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Snapshots from New Albion (Atompunk Era) Part 2

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The writer for the most popular soap opera on videovision is a brain in a glass jar. As part of his contract every evening a young woman comes in and for an hour sits with him and describes in minute detail the day’s weather.

They say the New Albion monorail F Train is haunted at night by the ghost of a pop star who not only hasn’t died yet, but hasn’t even become famous yet. Amongst a very special circle of the entertainment industry there is an active hunt, an obsession with very high stake bets, to find this person while living and “discover” them.

One of the most popular musical instruments of the day does not in itself make a sound. It allows you to conduct the different sounds in your environment, mixing and looping them as you walk about and they occur. Kid Z’s weekly Saturn Park remixes which he makes while strolling in the afternoon through Saturn Park on Saturdays are a consistent bestseller.

The power for the Syer’s Building is supplied by the dreams of 150 sleeping volunteers. They sign on for a period of time ranging from a week to 3 years (although plans are underway to offer up to 10 years). They are placed in a state of deep sleep and offered a variety of incredible themed dreams. The energy their dreaming minds create is used to power the building and it’s well regarded top of the building lighting. The dreams are “induced” by a computer simply reciting 10 key words related to the chosen dream theme over and over again every few minutes for the legnth of the sleep.

New Albion has its own superhero, Captain Apollo. Some nights he can be spied high above, leaping about buildings in his never ending quest to fight crime. He is basically adored. Interestingly, he does not actually exist. He was initially a performance art project that proved so popular the team behind him decided to just keep going. He is simply a 3D video projection. It takes a team of 3 to produce him and whenever, after a year or so one of them decides to move on, they are easily replaced, as many young videographers would love to be involved with Captain Apollo for awhile. What the team behind Captain Apollo cannot explain is the number of crooks who end up hog tied outside police buildings or at crime scenes with a note from Captain Apollo taped to their shoulder.

A series of transparent plastic tubes connect buildings for block and blocks allowing pedestrians to walk about in any weather well above street level without ever having to go outside. The biggest nuisance of these tubes however are gangs of cosplayers who play a day long elaborate chase game in these tube. The game is a unique combination of Laser Paint Tag, Spy and Capture the Flag  where they hunt each others’ team in costumes from popular comic and videovision series (although some will dress normally until a key moment when they will throw off their disguise to reveal their colorful “real” clothing), shooting each other with stained light and trying to capture each team’s Princess (who is not necessarily female or even at times human. Dogs, cats and goats have on occasion been used).

A popular form of fashion involves clothes made out of electricity.

Amongst the New Albion middle class there is a popular oracle they go to in order to divine the future. The oracle resides in the Psychedelic Basement deep in the industrial park. This oracle is actually a puddle of radioactive ooze. Due to a rather improbable accident the ooze somehow possesses the ability to cause hallucinations when stared at for over a minute. What’s more these hallucinations are sometimes of a possible future. When they are, the probability of that future being accurate is about 67%, which makes the ooze far and away the most accurate fortune teller in the city.

One of the most popular taxi drivers in the city is an automation who cracks jokes and dispenses with hilarious and homey advice. No one is quite sure how he operates. Some think he really is an automation and others assume  he’s controlled by someone at the central depot. Actually he is controlled by a talking mouse named Kevin, who comes from a long line of very intelligent mice and sits in the automation’s head where he has controls to drive the cab. Kevin also helps the police solve all sorts of crimes. Several constables are in the habit of taking a leisurely cab ride when they are particularly perplexed by a case. Kevin’s ability to think like and predict criminal behavior is unsurpassed. Even most of the cops do not know that the automation is actually Kevin the mouse. There are only a small handful of people who know that Kevin even exists much less is the wisecracking taxi driving automation.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Snapshots From New Albion (Atompunk Era) Part 1

new albion atompunk era

Hideee ho all! It is that time once again to sit and write a whole bunch of little snapshot of New Albion in order to have something to use for fodder for New Albion 9.

