Monday, October 29, 2012


On the list of Things That Never Happen To Me the number one spot is filled with the concept of getting out of bed before the alarm goes off. Even if I wake up before that insistent chirpy bastard does, I always choose to lie there, eyes resolutely scrunched, willing sleep to drift back for a precious few more minutes. Even if it means I spend those minutes riddled with anxiety, furious with consciousness, I won't get out of bed out of sheer stubbornness.

This morning, however, was different.

This morning I woke up from a curious night of stage-related anxiety dreams ("But I can't remember the words! We haven't rehearsed this! Why do have to do my finals at the SAME TIME?") and my eyes zinged open.

That's right. Zinged.

Then I got up. A full half hour before my alarm. I was too zingy to stay in bed. This is not normal for me.

The last few weeks have been busy, dashing about doing bits of work, finishing things off, trying to concentrate on things. But really I've just been getting through everything, passing it by, waiting for the moment where it would be my Show Week.

Fun fact: did you know that every time someone uses the phrase Show Week! John Barrowman gains a superpower?

Show week! There you go, Barrowman. The ability to open jam jars first go every time. You're welcome.

(I'm a tiny bit scared.)

Everything I experience at the moment is divided into two categories: Material for the Show and Not Material for the Show. I was in the hairdresser on Saturday and they had MTV on, and it was showing Bryan Adams: Live in Belgium, and I couldn't stop wondering where it might go in The Show. Do I open with it? Is it the encore?
Then the hairdresser asked me if I was "doing anything for Halloween" in a tone of voice that suggested she not only didn't care but sincerely hoped that one of us would die before she had to listen to the answer, so I moved on to wondering how sarcastic you're allowed to be to someone who is holding a pair of very sharp scissors near your ears.

I am going into Contact Theatre at ten this morning, and I plan to stick things up all over the walls of the rehearsal space and work out Where I'm At With All This. I've been given some money from Cornerhouse Micro-Commissions to use on the technology for the show, so Dan is coming in today to discuss how to use it. When I say "discuss" I of course mean I will say things like "can we make it so that it does a thing and sounds nice?" and he will give me an answer I don't understand.

On the list of Things That Almost Never Happen To Me the number one spot is the idea of making a show on my own and doing it in front of people.

(I'm a tiny bit excited.)

Show Week! There you go John, the power to do your shoelaces up just by looking at them.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Will Sing For Beer

It's Monday lunchtime, and I am working from home. I am wearing a pair of ancient leggings (a dubious Christmas gift about five years ago) and a hoody (origins unknown) (probably some long-ditched boyfriend of me or one of my sisters, circa 1997). The hoody in turn is wearing a little bit of toothpaste. My head is slowly thudding due to a heady mix of frustrating chats with the bank and too much coffee.

I was planning to go for a run this morning, but then accidentally didn't. I have been trudging through forests of admin instead, chopping and sweeping, feeling depressed by the knowledge that as soon as I have taken my scythe to one bit, another will leap up in its place, all tangled and needy. (I have probably rinsed this admin/vegetation analogy. In fact, if I was the sort of person who edited their blog posts I would probably delete it. Oh well.)

I am counting down. Fifteen days before the sharing of my show.

On Saturday night my friends Nicki and Ro had a party at their flat to celebrate Nicki's birthday, and they asked Geddes Loom to do a performance. We said yes, of course, and, despite being a little late due to a fish and chip-related mishap, went along. It was delightful. We sat in a little corner and played all our songs to an audience of friends and charming strangers, and I just couldn't stop smiling. They had even provided us with a rider. "Is it kittens dressed as Charlie Chaplin?" was my first question, naturally, but it wasn't. It was lovelier even than that:

That's right. Personalized beer. Get those mustachioed felines out of here, we have a winner.

I had such a gorgeous time, playing for this delightful couple and their friends:

In exchange for Saturday night, Nicki is coming to work with me for two days on my show.

Not getting any funding was a blow to me, at first. It all felt a bit impossible without being able to pay people to come in and help me. As time went on, however, it became clearer that maybe it has been a blessing in disguise. I mean, it is a pretty heavy disguise. A disguise that makes me poorer, obviously, and means that I have no set or interesting technology, but perhaps a blessing nevertheless.

Sara, one of Eggs Collective, has come to the studio a few times, and we have sat and picked apart the story I want to tell. Analyzed it and ironed it out. The fact that we're friends and we work together in Eggs Collective means that she knows me, knows my sense of humour and what makes me shudder with horror. I haven't had to explain anything to her. I sometimes suspect that I am quite easily influenced by other people, particularly when I am feeling uncertain about my own opinions and instincts. Perhaps if I had worked with people with whom I didn't have quite such a well-formed relationship it would have been harder for me to work out what I want.

