Tag Archives: Rubber Ducks

Robert Harper

Robert Harper

Robert Harper

Robert has always had an immense passion for radio, which began after receiving a Highly Commended award for his entry into the Carlton Hobbs competition in his last year of attending the Welsh College of Music Drama in ’94. During his first two years working in theatre and T.I.E. for companies such as Made In Wales and Theatr Iolo, he also worked hard at realising his dream of working for the BBC Radio Drama Company. A number of of roles in BBC Radio Wales productions ensued and then an audition for the RDC landed him a 12 month contract. That year gave him an amazing opportunity to work with numerous wonderful producers, writers and actors and to fully immerse himself in the medium of dramatic radio production.

He’s acted in over 200 radio plays and radio serials, a selection of which include Against The Grain, Aunt Julia and The Scriptwriter, Einstein In Cromer, People Like Us, The Tree of Liberty, War & Peace, Anna Karenina, and was also a lead character, Matt in BBC Wales radio soap opera Station Road.

Robert is also an experienced voice artist, having recorded commercials, computer games, TV narration, short stories, animation and much more for companies worldwide.

Not just a pretty voice, Robert has performed on TV in The Bench, Dirty Work, The Bill, and Tati’s Hotel, and in a number of Short Films and Features.

His theatre work includes the Corman/Grimes in Serious Money for Waking Exploits, the Duke in Measure for Measure, Launce in Two Genteleman of Verona, Séan Tyrone, Fragments of Ash, and can be seen this June/July in Invisible for Next Page Productions.

Robert is also co-founder of County Channel TV and Artistic Director of Bare Fiction, with which he is planning a national project for 2014.

In EarCandy he performs the roles of the King of the Ducks in Duck by Debbie Moon, Baz in The Extension by Carmel George, D in Cursed by Sandra Bendelow, Joe in Starlings by Sarah Taylor, The Man in Lost by Branwen Davies and PIP in Rules are Rules by Dean Scott.

What interested you about being involved in the EarCandy project?
I love acting in audio drama. Every time I get a whiff of a chance of performing for radio, the excitement and anticipation of the project courses through me. Having worked with Scriptography on play readings for some of the writers, it was an added bonus to be experiencing their work through a different medium. And it’s such an unusual project, with a dozen short pieces by different writers, offering a rare chance at playing a number of completely different characters.

Which was your favourite role to perform in EarCandy and why?
My favourite? That’s hard. The King of the Ducks was memorable because it was the first character of mine that we recorded, and obviously, during recording, we had a lot of fun playing the levels of duck noise within the speech. Of course, playing a bell has it’s challenges too, and I can’t wait to hear how Tom has incorporated my thoughts on the character into the soundscape. All of the roles were extremely enjoyable to play, due to the breadth of types, but the hardest was the man in Lost. Hard because of the emotion in the peace. It’s one of those terribly moving scripts that makes you cry when you’re reading it, so you have to overcome the feelings of the listener, and simply be true to the character you’re playing.

You have just been cast in an episode of Archers what does that mean to you as a radio actor?
It’s dream I’ve had for 20 years, since first becoming involved with radio drama, so of course I’m thrilled. I worked on radio drama in the same studio they use to use in BBC Pebble Mill, but this will be my first time in the new studio at the Mailbox. There’s something lovely things about the studio set up that I can’t wait to see, but it’ll be all over far too quickly. They can definitely expect me to keep knocking on the audio door for more.

You have done a vast amount of radio acting what is the strangest thing you’ve been asked to as a radio performance?
When I was a member of the BBC radio drama company in ’96, I was often asked to play characters with varying accents, and, thankfully, regularly lived up to the challenge. One time, producer Sally Avens came up to me in the drama office to talk about the serial of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. Sally asked me, quite calmly, “Can you do Spanish Chicago?”, to which my only possible reply was, “When by?”.

What other projects do you have coming up either as an actor or with your company Bare Fiction?
After the EarCandy launch I’m off to Birmingham to start rehearsals for a new play, Invisible by Liz John & Julia Wright, touring the Midlands. With Bare Fiction we are in the early stages of pre-production for a new play by Lisa Parry called Blood, which will also go on tour. And for 2014 and beyond, I’m planning a big new writing project to take new writing, Bare Fiction style, across the whole of the country with 40 Plays in 40 Nights.

The EarCandy plays are available to listen to at the EarCandy website.

