Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Totally made up

A major role change for me tonight. Instead of playing Rat 2, I am to be Guinea Rat, the first of the rodents to be transformed into character by the Gabriola Players make-up artists.

An image of rat make-up has been found and downloaded from the internet. The challenge now is to figure out how to recreate the image onto an actor. (Oh, get me. An actor.)

Taking the lead is Maddie, who starts off whitening my face as the other five watch and take notes.

Then there’s adding the rat cheek definition.

Then comes the challenge of giving me a ratty red nose and turning my upper lip into rat teeth. Coming along nicely.

The make-up photo from which Maddie is working does not include whiskers, but Jenny, the director, is quite insistent that whiskers are required. Maddie draws them on.

This, it is agreed by all, is a disaster. The whiskers are drawing away from the lines defining my rat teeth. Time to bring Jenny in from the rehearsal for an opinion. One side whiskers, one side not. She can see the problem, but she still wants whiskers.

Maddie tries adding much smaller whiskers. Compromise wins the day. We’re done.

Oops. Turns out no one has brought any cold cream. How to remove the make-up? Not to worry, I say, I’ll do it at home.

Come home, surprised make-up does not frighten cat. Apply Body Shop face wash to face. Yikes. At least 90% of make-up is still on face. Wash it again. 75% of make-up still on. Wash face again. And again. And again. Fill wastebasket with cotton balls. Make-up eventually gone.

Note to self: Buy some cold cream.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Doing choreography

I’m not sure what it is I’m doing in the scene where Herb (Rat 1) and I are called upon to remove Rattles and Daisy from the Rat King’s presence, but it gets a laugh every time, so obviously I’m on to something. I don’t suppose I will know until I buy and watch the DVD. (Oh, yes, boys and girls, it turns out the panto is to be filmed. Mercifully copies will not be available on Amazon.)

It is, however, clear at the rehearsal – as it has been since the first time Ginny, Herb and I performed it – that we need some help with our number. There is, of course, no help for the fact that I cannot sing. I just remind myself that it’s a panto, definitely not the opera, so making a fool of myself goes with the territory. Herb has a fairly booming voice. With any luck he will drown me out.

No, where we need the help is with, for want of a better word, choreography.

(At this point I had hoped to embed a link to the Danny Kaye “Doing Choreography” number from White Christmas, but, alas, the only link I could find for it had been taken down from YouTube, so have this instead.)

Turns out Ginny’s partner Sara used to be a professional dancer and she agrees to provide much needed assistance.

And so we gather in their livingroom, Sara sitting on the sofa to watch us perform That’s Amore in the half assed fashion we have so far adopted. Sara’s very good. She doesn’t laugh (in a bad way) or roll her eyes at the hopelessness of the cause. Apparently I have a good sense of rhythm. Apparently Herb (who would never deny it) doesn’t. Thus I am (apparently quite obviously) having to compensate. There is some suggestion of adding a bit of basic footwork. (At the moment, Herb and I are just swaying – occasionally in time with one another – behind Ginny.) This suggestion is vetoed by Herb, who feels swaying and singing at the same time are as far as he is able and willing to commit. Fair enough.

We decide it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a go with the actual Dean Martin song playing in the background. Ginny digs it out and puts it on. Ginny has a revelation. She has up until now been singing the song in three/four time, when it should actually be in four/four. What, oh what can this possibly mean, non-musical me wonders.

We do the song again. It sounds exactly the same to my untuned ear, but, wonder of wonders, for the first time ever I do not find myself swaying out when I should be swaying in and vice versa. How did that happen?

Much, much better, says Sara, allowing us a moment to bask in the glow of our progress. Except… Uh, oh. It seems that when the song slows down, Herb and I are still losing the plot a bit. Or, more appropriately, the beat. Oh, dear. Fortunately, she has a suggestion: Just stop “dancing” (can I really call our swaying this?) for a moment, as if we’re savouring the sentiment of the line. (“When there’s cheese in your dream, but you know you’re not dreaming, signore.”) Then jump back in for the finale. Herb considers this for a moment, decides he’s up to it, and we give it a go. Big round of applause from Sara. By Jove, I think we’ve got it!

We do it again, just to make sure our first, successful attempt wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t.

Sara predicts we’ll bring the house down. I rather think we might.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oh, get me

When you’re starring in a play at the same time as you are producing watercolour masterpieces and finishing the great Canadian novel, occasionally you need a break from the whirlwind of creativity.

So, a weekend visit to Sointula to see theatre fans Darryl and Morag. Two trips to the rocky shores of Malcolm Island to witness the awe inspiring spectacle of humpback whales breaching.

Pretty amazing, eh? Yes, it would have been. This photo was stolen from Google. On the second day of our whale watching, a humpback did actually breach (and I’m sure it was every bit as impressive as this). Unfortunately, by the time it happened, Morag and I were engrossed in our books, so Darryl was the only witness. (Although I did get to see the splash and the boom.) Oh, well.

Recharged by almost seeing a humpback breaching, I return to Gabriola for rehearsals.

I have another line! Two more words. If this keeps going, I could have at least 25 words to memorise. I hope I’m up to it.

Tonight we are rehearsing Act 1, Scene 5. Last week I only had two lines in this scene, now I have three. It’s a challenge, I know, so early in the rehearsals, but I decide for the second run through to go off-book. (For the non-thespians out there, this is the point in rehearsals when the actors have memorised their lines and no longer need to read from the script.) And it works! I remember all three of my lines, all 14 words. Yes! God, I’m good. So good, in fact, so seamless in my performance, that the director neither notices nor comments on this breakthrough. That’s fine. Clearly she can see me for the pro I am.

Of course, I do still have the problem of figuring out my rat voice. I’m still all over the place with it. I could sit around the house on my own trying out voices (and walks, I must not forget the walk), but, let’s face it, I’d feel like a pillock. (So, not such a pro, after all.)

Morag is coming to Gabriola this weekend for the art trail event. Perhaps I can try a few voices out on her? Hmmm. Perhaps not.

What would Olivier do?