As usual i could sit and write this stuff all day. In fact, i will have to continue tomorrow because although i just sat here and kept writing and writing, i didn’t actually write any of the kind of stuff i can use for little vignettes in the song. I’ll have to do this again tomorrow and focus a bit more diligently on usable mini vignettes.

In any case, here is the first installment of Snapshot of New Albion for the Atompunk Era:

-Some of the tunnels beneath new Albion have become quite fortified and developed. They exist in the area where the Albino Tribe live. Access to them is gained by only a few locked iron doorways and trespassers are killed instantly.  Inside the tunnels cover several kilometers and are quite lavish. The tribe does good trade with the aboveground world and the vast majority of their money is made by providing a very popular drug called Tansan, a rust colored powder that produces euphoria and is a mild hallucinegenic.

– In years past there was quite an effort by several criminal parties to obtain control of the drug. The albinos tribe, which had been living under New Albion for centuries, were threatened by such intense interest and things occasionally got rather bloody, but eventually peace was made when a red haired man finally brokered a deal with the tribe.

– His granddaughter, the red haired albino girl, effectively runs the criminal organization which controls the drug and is one of the most powerful criminal bosses in the city.

– After the civil war the 8 districts remained independent although over time ceded a small amount of power to the central Parliament, mostly for defense and basic infrastructure. The Parliament and Major’s office has long tried numerous attempts to gain more power but the districts have stubbornly resisted.

– The Voodoopunks gained popularity very quickly, as they were backed by the Major’s office as an attempt to establish a city wide religion that would bring the districts together and run in close, albeit secret, cooperation with the Central Office.

– This strategy allowed the Voodoopunks to expand rapidly but didn’t quite produce the results the Major’s office was looking for. The Voodoopunks had their own agendas and didn’t return the backscratching to any appreciable extent.

– When Avalon Corp came along promising exciting new technologies and sleek visions of the future, the Major’s office chose to back them, hoping to use technology to create a homogenized culture. This worked also to some extent, especially after a generation and certain events had passed. The tax shelters and favoritism Avalon Corp received allowed them to develop and market a slew of new technologies, transforming New Albion fairly quickly into a City Of The Future.

– However, Avalon Corp has deep secrets of their own. Their work on what we would call a personal computer was revolutionary and utterly undreamed of in the world New Albion exists in. The stages they had planned would culminate in the Mascot 3000 series of personal tablet interfaces. Very much like Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy type of devices, but interactive personalities.

– The Mascot 3000 had purposes beyond this of course, but that is a secret for another day.

– The vast amount of Avalon Corp’s resources eventually went into the Infraspace Exploration Project and an enormous amount of the city’s economy became inadvertently tied to it.

– With the sudden collapse of Avalon Corp (also a story for another time) the personal computer industry fell overnight. A few businesses managed to reverse engineer some basic computers and thus the great automation of every aspect of personal life in New Albion continued, although in much simpler form.

– Only one working Mascot 3000 actually exists. You will meet it soon enough.

– A species of mutant crickets lives in the ventilation system of the High Rise Park. Their song has been slowed down to a speed comprehendable to human ears. There is a subculture of residents who crawl into the ventilation system in the evening and even assemble in groups in makeshit room deep in the high rises infrastructure to sit and listen to the cricket song  for hours as if attending a concert. The drug Tansan is quite popular with them.

– Jet packs were invented, put on the market and immediately taken off. However, since the Mayor’s offce possesses only a fraction of actual power, the central ban on them has been very ineffective. Accidents while operating jet packs are currently the number one cause of death in New Albion.

– There are alas, no robots. Avalon Corp would have done it had they had another generation or two to keep working. The Mascot 3000 is the closest they got.

– A series of floating agricultural cloud stations were proposed and one was built in order to conserve space and grow plants in the sky. After the sudden collapse of Avalon Corp threw the city into economic disarray, the project was abandoned and the station forgotten about. There is however still a man living there who chose not to leave. He is up there in the clouds alone, growing his food, living out a quiet life and watching from high above the world go about around him.

