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Beer! Progress Report

21st October 2006

After long hiatus between shows and an equally long writing period it feels good to get “Beer!” into rehearsal. Our new uber-producer Marcus has done an amazing job on the casting. Attracting a high quality of actor to the auditions from which we have picked to my mind our strongest cast to date. A few old faces; Ste Lowe and Paul “The Muse” Bowles are complimented by KOBAL virgins Rachel McGuinness, Catherine Murphy, Peter Lord and Wesley Thomas. Fear not Kilgour fans! The talented, fresh faced and still young-ish James has also made it into the cast in a cameo harking back to his ‘Dave and Jeff Versus’ debut.

Following a KOBAL tradition of Sunday rehearsals and pub function rooms we are again frequenting Oldham’s Walkabout (Cheers Colin and Co!) under the pretext of productive work. We have also got some rehearsal time at Contact and The Yard in Hulme. We did try booking the Methodist hall we used for auditions but apparently they’re busy on Sundays – who’d have guessed?

Initial rehearsals are going well with the cast settling comfortably into the KOBAL bosom. Everyone is enthused by the script; actively pitching in ideas, thoughts and surrealisms along with some killer early performances. We are currently concentrating on Act One, exploring the characters and “roughing in” the scenes. The idea being that this is the time to really play around with things in an “anything goes” kind of way to see what works. We’ll be doing a similar thing with Act Two in November before going into our intensive week of polishing in December. I’m not going to go into too much detail or pick out any one for a special mention as I think they’re all bringing so much to the piece, but I do think we’re on course for another benchmark raising show.

Along side the activity of the rehearsal room, the KOBAL producing machine is also pounding into action. Marleen is continuing her incessant tinkering with the site (very nicely too, cheers M). Matt is whipping his technical team into shape with a list of outrageous demands on their time, patience, money and personal space. Martha our costume designer has been in with her tape measure and provided the entire cast with a full knowledge of their inside leg.

Dave Wimpenny is buying various bits of sound software that he tells his girlfriend are of absolute necessity to the show and he wouldn’t be getting them for any other reason honest-no-really-honestly. Adam Gent and Emma Cook (Stage Management) are approaching the production with a philosophical look at the exact meaning of beer, with a lot of lunchtime meetings.

Contact’s marketing machine is busy churning out all sorts of spurious information on us and providing The Metro with unflattering images of Ste and myself – press photos of the cast are happening this Sunday to avoid repeat offences! Marcus is continuing his bid for the post of ‘indispensable’ by organising cast & crew and holding meetings with people I’ve never heard of to do things I’d never thought of. He’s even taking directing duties for a week whilst I swan off to Portugal (it’s a hard life).

Meanwhile I’ve been lending my eye as a lighting designer to fellow young companies Envision and LeKoa. Envision have crossed paths with KOBAL before in a still-to-be-edited radio version of “The Man With The Incredibly Strong Lips” (currently sitting on discs in Ste’s back bedroom). Whilst they wait for the royalties to flood in they’ve gone ahead and produced the UK premiere of “Zig and More” at the John Thaw Studio. Envision hope to restage it in the New Year, have a gander at their site ( for more details.

LeKoa’s director Chris Wright first came to our attention when we tried to poach one of his actors back in 2004 – it didn’t work, the actor in question managed to escape the pit and fool the guard dogs with vegetarian fake bacon before making a bid for freedom on a stolen tricycle. Anyway Lekoa have recovered and are currently touring Chris’ new play “Vent”, check out their website for more details.

KOBAL have also recently joined PANDA (The Performance Arts Network Development Agency) and are in the process of sucking them dry of all resources.

That’s all for now folks, check back soon for more updates and news on your favourite theatre company.

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