Recording from the recent SMA conference

Poorly recorded on my iphone but here is the jolly musical interlude we were treated too at the first ever Stage Management Conference at the Arts Theatre , Sunday 12 February:
A SURPRISE MUSICAL INTERLUDE: especially crafted for stage managers by Ken Bennett-Hunter with apologies to Irving Berlin.
Performed by Beverley Klein with Steve Edis on keyboard





There"s No Management Like Stage Management (mp3)
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I hear you need a website.....

I've been asked a lot recently to build websites for friends and collegues.

Being a great believer in keeping things simple, I have added a page to my website to explain what I can do , and how much it might cost. If you are interested click here for details.
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Ommwriter - be calm dear typist

I'm writing this in Ommwriter, one of a number of uncluttered work space writing applications that are out there. It's available right now to download as a free beta release. Normally I use WriteRoom, I like the simple old school black background and retro green lettering filling my screen with nothing else to distract me from just writing.


Ommwritter however goes a little further, and a lot more Zen. Moving the mouse reveals the menu and scroll "line" which is  simply beautiful in it's spare elegance. I have the option to toggle playing ambient background noise over a gorgeous simple screen background. As I type I hear my key strokes playing back like soft rain drops, underscoring the very gentle trance music, that I can select from a few limited options, or choose to turn off entirely. Formatting options are very lean, a  couple of fonts and sizes, there's no underscoring or flagging of  my terrible spelling.......I'm just typing in a rather serene environment. Add a save button, and well, that's all there is.


I can either save as an Ommwriter file to come back to at a later time, or as a generic .txt file. I tend to cut and paste into Word to tidy up spelling before actually using, as with this blog entry.


I may be kidding myself, but I like writing in plain unfussy environments as it feels like all I'm doing is letting my mind be creative about what my fingers type on the screen. And, well, it just looks, and sounds so cool.


A great writing tool for chilled Mac (only) users  who just want to "zero in", and productively /creatively write, without the bother or distraction of the usual screen real estate noise.
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Lewes Arts Network

I have had in mind for some time wanting to form a networking opportunity, comprising a loose grouping of Arts practitioners / representatives of Arts organisations from here in Lewes. I'm envisioning something analogous to the local business communities "First Friday" network events that happen at the Lamb and Flag. My working title for a similar event is the Lewes Arts Network.

I'm thinking of a fairly informal grouping, with an interest in live performance ( although not excluding, say visual arts), open to all, Pro.'s and Community. Initially I suspect it would at the very least be useful to put names to faces, set out our stall of current and future work, and try to avoid date clashes! I'm seeing this as a low key , inaugural meeting of a Lewes Arts Network, perhaps meeting a few times a year, as a networking opportunity, perhaps with ongoing email contact, or even a blog, for issues of shared concern.

I imagine this developing into informal discussions such as the lack of town box office, ticketing, creating and retaining audiences, funding, resource sharing etc. Long term, dear to many of us, is the idea of a theatre/arts centre type space for the town.....surely worthy of some considered thought by those with an interest in these things!

With this in mind, I have gone ahead and booked the Lewes Arms upstairs between 1900 - 2100 on Wednesday 25th November, and am in the process of sending out invites to possible interested parties.

I've put a (non exhaustive) list of invitees together, and am endeavoring to find named individuals to personally write to and invite. My list includes:

The Paddock
Lewes Live Lit
Lewes Little Theatre
Artimis Arts
Colleagues Planning a street event in Lewes 2011
Lewes Operatic Society
Lewes Community Theatre
East Sussex Arts partnership
All Saints Centre
Sussex Downs Performing Arts
Synergy Theatre
Zu gallery / parties
The Con Club
plus other including actor / producer friends


If you would like to come along, do drop me an email.

At worst a few of us have an excuse to go to a jolly nice pub for a couple of hours and have a catch up!
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Airset; it's Free!

Building “fast and dirty” web publishing solutions has been exercising me of late. At the Paddock we invested in a lovely website; looks good, shows off who we are and what we have done, (www.paddockproductions.org.uk). It is professionally produced and maintained by a great local web designer, external to our company. I guess this is a common set up for many small firms.