– The designs he uses to decide where to grow each plant and the path formations have grown more and more complex over the years. This has a bit to do with his ever increasing knowledge and mastery of agriculture, but it also has to do with the rather occult like relgion he has slowly developed over his long, lonely years up there. The plants form an elaborate sigil meant, among other things to attract the 6 disciples he believes will one day appear to join him, 3 men and 3 women. He believes they will over time give birth to a new race of cloud dwellers who will live in accordance with a great Scripture he believes will be revealed to the Group once it assembles.

– During the immense housing boom following the end of the civil war and culminating in the height of the Voodoopunk Era, a number of incredibly visionary and creative housing areas were built. After the sudden population decline however, many sit abandoned. Or at least, officially abandoned.

– The homogenization of culture and the dominance of the new era of “responsibility,  productivity and serenity” brought about as a direct reaction to the passing of the incredibly dynamic Voodoopunk Era has created a much more calm and stable society. However with such stability there is a certain percentage who cannot live in such  structure and monotony. Thus there are groups of younger citizens who are abandoning the comforts of the sleek high rises, houses and apartments that “do it all for you” and forming tribes who live in the many abandoned housing areas. It is from these that the new music and art trends which will come after the Atompunk Era is slowly beginning to simmer and surface.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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TECH

Ah, tech. A special time for anyone in theater. For the cast it’s not only the beginning of the last stretch into performance, but the first time most will actually meet and get to talk to various members of the technical staff like the lighting designer who suddenly appears to make everything really pretty.

Yesterday was a long day. Lots of rigging, spotting, rehearsing…. tech involves rehearsals that will stop suddenly every 7 minutes and require the performers to stand in their spot for 5 to 10 minutes (or 20) as various lighting and technical issues are worked out. It is the day where reality vs. intention meet and must duke it out to see which one will prevail.

I thus present to you another slideshow to commemorate the day.

Today we begin out last day of rehearsals before tomorrow’s performance. Hopefully i’ll see you tonight for another run through of events.

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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Puppeteer Auditions

Howdy folks.  Welcome to audition day, historic also since i might post more than once today.

I’m currently sitting on Skype. I’m here all day watching the auditions for both puppeteers and singers for the little workshop production coming up at the end of November.

This morning was puppeteer auditions and in the interim i thought i’d describe the way the audition was conducted as it was quite interesting and out of the box.

The Auditions took place in a black box space. Present were Director Mark Swetz, Designer Lily Arnold and Stage Manager Jennifer Harding. Numerous “found” objects were placed on a table.

The puppeteers took whatever objects they liked and during the first bit they explored the animation possibilites.

During the second and REALLY fascinating bit they were instructed to collectively build the city of the New Albion using these objects (while the Overture played) and then, once built, to one by one pick at a certain “area” of this monstrosity and explain what it is. I don’t know how this sounds, but it was fascinating to watch. (the teardrop reservoir stands out)

Finally, each puppeteer had to chance to use these objects they were now quite familiar with and make us believe they were a living character.

I utterly forgot until the end that i could take pictures using skype, since i would love to have showed them building New Albion.  Alas. Perhaps next time.

 

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Final Auditions Tomorrow

For our first little production at the Oval Upstairs coming up at the end of November we are completing auditions tomorrow.

The puppeteers are all scheduled for the morning and the afternoon will have the Narrator and the men for Edgar and Jasper’s voice.

For those interested in the process, it went like this:

The director put a casting call about London. Many people responded and i listened to lots of audition songs.

If you’re an aspiring singer, i cannot overstress the need to have an example of you singing online somewhere. There are so many places to put a recording, soundcloud, youtube (with still image if you want), etc. A singer responding to say that they’re interested but without a recording for me to hear is useless. Their CV is useless at that point. Stuff like prior experience, past shows and roles will come into play later. The first thing that matters, the primary thing that matters is being able to see or hear your work.  For the record, there were many recordings that were FAR from professional and which i liked anyway and sent onto round 2. Something is always better than nothing.

