10 Months of Jimm – a quick catch up.

Well once again I’m admitting to being a crap blogger. The best part of a year has gone by since my last post, however I think I can sum most of it up quite quickly and head back to the plan of weekly updates.

Personal stuff

So far through 2013, there hasn’t been much. I had a brilliant holiday to Boston and New York with my lovely wife.

I have also taken up running at Walsall Parkrun. This has led to me taking part in the Walsall 10k race and the BUPA Great Birmingham Run. I can now say with confidence that I am a half-marathon runner. I plan to take part in more similar distance runs next year and work towards entering a full marathon.

I finally got around to getting a tattoo. A triptych of circular icons representative of some of my closest and dearest friends. Not the design I referred to in my post of January 2012, although the design for that one is being finalised with the plan to get inked some time in November. I also added two ear lobe piercings (both in my left ear) to my complement to body jewellery.

Professional stuff

I appeared in several plays this year, a romantic comedy for CurlyTash Productions, Blank Paige and several mummers plays with Walsall’s only street theatre company, Cart Before The Horse, including a mini-tour over summer where we performed at the Alcester Folk Festival and the Ludlow Fringe.
I’ve not performed stand-up much this year, but the gigs I have appeared at have been fantastic fun.

Aside from the performative work, I’ve very recently changed jobs. This means that I no longer work as a full time Technician, I am now the Promoter for the Performance Hub at the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall Campus.
This is a big change for me, but I’m enjoying the challenge my new role brings.

That’s pretty much all the info you need at the mo. Please forgive the state of the blog so far this year but I will be updating the other pages soon.

And finally, after reading about it on Andrew Clayton’s blog, I’m considering setting myself a challenge of writing a novel throughout November. It will probably turn out to be a bit crap but it will be a great exercise in creative writing.

Have fun with whatever you’re up to.

P.S. I have also discovered (through Too//Damn//Ninja) the wonderfully weird and comedic podcast Welcome To Night Vale. It may not be to everybody’s taste but I find it quite amusing.


To start the year

So how have the first few weeks of 2013 treated you?

They’ve treated me quite well, with loads of performative stuff going on. Firstly there is all the news from the Bayard’s Colts shows. The video for The Alchemist and The Devil is available online through a link on the Colts project website – you can also find the video for Robin Hood and The Giant on there – so please have a view if you’ve got the time spare (shows about 45min each). If you want some mumming goodness but don’t have three quarters of an hour, how about watching the four minute music video for The Tat Man Song on YouTube?

Click through for more details.

The Lovers & The Pirates at Bookmark Bloxwich.

We are a company! Over the course of the shows so far the rag-tag group of wannabe mummers, made up of a variety of folk from first time performers to drama graduates and seasoned actors, have become a performance company. We are happy to welcome new people into the fold, but we are no longer a bunch of people having a laugh and putting on a show, we are a company of players that have a helluva fun time creating entertainment for the masses.

As a company, we have been invited to perform at events and festivals on top of our cycle of plays in Walsall. I will let you know the details of these performances in due course. In the meantime I’d like to tell you that the rehearsals for the next Colts play have got off to a roaring start. The Lovers and The Pirates will be performed in Walsall Town Centre on Saturday 16th February at the top of the market. If you fancy sitting down to watch this fantastic play about canoodling, corsairs and (of course) colts, then you can book tickets to watch a stage production of The Lovers and The Pirates on Sunday 17th February at Bookmark Bloxwich.

Blank Paige is coming along brilliantly as well. Tickets for the performance at the Arena Theatre are available on their website so get booking now folks. I’ll let you know as and when I get confirmation of other performances of this brilliantly written indie rom-com.

Finally I would like to invite everybody around my home town of Walsall to look out over the next few years as WWI commemoration events are advertised. I will be involved in a project spanning the next three years, culminating in a performance in the town centre and I’m sure I’ll be filling in details on here as the project progresses.

Have fun with whatever you’re up to, if you’re in snowy Britain, keep warm and take care when you’re venturing out.

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P.S. If you are snowed in and want ideas for things to do, try watching Star Wars in a new way. too//damn//ninja has pointed out the “Machete Order” in a recent tumblr post. If you don’t follow his postings around the web already, I can highly recommend too//damn//ninja’s various musings.


Happy New Year folks.

The last couple of weeks of the year have been amazing – sorry I couldn’t say anything before hand it was a secret. I flew out to Australia to surprise my best friend in order to celebrate his 30th birthday. In his own words, “Best. Birthday. Ever.”
As this happened on the 20th December it was a bit of a no-brainer not to stay for Christmas. Let me tell you folks, barbequed turkey is all kinds of win. Every Christmas meal should be in high 30′s on the Celsius scale and include a nice long dip in a pool between the main course and Christmas Pud!

