Monday, 8 October 2012

Diary of a weekend

Imagine this. You are in a disused doctor's surgery, in an uninhabited ghost estate in South London. A local community art group has taken in over and there is a pop up bar and paintings everywhere. You suddenly hear what sounds like an electric guitar tuning up, you walk into a room the size of a small living room and there's a band there. They start to play... and wow! they're really good. This was the end to my Saturday at The Heygate Estate at an event organised by The Hotel Elephant Gallery. As twenty or more of us, of all ages, crammed into the tiny room to hear the Ohio band 'Stash' I felt privileged to be witnessing it all. "Yes indeed! South East London is the right place for our artistic endeavors." I mused.

Ohio band Stash at The Hotel Elephant Gallery.
(Rubbish photo, you had to be there.)

On the subject of artistic endeavours I'd like, at this point, to strike a more serious note. I've just been reading over Friday's blog and I have a sneaking feeling that it came over a bit negative which was not the intention at all. The fact of the matter is that I've got more wonderful and talented friends than I have space to give spots for, but it's nice to be able to offer something.  I also confess that I do actually admire performers who can ask upfront for what they want as long as it doesn't border on stalking. It's not a natural habit of mine, and sometimes I wish it was. Some of the advances I've had would not be out of place in a sitcom. Here's an example:

MIKE: Yeah, I'm starting a cabaret night.
YOUNG MAGICIAN: Can I do a spot?
MIKE: Well.. err... you see It's really not a magic night. It's a night of modern clown...
YOUNG MAGICIAN: I'm a modern clown.
MIKE: and also eccentric and off the wall acts.
YOUNG MAGICIAN: I can do eccentric off the wall, I'm an act.

And so on, and so forth, but like I said, I've done a lot worse in my time. I have to say that I like this guy and admire his persistence... but still... I hope that I don't give in... just yet.

Anyway back to the weekend. The Hotel Elephant gig came in the middle of quite an eventful couple of days. Best described by the following potted diary.

SATURDAY OCTOBER 6TH (The day of doom!)

7:30am: Got up early - Always kills me that one - I'm an actor for god's sake.
8:30am: Went to draw in Covent Garden - didn't get a show - went home with tail firmly between legs.
1:00pm: Had a nice lunch with Grisel - thought that the day was looking up - was very wrong
3:40pm: Tried a show at Covent Garden's smaller covered pitch - complete disaster - came home with a small amount of loose change and a huge desire to pack it all in and join a monastery in Nepal.
6:30pm: Eagerly watched Strictly Come Dancing - vaguely irritated by Darcey Bussell - agreed with Jenny Eclair on Twitter that Brucey's jokes are a bit shit.
9:00pm: Day ends well with the unexpected delight of the above mentioned gig at The Hotel Elephant Gallery.

SUNDAY OCTOBER 7TH 2012 (Redemption is here!)

7:30am: Got up early - doesn't feel any better the second time around - moved very slowly around the kitchen.
8:30am: Went to draw in Covent Garden - lady luck smiled on me - got a show on the big space.
3:00pm: Performed one of the best shows I've done this year on The Piazza - the crowd even loved my middle aged attempts at bad acrobatics - totally forgot The Nepalese monastery idea and decided that star of stage and screen is the way forward.
9:00pm: Grisel and I met a theatre producing friend of mine - get some great advice on the marketing of our club - went home with heads spinning (hers with ideas, mine with alcohol).

I often use the phrase 'it's all go' as a sort of ironic/sarcastic comment on the fact that nothing really ever happens in my life, but I actually think, at the moment it is just that. I can tell you it's really hard work this theatre/cabaret promoting lark.

Mike Raffone is the co founder of the production company howhow along with his fiancé Grisel Tarifa. They are opening a new performance club The Royal National Theatre of Fools at clf Art Cafe, Peckham on December 4th.  It will be dedicated to the clown, the absurd and the eccentric, and who knows, it may feature a young magician in the future. For more info Go to

More info about Hotel Elephant Gallery can be found at

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