Round two. Round two is where everyone was asked to record themselves singing one of the songs from the show. For the Narrator it was New Albion 1, for Jasper it was Elysian Night, for Edgar it was a bit from Bring You Down and a bit from Edgar Builds A Business.

This is where the ranks really got cut. It quite interesting hearing someone sing a song, sound great and then hear them sing a song from the show and realize the fit is completely off. Any of you familiar with theater know that it’s not always about a great voice. The fit between voice and character means more.

So now it’s round 3. I’ll be present on Skype during the singing auditions. I might sneak a peak into the puppeteer auditions in the morning, (i mean, how cool is that?) but since i’m not there in person, i would just be over a computer and it might be a bit of an interruption to the director, so this may not happen. You must remember, the puppeteers are not my immediate concern. Oh i’m INTERESTED. Hell yeah i’m interested, but they’re not my decision to make so i can always just wait until rehearsals to see what’s going on. (although i’m sure i’ll be sent a vid of the final candidate to check out.)

My main role in the audition process ended at the end of round 2. Obviously the director and i will talk very closely about the final singers, but for the most part, if i sent them onto this 3rd round, i think they can do it, although we’ll know for sure after tomorrow. There are still questions i have about a few, depending on whom the director ends up liking and i have definite favorites who i may push for if asked. But it will be nice and illuminating to see them in action, and that can change opinions.

So, big day!

See y’all on the flipside.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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NEW Snapshots From New Albion, Mach 2.1

I really could sit and write these things all day. I might have to since this set, done over coffee this morning, might contain a hair more detail then i can actually use in New Albion 5. Much like the 1st, i have an insanely limited amount of time, words and syllables to actually get any little vignette across.

In any case i REALLY enjoy writing this crap. So here you go, snapshots from New Albion’s Dieselpunk days:

-New Albion is in the midst of a Civil War. No one seems to be winning.

– a tinker who owns a little toy store makes tiny, mechanical fairies whose souls are a single snowflake kept in their little metal chests.

-In the tunnels underneath the city, among the half mad who dwell there, is a man who worships a spider god. he not only wanders the sewers proselytizing to his fellow derelicts, but is trying to build an army of spiders.

-In the upper smoking room of the Markon Hotel, every second Tuesday of the month, the various ghosts of the large, old hotel hold a seance and attempt to communicate with alternative timelines.

– In the 5th, 6th and 7th Districts, the various feral youth gangs have lately become less anarchistic and more organized.  A red haired youth is rumored to be consolidating the gangs into a well disciplined and highly lucrative organization who are able to successfully run liquor, drugs and contraband across the otherwise chaotic and unmanueverable war torn city.

-This gang is rumored to rely heavily on the labyrinth of sewers and tunnels underneath New Albion. Somehow the red haired youth has managed to work out deals and parlays with the various factions and entities who dwell there, including an otherwise universally feared series of humming corridors.

– There is a sentient entity living underneath New Albion who preys on most mammals. It makes a low, industrial  hum and as far as any witnesses have ever been able to describe is a series of concrete corridors which seem able to relocate. It is unclear exactly what happens to the prey it captures. Most rumors assume it devours them but a few posit they end up unharmed in some underground tunnels in Central Turkey. It is also unclear whether the entity is man made or not and some rumors discuss its possible origins.

– The MT3 series of power generators which run much of the power for Districts 1, 2 and 4 produce a fine, sandy, rust colored byproduct that it has been discovered can be snorted, injected or freebased and which produces a very pleasing and slightly psychedelic high.

– This new drug is becoming quite popular in the war ravaged city and only a very few individuals actually know what the drug is and where it comes from. This knowledge is worth a fortune and is closely gaurded as there are only 3 manufactures of the new drug.

– The red haired youth and his gang run the drug with great success. He is obsessed though with finding out where the drug comes from and is engaged in numerous intrigues towards that end.

The rebels are not a single organized entity. There are three main factions and a myriad of smaller groups and splinters.

– One small group is commanded by a stone water sprite who lives in the dirty fountain of Aphrid Park. Although she cannot leave the fountain, the small platoon she commands assembles at dawn and dusk every day to receive her orders.