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Interview with a Rubber Duck

Duck by Debbie Moon Illustration by Boz Groden

Duck by Debbie Moon Illustration by Boz Groden

Right then, Mr. Duck –

That’s “Your Majesty”, if you don’t mind!

Yes, of course. Sorry. Your Majesty. I understand that you used to be a, well, real duck. Being transformed into a rubber duck must have been quite a shock.

It was terrible. To be made of plastic and kept in a bathroom, a parody of what we should be! Mind you, the warm water was nice. That’s the thing about mountain lakes;  freezing. Five minutes in there and you can’t feel your legs for a week. A nice hot bath with bubbles, well, it does have some attractions…

But surely you had to share the bath with human beings.

Yes, and that was no fun, I can tell you! Some of the guests at that hotel, well… Not much room for a duck to get some swimming done, that’s all I’m saying.

And you had to put up with this for years.

I tried making contact with the guests, but it’s surprisingly hard to attract the attention of a human. All those noisy gadgets humming and making music, all the splashing and the children… Oh, the children. Playing with us. Chewing on us. The court musicians haven’t been the same since. No, we yelled and squeaked and quacked at every guest, but there was only one that heard us.

And these rumours about a duck attack on a wedding at the hotel…?

That could have been any ducks. You can’t prove it was us!  The cake was nice, though…

And now you’re restored to your true form, what’s next?

At last, we have our ancient swimming grounds restored to us, to frolic and play as we please! It’s freezing, of course. We’re talking to someone about ground-source heating, it’s amazing what they can do these days… And we’re hoping for more weddings at the hotel. Wedding cake is much nice than breadcrumbs.

Debbie Moon’s audio drama Duck can be heard here

Interview with Debbie Moon about her short audio drama Duck

Duck by Debbie Moon Illustration by Boz Groden

Duck by Debbie Moon Illustration by Boz Groden

Debbie Moon began writing about 10 years ago and has around 50 short stories published in the UK and US. Her novel Falling was published in 2004 and long-listed for the
Welsh Book of the Year award. She co-wrote the horror movie The Seventh Dimension, wrote two episodes of CBBC’s The Sparticle Mystery, and her CBBC series Wolfblood won the RTS Television Award for Best Childrens Drama. Filming has just completed for the second series of Wolfblood. It will be on
CBBC later this year. Debbie was selected for Sherman Cymru Spread the Word scheme
for emerging writers for theatre. Debbie blogs about TV and film writing at Never Get Off The Bus. You can also follow her at
www.facebook.com/debbiemoonwriter and @debbiebmoon

In her short audio drama Duck, a reluctant bridesmaid is given the chance to go on a heroic quest, but the call to adventure comes from a very unusual source…

Tell me about your play, what is it about and where did you get the idea? Appropriately enough, for a play about rubber ducks, I had the idea in the bath! I have quite a few rubber ducks, and I started thinking about what it must be like to be a fake duck, and how that might relate to being forced into a ‘fake’ situation like being a bridesmaid at a wedding where you expected to be the bride. And out of that came the King Of Ducks, and a strange quest to the top of a mountain…

You are fairly new to audio writing, what where the differences in how you thought about finding an idea for an audio play? I was very much aware that in radio, dialogue carries the story – as opposed to television and film, where images do most of the storytelling – and I wanted to find an idea which I was confident would work if it was mostly dialogue. And the great thing about radio is you can create anything you like, even a talking rubber duck, so I didn’t have to worry about practicality or budget…

How different did you find the writing process working on an audio play? Did you do anything differently? I deliberately kept the story very simple. Duck is basically a conversation, and the consequences of that conversation. The difficult thing, for me at least, was conveying location and action without any visual elements. And it’s amazing how much the performances add to the writing. Radio drama is a great medium for actors, and they added so much to the storytelling.

What did you learn about writing an audio drama from the EarCandy project? Audio drama is all about characters, and the bigger, bolder and more interesting the characters you create, the more effective it will be.

What was your favourite thing about writing for audio? Being able to do anything – even a talking rubber duck!

What was your least favourite thing about writing for audio? No pictures! But I adjusted to that in the end…

Tell me about any other projects you are working on at the moment. I’ve just finished work on my children’s television drama, Wolfblood, which will be back for a second series in the autumn, and I’m developing a paranormal drama for adults, and working on a couple of film projects too…

Duck is part of the Earcandy audio drama project by Scriptography Productions. 12 plays by 13 writers, 15 performers playing over 50 characters. Follow news of the project www.facebook.com/earcandyaudiodrama or @earcandy_plays