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.

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.

Chapter 10,804: In which I look like a Punk Rock Liberace.

Well I’ve finally recovered from Robin Hood and The Giant, with a bit of time to relax before rehearsals begin in October for The Alchemist and The Devil. My little brother turned up on show day and stayed to watch all three performances, afterwards he said he’d like to get involved in the next one. Earlier this week I found out that my older brother has been press-ganged into the project through some of the others in the cast and band. So if all goes well, come along and watch the three of us performing together – for the first time publicly. If you would like to get involved, check out the Bayard’s Colts’ project page – details of how to get involved should be going up soon. Some more photos from the show have appeared online here if you would like to have a look. Thanks to Smudger Stu for posting these up.

Half Pirate Jimm Yaharr! / Half Jimm Rennie

This Thursday I finally appeared at one of the most highly respected comedy nights in the West Midlands. While I have been performing stand-up over the last couple of years, almost everybody I have met have played the Hollybush in Cradley Heath. I finally got around to contacting the landlord/promoter when I saw he had free spots open over the next few months.

What can I say? The experience did not disappoint and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves. Unfortunately there was not much time after I finished my set before I had to leave to catch the last train to Birmingham and then the last bus home from there. To ensure I made the last train I took off the majority of my Pirate Jimm Yaharr! accessories, changed back out of my boots into normal shoes and threw my jacket on over my shirt. As a result I ended up looking like either a New Romantic throw-back or a trend-setter for the Nu-New Romantic genre which I’ve never heard of before, so you can probably guess it was more likely the first option. Oh well, I didn’t get as many funny looks as I thought I might so I may start this Nu-New Romantic look and see if it catches on.

In upcoming attractions news, tomorrow (Sunday 9th Sept.) I’ll be wandering around Walsall Arboretum trying to generally entertain, once again as Pirate Jimm Yaharr! as part of the Bandstand Marathon. There will be loads of great attractions on throughout the day for all the family, including an arts & crafts fair, street entertainers and the live musical acts of the marathon itself. It is also a chance for folk to have a look around the newly restored Arboretum and the Gallery Garden (where there will be loads of crafty-type events). Click on the link and click through to find out exactly what’s going on where and when. It should be a fantastic day – and weatherwise it looks like it’ll be a lovely day, bring a sun hat folks!

If you are more Birmingham based then I would suggest you check out Artsfest this weekend. Loads to do, loads going on, loads to get excited about. I would like to especially plug like crazy the band my older brother is in The Grey Goose Blues Band, who are playing the BBC WM Introducing stage from 7:30pm on Sunday.

Have fun with whatever you’re up to this weekend and I hope you enjoy the sunshine that has suddenly appeared now that Summer is drawing to a close.

A plug and other stuff

First off, a MASSIVE PLUG! I’m in this next Saturday, come along – it’s free:

Saturday 25th August - 12noon, 2pm & 4pm

Robin Hood and the Giant


Next up: Following my rant about the spam regarding SEO I checked what search results have led people to this blog. Most of the phrases bringing people here are sensible ones related to me – Jimm Rennie, Pirate Jimm Yaharr!, Turnstyle Theatre, etc. – although there are a couple that surprised me “40+ lady” and “lady with gsoh” which I can only guess picked up this post. So I think my SEO is pretty much bang on.

Also, I’ve noticed that recently that I’ve had a couple of referrals from a website called The YamYam which looks like a pretty cool site for a load of Black Country based news, info, events and blogs so I’d like to say thanks to the folks at The YamYam and suggest that maybe you, my dear readers, should check it out some time.

The past week has been enjoyable. Good food on Monday evening with my in-laws and family from that side at The Old Irish Harp and more great food on Thursday afternoon with my side of the family at my Granny’s 80th birthday lunch at Fairlawns. Last Friday saw us regulars at the Black Country Arms send off the boss and some of her staff as they embark on the exciting task of opening a new pub in Wolverhampton, The Lych Gate Tavern – and when I say new pub, I mean new… it was offices before the renovation, another in the same brand of real ale houses. The new bosses have started settling in at the BCA and I’ve popped in a couple of times this week for various reasons (the main one being to quaff a good ale) and this Friday I enjoyed introducing my mate Mike to Attitude at the Stein Bar as well as the guys that run it.

I’ve got a week off work now so time to catch up with a few things – tidying the garden, sorting my study, learning lines for an audition, rehearsals for Robin Hood & the Giant (next Saturday in case you missed the poster above), reading through a friend’s comic book script, sending off a lighting design I’ve been freelancing on, sending an initial draft script to a producer friend for possible production (watch this space), writing the script for a play idea I had and have been asked to draft, continuing my exercise regime at the gym and, if there’s time, chilling out for a bit.