– The Berkshire Hotel is now occupied and run by a large group of ex-soldiers. Only wounded fighters are allowed although any faction or side is welcome. They must renounce all affiliation for the duration of their stay. They may stay as long as they like, even permanently, but once exited may never enter again.

– One of the battlefield Lieutenants for the Norsefield Rebels is a fromer mad, homeless derelict. He still suffers from several untreated psychiatric disorders and off the battlefield is quite the raving lunatic. During combat however, his strategic decision making is unparalleled and he is feared and respected by his counterparts.

– The Collasm St. Church is currently serving as a war hospital, run by a very strict order of Sisters. The hospital specializes in amputations and limp replacement. Each Sister is never without her apron of saws and medical supplies. Their ability to amputate and replace damaged and gangrene limbs with not only other limbs but a myriad of creative substitutions of numerous objects and light machinery is highly regarded.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Auditioning

It’s like this but in my inbox

We put out a cast call for performers at the beginning of this week in London which means that a certain portion of my day is spent listening to various audition songs.

I’ve done some performing years ago and as a piano player and musician i’ve certainly spent a bit of time on the other end of the audition process. Not anything close to what my serious actor friends go through, but enough to have some sympathy.

I don’t know how performers do it. The thrill of the stage, of that live moment in the midst of the play which is more real and alive then all other moments outside the play, the sound of applause, hell standing on live stage and wailing out that  peaking note of the big song… these are why they do it. but the cost… the cost is trudging through auditions and getting your self esteem buggered as a matter of course.

You must walk in say “Hey! It’s Me! Let me show you what i’ve go…”

“Next.”

It’s a meat market. You compete against a sea, scrounging for roles and money and nobody give two twats about you. Rejection is as normal to your day as a cup of coffee. I don’t know how they do it. I am happy to be on this side of the equation even although this side brings with it an entire other bag of woes.

That all being said, i open up my email and my inbox is packed with audition submissions which i have to wade through. After a while you get pretty “bing boom bam” about it. I can now tell in about 10 second whether they’ll work or not.

As the… technically for the performance i am the musical director. Hence, what happens is that all auditioners go through me first. It does the director no good to cast someone who’s voice is inappropriate for the role, so i go over them all first and give the director a “move forward” pile and a “sorry” pile. I am looking for voice, range, singing ability, etc. The director will then go to phase two where he puts them through whatever hoops HE has, in order to decide whether they’ll work for him.

Thrown into the director’s hoops phase there probably will be a small extra vocal test i’ll run simply because i have made mistakes before by hiring based on a prerecorded vocal sample. You do not necessarily get the whole picture. Maybe the singer normally goes flat but for that recording they kept doing takes until it didn’t show (i do this personally). Maybe even they SAY they can hit a low G or a high A, but actually they sound terrible doing so.  Look, when a performer is asked if they can do something, if there is even a REMOTE possibility they can, they say yes. As they should. If there’s a possibility of a job, better to say you can and then figure it the hell out then to say no and lose it right then and there.

But as the music director i need to make sure that when they say they can nail those notes, they can. Sometimes you can tell by the audition song. Sometimes not.

This is not one of the Idol shows. You are not looking for someone who can simply sing and “impress the judges”. You are looking for someone who can sing a very specific role and become a very specific character. The character is an idea and you are looking for the voice who can suddenly bring that to life in a way that makes you see the character as alive for the first time.

In any case, i have gotten some wonderful submissions. Some really great stuff. As the list of who i’m moving through to the second stage gets longer the pickier i get since i know i already have several choices of people who will nail it. (This is all for Narrators mostly.) It took a while to stop comparing everyone to Kayleigh McKnight (“well, this woman is quite nice but… sigh… she’s not Kayleigh). However, Kayleigh has an important prior obligation and i must let her voice go. Perhaps next time. But i must reimagine.

Okay, I’ve written enough about this today. I have more submissions in my inbox so off i go.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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