THE SITCOM TRIALS HOLLYWOOD - Presented and produced by Kev F Sutherland at the Lake Balboa Studios, 7412 Balboa Boulevard, LA April 2005 2005 Kev F Sutherland. Photos by Carmen Lynne

Sitcom Trials LA Sitcom Trials LA Sitcom Trials LA
"Tonight, as we do every night..."

Kev F Sutherland presents the show

"That's nothing, I've got flat feet"

The Client by Harris & Wainwright, starring Suzan Solomon (Stella), Aaron Thomas (Tom), Joanie Coyote (Carol) and Scott Charles (Simon)

"Give me a biscuit you moron!"

Man's Best Friend by Roland Moore, starring Damien Burke (Bruno) and Dave Bushnell (Jeff)

Sitcom Trials LA Sitcom Trials LA Sitcom Trials LA
"Let's do the show right here in the barn"

Lake Balboa Studios Read-throughs. Cast met for the first time Monday, performed first show Thursday

"What's on the other side?"

Good Intentions by Dimino and Graves, starring David Allen Brooks and Phil Hersch

"See The Da Vinci Code, now that's a disciple"

Evil Lair by Tom Wang, starring Suzan Solomon, Susan Peahl and Heike Brunner

LA Story - show reports by Kev F Sutherland

The first ever Sitcom Trials Hollywood took place on Thursday March 31 and Friday April 1 2005 at the Lake Balboa Studios, 7412 Balboa Boulevard, LA, and were a hit from the start.

Working at a speed that surprised even me, I was able to bring together a group of LA based actors and put on a show in front of an audience including representatives from the TV industry in under 4 days.

Arriving in LA on the afternoon of Monday March 28th, after a 10 hour flight and interminable other bits of travelling, my partner Heather and I were met by Carmen Lynne, the woman who'd made the Hollywood Trials possible. Carmen buys and sells properties and has just purchased a house in Lake Balboa / Van Nuys with a theatre attached, which she suggested would be an ideal place to try out our show.

The venue had previously been used as a Persian dance studio and comes equipped with lights, sound equipment, technicians gallery and, most importantly, the technician and general assistant Moe who not only helps out with every aspect of the show and lives in the house itself, but also built the theatre in the first place! The plan is, when permits are sorted, to run the venue for all sorts of classes and shows, so this Trials show was a first both for us and for the venue.

At a little after 5pm we arrived at the venue (at that time of night it's over an hour from LA airport - LAX if you've been), by which time I'd been awake for 20 hours, this being 1am UK time, and began meeting the actors. This first batch of actors turning up for audition had never met each other before, and the concept of the Trials required a bit of explanation. The most important factor to hammer home (and I had to repeat it a few times, simply because the actors had been asked to arrive in shifts, whereas I usually work with one group en masse) was that my way or working might seem haphazard and ramshackle, but if you roll with it it works.

The scripts available for that first meeting were mostly by LA writers and, with 2 exceptions, were pretty unfunny. The two scripts that bore up thru readings were Good Intentions by Dimino and Ralph, and Evil Lair by Tom Wang, both of which made their way into the show. For Tuesday's second round of auditions I brought along 4 scripts from the Sitcom Trials classic repertiore - The Client and Kiss Me Son Of God from the 2002/3 Edinburgh/tour show and Clinging On and Man's Best Friend from the 2004/5 show. The only work these needed to make them work was translating from UK English into American.

Thus Winalot became Kibbles & Bits, clingfilm became saranwrap, pissed became drunk, shagged became screwed, creche became nursery, Kidderminster became Glendale, garage music became garage bands, sacked became fired, badgers became raccoons, the Savoy and saveloy became the Polo Lounge and El Pollo Loco, and a job lot became shitloads. Some phrases, like "you've got them in" and "disco biscuits" vanished entirely.

By Wednesday we'd chosen our cast and allocated our scripts ready for rehearsal, with most of these being emailed to and printed out by the cast, in time-honoured paper-and-ink-saving fashion by myself and Carmen, whose broadband computer and flexible working hours were a godsend. Wednesday's rehearsal was squeezed into just 3 hours, meaning our show was up and ready to go in record time, around which Heather and I had managed to fit in an incredible amount of tourist stuff (downtown and Broadway inc Museum Of Contemporary Art, old LA, Little Tokyo, the Fire Station museum; a day in Pasadena inc the Armory Museum and the Norton Simon Museum; Redondo Beach, Venice Beach, Hermosa Beach, Westwood, The Getty Museum, Rodeo Drive, The Museum of TV & Radio; extensive walks around Hollywood and Sunset - we were staying on N Sierra Bonita between the two - inc Mann's Chinese Theatre, Amoeba records and all points from Sunset & Vine to the strip + drives around most parts of town from Burbank thru Santa Monica, up Bel Air Rd - by mistake, who knew it was a dead end? - from the Hollywood Hills thru Beverly Hills to the Valley and so on and so on, sorry to bore you).

Plus we were staying with a family called the Gilboas, of whom Avik is a member of the Guild Of Foreign Journalists, the guys who present the Golden Globes, and who, by dint of the movie stars he's been meeting and interviewing every week for the last 58 years, has now made us totally unbeatable in the Kevin Bacon 6-Degrees-Of-Separation Game. His photo album is pretty unrivalled, from him shaking hands with Clark Gable and Kirk Douglas, thru his stories of catching Errol Flynn in flagrante delicto, to his first hand opinions and occasional personal disagreements with stars from Tom Cruise and Bruce Willis on down.

Anyhow, back to the shows. The first one was Thursday March 31st and... you know, I think this is about as long as an email should be. To be continued...

Kev F Sutherland, producer and presenter, The Sitcom Trials