Tag Archives: Colin McPhillamy

Mood Swing

DAY 3

Sometimes you hear of dramatic mood swings when doing a juice fast or detox or any kind of woo-woo-adjacent adjustment… Well I’m here to report on one.

When I commute to work from Pleasantville to New York City, I usually choose the quiet car. This is the carriage at the end of the train where the rule is, no electronic devices with sound, and conversations in hushed tones only. There are signs fixed to the carriage roof that confirm this. If you need to make a phone call, you are cordially asked to walk into the next carriage where people are talking as normal.

The day before yesterday was Santacon. This is a charity event where people dress in Santa Klaus costumes or allied festive, brightly colored garb, and raise lots of money for good causes. It may also include heroic feats of alcoholic consumption (I have no firm information on this last – just a guess).

So, there I was in the quiet car, preparing to read a peaceful book and transition calmly into the day’s labors.

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All of a sudden and noisily, about 250 people, all of them right around the age where it is legal to drink in the USA, (some under some over), got into the quiet car (alright there were probably only 20 of them, but it seemed like a lot more).

They swarmed up and down the carriage uttering mottos of seasonal celebration. “Hey Britany – there are seats up HERE!!!” for example, or, “Matt, uncork me another one, wuddya?”

I caught the eye of a passing reveler, “Er excuse me,” I said in my best Downton Abbey accent, “this is the quiet car.”

“HEY YOU GUYS” bellowed the reveler, ” THIS IS THE QUIET CAR!!!”

A compote of deafening expletives erupted from the group. To their credit, they agreed to move to the next car (or carriage as we Brits call it). The motion was a noisy phalanx as each member of the group insisted that the others “KEEP IT DOWN, DUDE!” About half the group passed into the other car, before the collective changed its mind (the train being very full), the ensuing melee put one in mind of the outnumbered Spartans against the hordes of Persia.

Having regained the quiet car, the group then had a brief post-debacle analysis of the situation before moving on to other topics which were then discussed for the remainder of the journey at ever increasing volume.

And me?

One of the finer British magazine publications, which I commend to my readers, is The Oldie. The pages are filled with splenetic and amusing articles from grumpy retirees on the decline of standards generally. At one time I would have written a letter to the editor across the pond and signed it “Disgruntled of Pleasantville (ex-pat).”

But on this occasion… on this occasion, my inner curmudgeon had subsided. I simply sat there, mellow on my green juice, with a friendly smile “Ah, let the young people have their fun.” I mused.

And if that isn’t a mood swing, tell me what is.

Pre-launch Prep

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This morning I took delivery of a lot of carrots and greens.

A brisk 20 minutes later, there were these jars containing primary and secondary colored juices prepared for freezing

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As much to make room in the fridge as for any reason

Drink the rainbow!

Tomorrow is DAY 1 of the reboot

This Blog is Going Ballistic (for a while)

For the past several years I’ve been blogging about what it’s like to be a jobbing actor. The idea has always been tweedy, lost-in-translation type articles intended to lower your blood pressure. A reference to a gentler time when there actually was time to read something — anything, just to while time away.

However…

For the next two months or so I am going to ramp up the frequency of this blog as I revisit a long term project mentioned in these pages before. OLM. Operation Leading Man.

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You see before you, what I believe is known in today’s media-savvy quotidian-common-tongue as “a selfie”. As you see, it’s a shot in diffuse lighting, slightly distorted by the mirror, and it doesn’t really tell you the whole story

It reminds me of a joke the late great British comedian, Tommy Cooper, used to tell.

I went to the doctor, he said, “You’re fat.”

I said, “I want a second opinion.”

He said, “You’re ugly too.”

To celebrate my 61st birthday, I have signed up for a guided reboot as brought to the world by that crazy Australian, Joe Cross, and pioneered in his film, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. I start the day after tomorrow.

You can check all that out via the cunningly named websites: rebootwithjoe.com & fatsickandnearlydead.com where you can see the film for free.

Watch this space

NB: If you find it too unsavory a prospect, or too painful to watch as I struggle to reclaim the casting of my earlier youth, then simply delete all posts until the end of January (Imbolc) 2019 when normal service will resume.

Do You Like Being Read To?

The BBC is re-releasing some of its archive and broadcasting on Radio 4 Extra. As of today, November 3rd 2018, there are 24 days left on this release

Go here to listen to a 15 minute story written by some guy called Collin Johnson (aka Colin McPhillamy) way back in the last millennium …

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Don’t go Green go Emerald

In so many ways Ireland leads the way. Not least in their policy on clean energy. But I’m not here to talk about that.

