Thursday. Audience = 20.
This is one those liveblogging things where I’m typing backstage, while Tiresias applies her Amy Winehouse eye makeup, and on stage Oedipus and Jocasta discuss the stories that will soon intertwine to reveal their terrible fate. Not exactly liveblogging, because this won’t hit the web until later, but kinda.
My first two scenes were hot: both in the sweltering-under-the-lights hot and pretty-damn-good hot. Of course, I’ve jinxed myself by saying that, but we’ll see. The energy is up, but I am involved with stuff as usual, so I need to concentrate. It has become my duty later on to mop up after Jocasta, because she enters covered in blood, so I mop up after her to prevent the dressing room and the cast getting smeared. I feel like Norman Bates: “Mother?! Blood! Blood!!”
Saturday 3 May. Audience: 20 / 20ish.
A matinee performance where the audience outnumbered the cast? Unthinkable. But there we were, with people… looking at us… on all sides. Despite this unforeseen hiccup, the first performance was good with lots of energy. I think I saw the fabled Man of Wimbledon, with his harrumphing and stretching, but he’s always there. Didn’t see his flask of tea, but one can assume it was there. I was in a much better mood because of stuff anyway, so that helped lift it, even if it didn’t help the concentration.
After the first run, I joined Susie, Kylie and Ryan at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen for too much food. The back to the theatre for some tips and tweaks to the chorus parts, and how they interact with the principals. Some good new bits that you ungrateful wretches that come and see it will never appreciate.
The evening run suffered a little from lack of energy, on my part at least, due to the hundredweight of beef in my stomach. But it was a good’un, and the audience was even bigger, as was I.
Thursday 1 May
Audience – about 8
“Does anyone know the herdsman?”
I have one reasonable-sized speech in the play, explaining why Creon wouldn’t want Oedipus’ position. I (Creon) point out that I could have grabbed the top job when it was empty, but I didn’t want it.
“Where is the herdsman?”
Except that I didn’t last night, because I messed up and missed that bit of the speech. Luckily Creon is a bit bumbly, so he can fumble and mumble his way through it.
“Bring me the herdsman!”
Still very frustrating though. Stuff to do with my future plans that I don’t want to go into yet is bringing me down. I wish I could write more.
“For frak’s sake someone fetch the frakkin’ herdsman!”
I guess the thing to do is to put my head down and do what’s required, at work, at home and at the theatre.
On Sunday, Gareth and Kali, who play Oedipus and Jocasta in my current production The Thebans, were interviewed by Claire Cooke on Resonance FM, and performed a live extract from the play. Listen here.
Wednesday 30th AprilÂ
A morale-boosting rumour that the Ambassador’s-owned Studio is making a right mess of selling tickets. Here’s a selection:
- Â£30 a ticket! (wrong)
- The show started tonight (wrong)
- The show is called The Bans (wrong)
The programme is in place now, at least. I made a typo in my biog, so I apparently played the part of Lucifer in The Marquis De Sade, when in fact I played the part of Lucifer and the part of The Marquis De Sade. These things matter.
It would be funny to leave the cast in the programme as it was in the very beginning, and then do an announcement each night, along with the “turn your phones off, bitches” speech, that said, “Due to circumstances, the part of Creon will tonight be played by Matthew Petty. The part of Oedipus will be played by Gareth…” and on it would go for about half an hour. Hi-bleedin-larious.
While waiting up on the mezzanine above the box office before my entrance early in the first scene, I was privileged to witness the single ticket buyer enter and take his seat. That’s right – one (1 (one)) person in the audience. So we had a quick discussion, and asked the audience, and decided that it would better to do the show, and get another run in.
I’m writing this backstage, after my first two scenes. Spirits, it would seem, are high. The audience is a cast members Dad, so we’re doing our best. He said he would clap extra loud.
Tuesday 29 AprilÂ
As first nights go, it wasn’t so bad. Audience was around the 10 mark, but appreciative. The problem with serious stuff is that you get very little feedback during the performance. In comedies, they hopefully laugh. Sometimes they even laugh at the bits you expect them to.
