Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! I am safe at home in the borders with the family awaiting a well earned epic meal on Christmas day as well as a full days rest after 7 two show days, which is rather tiring.

Next up will be our second monthly interview with Head of Stage Jamie Hayes about the workshop and set building. Until then have a brilliant Christmas!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Morning Shows Come to an End!

A.H: WOOP! THEY’RE OVER! Ring the bells and deck the halls because as of 12 o’clock today we officially finished all of our early morning shows. No more the early rise, no more the dark frosty walk to the theatre and plenty more lie-in’s. Not that the morning shows were ever a chore it’s just that early hour exertion has never been a friend of mine. For the two members of the cast who commute every day from Edinburgh it must be an absolute joy.
But what a show it was! The schools in this morning got every penny of their ticket price and were given the show of a life time. I know in my last blog I talked about the importance of ensuring every audience experiences the same show but due to a number of reasons the cast this morning all ended up in various states of frivolity (which can only aid a show).
Notable instances include:
1.      my fellow blogger Lucy and Ros being unable to hold eye contact for fear of bursting out in laughter;
2.      the Thorns, who have become steadily more mischievous, continually subjecting the Prince to a number of unplanned abuses
3.      The newly added Thorn chorus of slurps, gnashing and malicious laughter at any character they end up killing...IT’S GREAT!
However, the icing on the cake of today’s strange show came when my trap broke after I fall down it as Table Slave in the second act making it officially out of use. Within 5 seconds Barry (the techie under the stage with me) had radioed Stage Manager Nat who then told Barry to tell me to quickly double up in ensemble member Lucy Thaxter’s trap ahead of the two upcoming final songs which we all have to pop up and sing. Needless to say, when the cue light went green and Lucy.T and I popped out of the same trap a collective “That’s a bit odd!” spread through the onstage cast while Lucy.T and I embarked upon some ad hoc Table Slave/Thorn choreography, all of which contributed to a rather hilarious and giggly last ten minutes and final Morning show. As we lined up to take our bow I saw that the hinge on the trap I was meant to use had come free and the trap was actually rather dangerously askew. Fortunately, thanks to Barry and Nat, Stage Management had managed to warn all of the off stage cast to avoid the down-stage left trap and all was safe.
So, now I’m back at my flat taking some much needed rest time, blogging and listening to Christmas songs on the radio. We have a 7pm show tonight and then the Citz Christmas Party which, if it’s anything like the Workshop party, should be an absolute blast and the perfect opportunity to take advantage of my newly free Friday morning.
Finally, it is my pleasure to announce that our second ‘A Season at the Citz’ Interview will be up in the next few days just in time for Christmas and will be all about the Theatre’s workshop where all the beautiful sets are made. Stay tuned!
‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, until  6 January. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Show Check Up

