What I did in Croydon

Hello folks!

Cast of The Goon Show

So I’m back from Croydon. It was good fun, a small theatre tour type affair that I could possibly get used to. The main reason I was there was to appear in The Goon Show which was well received and has caused quite a few queries as to whether we will be doing more. These questions cannot be answered by me, a humble cast member, but if I hear anything from our producer about it I’ll let you know.

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.

An installation of remembrance at The Tower of London

An installation of remembrance at The Tower of London

Thursday’s run was nothing special but enjoyable none the less. Friday’s was an adventure that included getting a little lost, trying to read a Google Maps printout but resorting to getting a mobile out and checking the app, discovering there is a lot of uphill between Croydon and London, and finally ending up attempting to jog through the crowds on Tower Bridge before reaching my destination – The Tower of London. I can’t recall ever going before, and I didn’t actually go in the grounds, but viewing it from outside the railings it is a great historic sight, especially at the moment as you can see the ongoing installation of Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. Saturday was a nice chance to play run-tourist and visit my third Parkrun location (I usually run at Walsall Arboretum, but also visited Cannon Hill Park on New Year’s Day). It’s a 2-lap cross country run at Lloyd Park, whereas I’m more used to running on paths or pavements, and it only stopped raining about an hour before the run started so the ground was soggy. Even so, I plowed on – including taking on the short path to the highest point in the park, described by previous tourists as “That bloody hill!… Twice!” – and got a pretty average time for me. Not too bad on my third consecutive morning of running, with 12 miles clocked up the day before. This bodes well for Sunday.

By the way, if you want to show support for all this effort I’m putting in, please donate to my chosen charity the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity.

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.

One Year Later

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 Cast

The Goon Show: (l-r) Jimm Rennie as Harry Secombe, Richard Usher as Peter Sellers, Rob Coletta as Spike Milligan, Phil Hemming as Wallace Greenslade / Valentine Dyall

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 messier merrier.

That’s a neatly wrapped up annual update, have fun with whatever you’re up to.

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.

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.


“#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.

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.

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.

Our Streets

I don’t usually get political on my blog – I don’t usually get political at all – but I feel I should point out a few things that prove that the English Defense League (scum) are just out to cause harm and violence, and why in my opinion anyone openly associating with the group should be arrested for inciting racial hatred in an instant – whether they’ve been on a demonstration or not.

The EDL website says that they are “Peacefully Protesting Against Militant Islam”. Today they came to my home town of Walsall. Why? Read here. The opening statement, “Walsall is not noted for being a centre of Islamic radicalism or militancy” shows that if they are protesting against Militant Islam, they have no need to come to Walsall.

ITV News have reported “A policeman has been injured in Walsall town centre as the EDL clash with police. Eyewitness reports of fireworks, bricks and bottles being thrown through the air.” That hardly sounds Peaceful to me.*

So far the tagline from the EDL website isn’t holding much water – the only bits they’re fulfilling are Protesting and Islam. Sounds like incitement to racial hatred to me. Arrest the lot of ’em.

The other part I’d like to pull them up on is the common phrase of theirs “Taking back our streets.” Fuck right off – if you have travelled to Walsall to take part in this protest then they are not your streets. As a Walsall resident they are MY streets and the streets of every other resident, including these guys:

Unite Against Fascism & We Are Walsall by Walsall Art Gallery

Unite Against Fascism & We Are Walsall by Walsall Art Gallery

Showing that the English Defence League’s point of view is NOT the opinion of the masses. Also, calling Walsall “a run-down industrial town in the heartland of England” just shows you have no clue what goes on in Walsall, how prominent the creative arts are in Walsall and how fantastic the locals are around here. Walsall is a town to proud of – just look at how great the Bandstand Marathon event was three weeks ago.

Finally a HUGE thank you from the peaceful people of Walsall to West Midlands Police for keeping OUR STREETS safe.

That’s my rant for now, have fun with whatever you’re doing… unless you’re a member of the EDL kicking off in my home town, in which case I hope you enjoy your stay in jail – you deserve it.
*Addition: Video of missiles thrown at the police here.