I don't know, really. Perhaps I'm wrong. I am open to that possibility (mostly). I suppose I'm just trying to make the best of it, being the relentlessly sunny and chipper person that I am. There is a loud part of me that sneers at what I am doing, tells me it is narcissistic and stupid. (Incidentally, that is also the part of me that tells me to lose weight/get a haircut/do pilates/generally be better.)

Nicki is coming in tomorrow, and I'm excited about it. She is brilliant, and helped me with my Edinburgh show. One day I will pay my friends back for helping me, possibly with money but more likely in personalized beer or living room gigs (only when requested).

If you want to come to the sharing, please do. And then tell me what you think, even if it isn't WOW YOU ARE AMAZING CAN I GAZE AT YOU DREAMILY IN YOUR SHABBY LEGGINGS AND TOOTHPASTE-SMEARED HOODY. It is on the 3rd November, 6.30pm at Contact Theatre. Book here.

(Oh, and I wrote some marketing copy about it. Look:

It's Léonie's last day. Tomorrow she escapes office drudgery to fulfill her ambition of becoming a wildly-successful, internationally-renowned vocal artist. As philosopher R. Kelly once said: "if you can dream it, then you can do it". Well, she's dreamt it, and now she's ready to do it.

With looped vocals and percussive stationery, Léonie creates music live on stage as she tells a comic, irreverent and touching story of disappointment, triumph, and things never quite working out the way you might expect.

I May Not Be Where Intended To Go is an antidote to the ever-looming spectre of Simon Cowell. Told with warmth and wit, this is a story of stepping away from familiar comforts into the horrifying potential of the unknown.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

I May Not Be Where I Intended To Go

I have just created an event on Facebook and now I feel all weird. Ben isn't here, so I can't rush up to him, shake him by his surprised shoulders and scream "I feel weird!" into his increasingly horrified face.

Instead I am writing a blog post.

Dear Internet,

I feel weird!

(Consider yourselves shaken by the shoulders.)

Yours with the ever-looming spectre of mania,


It isn't just the act of creating an event that has tipped me over this particular edge, although I think there is a certain dogged madness in the act of clicking on invitees. By the end I was saying each name aloud in a (probably totally impeccable) Brooklyn accent.

No, the weirdness has arisen because the event in question is my solo show.

Somehow the Facebook-ness of it has made it seem all real and scary. More real than the meetings, than the contract, than the funding applications. More real than the writing, even. Definitely more real than the theatre brochure with my name in, which doesn't feel real at all.

So far I have been thinking a lot, and writing. In Edinburgh I did a twenty minute version of an idea, and now I am taking that idea and changing it, making it longer and (hopefully) better, and putting it in a theatre. Rather than, as you may or may not recall, on the top of a bus.

I put in some funding bids, firstly to PRS and then to the Arts Council, but both of them turned me down, saying I "looked really rich" so clearly didn't need it*.

*This is not true, obviously. I don't look rich. All my clothes have holes in them and I have a hunted look in my eye.

So I decided to go ahead with the R&D and the sharing of the work in progress anyway. In a scaled-down way, of course: I can't afford to work with the people I had asked; I can't afford to have all the clever technology made for me; I can't afford the six male dancers in six giant disco balls.

However, it seems to be working out alright so far.

This summer, when I was working on the piece for Edinburgh, I realized that loads of my friends are really, really good at this sort of stuff. Like, plays and theatre and things. So I devised a cunning plan involving a careful mix of flattery and blackmail, and, lo and behold, loads of them gave their time and energy to help me create my show (for which I then took all the credit, obviously). I've done loads with Eggs Collective recently - weird, wonderful, Lambrini-filled performances - and my fellow Eggs have been rallying round. They are basically doing this show. I am but a puppet.

I am really nervous, obviously. It might be awful. What if it is awful? What if someone comes out saying "Hmmm, I can see what she was trying to do?" What if someone says "Hmmm, I can't see what she was trying to do"?

I have moments of elation, normally followed by moments of sheer terror, normally followed sharply by moments of stern self-tellings off. "Stop whining, idiot. No lives are at stake here. It's just a show".

Anyway, it's happening now, because Facebook says so. It may just be a show, but it's my show. And I really, really want it to be good. If it isn't I just won't mention it ever again and we can all go quietly back to our lives.