Learning the lines

As a newbie to the FBP, not quite sure where to begin... As I went to my first ever FBP audition a few weeks back, I didn't really know what to expect. To my great surprise - and pleasure - I was cast in the upcoming production! Now the rehearsals have started in earnest, and each night after work I try to get my head down and learn my lines. I have a slight worry though... What if I go on stage on the opening night, open my mouth, and all that comes out is "meow"??
 
You see, last night I decided to record the play so that I could use it as a tool to learn my lines. I was reading it out loud when one of my cats decided that she wanted to come in to the bedroom where I was. She wasn't very happy with the door being closed and not being let in, and hence protested very loudly outside. As a result, I now have a recording of Act 1 interspersed with a cat meowing! As I will surely listen to this recording repeatedly until I learn my lines, what if I start to meow during the play??
 

The breeze before the calm, before the storm.....

So, this weekend has seen the first of our " on it's feet" rehearsals and, as is custom to kick these things off, we have been blocking our little socks off. And, as stage manager, my pencil has been steaming. Seriously, I won't be touching the thing for a few days for fear of burning my fingers.

Every step, every move, every bum on seat, every dramatic exit (where to,with who, with what in hand?) and bold entrance (from where, wearing what?) has been penciled onto my script- giving our Director her rightful licence to change her mind. Then we come to props- when are they needed? who needs them? where should they be set? when do we need to strike? Phew- many questions that all needed an immediate answer but we got there and I now have a 'plan'.

The blocking rehearsal is always one of the most dizzy for the SM but now I get to calmly test my 'plan' to see if it works throughout the rest of the rehearsals. However this is all leading to those turbulent rehearsals to come a little further down the line where I will be jumping up and down about sight lines, getting stroppy over props that are moved from their set position and generally bawling at the thought that any of the logistics of the 'plan' are not achievable in the theatre. All inevitable stuff- but forewarned is forearmed and I, for one, can't wait :0)

Sweaty Betty

I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who really likes auditioning. The very essence of what’s happening is pretty unpleasant: you’re competing not only for a specific role, but for the chance to be involved at all – and not only against strangers, but possibly also against friends.

Over the years, I’ve tried to take a less-anxious approach to auditions. I wouldn’t go as far as to say ‘relaxed’, but I have tried to enjoy it. Partly to make the experience less dire, and partly because I think it shows favourably in your performance. (And I think a few years of stand-up comedy have helped – auditions have never been quite as bad since!)

This time, you might think, I was safely sat on the other side of the table. But the director’s chair is no less nerve-racking. In fact, it may be more so.

Not getting cast is disappointing, but then you just have to go out and do something else with your time. Not getting a cast – or not getting a good cast – means your play is screwed.

Luckily, I have an excellent cast. And keen, too: two of them have already beaten me to this blog! Here they are:

"Single Bride cast"

Left to right, top: Joshua Steinberg (Jez), Riikka Faucher (Scarlett), Samuel Burton (Alf), Daniel McMullen (Milton) & Pauliina Munukka (Gloria) Bottom: Anna Rawlings (all the weirdoes) & Stina Halmetoja (Meredith)

Links in my head

I'm itching to read the play... Sunday's readthrough is going to be so much fun!

My need to play the weirdo rather than the heroine has surfaced yet again. The moment I read the description for Zoë's new play, I knew I should play Meredith, the bossy bridesmaid. Luckily, although Zoë hadn't considered me for the part beforehand (me being known to her all too well), she saw my inner weirdness shining through at the auditions.

Now what makes Meredith so special? I have nothing to go on except for the few scenes we did at the audition and Zoë likening her to Sheldon's "girlfriend" Amy Farrah Fowler in The Big Bang Theory. I personally prefer Sheldon's style of autism... He's not entirely classic and his truly autistic side surfaces at intervals to great comic effect... So, Meredith will have to channel both Sheldon and Amy (Or "Shamy", as they are affectionately known amongst Sheldon's friends). The best thing about these sorts of characters is that they believe in the rightness of their worldview so entirely and can't relate to those around them much, that they collide with everyone they meet with unexpected consequences.