Looking back on the past year, it has been brilliant.
I have been playing great venues and fantastic gigs as Pirate Jimm Yaharr!; with my business partner I have produced a play; I have been more involved in the Sports and Leisure Industries departments at work – providing technical cover in the Sports Labs for a few weeks and joining the LI students on a couple of field trips; I’ve helped supply lyrics for a cantata; I have gone trans-Atlantic and visited New York; the team I work in won an award for our commitment to customer service; I’ve joined a gym; I’ve done some freelance lighting design; I [almost accidentally] got involved in celebrations in Walsall ending the U.K.’s great Summer of Celebration (the jubilee, the Olympics and Paralympics, the Cultural Olympiad, etc…); I’ve joined a troupe of mummers and thoroughly enjoyed appearing in two of their street theatre shows; I have ranted on a vaguely political agenda; I’ve delved into the artistic sectors of Birmingham and the Black Country; I’ve been cast in a play for next year; I’ve made a couple of contacts which will hopefully lead to some filmed acting roles (possibly for television); I’ve arranged a surprise birthday celebration for my best friend; I’ve crossed the equator to visit Australia; I’ve had a ton of ideas – some of which have been dropped, some are under development – for scripts, plays and other performative projects; I’ve spent some amazing times with my wife, my family and my friends.
For more details of all of the above, read the blog posts below from January onwards!

An important note I’d like to make is that none of the above items in my life have been solo efforts. Even the ideas I’ve had have been influenced by others. Without the support of my friends and family, or without opportunities being presented to me by others I would not have been able to do any of the above. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have helped me achieve so much in the last 12 months.

In the words of Tom Lehrer’s possibly fictional friend Hen3ry, “Life is like a sewer – what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.”*
At the moment; back home with the love of my life, my family, good friends and great memories of an awesome week spent in the Aussie Summer sun celebrating my best mate’s 30th and Christmas; looking back over what a varied and full year I’ve just had, my own ‘sewer’ currently smells of roses and overflows with joy and happiness. Life is what you make it. This year I’ve made it legen—wait for it—dary. True story.

With that in mind I’d like to wish all of my avid blog readers (both of you) an amazing new year. May 2013 bring you everything you need – whether you know it or not.

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*I prefer this version of the phrase than the chocolatey one everybody quotes from Forrest Gump.


Heading towards 2013

Hey folks, it’s only half a month until the end of the year.

So what have we learned?

Well I learned that if I get into a rant about racist dicks invading my home town I suddenly attract a huge amount of traffic to my blog. Other than that I have learned that I really enjoy street theatre, I’ve learned that since the Lucas/Disney deal went through I may still get a chance to play a Jedi (or Sith) at some point in my acting career – if I get my finger out of my arse and get into some T.V. and film work that is.

I have learned that I am too easily distracted and need to buckle down to things I plan to do – especially if these are self imposed targets, without anyone else pushing me forward.

So what will I be doing next year? Here’s the plan:

  • I’ll be working on some of my writing so that I can finish off a few work-in-progress scripts, plan out a large story I’m hoping to write and e-publish in serialised format, work on an entertaining and slick stand-up routine to perform as myself (as well as continuing the Pirate act) in an attempt to get a few more gigs.
  • I will actually get around to learning to play my violin
  • I am going to focus on learning my lines as soon as possible for any plays I’m in next year – I’ve already got “Bayard’s Colts Winter Play: The Lovers and The Pirates” in February and “Blank Paige” in April. Further details nearer the time, and I’ll be updating my Projects page as soon as I know of stuff I’m involved in.
  • I will tidy my study… No, this time I really will. I’m going to use it as an office to work in – arranging everything so that I can work comfortably yet productively. I will then no longer be heading down the pub for a bit of space to work in.
  • I will be even more organised with my calendar than I already am, making sure I know exactly how much time I have to do what and making sure I have plenty of time to relax and spend with my wife, not just the odd moment around my hectic life.
  • Also next year I’ll be turning 30. Maybe that’s the reason I’ve decided to become all mature* and organised. [*okay, not that mature, I'll still laugh at a good dick or fart joke!]

I may post up another blog update before the year is out, but in case I don’t please have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

 


“#Once a jolly Tat Man…” came in off the street to play.

