Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Edinburgh, Part Three (Sort Of)

I definitely had more to tell you about Edinburgh. I wanted to talk about how gloriously hot it was, how many incredible things I saw, and how one day we were delayed starting our show because someone had thrown up all over the bus during the previous night's sticky, wailing karaoke.

I wanted to tell you about the daily gigs we ended up doing, and how weird it was to be filmed by so many camera phones, and how the guy who booked us, Jim, cried on our last day. I wanted to mention the group of wealthy, middle-aged Scots who grasped my hand after a gig and said "you should go on television! Television! Have you thought about television?" before very kindly informing me that all I needed was "one big break" and to be "seen by the right people". They were desperately well-intentioned. My Dad said after that I should have gone back with a notebook and pen and said "right, say that again. X-what?".

Mostly I wanted to write about the single worst and most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me on stage.

We were doing our very last Geddes Loom gig in the Tron Church, which was the venue we had performed in daily. It had been going stormingly. There was a lovely, hearty Saturday crowd and I was wearing the blue top that makes me feel OK, a short black skirt and flip flops. It was our second to last number, a song called February Town, which is upbeat to the point of being bouncy (it definitely doesn't, despite what Ben claims, sound anything like Hanson's smash hit MMMBop).

"Rain splashes down
On this February Town..."

I sung, feeling all chipper, looking out over the audience of three hundred-ish people and thinking oh, this is good! Everything is A-OK! Well done, life!

Suddenly, with absolutely no prior warning, I felt an ominous something seeping down the back of my leg.

(NOTE: if you are squeamish, and don't like blood or the idea of it or the concept of periods and them dramatically arriving in the middle of gigs when people are wearing short skirts and bare legs, please grow up and stop being such a baby. PERIODS HAPPEN. Deal with it, idiot.)

I clamped my hand to the back of my skirt and crossed my legs, trying desperately to mop up the ghastly river that was snaking its way to my ankles. I had been moving about before (not dancing, not really. I am not, contrary to popular belief, Beyoncé) but now I stood stock-still, rooted to the spot by the entrance of Womanhood, who had flung herself through the door like an ageing cabaret star, all theatricality and scarlet fury.

Frozen, one hand clutching the microphone and the other pressing my small skirt to the back of my squeezed-together legs, I carried on singing.

Just keep going! I thought. SMILE. DANCE WITH YOUR EYES!

The song went on for hours. I smiled and sung, willing them to look at my face, please, look at my face! Look at my smiling, terrified face! The song trickled on. I also trickled. Oh, God. Please let this end. I will believe in you if you just make this stop.

"...and I'm only one girl
Feeling down down down down down!"

Eventually, after approximately eight weeks of anguished jollity the song finished.

I didn't move a muscle. My smile clung, limpet-like, to my face.

The audience applauded, and I scanned their faces for looks of menstruation-proximity-related horror. Nothing.

"Thank you! Thanks!" I said through my teeth."Um, Ben! Can you come here for a second? Please?"

He walked over and leaned in. I pushed his microphone away and hissed in his ear.


He looked at me for half a second then sauntered to the front of the stage.

"Right, ladies and gentlemen, before our last song I'm going to do a poem!"

I put my mic on the stand and sidled off stage, trying not to turn my back on any of the audience. The venue had no toilet, so I had to run, pulling my skirt down furiously, into the nearest public toilets. Shaking and tearful I grabbed an acre of tissues "sorted myself out" and legged it back to the stage in time to hear Ben do the last twenty seconds of his poem.

"Now, for our last song! We've been Geddes Loom..."

I had a pint after the gig.

When I got home I invested in a hundred floor-length dresses to wear in all future performances, and nappies to go underneath, you know, just in case.

I have got loads more to tell. I am doing a show soon, all on my own. Whenever I tell people they seem to say "on your own?" and then suck air in through their teeth. Who knows why. Anyway, I'm going to write a post for Contact Theatre's blog about it soon, so I will link to it here.

Basically I am of the opinion that if I don't actually have any bodily functions on stage (apart from breathing, obviously, and perhaps a light glow of elegant sweat) I will probably be OK.

Although if it happens next time I have decided to own up to it and call it performance art.