time. We performed Our Jack three times to see how it was received. The people involved in those performances were Clare Crowther, Katie Stones, Jessica Palmer, Kenny Richards-Preston, Jordan Matfin and our original director who is back to direct this production Cassie Patton.

Our Jack then progressed into the feature length production that you will be able to see in November. It was originally performed in May of last year, before I came across some new information about Jack, thanks to my friend Paul Dunham in June or July, causing me to then re-write parts of it before presenting it in front of Jack’s closest relatives in November of last year.

The process this time is already feeling very different to the production that featured the likes of Luke Gillingham, Tim Bettridge, Kieran Danby, Kathryn Tinson (who is in it again this time) Clare Crowther, Sara Featherstone, Johnny Coupland and James Murtagh last year, however with an almost completely different cast and with a returning director, I believe that was always inevitable anyway.

Cassie is seeing it very differently to how I saw it before, and is undoubtedly putting her very experienced stamp on it, while I am largely leaving them to it. When you have an original Hull Trucker as your director, it is probably best to just hand it over and tell the cast and crew to get on with it.

Last night we had a fitting for the actors who need to wear World War 1 uniforms, while I was entrusted with the replica weapons that will feature prominently, but don’t worry they cannot possibly be fired, they just look very convincing, which you will see at the production.

At this point I do have to thank Stephen Manners who is being massively helpful supplying us with the uniforms and replica weapons, some of which are all handmade by him personally.

I know some people who have seen the production before are coming to see it again, and I can absolutely promise that what they see this time will be very different to what they’ve seen before. This is largely because a different director and a largely different cast will, obviously see it differently to who worked on it before, they will have their own way of doing things, which has already been clearly displayed in rehearsals, and they will see it differently and therefore, naturally will communicate it differently, something else which I have noticed in the rehearsals that I have been allowed to attend.

I am now in the strange position, strange for me anyway, of just leaving it alone, not attending rehearsals. Every production I have ever written before I have always been involved in rehearsals, helping by explaining context and how I saw it when I was writing it etc. It’s a funny feeling, but I trust everyone of the cast implicitly, which is also very important in this business. I have been very fortunate to always be able to trust the people I’ve worked with on any production, but previously I have maybe been asked to attend rehearsals, but now I’m being asked to leave them to it, which I am very happy to do so I can spend more time at home with my wife.

In the coming days and weeks I am planning meetings with some of the cast to discuss what local businesses can be given for becoming official backers of the production and the statue campaign, advertising, the special souvenir programme that will be available at the performances and at the end of next week we have a photo shoot for our advertising materials and the programme, so before too long I will have some new images to share with you here, which you can then look out for in various locations around our very cultured city.

Obviously the other reason I wrote this play was as a fundraising vehicle for the statue campaign. We really need as many people as possible to get behind this production by buying tickets to come and see it, or becoming official backers of it and/or the statue campaign please. We do have a JustGiving Page and a bank account, into which you can make one-off or regular monthly donations to support what we’re doing. I can’t stress enough just how important public support is for us.

But for now, just let me say thank you for reading this blog post, there will be another one in the next few days no doubt, and once again thanks very much for everybody who has previously worked on this production, and to Chris C. Corbett, Kathryn Tinson, Jules Lloyd, Cassie Patton, Dave Ross, Jayden Platten and Kev Shephard who are working so hard along with Stephen Manners and my good friend Shaun French who is a trustee at the venue where it will be performed.

#Statue52 #2Legends1Man #JackHarrisonVC

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Our Jack Part 1

I wrote the script to the short play Our Jack a few months ago, I decided to do what I do best, to help me promote my Jack Harrison statue campaign.

With the date of Sunday 30th April now set for our performance(s), at Kardomah 94, I’ve decided to now start writing updates in my blog.

First let me introduce you to everybody involved in the production at this stage, we also have set dates later in the year for a feature length immersive production, so I will introduce you to more people as we move closer to that further down the line.

Our director is Theatre Goddess, and original Trucker, Cassie Patton. Working with Cassie is an absolute dream, she knows everything about working on a production, and she is a huge fan of the man whose story we are telling.

Cassie is working so hard behind the scenes, she has had us rehearsing in her own home, including one-to-one sessions with some of the cast when it has been needed. She has also helped with the cost and procurement of costumes.

