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

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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New Start

I ran this blog when I was doing my degree in Journalism and Digital Media at Hull School of Art and Design from 2014 to 2017. It’s been pretty dormant since then (maybe the occasional post) but nothing like on the scale I’m planning now, after it was suggested I take up blogging again.

The obvious thing to do to start blogging again would be to start up a new one, but that would mean starting from scratch, and this way, if people actually take an interest in what I’m writing these days, they can also look through most of the work I did on my degree.

Of course the other side to restarting on my old blog, is updating you all with what has happened to me since I graduated in 2017, or the highlights at least.

Three months after I graduated I got married to my Alison. She was one of the people who suggested I do my degree when I wasn’t so sure, she also stuck by me and, along with my friends on my degree Jools Oughtibridge and Aaron Irwin, convinced me that I could successfully complete my degree, of course they were right.

Alison is also the one who convinced me that I could study and complete my Masters Degree in English Creative Writing at University of Hull, which I am on the brink of completing, but that’s another blog post for a later date I suppose.

Something which hangs over from doing my degree to this day is that I am still running the Jack Harrison VC MC Statue Campaign.

At present we are now in rehearsals for the play I wrote about Jack, it’s title is An Ordinary Hero: The Jack Harrison Story. It will be performed at Park Street Performing Arts Centre on Friday 8th, Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th November. We are also looking for local businesses to sponsor us and also pay for advertising in the programme we hope to produce, so if you read this and know of any businesses that might want to advertise at very competitive prices, please contact me by email on ian.judson123@gmail.com asap!

As for journalism, I’ve had commissioned work in the national Daily Mail and the Daily Express, as well as producing paid work for the hullisthis.co.uk positive news platform founded by my good friend Jerome Whittingham (who is also on the Jack Harrison VC MC Statue Campaign committee) and I’ve also had work in The Hull Hub, Hull Echo and seriousaboutrl.com website, or at least they’re the ones that I’m still writing for.

Just over a year ago Jools who I mentioned earlier gave me the opportunity to run Twitter networking platform @HullHour which takes place every Thursday between 8 and 9pm, just tweet to it and put #HullHour as well and I’ll retweet it, like it and network it any day of the week, it’s particularly useful for advertising, catching up with people, finding out what’s going on in the local area etc.

I’m also doing some voluntary work for community radio station Beverley FM on 107.8 FM, I’m their news and sports reporter, although at the moment the vast majority of my work for them is sports, for instance I’ll be in the press box tonight at the KCOM Stadium for the Betfred Super League game between Hull FC and Huddersfield Giants, to write a match report for the Beverley FM website and record coaches and player press conferences afterwards for broadcast on the airwaves.

I have currently got many irons in the fire for work, particularly my work with our Northern Ireland veterans which is getting sent to a particular national newspaper who showed a brief interest in it. However freelance journalism work is very hard to come by and get paid for, so I’m also applying for jobs all over the place.

What I also intend to do on this blog, at least once a week for now, is a Countdown to Performance, where I will let anybody interested enough know exactly how everything is going, as we go through the process of Page to Stage.

Your cast of the play are:- Chris C. Corbett – Jack, Kathryn Tinson – Lilian, Kev Shephard – John Harrison, Jayden Platten – Matthew, Jules Lloyd – Charlotte and Dave Ross – Sergeant Bob Wells and our Director is original Hull Trucker Cassie Patton, all of whom are working ridiculously hard to bring you a first class production.

I’ve got to thank Shaun French as well for arranging for us to perform the play at Park Street Performing Arts Centre, he’s been a real pleasure to deal with, and very helpful as well. I’ve also got to say Stephen Manners who is providing us with the necessary World War 1 uniforms and dummy weapons, is being absolutely essential to what I’m sure will be a first class show.

Anyway, I think that’s probably enough for now, I do hope plenty of you will start reading these blog posts, I’ll be using it to update you about everything I’m involved with.

Jack standing Hull kit.

A Christmas Carol at Park Street Performing Arts Centre

The delightful adaptation of arguably the best Christmas story has landed at Park Street Arts Centre.

This magical musical adaptation has all the Christmas heartwarming you could ever wish for, while staying loyal in parts to the classic Charles Dickens story, but gives a real treatment, with a different type of fun.

The constraints of quite a small stage are cast aside in thrilling style as the skillfully constructed set is used to its full advantage.

The masterful Richard Green plays the part of the old miser Ebenezer Scrooge with genuine aplomb, and his direction of the whole piece is a joy to behold.

Callum Mathers is also in top form as the downtrodden Bob Cratchit, and the whole cast communicate a real sense of togetherness throughout the very character driven show.

Gina Garton is very strong at setting certain scenes for the audience, and the scenes between her and character and Scrooge are genuine dynamite.

It’s a well known saying in theatre that you should ‘Never work with children’ but the supremely talented bunch in this gutsy production discard that saying with a real swagger and ability that looks boundless.

The musical numbers are scattered through the feast before your eyes, all perfectly timed and moving the story along beautifully, with a great dollop of realism.

With several actors and actresses playing more than one part, it would be easy for them to get a bit lost, but that doesn’t happen here, it all moves along almost serenely.

Keiran Danby is very genuinely scary as Jacob Marley, and the use of atmospheric smoke and the right choice of background sound, provides a tremendously eerie experience when it’s required.

The alternate scenes that have been inserted into the script are also masterfully handled.

Speaking to Richard Green afterwards, he said: “I think A Christmas Carol is one of those plays, that really sum up Christmas, it’s got such a good moral behind it.”

Speaking about playing the lead, and directing it as well: “It is a challenge definitely, especially when I’m standing on the stage, seeing what’s going on.

“Obviously I’m not supposed to be seen by them, so I can’t intervene, I just have to stand and watch.

“Apart from directing it, I’m also playing the lead, and it’s a very big part so it’s a lot to learn, sustaining the character, that’s quite a hard job.”

Callum Mathers also spoke to me about playing Bob Cratchit: “It’s a bit of a character role, he’s a family man, which is something new for me. Also a bit of a cockney accent is a challenge but it’s nice to try that.”

Being on stage with the director quite a lot actually brings some comfort: “It’s pretty comfortable actually sometimes.

“He’s been acting for many years, and directing shows, that gives you confidence in him, that if something does go wrong, you can work together with him and bring it through.”

Being on stage with several children: “It’s stressful at times, but it’s great fun because they’re so full of energy… You’re sort of mentoring them, helping them through it.”

Turning A Christmas Carol into something of a musical has its advantages: “It’s maybe a bit of a gamble, I think it brings a bit more enjoyment as well.

“I haven’t really done a lot of play work, musicals are mainly my thing, so I feel a bit more at home doing musicals, but I think it is a bit of a gamble.

“But I think the audience get a bit more enjoyment out of it, with a few songs in there, you maybe get them to join in a little bit.”

Tickets are still available for the performances which run all week, up to and including Christmas Eve afternoon, although there are only EIGHT tickets left available for the Christmas Eve showing.

Tickets can be booked over the phone on 01482 222452, priced at £6-£8.

Go and see it, you’ll love it to bits.

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