Friday, 25 October 2013

the events - our performances

Our performances were on Tuesday 15 October at 7.45pm and Saturday 20 October at 2.45pm. On Tuesday we arrived for 6pm, I guess mostly straight from work; on Saturday I aimed for 1pm but turned out it was meant to be 1.30pm, but I wasn't the only one. I guess because we needed less of a run-through on the Saturday - which is why we got there early. We went through all our songs with Jessie and Polina, with the lead-in often being done for us by Rudi and Neve, who were there for most of the time. We also got the volunteers for the 'frequently asked questions' and the 'what am I' statements (I volunteered for both on the Tuesday, and just the latter on the Saturday; it wasn't that I was mad keen, but some folk clearly weren't up for it, so I don't think I denied anyone an opportunity). After we'd finished rehearsing, which we did in the theatre space, we went into another room to wait (and from which we could go out to the toilets). Neither time were we there particularly long. The room we were in was I think being used as rehearsal space for The Scottsboro Boys, as there musical instruments there. When I went out to the toilet on the Saturday I went to the ones upstairs, which meant that I went through the queue who were waiting to get in to see The Events, which felt quite odd.

Both performances went pretty well, I think. Once they took us out of our room they split us up so that we came into the stage space from two different points, and encouraged us to get into conversation before we went on so that we would wander on naturally, still in those conversations, although as it happened I wasn't talking to anyone either time as we went on. I didn't notice it so much on the Tuesday, as I don't think we were waiting so long in readiness before we went out, but on the Saturday I got quite involved in a conversation with Marian, so that it took me surprise when we went out and all of a sudden we were around the piano and ready to launch into our opening song. Perhaps the 'getting into conversations' was as much to reduce that nervousness and anticipation before going on as it was about how we went out.

On Tuesday we started with Ho ro haradala, and got applause - it's the kind of song with the kind of finish that lends itself to getting applause. It went well enough that some folk wondered if we should do it again as our song on Saturday. (In our original open dress rehearsal, the play started and finished with one of the choir's songs, but they'd changed this for the performances to just one at the start.) Our plan for Saturday was Mingulay Boat Song, which we'd done at the open dress along with Caleb Meyer.

I said in a group email, 'I'm for sticking with plan to sing Mingulay. Makes it different, interesting to see what difference it makes to the experience for us, the actors, the audience, kicking off with a slower, more melodic, reflective, evocative song. Will it set a different tone? No one will whoop. Will people laugh when the boy speaks his first words which aren't 'ja tak' - which I wasn't expecting, and which they didn't when I saw the play. Did we put the audience in that place, singing such an up song, full of energy? It's fascinating stuff! (To a particular kind of mind...)'

What I thought would happen, did: we didn't get applause, and they didn't laugh when the boy spoke first. In fact, I'm pretty sure there was less laughter throughout, though I wouldn't credit that all to our opening song. I'm sure the actors do it differently and draw different aspects out every time.

I think each time I did my 'what am I' line I got a laugh, I'm not sure why; perhaps it was the line, perhaps it was because I looked intently at Rudi as I said it, perhaps I just sound funny.

In Tuesday's shamanic ritual Rudi lay down and put his leg in the air. Since nobody else did, I went and lay beside him and put my leg in the air too; nobody else joined us. I should have lain opposite him and put my foot to his foot, to create an archway, the required 'symbolic portal', but I chickened out of going that far.

We didn't mess anything up and it all went pretty well, I think. On the Tuesday some of started the Norwegian Coffee Song too early but we all carried on and started when Neve then indicated we should, but it didn't sound awful, and in fact Bethan (who was there for that performance) said she hadn't been sure if it was deliberate or not, so that was okay.

Friends and family, and other audience members we overheard, seemed to enjoy it in general, and think we did well, although some did find it a bit confusing, which is understandable. After the Saturday one, when I came out, a chap said to me we'd done really well; he also said 'I could hear *you*', which was a bit unnerving.

It was a great experience, and I'd readily do something like it again. You can see why peple do amateur dramatics, just for the buzz, never mind money. Although I haven't been in the choir long, I did get the impression that it had raised our confidence about what we could do, in terms of ability, and also reflected that we're pretty good at being ready to and confident at giving things a go.

After both performances I did try to say in person or by tweet to the professionals involved thank you and how much I'd enjoyed being involved. Jessie said I had a good voice, which was kind - I tended to fear that all I had going for me was volume. Polina and others for their part expressed their thanks for the choir, both that we were good and our readiness to throw ourselves into things.

On my way off stage on the Saturday I squeezed Neve's hand and said think you. When I got home the Gilmours were still visiting, and Harry wanted to shake my hand, as doing so put him two handshakes away from Matt Smith; I did so, and told him the last hand I'd held was Neve's. Conversely, I wrote this on Facebook on Saturday evening: 'Cherub had a choice this morning: to go with Bethan to her choir rehearsal or to go with me to mine. If you come with me, I said, you might meet the woman we've seen in Doctor Who (Neve McIntosh, who plays Madame Vastra, was one of the two actors in The Events, which our choir took part in on Tuesday and this afternoon at The Young Vic). Cherub, unstarstruck, looked at me quizzically: "Why would I want to do that?" Why indeed. Cherub went with Bethan.'