For the past eight or so years, whenever I take a show on tour in the UK I always make a pitstop at Felsted School in Essex and do a show for the students and assorted parents. It is a wonderful initiative by their inspired and inspiring drama teacher, Chas, to bring as many shows of all types to the students, and each year he makes the trek to Edinburgh to make sure they get the best comedy in the country.
I always enjoy playing Felsted School, which is on sprawling and quite beautiful grounds in a gorgeous village. The students are always a lovely mix of down-to-earth, polite and intelligent young adults with the most polysyllabic hyphenated names I have ever come across.
I remembered this from last time, and a random check of audience members names didn’t let me down. I immediately found Grant Tyler Polkinghorn, Katyana Scarlett Rocker-Cook, and a young man called Pranjal Roy who bizarrely didn’t have a middle name. Thankfully a boy with three middle names donated one of his – Rastian – although even he was unsure of how to spell it.
I dragged my favourite six names on stage, and conducted an X Factor-esque showdown to find the best name in the room. The final six even introduced themselves on camera for you:
In case you couldn’t hear them they were Tim James Leigh Santocruz, Hugonaut George Hilbery Chaplin, Katyana Scarlett Rocker-Cook, Grant Tyler Polkinghorn, Pranjal Rastian Roy, and Dieter Charles Frederick Gickle.
An audience-led cull narrowed the field to three and the winner was finally determined to be Pranjal Rastian Roy, who thanked his parents for giving him such a great name, as well as his middle name donor.
In amongst all this I tweeted, asking for the best names people had heard. Once again my twitter feed went wild, with such names as:
Thanks to all of you for joining in on these shows, and a huge thanks to all at Felsted who make returning to this venue so much fun. I really do admire the passion and vigour with which Chas throws himself into educating these young adults, and it shows in the calibre of students I encounter there every year.
This year Chas made a point of showing me a video that was made documenting a visit made by the Felsted Drama Society to a Women’s Correctional Centre in the States, in which they put on a production of Jospeh And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. It is amazing, and such a great example of what theatre can do for people’s souls, even those serving life terms.
The url is here, and if you have a spare ten minutes I highly recommend watching it. In a world of reality TV and wannabe popstars, this is what live performance is all about:
I should also let you know that our audience-inspired prostate awareness campaign has stepped up a notch. Over the past few weeks we have found a slogan “No Joke, Be a Bloke, Get a Poke” and created a poster, which I challenged people to download and place in prominent places.
Well, Mandy did just that:
That is very impressive. Go on, I dare all of you to do better.
OK, that’s all for now – huge thanks to all at Felsted tonight, especially Chas and Hannah, and Tony Petrie who helped out with a bit of James Brown action at the top of the show.
Tomorrow night is Swindon, then I am appearing on BBC1 on Wednesday night on Ask Rhod Gilbert in the UK, as well as the usual dose of Spicks and Specks in Australia.
See you somewhere soon