Natcherooo! (the inner demon released)

Well we are just over the halfway mark of the run of Single Bride.

The shows have been going quicker and quicker each time. And now we are down to our last three.

It is also the point where my “normal” accent is severely affected by my character’s accent.

Milton too will make an appearance sometimes in my daily life. At this point he’s like the “friend” who has come to visit eats all your favorite things and won’t leave. Once he gets going it’s hard to put him

The worst of it started so subtly right after our last run through in our rehearsal space(two days before our Tech Run) when I was speaking to Madame Director and she pointed out several times that I was saying many words with a British Accent. Deep inside it did worry me as I did not realize ( Ha! My US English spell checker!) while speaking that I was doing it.

People at home and work who had thought that they had met me before were suddenly confronted by someone who looks like me but doesn’t talk like me and has a propensity of answering questions with a resounding, “Natcherooo!”

Those most directly affected are my family.

For my boys the fun and novelty of the “new” voice for me had worn off weeks ago. And now I feel their pain as it slips back into my normal speech during this run.

At first it was, “Dad, why are you talking like that?”

Now it’s my oldest pulling me aside and in a stern yet imploringly manner saying, “Dad, please stop. Please….it’s annoying.”

At the shops it turns to a rather father-like tone commanding me, “Dad you’re embarrassing us, would you go wait in the car!”

My wife hasn’t spoken to me in weeks for fear of bringing Milton out.

I was confused at first, but through looks and other non verbal gestures it has become clear that Milton is an unwelcomed guest.

I do try to contain him. To hold him back. Honestly, I do. But no matter how hard I try, like a freshly greased pig he kicks and squeals slipping his way out of my clutches.

Ah, what a release it is to be on the stage where I am released from my struggle of containment. Milton can be free. All of which I am trying to contain and stifle during the day can be brought out and shared.

And I am encouraged to do so.

I dare not think past this coming Saturday when the run is over. Will Milton go? And if so, where?

Opening Night Jitters...

Oooooh. Tonight's the opening night!

It is a theatrical tradition and superstition that dress rehearsals aren't supposed to go too well. Because that will bode ill for the actual opening night...

Last night's dress rehearsal was ok but not too good, so we all have a strong feeling of wanting to kick ass tonight and don't feel too sure about ourselves. Complacency has no place on stage or anywhere near it.

My personal dress rehearsal cock-up favourite was definitely me getting so overwhelmed because I got to wear my actual bridesmaid's dress for the first time on stage (provided by the good people of Suomen Pukuvuokraamo) that I forgot to take my bag with me for the final act - and that bag contains PROPS. So I had to make a run for it during a blackout... And Meredith has that bag on her at all times! How could I forget!?

So here's hoping I remember that bag tonight, and that legs will break! All in all, I think we're all just raring to go. Exciting!


Nervous Alf

Hi there players, my first blog ever. One week till opening...aargh Alf is getting nervous. Great to be back with the players once more

Being Jez

Being Jez

At the end of Bouncers I said that I would be having a break from the next Players production; maybe two. I had another commitment and I wanted to concentrate on several time-consuming work-related things. Come auditions for Single Bride, and much to everyone’s surprise, I held fast to that decision. A month after rehearsals had been proceeding apace I stopped thinking about the show in the secure knowledge that all was fine. I had made a very small concession by taking-on lighting for the show. Actually, I believe I casually mentioned to Zoë that I might be interested in helping back stage. At some point shortly afterwards (perhaps five seconds) I found myself doing lights!

Then one fateful Saturday whilst enthusiastically shopping with my wife (read: being dragged around Kamppi), I received a call from Zoë informing me that a cast member had inconveniently dropped-out of the show due to something he considered more important than his commitment to the show, the other cast and the future audience. I won’t go into that more than to say that my opinion of people who do this isn’t very high and that death is usually the only justifiable reason for dropping-out of a principal role once committed. Anyhow, I was informed that the situation was grim and that the fabric of the universe was tearing and would collapse if I couldn’t step-in. That may not have been the exact wording but, being Zoë, it was almost certainly something equally eloquent :-p. As I am a Players committee member and true thespian (that’s a T, H and P), I could see the immense guilt lurking on the horizon should I refuse. So, four weeks into rehearsals and five weeks until opening night, I found myself being Jez. I should add that the bribe of Jelly Babies and Aventinus played no part in my decision, which was based entirely upon professionalism. The Jelly Babies have still not materialised…

Five weeks is something of a record for me. My previous best from read-through to opening night was six weeks for Arms and the Man. My first rehearsal was ‘books down’ for the rest of the cast; I felt the pressure. I’m pleased to report that everyone was very kind and patient with the noob! I vividly remember looking back through a 5am haze at an excellent ‘cast bonding’ evening after one rehearsal. I’m almost (but not entirely) positive that I got to know all the cast well that evening. I think. There was certainly a photo of Riikka trying vodka for the first time and none (that I know of) of me being a cock, so it must have been good!