Sheldon meeting Amy:

And Amy... Well, just watch.

Oh, and here's Amy as a bridesmaid... :)

Then there's shades of Bridesmaids (the film) in Meredith's behaviour. The competitiveness and control freakery in Meredith reminds me of Rose Byrne's brilliantly bitchy bridesmaid...

So my take, without ever reading the actual play, is that Meredith is somewhere between these two (Shamy and Rose Byrne in Bridesmaids), or both at once. The trick is to get the balance right. Somehow. Can't wait!

Seven-year-itch

Hush. Hello. Shh.

Has anybody else spoken at the Single Bride blog yet? It looks different around these parts and I cannot immediately find the blog thread.

Well yes, anyhow. It says something about the confidence that I and, I daresay, others put in our Fair Directress and Magnificent Author that we came to audition for a play we hadn't read in advance. I mean, seriously. In my several centuries with the Players, I have come to consider myself as An Old Theatrical, and as part of this, I read the plays I think I might audition for. I mean, as in beforehand. Many moons ago, when I were only a young theatrical thing, I wanted to be involved in everything - everything. I think that had a lot to do with the integrative, social aspect the Players have as well, being as I were just freshly back from Britain and reading [my fellow] Finns very poorly and very wrong. Finding the Players was a lifesaver at that point.

But yes - this, dear Madame Directeur, is not to be taken as "where the fcuking fukc are our scripts?!?!?!". No no. This it to be taken as an hommage to you, and as a sign that as Everyone Else (or wait, is it All Others?), I certainly am looking forward to it.

And shhh, but I happen to just know others are too.

 

SpongeButt Hot Pants

This week, I've been turning my attention to women's bottoms.

I've spent hours on the Internet searching for a certain item of clothing. My boyfriend was puzzled when he came home from work to find me staring at an array of scantily clad female bottoms. Once I'd purchased the item, eBay kindly displayed a selection of 'related products', including pimp hats and glittery jockstraps.

If I were to have listed my Top twenty things I'll be least likely ever to do, 'catwalk modelling hot pants' would definitely be up there (somewhere below 'base jumping' and above 'moving to a freezing cold country').

I guess you know where this is headed... Last week, I said I never change costume. That was a little white lie. I have one minor costume change. Said item – in shocking metallic pink, from Insanity Clothing Ltd – arrived on Friday. I tried them on... never had there been such an incentive to lose several kilos of thigh blubber. The supplier requested feedback. What should I write? 'Super-fast delivery, item as described, only fault lies with my butt.'

No, that's the wrong attitude. Nicki fancies herself in her hot pants, therefore I must do, too. If there's one thing I've learnt in all these years of treading the boards, it's this: fear is the actor's greatest enemy. And I don't mean stage fright, I mean fear of looking stupid.

When people hold back on stage, the reason they often give is, 'I don't want to look stupid'.

Yet the actors who confidently throw themselves into the stupidity don't end up looking stupid – even if they technically look ridiculous, dressed as a pantomime dame or whatever – because if they're fully committed to the silly action, then so is the audience. The audience guffaws at the character's antics, and later congratulates the actor on how marvellously stupid they made their character look.

(I'm focusing on comedy here, but the same applies for serious scenes.)

But if the actor isn't committed, if the actor shies away for fear of looking stupid, then the audience isn't committed either. The audience notices the hesitation and is reminded that this is just an actor trying – and failing – to convince them. And it's then that audience members start to shift uncomfortably in their seats, and later snicker at how stupid the actor looked.

More than that, I've also realised that this isn't just an attitude for the stage, it's one that applies to everyday life, too.

Progress ...

Today we had our first run of Shakers. Well done, girls! Special thanks to Beth on the sound and the book. This is usually the point at which I (with my director's hat on) either start tearing my hair out, or start to sleep at night. I don't want to give anything away - but I'm expecting sweet dreams between now and tomorrow morning. There's no room for complacency, though. Always a sting in the tail, isn't there?