But give them credit, because they didn’t laugh at what appeared to be quiteÂ a farcical final scene. I was waiting to go on, listening through the door for my cue. Just as it was supposed to be coming, a taxi driver came marching up the back steps telling the theatre staff that he had a lady in a wheelchair to drop off for the one-night-only Joe LongthorneÂ concert in the main theatre, which had been pounding through the dressing room walls all nightÂ (she was late). This meant I couldn’t hear my cue. So an adlib was made up which meant someone came off stage to fetch me. But I was listening at the door. WHAM.
Once on stage, all went well. But I have a tip – if there is a dead body lying in state on the black-painted stage, don’t cover it with a black cloth. This will render it invisible, and increase exponentially the chances of an unwitting cast member tripping over it and thus undermining the solemnity of the occasion.
Onwards and upwards! 1 show down, five hundred million to go. Actually 12.
For those looking at this site for the first time (Welcome Thebans!), I have a database of the plays and stuff I’ve done over the years. I made it myself, so it’s a bit clunky, but it has entries for each play, each company and each venue. Take a look!
Stuff I’ve done with Kristen in the past
Big stuff I’ve done at the Wimbledon Studio Theatre
I’d like to do an entry for all plays I’ve done at the Wimbledon Studio Theatre, but I haven’t written the database query yet. Plus the results pages are a bit bland, but they do the job (whatever that job might be). Anyway – now you have some background.
Ah, the get-in. I have talked about these before. This one was slightly different, in that I didn’t know my lines yet (haha yes I heard that). At least this time I had an excuse. However, by the end of the (very long) day, with the help of Julian, Georgina and Suzie, I was off-book and rearing (sp?) to to go.
The day was all about the lights, the costumes, the props, the instruments, and then Oedipus. We ran it twice, once with a couple of hiccups, then again with a couple fewer hiccups. Gareth has done an incredible job of taking on the lead role with two weeks to go, no matter what he says. He has put some of us to shame.
My costume accentuates my waistline, so thanks for that. I need to fix that soon, when I have more time. Crunches in the morning at least.
So, it was a long hard day, but very productive and friendly, and we all went for a much needed drink at the crap-but-not-as-bad-as-the-‘spoons Prince of Wales afterwards. It was good to get to know the cast – we haven’t had much of a chance over the last fortnight. Something tells me that by May 10 we’ll all know each other pretty well.
Well, the metaphorical curtain goes up next Tuesday, and there’s a lot of work to be done in the meantime. Luckily, I’m only in one half of the show (Oedipus Rex and not Antigone) while everyone else is doubling up across the two halves. So when they were rehearsing Part 2 last night, I was able to creep off to the William Morris House kitchen and do some line runs. I’ve tried this method of learning lines before, and it seems to work. I explained to my co-actor Gareth why I believed municipal formica to be an aid to memory.
The play also makes use of various percussive and ambient sounds and voices, provided by the chorus. It’s a good way of punctuating the scenes, and add atmospheric backing to prophecy and so on. I offered my drum machine for use, but it was rejected.
I’ve been working on the character, based on my predecessor’s suggestions, and those of the director. The resulting creation basically sounds like Mark Heap in The Green Wing. That should get them rolling in the aisles. Oedipus Rex is a comedy, isn’t it?
I went to my first rehearsal for Oedipus Rex yesterday. It was in the familiar William Morris rooms, and the director is well known to me. My friend D is also in the play, and it so happened I’d seen her the night before for a surprise birthday dinner in her honour. I’d got a bit carried away and drunk too much, so I really didn’t want to be up and rehearsing, citing curling into a ball and whimpering as the ideal alternative.
But I trotted along, and I was glad I did. I met the guy that was playing my part before he was promoted to the lead*. He was able to give me his thoughts on the character, which I am going to purloin wholesale, having no time to come up with any original ideas. Obviously the part will be mine (all mine) by the time we go up, but I do need a leg-up.
The rest of the gang seem like a good bunch. Some pro actors, some fresh-faced drama grads. I’m technically pro, having earned a third share of the Â£10 profit that Grey made back in 2002. And I certainly wasn’t fresh-faced yesterday. I fit in nicely.
It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks.
* I don’t know the full story, so don’t expect any goss here.