Yesterday (Saturday 24th Nov) the Bayard’s Colts moved indoors for a couple of special performances. The head of the project, Tony Kemshall of the Walsall Civic Society, gave a presentation about the Colts, the project, it’s research and the plays. Following this the Tat Man, Nell and their company of players presented The Alchemist and The Devil.

It was marvelous!

A little bit different from the street performances, with a roof over our heads, stage lighting and a seated audience the show felt closer in style to pantomime rather than mummery, but the important part remained – the audience enjoyed themselves and so did we!

And so now another Bayard’s Colts play is put to bed. The next one will be in February. If you would like to get involved, drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch with the director. Rehearsals start on Wednesday 9th January 2013.

Catch you next time.


“#To sing a song of Bayard…”

Bayard’s Colts: The Alchemist and The Devil was fantastic. The whole day was enjoyable, each crowd at the three performances were well up for a bit of silliness, screaming, joining in and mucking about. The Bloxwich Telegraph wrote a lovely piece about the play and they took a huge stack of photos (link to their Flikr album at the bottom of their article). Missed out on seeing it? Don’t fret – there are still tickets available for Walsall’s first Indoor-Street-Theatre event, including a presentation about the whole project, at The Performance Hub tomorrow [Saturday 24th Nov] – click through for tickets (£5 each).

In other news, rehearsals have begun for Blank Paige and it looks like it’ll be a lot of fun working for CurlyTash Productions and being directed by Reece Page.

A little about the rugby – the England win over Fiji was brilliant. The Australia game I kind of caught some reports on it but I was pretending to be a french alchemist at the time. We lost, but I can’t really say whether we deserved to win or not as I didn’t see the match. I also won’t be watching tomorrow’s match against South Africa as I’ll once again be donning the cape and accent of Maugis.

In completely uninteresting news, my ‘Gravatar widget’ on the side over there —-> has disappeared, as has my “About” page. In their stead I have put a widget linking to my About.Me page. There seems to be a communication problem with their server at the mo so the widget may not be there when you read this post, but I’ll keep trying until it’s working. For those who can’t wait, check out about.me/jimmrennie.

That’s about it for now. Have fun with whatever you’re up to. If you are at a loose end tomorrow around 2:30pm or 7:30pm, don’t forget the indoor performances of The Alchemist and The Devil at The Performance Hub. Catch you next time for another thrilling installment of Stuff Jimm Rennie Does.


A lot to catch up on

Hellooo Folks! It’s been a while but I thought I’d better blog about my stuff. Especially after my last post which wasn’t about stuff I do at all.

First up I’d like to give a couple of reviews for things I mentioned before I took a bit of a blogging break (unintentional – I’m just still crap at keeping a regular tab on things) as well as a few things I’ve been up to in between my last proper post and now.

As I alluded to in my anti-EDL rant, the Bandstand Marathon event back at the start of September was fantastic. The sports and activity stalls and the ‘have a go’ sessions seemed to be pretty busy all day, the arts and crafts fair was well attended and the music at the bandstand itself was brilliant. Well done to all those who took part. One valuable lesson I learned was that the boots I wear as Pirate Jimm Yaharr! are bloody uncomfortable if you try wearing them for 6 hours straight.

A slight side note from the Bandstand event is that the folks sitting in the audience were quite vocal when asked by Glen-from-the-council and the Mayor about whether the people of Walsall wanted more community events like this. The response was a resounding “YES!” The good folks of Walsall want more music events across the board – classical, rock, pop, indie, operatic. They want dramatic stuff, a few people even seemed up for a bit of Shakespeare. Talking of dramatic stuff, more Bayard’s Colts plays happening soon, details below. But this all goes to show that the people of Walsall want some engagement with the Arts – and with the huge copper plated Performance Hub on the Broadway, part of the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall Campus it looks like Walsall could be developing into an increasingly artistic town… As if that wasn’t already noticeable from the New Art Gallery (currently showing a Hirst exhibition), the Museums, the Bayard’s Colts project, the work being planned/done(?) on the Town Hall to make it a suitable venue for live bands, Bookmark Bloxwich, The Forest Arts Centre, Caldmore Village Festival, the local artists’ exhibitions at the White Lion, and the numerous live music gigs in pubs and clubs throughout the borough – the list goes on, check out what’s happening for yourself.

