Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What’s in a name? Pt .2

Hello there, I'm Christopher Haigh - the other half of the actors, writers, directors and co-creators of ‘HARCOURT & HAIGH: Actors At Large’, you can call me Chris (you probably will anyway - there’s no way I can stop you and, sadly, the nickname ‘Kit’ hasn’t been popular since at least the 1930s). That's me on the right of THAT photo.

I know, I know - it's K.I.T.T. but any excuse to post a sweet Trans Am
When Vern first explained his idea I have to admit to not being keen, not about the series but using our own names in the title.
It did seem a touch egotistical, maybe even a bit vain (and I’m not vain, or at least not willing to admit it). And be ourselves? Natural cowardice means that when performing I’d rather have a character to hide behind. Then Vern reassured me, explaining we wouldn’t be playing ourselves Per Se and he told me the names he’d thought of - Arthur Harcourt and Adrian Haigh. I had to agree with him, they just sounded ‘right’.

Why Arthur Harcourt?
Vern’s idea was that as Arthur Harcourt he was actually from noble stock, and there are fewer names more kingly and comedic.

"Where's me washboard?!"
Why Adrian Haigh?
That’s a bit harder to explain, really. It’s only as I write this that I recall playing football (badly) at break time in junior school and the contraction of ‘Adrian’ to ‘Aidy!’ and ‘Haigh’ becoming ‘Aigy!’ causing me no small measure of confusion when it came to who was being passed the ball (“Not you, Aigy! AIDY!”).
Also I was a bespectacled brown-haired schoolkid with a side parting in the 80s, so it was inevitable what one of my many nicknames would be:

See Also: Penfold
Thank you so very much, Sue Townsend, I don’t think. So, essentially, REVENGE!
Sod living life well, I’m going to avenge myself by reclaiming the name with Adrian Haigh, the working class one with airs of pretension and aspiration to greatness or, at the very least, to be mistaken for greatness.

In developing the characters we also went back to that day in Marsden. When Vern cracked the joke about us being a pair of TV-show cops, Matt remarked, 

“One’s a tough Northern Cop, the other’s a Lilac-scented fop’ 

(In reference to my then-lustrous mane of hair and generally louche demeanour, also YOU try looking manly next to Vern, eh?).
With the police aspect put aside (though perhaps not entirely) I still liked the idea of dandying it up and Vern, well, let’s make no bones about it, he’s a big lad - so I thought we’d substitute the ‘Northern Cop’ for
a nice bit of double entendre ‘Colossal Acting Talent’.

There were the characters in a kernel, two actors, the best of friends, from very different backgrounds but sharing the same overblown sense of self-importance and, of course, drunkenness - ‘One’s a Colossal Acting Talent, the other’s a Lilac-Scented Fop’.
And with that, I knew what they would look like - but I’m getting ahead of myself, I do that sometimes too.

Christopher Haigh

Friday, August 26, 2011

What's In A Name? Pt .1

Now what really is in a name other than letters, vowels, syllables and, sometimes, a hidden meaning?
Or to be more to the point where exactly did I come up with the title and character names for ‘HARCOURT & HAIGH: Actors At Large’?

Well…erm…let me see, er...Oh, that’s right (at the risk of repeating myself) once again it was inspired by that photo (In the first post), yes, THAT photo. Look at it. Gaze deeply into my eyes.
Now back to my Blog Post. And how did that give me the names? I hear you ask.
I took the stage name Vernon Harcourt after my great Granddad and Chris is Christopher Haigh.
It was just what popped into my head when I first saw the picture, simply the order of our names as we were stood on the left and right, and at first it was Harcourt & Haigh (because it sounded cool and maybe because we’re both products of the 70s) - two no-holds-barred cops out for Justice on the mean northern streets.
After much thinking about it and looking at the photo some more I thought about being more autobiographical, they say write what you know after all, so I changed tack to two drunken actors, which Chris and I are (I told you, Method).  And the two names just sounded right together and they sounded like two actors.

You see what I did there, Yeah? Good.

As for the first names I though it would be funny to once again use the same letter for both names, hence Arthur and Adrian. The show would after all essentially about ‘a’ Harcourt and ‘a’ Haigh. That and Arthur Harcourt sounds posh. Adrian less so. More on that later.

Then, finally, the ‘Actor’s At Large’ was added to give the impression that we’re not quite trustworthy and that we could be anywhere.

See you soon.

Look behind you.
Vernon Harcourt

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Photo That Started It All

Welcome to the ‘HARCOURT & HAIGH: Actors At Large’ production blog, it’s all about the Booze, the High Adventure, the Violence…..Oh, and the acting. Erm, Sorry, I mean the ACTING! (*Holds hand up to the sky in dramatic gesture*)
So what exactly is HARCOURT & HAIGH?
Well, it’s an upcoming web-based comedy show about two drunk out-of-work actors who are trying to find that breakout job, or to just survive on a day to day basis and to keep themselves topped up with booze by any means necessary.
Trust me, you wouldn’t like them when they’re sober. 
But I’m getting ahead of my self, sorry, I do that. I am Vernon Harcourt, one half of the actors, writers, directors and co-creators of what will be ‘HARCOURT & HAIGH: Actors At Large’. Hi there. That's me on the left below.
My partner in crime is Christopher Haigh and it all started with this picture:

Vern + Chris = Excitement!

The whole idea for the series comes from a trip over to the Marsden Jazz Festival (at which we skillfully managed to avoid any Jazz) along with great photographer and buddy of ours, Matt Birdsall.
With a lack of very attractive people Matt was willing to settle for using the two of us for some shots and took the photo above of myself and Chris stood back to back.
Something about it got me thinking and from that pose the idea for the show grew, it also inspired the name of the show.
It was a few months later and on a drunken night out (What can I say? We’re Method) that I explained my premise of a Web-based series of comedy shorts to Chris and we fleshed out the characters and the idea in more detail - thus Harcourt & Haigh were born (So to speak).
Not being averse to media domination, we also entered a TV sitcom length pilot episode script in the BBC Writersroom 2010 competition.
Alas the BBC judges, Hm, lets just say we don’t know what they said...but they were wrong.
No, I really don’t want to dwell - I just think that they didn’t get it, or maybe it was just TOO funny for them. I mean ‘Two Pints Of Lager and A Packet of Crisps’? Need I say, er, write more?
What to do? Roll up our sleeves and get on with it. In the words of the late great Freddie Mercury "The Show must go on!" 
Now let’s fast forward to….actually, now and, a lot more of conversations later, we are at the stage of starting it up - we have some test shots for the costumes (courtesy of Matt),  a trailer in post and a long and interesting (metaphorical) road in front of us. So stay tuned for updates on the process of Harcourt & Haigh moving from our Brains to a screen near you!
 You all come back now. 

Vernon Harcourt