NEWS!

10th June, 2024

Hello, and Happy Monday to you! I’m writing to you in a state of pre-tour excitement today, because on Thursday – thanks to the generous support and assistance of Regional Arts Victoria and Creative Victoria – I’ll be taking off on my regional tour of my one-man show LETTERS FROM MY HEROES … if they’d actually bothered to write back!

Preparations have been all-consuming, and I’ve now created an official page for the tour (https://www.thestephenhall.com/letters-from-my-heroes/the-letters-from-my-heroes-2024-tour-of-regional-victoria/) right here on my website. Tickets have gone on sale at six of the eight venues, and I’ve been doing a bit of publicity too, chatting about it on regional breakfast radio, on the ABC and on South Coast FM, on my friend Bill’s morning show It’s Already Wednesday. We’re just down to last-minute preparations now before we (me and my Touring Production Stage Manager) jump in to the van and head off! Can not WAIT to get started. 

In other news, I’m still writing the first draft of the sequel to my novel Symphony Under Siege, but it hasn’t exactly been my highest priority of late. When I last wrote to you, I’d written one quarter of the first draft. I’ve now written 13 of the 40 chapters, so recent progress has been a little slow, I’m afraid. But I still have faith that after the tour, I’ll be able to throw myself back into the writing with renewed vigour and purpose. It’s still my goal to get the first draft of all 40 chapters done by October 4th.

I thiiink I can still achieve that… 

From the Drama Desk… I’ve had encouraging feedback from one director and one theatre owner about my comedy whodunnit play A Madness Most Discreet. It’s now with a couple of other actors and a producer… but I confess I haven’t been putting much time into chasing this, either. Again, the majority of my energy is currently being focussed on the tour.
But after the tour, I’ll start plugging away again on
AMMD, making calls, writing emails, having meetings and hassling people and pushing this barrow. All good. After all, I’ve always said I’m playing the long game with this project.

And finally, from the Podcastery department… Dan Swain runs an interesting podcast (with Harman Chauhan) called The Game of Life. It’s an extended interview show, and they’ve had all sorts of interesting, talented, brilliant and funny guests on, to discuss their fascinating careers and lives.

Now they’ve had me on as well. 

I’m in Episode 79.  

And I think that’ll just about do it for this update. Now I’d better get back to those last minute preparations before we hit the road! Until next time… all the very best to you and yours!
Stephen

22nd March, 2024.

Why, hello! How are you? (A rhetorical question, obviously, but it seemed like a polite and chatty way to begin.) Gosh, it seems like only yesterday when I last checked in with you! Although it was, in fact, 18 days ago. I hope all’s well with you, and there are three things I want to let you know about today.

Firstly, I’m going to be a contestant on Next Tuesday’s (26/03) episode of Mastermind Australia, which screens on SBS at 6:00 PM!!! And, a couple of hours after that, it’ll be up on SBS on Demand.

I was invited onto the show back in November, and after a bit of deliberation, I thought it would be a fun thing to ‘come out of game show retirement’ for. We recorded the episode at the start of February.

SO, What was my Mastermind Special Subject? How did I go? Did I WIN?

… For the answers to all these questions (and some about Herbert “Doc” Evatt and the Collingwood Football Club from 1927 – 1930) watch Australian Mastermind at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, on SBS (and shortly thereafter on SBS On Demand).

I also decided to keep a diary of the whole experience, and post it on my blog HowToWinGameShows.com. Oh, have I told you about HowToWinGameShows.com? It’s my hobby – a blog that I’ve been running since 2013 – and it’ll soon be featuring a series of diary posts about my Mastermind Australia experience.

Secondly, I think I’m ready to announce that I’m now writing the sequel to my 2020 swashbuckling science fiction novel Symphony Under Siege! For a couple of years now, I’ve been dreaming up more adventures for Diana, Salazar and all the other (surviving) characters…  and late last year I settled on a story that leads directly on from the events of the first novel, while plunging them into a new series of challenges, battles, thrills and spills and daring escapes! And gags. Lots of gags.

As far as practicalities go, I’m following the writing schedule I set up for myself last time – one chapter each week. Back in 2020, breaking the whole novel into these bite-sized chunks and releasing them online week-by-week worked, and I’m hoping that a similar self-imposed workload will work just as well this time around. Of course, last time, I chronicled the whole process online, as an additional way of keeping myself accountable… but this time around, I’m keeping the work-in-progress to myself.