A.H: Despite colds, lost voices, general exhaustion and the strongest alcohol punch EVER at the best opening party EVER I can safely announce that the cast of Sleeping Beauty has lived to tell the tale of our first week and has now boldly embarked upon our second. As Lucy mentioned last week was a crazy blur of early starts as an armada of schools bombarded the theatre day after day and now, as the second wave of primary schools continues to bear down upon us, we have had two days off to regroup, rearm and are now ready to go forty more times unto the breach, dear friends!
As we in the ensemble have grown ever more accustomed to the theatre and the trickier parts of the set the show has only grown slicker. If you’ve seen the show you’ll know that there are a series of trapdoors which are used a great deal throughout the show, during the tech they were a nightmare but now opening/ closing them and negotiating the tiny spaces beneath them has become second nature. But, just as the rehearsal process had its specific set of questions (“would my character really do that?”, “wouldn’t it be better if we...”, “how do we get that table off stage?”) so too does the run. Some of today’s top quandaries include:
1)       “Does applying this make-up regularly make it permanent? It’s stopped coming off in the shower”
2)      “Can you put a Ruff in the laundry?”
3)      “Was that small child lying when he was overheard saying ‘If someone comes up through the stage I’m going to throw a gas grenade in their face!’?
However, a rather more important and less trivial quandary is how on earth do we keep the show feeling fresh and alive when we’re doing 57 performances of the same show? At drama school this was something I always wondered, and occasionally worried, about and now I’m going to have to work out. Not to say that I’m struggling or finding it boring, quite the opposite, but it’s important to realise that every audience member who buys a ticket deserves to see the same level of quality whether it be the very first or very last performance, it may be show 47 for us but for each member of the audience it’s the first time and may be a rare night out they’ve long looked forward to. The seasoned Shakespearean actor Simon Russell Beale says that whenever an actor feels like a show is getting old they should simply listen to what the other person is saying and it’ll become interesting again.
However, there definitely wasn’t a problem keeping it fresh today. Halfway through act.1 a chimney flies in from the Gods and lands centre stage...except today, it didn’t. It merely hung a foot off the floor then began to yoyo up and down as the fly team tried to fix whatever had gone wrong. Meanwhile, we were all acting normally trying to ignore the problem, acting away. However, the problem was unfixable and so stage manager Nat came out and stopped the show as the tech team worked out what had gone wrong. But, a minute later the two-storey yo-yoing chimney was fixed and with a quick “Just pretend that never happened!” from Kath Howden to the audience the show continued and went brilliantly albeit a tad giggly.
One thing though has been continually useful, something that to date has never faltered to raise everyone’s energy when sitting in a cramped compartment under the stage at 10am: the sound of the kid’s excitement. As the house lights go down and the stage lights go up they have never failed to go CRAZY and put a smile on our faces. In an instant the cast is infused with energy and ready to go as the adrenaline begins to pulse. Paddy Cunneen’s opening score begins to play, the cue light flashes from red to green and we burst through the stage and the show begins.
‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Week one of Sleeping Beauty Performances


Just finished our first week of Sleeping Beauty and we now have two days off to rest and re-boot. The schools have been in this week and their reactions have been priceless. My two favourites are probably the screams of 'eughhhhhhh!' when the prince(Owen Whitelaw) and I share our supposedly beautiful  awakening kiss and the boisterous chanting of 'fight fight fight' when the two ogres meet at the end. Hilariously endearing. Official opening night Friday was great fun, everyone in the cast was on fire (utter fear mixed with adrenaline), ending the night with a cracking party in the carpentry workshop with free (rather lethal) punch. Two shows the next day. I'll say no more.

The whole show is really starting to get into its groove and the backstage team is running the show like clockwork. Barry(ASM) Emma(ASM) Cathy(DSM) and Natalia(SM) are our stage management team and they are the most on it group of people I've ever met. Never miss a beat. We also have a dresser (Karen) who is always ready and waiting for all the quick changes (rather a lot of velcro in this show). The ensemble have about six quick changes altogether (1 minute or so) and are, most of the time, wearing three costumes at once(!) Backstage can get pretty mental. I have one quick change. And its about 3 minutes. And only involves taking off slippers and tidying my hair. So all in all, I actually have none. Phew.

I am sharing a dressing room with Ros Sydney (Queen/Ensemble/goat/donkey) and we have embarked on a very special journey together of eyebrow sculpturing. Each morning, she paints her face white and begins drawing. Depending on her mood and her creative flow/artistic flare on that particular day, the outcome is always something very unique. We then discuss and deliberate. I believe it all hangs in the curl.

Ros satisfied with the brows.

All in all, a great week.

‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Monday, 3 December 2012

First Night!

above: Lucy and I getting ready to go on
A.H: So, it happened. On Saturday evening the thing that everyone in the building has been putting all of their efforts into for the past month finally came to fruition. After a week of one of the most complex, and therefore lengthy, Tech’s I’ve experienced (see Lucy’s latest entry for more details) Sleeping Beauty has finally opened to the public. In one of our first blogs Lucy and I talked about how many people went into putting on a single production and this show has only reinforced the fact. So much has been built from scratch by workshop: set that transforms from walkways to towers, chimneys, twins, trap doors! For everyone involved Saturday night marked the culmination of months of work (the production department first started talking with designer Naomi Wilkinson six months ago!)
Plenty of sitting around during tech week. Nice Silhouettes though.
You’ll be happy to hear it went brilliantly: all the actors were on form, and, save for the odd sound cue, the show was technically perfect (which given the amount of cue’s in Stage Manager Cathy’s cue book constitutes a small miracle).
It may sound strange to hear about a show we’ve been working on in great detail for over a month but I don’t think any of us actors could truthfully say we knew how the audience would react. The play is a mix of Tim Burton, Monty Python and Grimm Fairytale; there is incredible humour to the show yet an equally dark heart and when you have a full auditorium, predominantly packed with children of all ages, you’re never sure who will get which joke or whether any of it will resonate at all. Mark McDonnell, who plays both the King and Ogress, and I were waiting in the wings as the lights went down on Act. 1 simply to hear how the audience would respond, neither of us knowing what to expect. Luckily they approved, which in turn gave us a boost for Act. 2 which was even more well received. Add to that the fact that it was a charity evening and therefore all ticket sales went to a good cause and it looks like we did pretty well.
Finally, a huge THANK YOU needs to be given to everyone back stage who have worked so hard this week and will continue to do so hidden away while the actors are prancing about on stage. Without them none of the lights, sound or set would do any one of the hundred things the show requires them to do. An especially large thanks goes to Karin from Wardrobe and Emma from production who help the ensemble with all of their quick changes in the first act. If there was a time lapse camera back stage all you would see is an ensemble shaped blur running from the stage, into a new costume, down a flight of stairs, up a trap door and then the reverse as they change back into whatever insane costume they're needed in next with only seconds to spare. Without those two none of us would make our cue's on time.
So, that’s one performance down and fifty to go. Today we've been called for 12.45 to quickly go over some technical hiccups to make sure all the Gremlins have been banished; then another charity preview at 7pm. And now it's over to the actors and the audience, some shows will be easier than others, some shows will feel like your herding mercury but, ultimately, as one famous Danish Prince once said "The readiness is all" and Dominic has prepared us very well indeed. Wish us luck!
‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Tech Rehearsals and First Preview of Sleeping Beauty

Tech week has been mentallllllly long (about 39 hours). Actually, I am very grateful we had as long as we did, it meant that I could take some time to organise and acclimatise myself within the new space. Firstly, the raked stage is NUTS (apparently the steepest rake in scotland). There's a lot of running involved, and I didn't realise I would be running DOWNHILL in heels..with a pram. I also have a ridiculously inappropriate dress that I have to factor in to act two which has been interesting. With roughly a 10 foot long train attached to it, it looks amazing but is a bit of a beast to negotiate. Especially whilst holding two rather large puppet babies. I sound like I'm complaining, I'm really not (well maybe a bit...) It keeps me on my toes! 

One thing I have noticed after getting on the stage is that I really need to keep an eye on my voice. It's something I have been told off about time after time at the Conservatoire; 'SPEAK UP!' and in this theatre, there's really no room for negotiating. Working alongside the more experienced actors makes it easier, even if it does just make me realise how quiet I actually am. I don't have much natural resonance in my voice so I always need to do a massive warm up (much to peoples light hearted ridicule) and I'll probably have to give a lot of conscious effort for the first few performances before it becomes a bit more second nature. That's the hope anyway. 

However, first preview done and my voice is already feeling a bit tired (I kind of forgot that the majority of the audience would be hilariously vocal and that I would have to factor in pitching above that) I have decided not to speak today. I am currently waiting for my good friend Sam to meet me where we has been requested to talk AT me while I find the appropriate sign language to respond. However, there's so much I want to talk about after this week so my vow of silence will probably last about five minutes. Hey ho.

Here's a riddle: What is broken when you say its name?

 ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.