Katie Stones is playing Lillian, Jack’s wife, this thoroughly compelling young lady is an absolute treat to work with, she’s massively enthusiastic, and seriously talented with it, I honestly think she will do us all proud, both in the short play and the feature length show.

I only found her by chance, and I’m so happy that I did because she is just going to be outstanding I have no doubt.

Clare Crowther will be playing Jack’s mum Charlotte, and I have to say that I’m thrilled to be working with her. Clare is a superb professional, and learned her lines and got off script in double quick time.

We keep throwing new lines at her for her to learn, today in particular, and it’s all just done almost instantly, it’s a joy to behold.

Kenny Richards-Preston is playing Jack’s father John Harrison. Having worked with Kenny a few times I know exactly what to expect from him, absolute professionalism in bucket loads, and that’s exactly what we’re getting from him.

Kenny is so talented, and I am really pleased he said yes when I asked him to play this part, he is the ultimate professional, everybody who sees this will love him to bits.

The high pressure part of Our Jack is taken on with relish by the brilliant Jordan Matfin. Cassie was the one who spotted him on stage in another show and, despite his considerable work commitments, he is really growing into the role.

Jordan is wonderfully talented, and a really nice lad with it, he’s really engaged with the whole process, and I couldn’t be happier to have him playing the part of Jack in the short play.

The reason I’ve started these blog updates today is because we started rehearsing on the stage at Kardomah 94, and I want to step up the updates other than the ones I’m already putting on social media.

I can confidently tell you that this is a very happy band of people that I’m working with on this production, and that is thanks in no small part to Cassie. As the director Cassie is making every rehearsal a very happy place to be, while also getting the best out of everyone, yours truly included.

Kenny was otherwise engaged today so I had to read in for him, playing the part of Jack’s Hull KR supporting father, most people will know that would be very awkward for me, being that I am a massive Hull FC supporter.

The only reason I can do that when needed, is the fact that I’m doing it for Jack, I like to think he’s smiling down on us.

When we had a meeting with Malcolm Scott about the feature length production, and he expressed his understandable doubts about showing a production about a historic Hull icon, it dawned on me just what we are taking on here.

When we started rehearsals for this short play it suddenly started to feel very real, and as we have been going through them, it’s certainly cranking up the pressure on all of us, hence why the feeling of fun is so important.

Katie and Jordan are having to get very used to each other to make their stage relationship look the way it should, as childhood sweethearts who had known each other all their lives, and then went on to become husband and wife and parents to their only son, as you can imagine, that bit isn’t at all easy.

Our next rehearsal is going to be a week on Wednesday so I want everyone looking out for more rehearsal photos on Facebook and Twitter.

At the time of writing this first entry, I have confirmation that Johnny Whiteley MBE will be at Kardomah 94 for the performance, which will include a Q and A with the cast, Cassie and myself on stage.

While I’ve been writing I have also just received a message from Sammy Lloyd that he will also be there on Sunday 30th April to perform some music for us, along with poetry from the brilliant Artful Codgers.

The Artful Codgers are a group of very good friends of mine Sue and Terry Ireland, Richard Harries and David Osgerby, and I believe there could be new work afoot from them, as well as their already established work, particularly including poems about Jack, Hull FC and World War One.

If you wish to donate to the statue fund here is a link to the JustGiving page.

The Facebook page is here and this is the Twitter account. Please also look out on social media for #Statue52

National Poetry Day

Tomorrow, Thursday 6th October 2016, is National Poetry Day, and this time Hull based company A Car Load of Poets are getting involved.

Vicky Foster and Ian Winter, the brains behind A Car Load of Poets, continue to work extremely hard to bring, and produce, quality poetry in the next UK City of Culture.

Seven months ago they started Women of Words, a monthly gathering on the first Wednesday afternoon of the month at Kardomah 94 on Alfred Gelder Street.

While that continues to blossom, judging by the proven, and fresh, talent I’ve seen there, and it’s growing audience, our two heroes continue to reach out to the poetry world, and tomorrow is no different.

I spoke to both of them this afternoon at Kardomah 94, Ian Winter said: “Fortunately we’ve got Kardomah 94, and we’ve got Central Library, which are really open to ideas, which has helped get it off the ground.