I spent the last couple of months last year planning the whole thing out, so the process now is just putting meat on the bones of that skeleton. At this stage, I’m a quarter of the way through the first draft. I’m slightly behind schedule, but I’m confident I can catch up if I knuckle down and stop paying quite so many visits to Procrastination Station…

(Although YouTube is pretty great, isn’t it?)

And finally, I wanted to let you know that this May, I will once again be taking part in the annual Sleep At The ‘G, for Melbourne City Mission. This outdoor sleepover – on the concrete concourses of the Melbourne Cricket Ground  – is a fantastic event that raises funds to combat youth homelessness. I’ve participated over the last few years with my good friends Tim & Chris, and we’ll grabbing our sleeping bags and beanies, hunkering down and doing it all again on Thursday May 16th.

If there’s any chance you’re able to sponsor me, you can do so by clicking HERE… or on the images above and below.

If you’re able to help out, I’d really, really appreciate it, and it’s for an incredibly good cause. Thank you so much!

And that’s it for this update.

Now I’d better get to writing that Symphony sequel – those swashes aren’t going to buckle themselves!

Until next time… AHOY!
Stephen

4th March, 2024.

Hello, and Happy New Year to you!

(Yes, yes, I know it’s March, thank you…. I told you these would be occasional, didn’t I?)

I hope the first couple of months of this year have flown by for you in a very cheery and engaging fashion! There are just a couple of things I wanted to let you know about today.

Firstly, you may remember that ages ago, I mentioned that back in July I was involved (writing and performing) in a live event called The Roast of John Cleese. The night’s proceedings were recorded, to be made into a TV special for the Seven Network…

Well, all these months later, we now finally have an airdate for that special! It’ll be on the telly on Tuesday 12th March at 7:30 PM, on Channel 7 and 7plus! (And available to watch on 7plus after that). Here’s the promo: https://youtu.be/xERb4lh1l-c

I can’t wait to see how it turned out. (I mean, obviously I was there and I know what’s in it, but I’m very keen to see what made the edit and what didn’t.) I really, REALLY hope they left this bit in…

The second thing I wanted to let you know today is that for the next five days, my eBook How To Win Game Shows is 50% OFF, over at Smashwords.com! This means you can now grab it for just US $1.99 (which, I believe, is roughly AU $3.06)

So, if you happen to be an eBook reader, and you reckon this might of interest to you, and you’ve got a spare three dollars and six cents kicking around… Well, there you go! (But only until March 9th, as I say).

And that’s it for this little update. I’ll probably be checking in with you again quite soon. There’s a little TV thingy coming up which I haven’t been allowed to tell you about, up to this point…
But that embargo will be lifted very soon, and all of the beans will be duly spilled.

Until then, then!

Stephen.

Some beans being spilled.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The beans I will be spilling are not in any way related to the particular beans depicted above, or the specific spilling thereof. 

11th December, 2023.

Hello and welcome to my final occasional update for 2023.

The last one of these was back at the start of August, and a few things have happened since then. So, where to begin? Well, apart from auditioning for (and not getting*)…

  • A role in a zombie movie starring Daisy Ridley,
  • The role of the protagonist’s brother in a biopic,
  • A role in an action movie starring Liam Neeson,
  • A role in a horror movie where I would have played an American wrestling coach who survives a plane crash, only to get eaten by a shark,
  • A superannuation commercial,
  • A real estate commercial,
  • An insurance commercial,
  • The role in NCIS Sydney that went to William McInnes,
  • and the voice of an animated bee,

… I’ve been pretty busy.

I don’t think I’ve told you this, but my one-man Comedy Festival show from earlier this year Letters From My Heroes… if they’d actually bothered to write back has qualified for support from Regional Arts Victoria, which means that I’ll be touring the show throughout regional Victoria in 2024! I’m excited about this – I’ve never toured a one-man show before and I look forward to taking it on the road for a series of performances at smaller venues all over this great state of ours. Dates and venues are to be advised, but I’m very much looking forward to this brand-new challenge!
Apart from that, I’ve been doing a few podcasts: another episode of Confessions with Sam Petersen & Dave Warneke, an episode of Dave’s own podcast Book Cheat (again with Sam Petersen), And I was absolutely honoured to be part of the live recording of the final episode of Damian Callinan’s fantastic Bodgy Creek Community Podcast

I’m at around the 54:17 mark, playing the ghost of Etienne Gascard, a French ghost who’s having a bit of an existential crisis… Naturally.

And speaking of podcasts, have I mentioned that my friend Bill Ten Eyck and I have an occasional podcast called The Funny Thing Is… ?