Have fun with whatever you’re up to folks, I’ll catch you later.

The Blogger Returns

OOOPS! I haven’t blogged since the end of April while I was still in New York. Sorry folks, but I would like to state once more that I warned you I’d be an unreliable blogger.

So, what’s been happening since I last posted?

Starting the month in New York with my beloved other half we flew back on a Thursday evening, landing on Friday morning and I headed straight out to Telford for yet another Teknicolour Smoof comedy night. The whole Pirate comedy routine is going well.
A few days after that I had an M.R.I. scan to try and figure out why I have partial hearing loss in one ear. The results came in as inconclusive so they’re just going to keep monitoring my hearing through annual checks.
Towards the end of the month I took part in my first Gong show and got sent off after my first two minutes. I blame tech break downs that left me with only being able to hear myself through a speaker right next to my hearing-aid wearing ear and therefore that’s why people said afterwards that they couldn’t hear me – because I thought I was too loud when I wasn’t at all.

Didn’t we all enjoy the Jubilee?
June was relatively quiet apart from Saturday 16th which was really loud as I went to see Blink-182 in concert. They were fantastic.
In work related news for June, the team I’m part of won the 2012 Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Customer Service.

Winners 2012 Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Customer Service

A great night was had at the awards ceremony but I can’t help wondering why an event that requires blokes to wear suits and ladies to wear posh frocks would serve every course of the meal (including the veggie alternative main) with some sort of red source [melon with berry compote, chicken in red wine sauce or veggie thing with tomato sauce, eton mess with more compote]? Were the kitchen and waiting staff playing a game of “who’ll get the most splatters on their shirt front?”
The end of June also saw me begin ‘Operation BGBG: Beer-Gut-Be-Gone’ in which I’ve joined a gym that’s just opened up in town. So far so good, results to follow.

July started with my second Gong show. No technical glitches this time. I ended up beating the gong and surviving the first of the finalist votes. The promoter sounded a bit shocked when he said that I was actually rather good and even conceded that May’s misfortune was probably due to the PA problems.
This month also included our 5th wedding anniversary and I’d like to thank everyone who posted such nice comments on our Facebook walls.
A few potential projects had been mentioned over the last few months and in July these began to see fruition in one way or another

  • I have been commissioned to design the lighting for a friend’s theatre tour of an original show called “The Inferno Kid”.
  • I have been cast in the role of Robin Hood in a modern mummers’ farce, the first in a cycle of plays regarding Bayard’s Colts. (Performance details on my Projects page). I will hopefully be involved in the complete cycle of four plays being presented throughout the coming 12 months.
  • I have been invited to audition for the lead role in a T.V. adaptation of a graphic novel. Details to follow as and when I’m allowed to say.

Well we’re only a few days in but already I celebrated a mate’s 40th birthday, I have an audition for CurlyTash Productions’ inaugural play “Blank Paige” and I’ve managed to get myself involved in a family funday type event because I think the booker thought I was a general piratey entertainer rather than a pub performing stand-up comic used to adult audiences – oh well, I’m getting paid for it and I’m sure I can sort out a censored version of my usual buccaneer banter to use in front of the kiddies!

***Additional info on the “family funday type event” as I called it above***
I wrote the part above just after receiving a phone call booking me for this event and didn’t really question it much. After further investigation, this is not the local council putting on a pleasant little summer fête, this is actually the local contribution to Bandstand Marathon, a huge event taking place in 500 places around the U.K. at the same time on the same day. This is coinciding with the final day of the London 2012 Paralymic Games and has been described by Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, as “an end of show party to end all end of show parties” for the Olympic and Paralymic Games and the Cultural Olympiad.

So, aside from accidentally getting involved in what is recognised by LOCOG as part of the biggest closing event for London 2012, it looks as though my acting is picking up. I have started to book in a couple of stand-up gigs between now and Christmas and I am currently working on a couple of writing projects (aside from Turnstyle Theatre scripts and the Cantata). To keep up to date with where you can see me perform and in what capacity, as well as my various writings and ideas then please have a look at my Projects page. I would also like to point out that I have recently been supporting a relatively new rock night in Walsall every Friday night at The Stein Bar. Please come along and join me for a drink some time as I believe in supporting the local rock scene and the guys running the night have some awesome events coming soon.

That’s about it for now and I will try to once again resume my weekly chronicles. Have fun with whatever you’re up to and enjoy the weekend.