Last Sunday, having returned from a three day bachelor’s ‘weekend’ in Northern Norway (character research, honestly), I surprised myself (and those who know me) by being off-book after just three weeks; one less than the rest of the cast!  B-) I wish it to be noted for future reference that it actually is possible for me to learn lines quickly sometimes...

As for Jez: he’s pretty laid-back about it all and looking forward to eating cakes, keeping a close eye on his whiskey and the hinted-at meeting with President Obama.

No such thing...

In "Single Bride", I am cast as "all the weirdoes". Now, before you say anything, I have already had my [highly beloved] fellow actors go through various comments such as "yes, fancy that" and "it will be such a stretch for her", so don't you even start.

Thing is, [rumour has it] I may actually be a bit weird myself, but being cast as half a dozen specific weirdoes is quite a challenge regardless. How to keep them all distinct? How, as in what manner, are they each weird in their own weird fashion? Are they, in fact, all weird at all? And wait, please remember they do not find themselves weird. None of us do [including yours truly]. How to be a weirdo who thinks themselves normal? [No, don't start with the "just do what comes naturally, Anna".]

Half a dozen different characters mean half a dozen costumes, half a dozen bodies, half a dozen walks, half a dozen reasons for being there - and in true method style, I cannot accept "because the director told me to" or "because the author wrote me so" as the reason. There is a within-the-reality-of-this-play reason for each appearance, and I need to tease it out, so as to better support the action and the fab stuff the others are doing onstage.

Supporting roles - be they weirdoes or straight men - are there precisely to support: the action, the main characters, the storyline. In this play, I approached it with the idea that my characters are there to heighten the comic effect of the scene they appear in. Picking this idea apart, I decided there were times when my character indeed was the weirdo…and then others when my character is there to pose the question "so who's the weirdo here". Once we are onstage, see if you can spot which is which.

Do you want glitter or lace on that?

From this weekend onwards, we’ll be rehearsing in full costume. As our costume budget is limited – is there any part of our budget that isn’t limited? – we source most of our costumes from second-hand shops and the actors’ own wardrobes.

The weird and the wonderful – like historical clothes and the (in)famous tree costume – usually get sewn for free by a crew member. Personally, I think I must have made about a hundred costumes for the Players over the past nine years, covering the 15th, 16th, 17th and 19th centuries….

But this play is set in the future! (Okay, okay, only seven months in the future to be precise, but it’s still the future.) There were only a couple of more difficult items to acquire, but luckily Suomen Pukuvuokramo is sponsoring the play.

So me, the bridesmaid, and the brother-of-the-bride stopped by on Friday to pick out a snazzy morning suit and non-vomit-inducing bridesmaid’s dress. That part was achieved quickly and successfully, but faced with all those racks of chiffon and taffeta, the bridesmaid couldn’t resist trying on a lot of other dresses after that.

Here she is, as Satu brings in yet another delight:

Ooo, a fascinator!

Rumour has it, she didn’t leave until 9 p.m…

Discovering my inner builder

There are many aspects to a theatre production and many of them need to be done well in advance of the opening night.  I thoroughly enjoy being on stage and being part of a production but at the same time I have now discovered a new passion and a new way to express my creativity... Set Construction!

For the previous play, it was a slighly easier affair with the main part of the bar that was required for the show already being available and in the right dimensions.  Funnily enough, this bar will officially on opening night have appeared in more productions with the Finn-Brit Players than myself!  Go figure...

This time the director and stage manager presented a couple of new challenges. I keenly wrote down the details of these requirements and present to you my "patented" 4 and 1/2 step process to creating custom made sets:

Step 1. Design. Start thinking about design from the start.  I did, happily driving to work and back every day with Single Bride set requirements running in my head.  This is probably the least labour intensive part of the process, relying on more creative aspects like what material is the best to use and where will it be sourced.

Step 2. Sourcing the Material. Although quite fun and given time constraints a little stressful as measurements were calculated at the same time as the wood was being cut into its finals dimensions, I would recommend anyone doing this part to reserve as many hours as possible.  While choices are endless, its getting through all the available choices that takes time...and patience!

Step 3. Collecting the tools.  One thing I can only emphasise is one must have the right tools.  That makes this part a lot quicker than relying on natural strength.

Step 3 and 1/2. Beverages.  I would not be a set builder without my "beverages" at this stage.  It also made my work "better."  Hence, the "patented" process.

Step 4. Construction.  This is the fun part as everything comes together.  Again, plenty of time is needed and re-working is always required as even though the designs are always brilliant, there are always a few challenges along the way.  And leave plenty of time at the end to double-check and test that everything works as the director and stage manager want it to work!

All I can say at this stage is that the attached picture is from the early phases of something that makes an apperance in the Single Bride play.

So all you need to do now, is book your ticket and come see if the set works as it is supposed to work and what became of the wood set out nicely on the table....if anything at all :)