Yeah, blogging more now I’m not in full-time employment… well at least it hasn’t been another year.
Well since my last update I have become an associate artist with a Midlands based company called SMARTarts, appeared in a Murder Mystery Meal show with them for Children in Need, an evening of poetry by Walsall resident Mick Daulman called Mick & Music – both of which we will be touring shortly, and I am cast as a policeman and a psychiatrist in a production of Shelagh Stephenson’s Five Kinds of Silence which will be performed at The Old Joint Stock Theatre on May 1st & 2nd.
I’m also putting together a comedy sketch group to perform live shows across the Midlands, put some recorded material out online and hopefully get commissioned for TV. I’ve had a great response from prospective performers and writers for this and auditions will be happening soon.
I’ve also been getting occasional temp admin work to help pay the bills, but it’s not quite enough so I’ve applied for Job Seekers Allowance.
I’d like to start by pointing out that I’m not a “dole dosser”, taking benefits from hard working folk, rather I have been paying into the system for years so I see this as a kind of rebate.
I claimed Job Seekers Allowance once before, in 2002, and the system has changed quite a bit since then. For example, the Job Centre is now called Job Centre Plus… but as they’re all called that they’ve really got nothing in addition to any other Job Centre – sorry, Job Centre Plus – in the country. So it’s basically Job Centre Plus Zero.
Also, when I claimed 13 years ago I had to have a fortnightly “Job Seeker sign on interview” for them to check I was actually, actively searching for work so the payments could continue. Now they have “Two weekly interventions”, which to my ear sound like everyone looking for work has some sort of problem. Maybe the Job Centre Plus should be renamed “Unwaged Anonymous”.
Two weekly interventions to get you on the 12-step program to employment:
- We admitted we are powerless over employment – that our work lives have become unmanaged.
- Came to believe the a Government Department greater than ourselves could restore us to working.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our CV’s over to the care of Government as we understand them.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of what we’d do for money.
- Admitted to Government, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our work experience.
- Were entirely ready to have Government remove all these defects of our CV’s.
- Humbly asked them to remove our career preferences.
- Made a list of all persons we had been employed by, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such employers wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory, and where we were career-minded, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through job sites and classified ads to improve our conscious contact with the Government as we understood them, praying only for knowledge of their will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a social awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to the unemployed, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Through these steps and with the support of my
sponsor work coach, I may one day be in an unpaid apprenticeship picking litter, which in turn will make some poor schmuck from the Council unemployed and soon they too will be joining Unwaged Anonymous.
Oh what a world of opportunity we live in!
I feel the real problem is the ‘one size fits all’ approach, that doesn’t work for everyone, and doesn’t work for people like me in the arts & creative sector.
I could have my JSA stopped if I turn down a permanent job as a cleaner in a day nursery because it clashes with rehearsals for a show I’m contracted to appear in for less than minimum wage.
I can understand their view. Why would someone with grad and post-grad qualifications in Drama prefer to get another acting credit on their resume to boost their career when they could be earning £6.50 an hour mopping up spilled food and wiping down changing mats?
It’s a tough choice. The industry I’ve studied for years to get into or cleaning toddler puke off a climbing frame?
Is the opposite true? Is there, somewhere, a qualified Child Care Assistant with a degree in Early Years Development, who is at risk of losing their Job Seekers Allowance if they turn down a role in a touring production of The Tempest?
Anyway, rant over.
I’ve got plenty of exciting projects coming up, some of which will hopefully lead to payment enough to cover bills, mortgage, etc. and in the mean time I’m still gonna pick up temp work as and when I can to bring some bread home.
My next post won’t be a rant, I promise.
Have fun with whatever you’re up to.
Also while I was there I got in some much needed run training ahead of my 3rd half marathon this coming Sunday – the BUPA Great Birmingham Run – with a gentle jog on Thursday morning to find how to get to the nearest Parkrun site for Saturday, completing said Parkrun at Lloyd Park on Saturday and getting a long run in that I’d estimated at 11 miles but checking on Google Maps it would appear to be a little over 12.
It wasn’t all acting and jogging however, during our time ‘Down South’ we as a cast went to visit one of the most important landmarks in Goon history, Grafton Arms (formerly Grafton’s), where the four Goons first collaborated in a little room above the pub where Spike Milligan was living.
For now, I’m back at work, with my last day being next Monday. After that I’m going to be starting the huge task of starting out as a professional actor.
Have fun with whatever you’re up to.
Oh what a year it’s been. Yeah, I know I’ve been off the blog for 12 months but I’ve been super busy and getting involved in all kinds of stuff.
So what’s happened since last October? Well I’ve been running more. I’ve got an open-ended justgiving page for all the runs I’ve done and plan to do that raises money for my preferred cause of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity. I’ve now got a grand total of 5 10K runs, 1 8Mile and 2 Half Marathons under my belt since I started running in April last year, with another coming up very soon – my second go at the BUPA Great Birmingham Run.
I’ve taken over hosting the monthly quiz at my local, The Black Country Arms (next one on Thursday 16th October) which seems to be going well and making a merry night for all involved.
I’ve been performing with the Cart Before The Horse in their panto over December and January (an amalgamation of Robin Hood and the English Giant and The Alchemist and The Devil, in which my character died 3 times!), as well as appearing in a Cart cabaret show.
I’ve also done a couple of stand-up appearances as Pirate Jimm Yaharr! And I’m currently part way through a run of shows for the Old Joint Stock Theatre Company and Birmingham Comedy Festival, having performed twice in Birmingham we’re about to head down to Croydon to do 4 shows. Oh, and it’s something I just had to get involved in.
The Goon Show!
That’s right folks, I’m appearing as all parts of Harry Secombe in a stage recreation of the recording sessions for The Goon Show. We’re doing two of Spike Milligan’s scripts, The Phantom Head Shaver (of Brighton) and [pause for dramatic effect] The Canal.
This brings me to the biggie – the crazy decision I’ve made regarding life. My role as Performance Hub Promoter is ending and I have been offered a redundancy package. After 7 years working in a variety of roles within the University of Wolverhampton I am leaving for a most excellent adventure.
I’m going to be a professional performer.
I’ve decided, due to a few factors, that the time is right for me to at least attempt to take my acting and performing seriously. I will start as a freelancer – not only for acting but also stage management, and as a technician – with a view to getting an agent to help gain more roles and experience.
I am hoping that through this change in career I will be able to update my blog a bit more as I hope to have more stuff to do to post on Stuff Jimm Rennie Does.
So here I go. I’ll let you know how it goes. If anybody wants to see me in person to wish me well in my new adventure I am heading to The Black Country Arms at about 5:30pm on Friday 17th October for leaving drinks with some of my Uni colleagues. Everybody is welcome, the more the
That’s a neatly wrapped up annual update, have fun with whatever you’re up to.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
*I prefer this version of the phrase than the chocolatey one everybody quotes from Forrest Gump.
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.