Tag Archives: Mimi Monteith

INTERVIEW WITH

James Ringer-Beck

Actor Composer

James Ringer-Beck

James Ringer-Beck

Actor Composer

Interviewed – April 2020

 

James, you manage to juggle careers in both acting and composing, do you find they compliment each other? Or do you find it challenging to balance the two?

They have their moments! Its definitely opened my eyes more to both sides of the production table, especially when I might start writing six months before the first rehearsal. So my appreciation for all the pre-production work has really grown. The main problem I’ve found has been that composing and arranging takes up so much more time. A self-tape can take an hour, or a morning, but I’ve had days where I’ve only managed to progress a couple of seconds with a composition, which can be maddening at times and when I’m spending that much time writing, altering, re-writing, rendering etc it can leave me little time to pursue other activities. Not that I’m complaining – at last year’s Fringe I appeared in two shows and had written music for a third, all of which happened to be performed in the same venue!

Am I right in thinking, that you have trained to be an actor, but not in composition? How have you found entering both of these fields with different levels of qualifications?

Yes – although I set out to be an actor, I sort of fell into composing by accident. During my studying at East 15, my housemate Robyn Grant asked me to write the music for a piece she was writing, which then became Fat Rascal Theatre’s first show ‘Buzz: A New Musical’. I’ve since composed three musicals with Fat Rascal, and after that, two composing jobs with the Vaults in London and various arranging work for Capital Theatres in Edinburgh and other fringe shows. I’d say getting into composing is harder for me not having a real insight into that side of the industry, especially as I’m coming into it ‘late’.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My girlfriend – especially recently with everything Covid-related. We live together and I don’t know quite how I would have stayed sane otherwise. She’s got an incredible drive, always pushing herself to be better. And yet somehow she’s almost always willing to listen to anything I’ve written.

Are you finding the connotations of lockdown creatively helpful, or draining?

As with anything, there’s good days and bad days. I’ve personally found it more difficult. There has been a wonderful push of creativity from all corners of the arts, and an equal number of tweets and Facebook posts either saying ‘be productive’ or ‘don’t feel pressured to be productive’. It can feel like there’s a pressure to supply this increased demand which I don’t think is necessarily helpful. Creating art, like the lockdown, is a marathon, not a sprint, and so for artists, I think it’s important to remember that if you don’t feel like creating something, that’s not a failure on your part, it’s just today is not a day for creating.

What is the piece of work that you are most proud of?

Last year I wrote music for a staged production of ‘Alien 3 – The Unfilmed Script’, which is probably about as out there as you could get. It was the first time I was able to create a musical world entirely from scratch and on top of that, was able to create an album of my work.

If you could perform one role, what would it be?

I would love to play Robin in ‘A History of Falling Things’ by James Graham. It’s a beautiful script about two people suffering from keraunothnetophobia – a fear of satellites falling from the sky – who start a relationship despite not being able to leave their houses. The whole script is uplifting and well-written and I fell in love with it the first time I read it.

What piece of advice would you give to people just starting out in their careers in the arts?

Make time for yourself. It can be very easy to spend all your time working to make money to support your artistic career and sometimes, self-care makes all the difference, and makes sure you can actually function as a human being.

What is next for you?

I’m due to be in Blowfish Theatre’s next show, ‘Now That’s What I Call… Getting Brexit Done!’, reprising my role as Boris Johnson. It’s going to be a follow-up to previous satirical musicals ‘Boris the Musical 2: Brexit Harder’ and ‘Now That’s What I Call Brexit’, both of which followed the lead-up and aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum. The next show looks to cover the 2019 General Election up to the Coronavirus. Now we just need to be allowed outside to rehearse…

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Stay safe and keep well.

 

Interviewed by Mimi Monteith

Headshots by Paul Nicholas Dyke

 

 

 

Find out more about James here:
Twitter – @JRingerBeck
Soundcloud – James Ringer-Beck
Website – www.jamesringer-beck.com

 

 

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Love in a Nutshell

Love in a Nutshell

★★★

Cockpit Theatre

Love in a Nutshell

Love in a Nutshell

Cockpit Theatre

Reviewed – 11th March 2020

★★★

 

“Across all elements, there were moments that were wonderful throughout”

 

Xameleon Theatre presented an evening of nine short plays by Chekhov. The direction of the production (Dmitry Turchaninov) neatly linked each play to a theme of water; the set design (also by Turchaninov) emulated this by consisting of either a piece of blue squared silk laid on the floor in the first act, or white in the second, representing the different seasons. The play was entirely in Russian, with surtitles projected onto the back wall of the theatre (a note is given to those that do not speak Russian to sit in clear view of the surtitles at the beginning of the performance).

Turchaninov used this linking theme of water in order to transition between each separate story; different characters would approach the water and the narrator (Chekhov), performed by both Oleg Sidorchik and Vadim Bogdanov would announce the new setting. Whilst this was clear on occasion, Turchanivov’s decision to have two narrators was confusing, as this, alongside the rest of the cast, who were all also multirolling meant that it wasn’t quite clear when one story ended and another began; especially as on occasion stories would overlap for humour. This might have worked had the show been in English, but with an audience trying to decipher all of this at once, and it not be in English, it was challenging.

Standout performances were given by Irina Kara, as she portrayed a matchmaker who intended to set up a 50 year old man, Stychkin (Oleg Hill) who had very specific tastes despite insisting he was easy going. As they drank vodka on stage her notably odd laugh became more prominent, pulling a great deal of humour from the piece. However, despite being drunk, Kara managed to pull a poignancy out of her character when she matches herself with her co-protagonist.

Despite some performances being strong, the style of the production was confusing. In the final story, Ivan Vassilevich Lomov (Vadim Bogdanov) goes to propose to Natalia Stepanovna (Vlada Lemeshevska), who he cannot seem to stop arguing with. This piece bordered on an absurdist farce which, if emulated across the entire production, would have been a clear intention and might have been brilliant. However, it was disorientating to suddenly deliver an absurdist piece, with the other pieces being far more typically Chekhovian.

However, there was a flash of brilliance in a story about a pair ice-fishing, who don’t speak the same language and are increasingly frustrated with one another. A build up of tension and humour is developed before this suddenly ceased as Gryabov (Oleg Hill) jumps into the icy water. At this moment, the white silk sheet was lifted above Gryabov’s head and he was seen to be struggling in the cold water. In this moment Yuri Galkin’s lighting and sound design worked magic, allowing the whole atmosphere to go cold as the theatre was plummeted into a hazy blue and the sound of someone under water banging on the ice above played. This design alongside Turchaninov’s direction was beautifully realised.

Across all elements, there were moments that were wonderful throughout Love in a Nutshell, however an overall inconsistency of style and a confused layout made the production hard to follow.

 

Reviewed by Mimi Monteith

 

Love in a Nutshell

Cockpit Theatre until 13th March

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Bed Peace: The Battle Of Yohn & Joko | ★★★ | April 2019
Lysistrata | ★★ | June 2019
Much Ado About Not(h)Ing | ★★★ | June 2019
Alpha Who? | ★★★ | August 2019
Bombshells | ★★★½ | August 2019
The Ideal Woman | ★★ | August 2019
The Werewolf Of Washington Heights | ★★★★ | August 2019
Moth Hunting | ★★★★ | September 2019
The Last Act Of Harry Houdini | ★★★★ | October 2019
Iphigenia In Aulis | ★★★ | November 2019

 

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