Way back when I was in The Seafarer with a quartet of excellently robust actors, (the craic was mighty) I asked Mick Millamphy to give me a hand with the accent of County Armagh, significantly different from the Dublin sound we were going for then. I had an audition for The Ferryman. This is the transfer that originated at The Royal Court Theatre in London and then ran in the West End for almost a year and is now coming to Broadway with the original cast.

“Sure,” said Mick, “come over to Ryan’s Daughter (a bar on New York’s Upper East Side,  he was part owner) and we’ll work on it.”

I made my way to 85th Street and 1st avenue. It was a misty evening. A light drizzle was falling. Shape-shifters were out and about just past the corners of perception. As I entered this bar under an Irish flag (one of several in New York City), a pint of Guinness materialized in my left hand.

“Come up to the snug,” said Mick.

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Guinness continued to manifest about every quarter hour. Just before the preceding pint was finished. And here is the funny thing; I never saw it arrive. Mick and I chatted, discussing the idea that the job I was going for – understudying several roles in The Ferryman, an extraordinary play by Jez Butterworth – was distantly reminiscent of when governments subsidize farmers not to grow alfalfa. Getting paid for actively not acting. Although being ready, willing and able to do so, should someone twist an ankle.

At my age the capacity for Guinness is not what it once was. So although Mick’s company was highly agreeable, I had to slip away after about a gallon or two. We did spend a little time actually working on the accent and the next day I got the job. I started work last week. We preview October 2nd, open October 21st. Mick, I owe you.

The Ferryman tells an epic true story, but the play is threaded with mythology. I’m now convinced that selected newborns in Ireland are taken by the ankle and dipped in the river of Guinness that runs, with tributaries, through all of that magical land.

Five go Drinking in the Underworld

If Enid Blyton had written The Seafarer (reviews here) I’m pretty sure that is the title she would have come up with.

200px-Scotland_relief_location_mapOne time I was involved in a World War 1 play. The set was an abstract of sand bags and scaffolding and we were invited to play at the St. Magnus Festival on The Orkney Islands north of the northern tip of Scotland across the Pentland Firth, one of the most treacherous stretches of water in the navigable seas.

We drove a van up the length of Britain from London to Thurso all through the night, and at an early hour before the sun came up one of the company filled the gas tank with diesel, not petrol, and we came to a full stop on a lonely road just about dawn. The highway services came to our rescue but we lost 2 hours in the confusion.

We reached Thurso (as far north-east as you can go in Scotland) to see the ferry which we had booked to take our set and costumes steaming out of the harbour.

What was to be done?

Our entrepreneurial assistant director was off round the moorings and he cut a deal with a fisherman to take us and our sandbags and scaffolding across the Pentland Firth in an open boat. The fee was £50, and “all the beer I can drink”.

Fortunately word of this madness reached the harbour-master and he immediately put a stop to it, otherwise I would be writing this from the sea-bed. We were able to re-book our berths on the next ferry but logistics meant there was no room for our set. So we abandoned the aforementioned scaffolding and sandbags (which we had transported the length of the country), repacked our costumes into suitcases and, catching the next ferry, gave our performance in the Festival on time.

Every now and there’s a stand out gig in an actor’s progress (to say career would be too loose a use of that word). The Seafarer was such a one for me.  Great role, great cast (yes, the five who go drinking, ah lads…), great company – the Irish Rep, a brilliant triumph, as all theatres are, of the improbable over the impossible. Huge thanks and kudos to Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O’ Reilly, co-founders, and to all who work there.

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Mick Mellamphy as Ivan, Colin McPhillamy as Richard in

The Seafarer at The Irish Rep. Photo Carol Rosegg

Tangentially and speaking of the sea and of ferries… I’m delighted to say that in September I will join the company of The Ferryman, a London transfer to Broadway. In a later blog I will disclose details of the patentable Mick Mellamphy Magical Method which assisted me to this forthcoming gig.

Big thanks too, to Carol Brennan  who writes pacey, spicy crime fiction, for letting me crash on the sofa bed in the funky East Village when the commute got out of hand!

Next stop far north-eastern Maine and the Bagaduce Theatre – as far north-east as you can go without hitting Canada and New Brunswick where my maternal great-grandmother was born and at a young age in her early adult life as an actress sailed to Australia under a seven year contract to J C Williamson, theatrical producer, but that’s another story.