Since my last update I’ve had two stand-up gigs, both as my pirate persona. One was arranged last minute (I’m guessing someone pulled out – I didn’t ask) for LouDeemy Soup at the 6/8 Kafé in Birmingham as part of the Birmingham Comedy Festival. The underground room used for the night was a great little venue, a little reminiscent of the iconic ‘Stand-Up Club’ look from the 70′s and 80′s. The acts were brilliant and I’d love to work with LouDeemy again – having been on the bill with Louise from LouDeemy on my first outing as Pirate Jimm Yaharr!, having had her play Mary in our last outing with Three For A Girl and having seen her acting in The Inferno Kid by Alex Brockie and meeting Nadeem (the other half of LouDeemy) as he was documenting the first production of TIK.

My other gig was at the Hollywood Social Club in Erdington, a members only club. Andy Nightingale had put together a top notch bill of acts and the night went down a storm. The crowd were lovely and I got to see a nice couple I had performed for over a year ago at a comedy night that had doubled up as the chap’s birthday at the Old Moseley Arms.

Another project I have been involved in recently is the aforementioned play by Alex Brockie entitled The Inferno Kid. Alex was studying on the same MA course as me, deciding in his dissertation performance to write, produce and star in a show about a disabled ex-wrestler. The show was good when he performed it at the University but I didn’t get a very good view as I was sat on the stage desk acting as DSM (Deputy Stage Manager for any non-theatrical types). It has been reworked and Alex is now putting together a tour of the full play for which I have been asked to design the lighting. He has already performed a preview showing at the Arena Theatre which was absolutely great. The lighting design worked well (if I do say so myself) and as I was not operating any of the tech it meant I could sit in the audience and watch it. When the tour kicks off I’ll post details as I can heartily recommend you go see it, whether or not you’re a regular theatre-goer or wrestling fan.

Aside from my performative work for a short while, in 2011 I attended a conference at the University of Warwick called Virtual Futures which it turned out was a bit of an update from a series of conferences in the 1990′s under the same name. You can click on the link above to find out the full scope of the conference and it’s associated events but the basic part I was interested in (and still am) is the future inclusion of technology in performing arts.
Wondering where this is going? Well I recently found out about an event billed as the first Virtual Futures Salon. It was held at the Trove Gallery in Birmingham on 24th October. I went along and tweeted as much as I dared with my slowly dying phone battery (at almost 2 years old it was starting to need a charge every 8-10 hours – got a new phone now) and enjoyed hearing from the speakers. I’m looking forward to more of these Salon events and the next VF conference in 2013. Have a mooch around the VF website, and if it seems your kind of thing then maybe I’ll see you at a future event.

Another thing I’ve been doing recently is patronising Attitude every Friday night at the Stein Bar, Walsall, a night run by Dying Day Promotions. The regular Friday night thing is pretty good but I’ve especially enjoyed the recent theme nights, including a ‘Disney Party’ for which Pirate Jimm Yaharr! was asked to attend representing a crew member of a certain Capt. Sparrow, the Halloween night on 26th October and a Dia de Los Muetos night on 2nd November. No doubt they will be hosting a Christmas party in December as well. If you can get down to support Attitude I would recommend you do, it’s a great night out in Walsall.
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Now to the promotional bit – all the lovely stuff I have coming up soon.

As I mentioned earlier, the second play in the Bayard’s Colts cycle, The Alchemist and The Devil, is happening in Walsall town centre, just at the top of the market, on Saturday 17th November at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. If you do come and watch then feel free to don your halloween costume to fit in with the spooky nature of the story but please do wrap up warm. After the show, feel free to follow the cast into the Black Country Arms for a pint or two while you warm up – hot food served throughout the day.

There is also an indoors version of the play following a presentation about the project as a whole one week later on Saturday 24th November at 2:30pm and 7:30pm at the Performance Hub. Details for this and a link for where to book tickets can be found on the Bayard’s Colts website.

The date of the third Bayard’s Colts play has also been set so I’ll keep you updated as further information is announced.

I’ve not got much comedy coming up – the only gig I have booked before next year is The Teknicolour Smoof Christmas Party at the Crown Inn in Oakengates. Details are on my Projects page.

Next April I will be in the Arena Theatre in the role of Derek in an original play called Blank Paige from CurlyTash Productions. I’ll plug it nearer the time but I thought I’d mention it now as we recently had our first meeting with the director and producers.
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Finally – for all of you who can’t wait until the 6 Nations in February for my lame-ass reporting of England Rugby, fear not. This weekend the QBE Internationals start and I will be letting you know how I feel about the matches as and when I can.

You know what? If I blogged a bit more regularly I wouldn’t need to write an essay every time just to make sure I cover everything. That’s about it for now, all that’s left to say is have fun with whatever you’re up to and lets all hope England can beat Fiji tomorrow.