“I think we’ve got 20 groups taking part, there’s not many I can think of what aren’t involved.

“We’ve got two stages, one at Central Library from 1pm til 4pm, which I’ll man, one at Kardomah 94 from 10am to 10pm, Vicky Foster will be opening that.

“The night time is a top performance poetry night, we’ve got Toria Garbutt, Louise Fazackerley and Stan Skinny and a special surprise comedy act is coming.

“We’ve got local poets Mike Watts, Peter Knaggs Lucy Clarke and Josh Overton on. There’s Open Mic and we’ll be doing a few poems as well.”

Newish group The Artful Codgers came into the convesation next: “The Artful Codgers were set up by Terry and Sue Ireland, Dave Osgerby, I think Richard Harris is in it, they just kicked off, I think the more groups we get involved, the more the merrier.”

The idea behind A Car Load of Poets came from a desire to promote talented poetry in Hull.

“Hull has some outstanding poets, who deserve to be on stage with the very best.

Malcolm Scott has also been a driving force behind tomorrow, with his well known enthusiasm for the artistic scene in Hull.

“Malcolm Scott has always been very encouraging, he’s like a breath of fresh air, because without Malcolm Scott in the town, there’d be a lot of writers, playwrights like myself either wrapped up, or just continue taking work out of town.

“Tomorrow will hopefully become a regular event, the groups here will hopefully take them out to the community and schools.

“This is just the foundation for it, to be a bigger and better event. Hats off to all the groups, there’s been no thinking about it, it’s been yeah I’m on board, I’m on board, which is fantastic.”

“There’s another creative outlet coming from this dynamic duo as well: “We’ve got a new thing starting in the new year called The Word Hull.

“That’s going to include spoken word, comedy and music, that’s probably going to be on at Kardomah 94, one evening a month, and that will be like a collaborative event.

“Most of the stuff I do is collaborations, Monologues Slam is done with Andy Wilson and Lucy Thurlow, so that’s 20/20 Theatre with Penny Duck Theatre and Scarlet Lights.

“I’ve got Vicky Foster involved with A Car Load of Poets, I always try to involve other people with stuff like A Car Load of Poets.

“You go to Manchester, you go to York, you go to Sheffield, and they all reach out, Joe Hakim and Mike Watts a few years ago were trying to do that for Hull.

“I’m just picking up from where they stopped really.”

Chatting to Vicky after Women of Words, she said: “National Poetry day happens right across the country every year.

“What we decided to do was try and bring local groups together, so we spoke to the libraries and the James Reckitt Trust, and they kindly funded the day and the night.

“So basically we’re going to be having a stage that runs here at Kardomah 94 from 10 in the morning, until 10 at night.

“That’s going to be in two sections, the first will be from 10 til six, there’ll be about 20 different local poetry groups, they’re all going to pick 20 minute spots, and in between those spots, we’ve got open mic available.

“In the evening we’ve got performance poets, we’ve got Toria Garbutt, Louise Ferzackally and Stan Skinny.

“Also, in addition to that, we’ve got a stage running at Central Library from one til four tomorrow afternoon and you’ll see some of the local poetry groups performing there, and there’s open mic spots available there too.”

The attraction of National Poetry day, it seems, is just a natural progression for our talented twosome, who spend a lot of time travelling around on our behalf.

Vicky continues: “We travel around a lot, listening to, and performing poetry and we’re aware that there are a lot of different groups in Hull doing poetry.

“We just wanted to bring those groups together so people can collaborate.

“Also it just gives people a chance to hear a lot of different voices, which is what poetry is about really.” This statement draws a little giggle from this thoroughly engaging lady.

There’s plenty of attraction for her to this event: “I’m really looking forward to all of it, particularly tomorrow night.

“Some of the performance poets who are coming tomorrow night, I really, really like, so I’m looking forward to seeing them.

“There’s a guy who plays the guitar, from the open mic circuit, and I know he’s been writing a bit of poetry, and he’s coming tomorrow morning to perform some poetry for the first time.

The final question is, If people feel like just doing a bit of poetry, they should just come along to this? She replies instantly: “Yes, that’s right.”

I would readily suggest, please go and support this event, it’s bound to be an absolute triumph, I’ll see you there.

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Photo L to R: Vicky Foster, Hannah Davies and Audrey Dunne