Tag Archives: Two – November 2004

Wednesday – Deeper Down

Audience: 42!

Audience Reaction: Welcome To The Dead Zone

Right, we’re getting into it now. The timing of the dance is good, the backstage routine is settling, and all is well in the state of Merton.

I went for hair overload tonight – great wodges of ‘texturizing gum’, bouffed up into a Mozzer quiff, then sprayed liberally with – what appears to be gold glitter – Blonde spray (Thanks Jayne!) It is a righteous look, and one I could get used to. Maybe.

My victim this evening was another plant by the Director – this time someone approaching my age. She reacted very well, at one stage leaning over to Debs, next to her, and whispering, “I’ll kill you for this”. I was tempted to ask her if her friend wanted to join us, but ad-libbing when things are going fine is just asking for trouble.

The excitement and intercom distortion can give rise to hearing problems for many cast members, causing them to mishear their co-actors lines. A couple of examples from tonights performance:

  • “Clingfilm Torquay.” – you’ll get no Wotsits if you carry on like that.
  • “Myth Men! Greek Men! Love ya!” – Hercules! Come on!
  • “I carry him down. I carry him up. I p*ss all over my hands.” – why, love, why?

Also backstage we can play the fun game of picking out the front of house music, who it’s by, and why it was chosen. There seems to be a booze theme. Funny that…

  • Happy Hour by The Housemartins. Pretty obvious.
  • Red Eyes Is Back by The Beautiful South. Uh-huh, figures.
  • When I’m Sixty-Four by The Beatles. Fred & Alice?
  • Constant Craving by k d lang. If this means alcohol, this can only refer to the Director.

We tried to come up with some more suggestions for the ‘Herding Soundtrack’:

  • Smack My Bitch Up by The Prodigy. Featuring the contraversial sample from the Ultramagnetics’ Dr Octagon, of course. For Roy and Lesley.
  • The Greatest Dancer by Sister Sledge. For Moth and Maudie. “Oh … what … wow!”
  • Whisky In The Jar by Thin Lizzy.
  • Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot. For Mrs Iger – change the butt references to men references. OK, a bit tenuous and labour-intensive. This is not a full time job!

It’s always good to know you are entertaining your audience. And the best barometer of excitement is when the audience don’t fall asleep.

We’re clearly not doing a very good job, because there he was, in the front row, snoring and belching his way through both Acts. The Phantom Sleeping Theatre-Goer of The Broadway. Some say he is a myth, a legend, but I have seen him! With my own eyes! And heard him! And smelt him! And they call me a fool!

The rest of the rabble audience started to liven up in the second Act. Fred & Alice went down well, they obviously struck a familiar chord. Many of the audience had clearly seen the inside of “the white place with the closed doors”. JMB (Jethro’s Mighty Blow) got a stunned silence, broken only by the sound of a child crying. Chalk one up to Jethro!

I’ve been starting to feel a bit under the weather. Bit sniffly. Bit of a sore throat. The hard work and nerves take their toll on my immune system. So, according to advice, I’m taking what Dr Timothy Leary would have call ‘heroic doses’ of vitamin C and zinc. In addition, I’ve been told to take extract of echidna, but London Zoo said they’d call the police if I hung around any more.

Item! I now have 3 – count ’em – 1-2-3 roles! Moth (the one with lines), Frank (the forgetter of children), and now we are proud to introduce Alan Dresden (he who wants after-hours booze). You see, when you are a chameleon of theatre like me, a simple change of hat is all that is required to change my identity.

Behold! I am someone else!

Get In And Set Up

Sunday was a busy day for the production. A 0930 (!) start saw us all hanging around in the drizzle outside in the car park of the All-New Wimbledon Studio, figuring out where to sign in. The New Studio looks unnervingly similar to the Old one, apart from one small detail.

When we trooped in to the familiar dressing room, we found it almost bare! No filing cabinet full of shit, no shelves heaped with scraps of gel, no rusting lamps with out-of-date electrical safety stickers, and most importantly, no chairs. But the fridge and kettle were all present and correct. The ‘ladies’ area now has more mirrors and light bulbs than a night at the fair, but bless ’em, they need it.

The first tea of the day tasted like nectar, as did the first muffin, the first doughnut and the first bag of Hula-Hoops. Meanwhile, upstairs, the crew (i.e. the Director, and her cronies production team) were sorting out what lights point where.

Focusing the lights can be a long process, and it involves forcing actors to stand in lights for long periods of time, doing nothing, while people on ladders call out to each other.

“Bring up 12 again”

“That was 12”

“Well bring up 13 then. You knew what I meant. Jesus.”

I believe this is a form of primitive mating call. Lord knows what else they do all day.

Making actors stand in lights is a cruel thing to do, they really don’t like being in the limelight with everyone looking at them. This causes them to display a strange form of defence mechanism, known in the trade as ‘Showing Off Like An Idiot’. This may involve gurning, bizarre twitching, contortions, using the light to make amusing shadow shapes, and other embarrassing behaviour.

The morning in general consisted of hanging around the auditorium (read: ‘rows of plastic seats’ – remember this is the Studio after all) while some poor sod has to repeat their entrance a billion times, and never get to say more than ½ their first line.

Highlight! I must hide behind a curtain, worrying myself away to a stick, in the dark, for the first two scenes, before lunging out at whichever female is in the correct position. Sunday’s victim , the theatre tech, didn’t know where to look.

Lunch was at the pub, with the usual squeals, cackles and spillages. This is the only time I ever enter W*therspoons pubs. That said, the microwaved Spag Bol hit the spot.

Back in the dressing room, the subtle maneuvering for nice spaces and corners was taking place. At the risk of being antisocial, I managed to nab a nifty little corner, with a wooden step to sit on, where I can hide away and read, or make notes to write up here.

It had to happen sometime. Jayne took me aside, and without the help of the actual music, we managed to cobble together some steps for my dance routine. Actually that’s a bit disingenuous. 1. Jayne didn’t ‘cobble’ anything together – it’s real class, and 2. ‘Routine’ makes it sound like my execution of it is consistent. It ain’t.

It was only then that I realized the full horror of what was expected of me. Most amateur actors have enough trouble moving and talking at the same time. Here I was, having to perform choreographed steps to music, and remembering my lines, and remembering to say the said lines, and managing to do all this before the end of the first chorus of Kiss by Art of Noise feat. Tom Jones. A mighty task, but one which I think we’ve managed.

Tomorrows dress rehearsal will be the test.