We do a lot of work with emphasis on community projects & one-off participatory events. When we embark on a new project or event, we have a real need to have an online presence that is a fast, direct and convenient tool for us to relay and share information with potential audience & project participants. Aside from the cost of paying our web-mistress to keep content updated, I’m continually frustrated with the inevitable time delay of sending copy and images to update our site.

The time lag really bothers me.

In the fast moving environment of theatre or events, an ability to update and publish changing content quickly is important.

I decided I wanted to create project "micro-sites". assessable from our main web presence, but acting as a hub for our immediate project needs. Once the project has finished all the "good stuff" we upload to the micro-site will get re-edited and re-formatted into our main site. The main site becomes our permanent glossy archive / “brochure”, with sign posts to our “dynamic” ( I hope!) project pages.

I could have just used iWeb on my mac, or RapidWeaver that I use for my personal site. Crucially however I want a solution that puts the application "in the cloud" so that my colleagues can also update and upload new information as and when the need arises at a time and place that suits them, usieng software not located on any one machine.

I considered, and have used in the past, google sites. I find them OK as far as they go, but I don't much like the pre-packaged templates. I read loads of press about CMS options ( that I don't really understand!), and found I don't have the patience, or the desire to learn a whole new package like Wordpress, joomla, tumblr etc.

I've been using Airset primarily as a calendar app to run my life for some time now. The recent redesign came at a time that I was mulling over my web based options, and I have spent the last few weeks seeing if I can make the Web Publish application that is part of this incredible online suite of tools fit my needs.

So far, so good. Thats not to say I haven't had problems and issues, but, praise where praise is due, the Aiset team have quickly been answering my questions and giving real customer support.....another deciding factor for me. Whilst I might grumble about "counter intuitive design" and too much clicking to achieve "simple" things, I think it outstanding that a non-techie person like me can actually do so much within Airset.....and all for free!

In summary, a combination of no cost, immediate editing, multiple editors, and superlative customer support have made Airset Web Publish a really good choice for me.

I hope this little bit of feedback helps others in coming to grips with the minefield of web publishing options.
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A new pay deal for the West End?

It has been some years since I last worked in the West End, but I still cant help feeling angry that the Sunday opening proposition has reared its ugly head again. My reading online and in the press suggests that there appears to be no mood or appetite to fight against this deal. Are we so easily bought that with the lure of increased cash we will give away important and hard won working practices?

Lets not sleepwalk into this terrible deal for the sake of and "easy" pay rise.
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A little test

In an attempt to blog more often, with hopefully slightly more depth and insight than my oh so occasional twitter posts, Im trying to mirror my blog between my site at www.shayley.dircon.co.uk and my markshayle.blogspot.com account. 

Ill either fry my website, or be able to blog from my phone.....here goes
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How long since the last Blog entry...??

Oh dear, all a bit embarrassing, my last posting was after "Mirandolina" finished , LAST YEAR!.

Since then Christmas came and went, followed by being out on tour as Company Stage Manager for TEG ltd's "Blonde Bombshells of 1943", a great show, with another great bunch of folks. Those of you reading this on my Facebook profile, will no doubt have seen the photos from some of the more comedy nights out. Another great gig. Highlights for me were the weekly re-lights, something I haven't had a chance to do a lot of over the years, and touring in a 1984 Renault Traffic Camper van (called Reggie!).

No sooner of tour, than Production Manager for Dan Colmans Ltd production of Milkshake! LIve
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Back off Tour

Back off tour, and back in the office. Mirandolina was great fun, what a lovely company, and top small scale tour.

Back in the Paddock office lots of planning and churning over ideas for the future........

We are planning a bit of a Xmas Bash, which should be great fun, and may even raise some money for us to pay the bills!

Meanwhile my phone has been ringing off the hook with lots of work offers and availbilty checks, mostley for gigs in the New Year. Off to London tommorrow , so hopefully may lock one ( or two ) of these gigs into place!
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Recovered!

Well , it all seems like something of a blur now, but finally, I did my last bit of Finnish Prisoner related work and got my tools out of the venue last week!

The show DVD's pretty much sold out within 48 hours of going onto Ebay, and the photos on Flickr have been widely browsed but seemingly no-one wanted to donate any cash to us for downloads!

Had a great August with the family, went to Crete, camping and a long weekend in Butlins with my daughter ( no really, it was fun!)

Back in the saddle with my Stage Manager / Production Manager hats on for Mirandolina and having a great time.
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