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Tuesday 19th March 2013
It's that time of year again (and boy it's come round fast) where I do the photo shoot for the next Fringe show. I don't know much about that idea yet, having just the title "We're All Going To Die!" and the theme - death. I haven't even written the 40 words for the programme to censor the rude words out of yet. But we need a poster image and other press shots and it's also useful to do a few more regular photos for my flick book of the destruction of aging.
So as with the last two years I headed to a costume shop to pick up some kind of cloak-like costume. Two years ago it was a Jesus robe, last year a Scotch kilt and this year I needed some the cowl of Death. I don't know if all of this is actually an expression of a latent desire to wear the clothes of a woman or just the costumes of historic times. The costume shop had no scythe or even a boney hand, but I was fairly certain we'd be doing close ups on my skellington/Skeletor face in these shots. Weirdly as I paid for my hire two policemen in uniform came in separately to return costumes. Not police costumes - they were actual policemen (although in this context what they were wearing did seem suspiciously crappy). I don't know if once you're into uniforms you get the desire to experiment with others (both sexually or socially) or whether they were both working undercover amongst pirates or clowns or if this costume shop was like the one that Mr Benn frequented and they were actually regular people returning from an adventure. It did seem weird.
I then headed to photographer Steve Brown's studio, which is on his houseboat and accessed by a long succession of gangways that lurch around as you walk on them. Steve's poster shot idea was to have me emerging from a grave and he'd set up a little platform covered in grass for me to emerge from. I was also going to be made up, first with the grey, blotched skin of a dead man and then as Death for a more general press shot (possibly with half a skellington face and half my own). A lot of my time was spent sitting on a stool whilst the make up artist Emma air-brushed my face. I tweeted pictures of my skellington face (foolishly taken with my phone from beneath and thus emphasizing my double chin) and got a lot of comments about Robbie Williams or Kiss having let themselves go.
I realised that this was also the second year running that I had done shots involving face-painting. I never had my face painted as a child so maybe I was making up for this omission.
It was quite exhausting work given that I was sitting down doing nothing for most of the time. We had a few minutes at the end to do some more formal shots, though it was hard to get all the skellington make-up off and so I had a slightly swarthy piratey look about me. But that was probably a good thing.
Steve and his team have done a fantastic job on the posters they've done for me before and I have high hopes for this one.
I then had to dash across town, still in my suit, to meet up with my wife to see "This House" at the National. It's directed by Jeremy Herrin who directed many of my plays in the 90s and featured Matthew Pidgeon who was in "Playing Hide and Seek With Jesus" and it's a very enjoyable look at the behind the scenes happenings during the Labour government of the mid 1970s. Well worth seeing if you get the chance.
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