Hello again Mr Blog…and here’s part two as promised…

WEDNES 26th November, day 3 in the village hall. First up is the requisite yoga session and then we create our very own 1940s village complete with a panoply of characters for John to meet – including the village idiot stood in the duck pond (beautifully and, some might say, ‘method’ acted by Matt), the Lord of the Manor, the WI, the butcher, vicar, airmen at the base, and many many more – we enjoy ourselves immensely.

All incredibly useful in visualising the world – but is this the show? Time to get out and about – Mike has arranged for us to visit the old American airbase in Upper Heyford which closed back in the 90s but if you’re lucky – and know the right people – you get an extra special tour…We are met by Don – he used to work on the base for about 30 years and knows every inch of it. So 6 of us – 3 MacGuffs, 1 director, Don and Mike – cram into Mike’s car and we drive off around the base. The sheer scale of the place is mind boggling – 1250 acres, enormous bomb proof aircraft hangers with concrete that is metres thick, ‘secret’ areas that look like buildings but are actually storage units for ??? (ssshhh that’s secret) and then there’s mission control which hasn’t changed in decades. This really brings it all home to us – and fuels our imaginations as we recreate an emergency high alert…

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Afterwards we head back and we have major writing tasks to complete: we each have to write a character biography and write a scene – John has tasked me with writing a Geography lesson for American GIs recently arrived in Britain.

We zip off to Deddington to buy food, get back, realise we are all shattered and promptly Jim and I fall asleep on our bunk beds for an hour. Then it’s dinner and I rustle up a healthy meal to galvanise us – broccoli, spinach and fishcakes – a personal favourite of mine. We get to work and the writing goes on til the wee small hours zzzz wigzzzz zzzz.

THURS 27th November, day 4 – can’t believe it’s the penultimate day. Yoga to begin with and I have to admit I’m starting to like the yoga sessions – especially as now I’m wearing loose fitting trousers (Jim still struggling – he only brought jeans). We then present our work and I really enjoy getting inside the head of my character: Major Bill McEnroe – failed semi-pro baseball player and now with 12 years flying experience he has just been promoted. The other MacGuffs also have fun with their characters but maybe…just maybe…Jim as a stiff upper-lipped Major isn’t quite right for the show…could he be a different nationality?

Next up – our scenes – Matt and Jim have co-written a history lecture and I present my Geography lesson which is mostly based on thinking Britain is tiny. Pleased to get a few laughs from the gang. John has loads of ideas to help improve the scenes. A productive morning. A spot of lunch is followed by John setting more tasks including what is our mission statement for the show – both as the character we are playing and as a collective group of actors. Fascinating to get a more global overview of the show and helps focus our minds as much as a yoga session. This leads to a potential ‘major’ breakthrough in making Jim ‘American’ in the show. John sets more writing tasks before we end the day at the local pub – The Red Lion – run by the wonderful Mel and Sarah. The pizzas there are fantastic and Jim is over the moon to get a gluten free pizza and demands to see what flour they use…Bed, full, tired, write til very late – it’s nearly 3am when I finish. Wear my wig in bed.

FRI 28th November, day 5 – our last day. I am shattered – hardly any sleep. Straight into yoga which perks me up. Followed by some clowning exercises which are to help us be more truthful and real onstage – I fail miserably and cry in a corner, which ironically is a genuine and truthful thing to do. We then perform our writings – I need Jim and Matt for my scene which is the introduction to the whole show. The scene needs work but has legs – always good to have legs. Jim has re-written history – so to speak (his task was to re-write Thursday’s history lesson scene) – and it’s come on leaps and bounds. But the highlight of the morning is Matt’s wonderful Money sketch – really hope it makes it into the final show.

John then sets more writing tasks with tough deadlines – except it’s just for me and Jim, as Matt is granted furlough. His sister has given birth that morning in a hospital nearby – so off he zips, leaving Jim and I to carry the metaphorical baby. We crack on and the day ends with us showcasing our final two written musings – I’ve written a two-hander about the weather, but by workshopping it we bring in Matt and it improves the scene! Hurrah! And Jim’s scene about language differences has loads of funny lines and I do my best to ruin them. It’s now 5pm so time to down tools, pack up and head back to Blighty (London) – but first we scurry back to Mike & Clare’s to give them their presents – a lovely book of WW2 cartoons (kudos to John for getting prezzies) and some choccies. Hugs all round and promises to meet up when we’re back in Oxfordshire in January for stage 2 of the R&D.

Back in the Mattmobile and it’s home in time for Christmas (although the traffic jam on the way back nearly prevented that!)

That’s all til next time….thanks Mr Blog.

Hugs and tea and no aluminum on the sidewalk,

Dan x

p.s. Never did use those wigs.

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