Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vatch Out!

Last night at about ten o'clock Lowri had a sheet of paper over her face.

"But if you twizzle the pipe cleaners a bit..."

She twizzled.

"...like that? You can get a whiskery effect?"

We all nodded in sage agreement.

Since about seven we had been gathered in Sara's flat, eating houmous, writing a script and pawing through a bag of wigs, all in preparation for Sunday's escapades at Cornerhouse. They are showing the wonderfully gruesome film of Roald Dahl's The Witches, and inviting lots of stinky children to watch (with grown ups in tow). We had a great time channeling the evil last night, screeching about dogs droppings and how we planned to vipe out all the children in Enkland. We (Eggs Collective) are performing after the show, which promises to be excellently mad and glittery, as Eggs performances generally are, only this time with some child-loathing, which will add a certain zing to proceedings. Then we're doing a workshop for a group of twenty children, who will hopefully not be too traumatised by a film full of secretly-but-definitely evil ladies to trust that we're not all about to banish them into a painting for the rest of their lives.

Right now I am typing very quietly (like this) sitting on some kind of box thing in the Royal Exchange Theatre. My cello is quietly waiting for me on stage. In the performance Dan and I are on stage the whole time, lit up gently when we play. Ben is, at this very moment, performing one of the scenes, while the tech people do their wizardry all around him. I am a bit scared that someone is going to suddenly shout "what's that tapping? Is someone typing? Is someone BLOGGING in a technical rehearsal?". Then they will all descend on me and turn me into a mouse. (I might have got a little confused between the two shows I am doing this week. My brain is only small.)

I am enjoying myself. I am enjoying the feeling of just doing what I am told. My only responsibility is to saw away at my cello on command. I don't have to do any organization, I have no lines to learn, I can just enjoy it and sneakily blog behind a pillar. At lunchtime just now I wandered around for a bit, got a sandwich and sat in the great, cavernous hall that is the foyer of the Royal Exchange. It's the sort of thing I used to do when I worked in jobs I despised, go and sit in inspiring places in my lunch hour, often feeling more unhappy than uplifted. I would will myself to be infused with the muses, galvanised to artistic endeavour, but more often I would just feel an overwhelming sense of being left out. I'm sort of glad I haven't forgotten those times, because if they hadn't happened I wouldn't be able to drum up the proper levels of smugness pleasure now that I get to do be all arty on Tuesday afternoons.

In November it'll be my show. I'm sure I'll feel totally intimidated and weird at times, and only once it's all over and I am holding a glass of wine larger than my own head will I breathe out. But I suspect I will love it. I hope I do.

Ben is doing some words, and the techies are clattering about, plugging stuff in, plugging stuff out, using complicated jargon and doing what they do. I have not been busted for tiptapping but I suspect I need to loiter by my cello and try to look useful.

If you are in Manchester and fancy being frightened and loved in equal measure, come to Cornerhouse on Sunday and vatch The Vitches (you can be/bring a child, but you don't have to!). This show that I am sneakily blogging in is Everything We Need, and it's on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I can promise that I almost definitely won't be blogging during the actual performance.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Self-Promotion Is Boring, Hangovers Are Not

I love rehearsing at the Royal Exchange. Partly mainly because it's across the road from a Pret-a-Manger and I enjoy spending all my money on their cheese sandwiches and Love Bars then revel in the guilt and self-loathing that is hot on greed's heels.

Also, though, it's a gorgeous building, and all over the place are pictures of Important Actors From History doing Proper Plays, which were clearly put up in the seventies and never changed. Ben is rehearsing with Cheryl (who is directing) in a larger room, while Dan and I are hidden away, working on the music. The room they've found for us is at the end of a long corridor, lined with shelves of costume, sewing machines, and boxes overflowing with intriguing-looking theatrical delights. Pinned to walls are pictures of the casts of the current shows that are running, as well as lists and notices saying interesting things like REMEMBER: DO NOT STEAM CORSETS. At one end of the corridor is a room full of washing machines and ironing boards, with boxes of hangers and rails draped in unexpected items - ten neatly-pressed flannel dressing gowns, an array of peasant blouses, dozens of satin skirts. I caught a glimpse the other day of a brightly-lit room full of workbenches, where people were hard at work, perched at the humming sewing machines. I wanted to sneak in and ask questions. What are you making? Do you like it here? Please can I have one of those satin skirts? But I didn't.

The show goes up on Thursday. You can come! Here it is.


I am slightly hungover due to a hen party last night, which was excellent fun, combining wine, pizza and dancing. Someone had brought some Girls' Night Out Dare Cards, which ranged from general weirdness ("Crawl under a table and grab the ankles of a stranger!') to borderline sexual assault ("Walk up to a guy as if you are about to talk to him. Just as you walk past, turn around, slap him on the bottom, say "looking good, looking good" and walk off"). Mine said "Go and kiss a strange man! Then tell him you did it for a dare! Room for flirting with this one..." The italics are theirs. Needless to say I did not do the dare. Snog a stranger! Then insult him! This is called flirting! Enjoy!