Well, we do.
Each episode, Bill brings two funny things to the table, and so do I, the idea being that we may be able to introduce each other – and of course, the dear listener – to something funny, which they may not have been aware of before. There are four episodes up there so far. So please consider having a listen, if you think it sounds like something that may tickle your fancy.

The Funny Thing Is (http://thefunnythingispodcast.com/)

Work continues to proceed on my comedy whodunnit play A Madness Most Discreet… After finishing the second draft, I organised a read-through with eight fantastic actors back in October, to get a better idea of how it all played, how the characters were working (or not), how the story was working (or not) and how the gags were working (or not).
I was delighted with the read-through and so grateful to my actor friends who all gave BRILLIANT performances. A lot of suggestions came out of the read-through; I received loads of feedback and also had a lot of new ideas of my own on how to make parts of it better. So I set about incorporating all of that new information into the script – tweaking and honing, tweaking and honing, tweaking and honing – which resulted, a week ago, in this:

Now I’ve sent that third draft off to my agent so that we can collectively work out what the best next steps may be. Will it ever see the light of day? Dunno. But in the meantime, I’m soldiering on, because I believe in this thing, dammit!

And now that that’s with them, I’ve cleared the decks and finally, finally begun work in earnest on the sequel to my novel Symphony Under Siege. I’ve had various ideas for a sequel story over the last couple of years; a story that grows organically out of the events in the first novel… and I now feel confident enough in the story I’ve got to begin planning it out. I’m excited about travelling back to the world of the Symphony, and am looking forward to finding out what all those folks have been up to! So my first (self-imposed) deadline with this project is to get the whole thing thoroughly planned out, chapter-by-chapter, by December 31st.

And that’s just about it for now… and for 2023. And now, for no particular reason, I’ll leave you with a pic of that time on Mad As Hell when Tosh, Christie, Emily & I got to be The Young Ones.

Man, I loved that job…

Merry Christmas everybody, and a Happy New Year!

Cheers,

Stephen

*Ah, the life of an actor, eh?

3rd August, 2023.

I hope you’re all well on this very sunny Thursday afternoon. (Well, it’s sunny where I am, anyway.) I have three things to talk about today… because this is turning out to be quite a chockablock, jam-packed week.

Firstly, last Sunday night I was lucky enough to attend the TV Week Logie Awards as a guest (for the first time since 2007!) rather than its writer, because Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell was nominated for Most Outstanding Comedy Program AND Most Popular Comedy Program!

But we lost both of those. Ah well, C’est La Logie…

Shaun was also nominated for the Gold Logie and Most Popular Presenter… but unfortunately, he didn’t get to take home either of those trophies either. Despite all this, we all still all managed to have a great time at AustralianTelevision’sNightOfNightsWhenTheBrightestClichesComeOutToShine…;

Then, the very next night (Monday), I found myself on stage at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall in front of 2,300 people, doing a John Cleese impression… for John Cleese.

Hmm, perhaps I should provide a bit of background to this…

Back on July 19th, I was one of the writers – and one of the roasters – on The Australian Roast of John Cleese, a live event at Crown Palladium that was shot by Channel 7, and which will be airing sometime later this year, as a 90-minute special. (Don’t worry – I’ll tell you exactly when as soon as I know. Just try and stop me!)
Anyway, after that show, I got talking to John and to his tour manager, and John invited me to come up on stage with him on the second of his Melbourne shows! It was a truly joyous experience, where I reprised some of the stuff I did in the roast. It got some good laughs… including some from the man himself!

Of course, taking photos at this event was strictly prohibited.
I’m so glad my friend took one anyway.

Me making John Cleese laugh on stage, in front of 2,300 people. Whatever you do, don’t tell 14-year-old me; this will blow his tiny mind.

And finally today, I wanted to tell you about an exciting thing I’ll be doing this Saturday night (August 5th) in North Fitzroy. It’s a Variety Night to raise funds for refugees, and I’ll be doing a 10-minute slot, in which I plan to condense my 50-minute Comedy Festival show Letters From My Heroes down to a very abridged, pared-back, stripped-down 10-minute version.

… but still with a Big Musical Finish.

Can I do it?! Am I crazy to try? Is it even possible?! To find out, please consider coming along on Saturday night. It should be a great gig and it’s all for a very, very good cause.

Tickets and information can be found right HERE!

And that’s it for this update! Thank you for reading this far, and I’ll talk to you again soon (if I don’t see you on Saturday night). And if I DO see you on Saturday night, please come over and say Hi. I’m generally quite friendly, as a rule…

Cheers,
Stephen