My hangover is making me think strange things. In Asda just now I was standing inspecting the olive selection, when a girl standing nearby looking at some other pickled things started, very quietly, to sing along with the song that was playing over the radio. I joined in, loud enough so she could hear. In my head she was going to notice, smile and we would enter a full game of Supermarket Karaoke, which would lead to everyone in the shop careening down the aisles, singing at the top of their voices, juggling fruit and dancing in the freezer section. Unfortunately what actually happened was that she gave me the smallest of worried, sidelong glances and sharply moved away. Life can be so dull.


Edinburgh looms. Yesterday Dan and I were taking a break from rehearsing, having a coffee and a chocolate treat in Pret. "This" I said to him between sips of grossly-overpriced soya latte "is exactly the sort of thing we cannot do in Edinburgh." We then discussed ways of not spending money (no food just drink, no going to see shows, robbery, etc) and concluded they were all totally ludicrous. It will be worth it, though, because it always is. Sophie, Lowri and my show is HERE, and Ben and Dan's show is HERE. We've got a flat that we're all staying in together, in which a strict policy of Girls Get Bathroom Priority will be firmly in place. I am feeling a tiny, teeny bit nervous about the whole endeavour.


These little chunks of words separated by asterisks make it easy to not have to have some kind of thread in a post. But I sense it's a bit annoying to read. Maybe the whole thing is annoying to read. Like this: I AM DOING A SHOW AND ANOTHER ONE AND BLAH BLAH AREN'T I GOOD AREN'T YOU IMPRESSED. Oh well. Blame the hangover.


I am now going to attempt a bold hangover dissipation technique known as eating chocolate biscuits and drinking tea. I have high hopes for it. Wish me luck. Happy Sunday.

Monday, June 18, 2012

An Exercise in Exercise-Avoidance

On the radio weather forecast this morning the lady had an excitable tone. "...reaching the mid-teens in some parts of the country!", she sang, delighted at the prospect.

For me, this is not enough. It is bad enough to be lurking around dismally in a Northern city, let alone with no prospect of the sort of excellent weather that turns public transport into sticky hell and pavements into rivers of burning tar. Frankly, I am disappointed. I am not helping myself, though, by clicking woefully through other people's Facebook albums of foreign holidays, weeping at yet another snap of someone I haven't seen since 1999's toes shimmering away against a backdrop of a delirious, tropical sea.

I have a mantra of "the Edinburgh Festival is worth it" that I am testing out, and it is sort of working, or at least it works until another set of photos winks up on my Facebook feed, promising glimpses of some ex-colleague's Amazing Trip To Aruba.

As much as I totally am complaining, I am also not complaining. I mean, clearly I am, definitely, complaining, but I am also completely aware that these are the choices I have made and so I must live with them and feel grateful for weather that shuffles decrepitly into the mid-teens like an ancient, three-legged terrier.


Eggs Collective did a brilliantly mental stint at Islington Mill, taking the concepts of taste and refinement and chewing on them thoughtfully before throwing them up dramatically. It was fun! We wore gold things, put fake eyelashes on, made a tardis, screamed abuse from atop the bar and generally had lashings of fun. There was a moment (about four hours), after we had done a technical rehearsal and before we were meant to go on, where we looked at each other with pale, horrified expressions and seriously considered whether, actually, we had really gone too far this time. "But is it funny?" is always the question. In performance, controversy on its own is boring, assuming you can shock people with your scary words is dull, there must be more to it. In that space of time we just couldn't really work it out. Was it funny? Was there a reason? The only conclusion to draw is, well, we're doing it now. There's no point worrying. Anyway, as it turns out, it went down well and the bits we were worrying most about got the biggest laughs. Afterwards we drank Red Stripe out of the the can (but through a straw) and danced the dance of beer, relief and adrenaline.


I did a storytelling night at Tales of Whatever, where I learned the following:

1. I can do, but not necessarily maintain, a Welsh accent.
2. I am the only one who passes the time reading American Mommy Blogs.
3. I cannot be on stage without bursting into dramatic song*.
4. Real-life stories do not have punch lines.

*I definitely already knew this.


Geddes Loom did a gig at the Royal Exchange! Mostly to promote Ben's show, next week. But, wow, it was a cool gig. I mean, not 'cool' in the sense of loads of wasted people in a field chewing their faces off to the beat and face-diving in mud. More kind of, lots of people ready and waiting for us to begin, everyone listening to every word, incredible acoustics, people coming up and being lovely afterwards. I signed an autograph. Hang on, let me try that one again. I SIGNED AN AUTOGRAPH. It is totally irrelevant that the guy didn't seem to know who I was ("um, I was the one who was just singing?") and that he asked me a few times if I had an album in the shops, kind of suspiciously like I might have been an imposter. I still signed an autograph ("All the best, Léonie x) and got in a bit of a tangle about how many kisses you are meant to put. I have so much to learn. Maybe I will text Mariah and ask for advice on how to deal with being an internationally-acclaimed vocal artist.


I'm writing this morning. My show. My SHOW which is a real thing don't try and tell me it isn't. However, I also have to go for a run. Yes, it is sunny outside and yes, I am working from home and have the freedom to go and leap about in parks for an hour, and yes, the temperature is in the MID-TEENS and it might never be this hot again, but no, I do not feel like it. Life is so hard.


I am going to stop rambling now, and go for a run like a massive warrior (metaphorically, of course. I am not going to don a suit of armour and beard and clank around Hulme in a fit of red-faced blood-lust.)

I hope your Monday reaches the mid-teens.