Saturday, February 23, 2013

PT 5 (in which I make it onstage - just)

The world's most attractive make-up artist, Vinny.

I think that the past two weeks of rehearsal have been just about the most difficult I have experienced. The renovations combined with my health hiccups have really taken it out of me. I came very close to canceling the show last night, and almost think it might have been better to. When you are onstage you feel both a responsibility to your audience to deliver, and a responsibility to yourself to present yourself at your full potential, so when you are limping slightly and have lost about a third of your singing range, well, it's a little embarrassing. I can say that all of the swimming, pilates and yoga paid off because physically the show was twenty times easier than last time, I was never out of breath coming out of a strip into a monologue, and I found clambering over the set in those accursed shoes very manageable.

My co-star Anna Hutchinson from Australia

On Monday we are pulling out of the big smoke and journeying to Liverpool for the first real shows of the tour. I'm excited to see what travel brings to the show, to see if a month long Travelodge experience can live up to my fantasies.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tour Diary PT 4

This is my lovely wardrobe

This is the view from atop my loverly wardrobe

After another delightful twelve-hour day I am sitting down to write to you, dear reader. What has come to pass in the past few weeks? Well, the expected tantruming, teching and tedium really. Oh and I joined a gym so now I can swim (theoretically, say if a day had 160 hours). Basically we are crammed into our little room ALL day, flicking lights on and off, meticulously placing sound cues and attempting to perform costume changes in alarming short pauses between scenes. Who wrote this? Oh wait.

Due to ongoing building works we are about two days behind schedule, and our press preview is tomorrow night. Sometimes we have no power in the space and so our lighting tech just...grinds to a halt. And obviously we have no heating. Occasionally the sound of drilling obscures the piano, and the building of the set, which is still taking place means that the backdrop is actually being erected above my semi-nude self as I rehearse a scene. It brings to mind Carole Schneeman's "Olympia" doesn't it?

Schneeman rulez 4 eva

My foot is horribly painful, and the smoke machine (don't ask) is causing me to splutter constantly and generally feel as though I have been gargling battery acid for a month. I am choosing to see all this as an exciting challenge, just like that part in the Beyonce documentary where she's locked out of her rehearsal space by the police and so has to choreograph 400 dancers for a live TV performance in a car park. JUST like that.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Daydream

The button
Fell off my coat,
The button
called hope.
Watching it
Across the floor,
I said,
"I can not go on
In light
Of such dark
I took myself
Fortnum and Mason.
Having always so admired their jams and preserves.
I thought I ought
To serve myself there
My just desserts.
My one wish was
To be
I shot myself
In the head
The doors opened
On the elevator
A canny tourist
To grab a scoop
For the morning

Saturday, February 16, 2013

PT 3

Dear Diary, I spent yesterday dyeing swathes of fabric a gruesome shade of greige. This entailed carrying saucepans of water up and down the stairs in a real medieval peasant wench manner, and mixing it with various tubes of slime, before carrying the sodden fabric downstairs to rinse it for an eternity in a bath tub. The sheets will be hung onstage in the background, behind all the other detritus which makes up the set and hopefully create a cocoon for the performance to shelter in as it travels the country. Taking the show to so many cities runs the risk of it landing in a space not quite right for it, so in effect we are taking our space with us.

The Set

This arrived yesterday and I cannot tell you how thrilled I was! I always wanted my own flight case, full of things I don't know how to use.

The downside to all of this glamor is that my foot looks like this now, having fallen up a marble stair case. Suggestions? I have a real comedy limp now and it is NOT cutting it!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tour Diary PT 2 (Not actually yet on tour)

These shoes are dangerous to womankind

Being that it's Lent and I have a gluten intolerance, I am eating a lot of berries, let's get that straight. No cake for me, just horribly expensive trips to Whole Foods to find dehydrated vegetable crackers and the like. At said mecca of flavorsome bankruptcy inducers, I met my co-star in "Boy in a Dress", Erin, earlier today. We had lunch and spoke of the good old days (ie six months ago) when we all lived together for the duration of the Edinburgh Festival. What fun THAT was! Since then she has apparently being eating a paleolithic diet and attending mass in New Zealand, which I suppose explains that primitive mysticism she exudes.

Our production manager Maud and design assistant Naomi were also onsite today, figuring out how to create enough dresses out of paper to last the length of the tour without A) deforesting all of Latin America or B) driving ourselves entirely 'round the twist. I was expecting a phone call from a nice journo at The Liverpool Echo today, but sadly they had the wrong number so I didn't get to say anything embarrassing or libelous today :( Oh well, we're rescheduled for Monday. (My identical twin brother and occasional lover Alexander Geist however did manage to squeeze in an interview with Sarah Chew for a piece she is writing for The Independent - but that's just because he's an attention seeker).

Other highlights of the day included falling up the main staircase of the Battersea Arts Centre in gold platforms and inflicting a particularly unpleasant toe sprain upon myself. I had to spend the last third of the day wrapped up in fur (against the ice cold chill that runs through the theatre) reciting my lines from a chair, with one leg propped up on a space heater - very Elizabeth Taylor circa 2002. It's Valentine's Day and I am smoochless and icing my bruised foot - not the romantic evening I was hoping for. On the upside I had an STI test this week and don't have the clap, so it's not all bad.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Imma blog, Imma blog, Imma.

Guess what? I am in jolly old England preparing to tour my hit show around the UK. I thought this would be a nice opportunity for us to get to know each other better, so I will be blogging the process for your delectation.

I arrived at Battersea Art Centre last night, after a woefully delayed flight and a charming chit-chat with the evergreen starlet, Anna Friel. It was downhill from there really. I didn't have a valium so I was forced to endure the flight sober and not even the mini chocolate teddy bears handed out by the air crew could take the edge off. I really do hate flying, I whisper the Hail Mary under my breath with such fever that I am sure I will one day mistaken for a fundamentalist terrorist and deplaned unceremoniously.

So now I am at B.A.C for two weeks of rehearsal and a press preview night (Feb 22nd if you're interested) before the tour rolls across the country. Mercifully there is a 24hr Asda but a few minutes away, which is wonderful since I know no-one within 20km of my current location. I hope to strike up at least one meaningful friendship whilst perusing the gluten-free cereal bars. The last time I had such convenient shopping opportunities was when I lived in Canada Water (of all places) with my bff Chanell. I remember well, writing my undergraduate thesis and only taking breaks to replenish my stash of cookies and cream cheese (that was back in the dark days of gluten). In fact the whole B.A.C artist in residence vibe is very collegiate. We have a shared kitchen, and a bathroom we seem to be sharing with the general public. There's even a chore-wheel on which you get to pick your housekeeping task for the week, and chalk your name alongside to show what a good sport you are. Sadly, there is no option to sign up for catching the mice which run around like they own the joint, or else I would gladly attend to that.

There is a most prominent aroma of herbal tea and oatmeal permeating the whole building, a sort of homely musk which is remarkable given that it is a former town hall and not exactly modest in size. In fact it's rather rambling, and combines the twin charms of Victorian architectural grandiosity and contemporary security coded doors to create an unmistakably psychotic rabbit warren atmosphere, enhanced by the fact that most of the building is closed for renovations and you can never quite be sure which doors have been boarded over and which walls will have been removed next time you trundle down the corridor. There is however a mouse in my room, she's keeping me company in the bedroom know as "Self-portrait with Frida Kahlo" (7a just wouldn't cut it). There's a mirror above the bed which makes for a disconcerting walking-up, a wall full of pencil sketches, and a bunch of fake flowers, giving the place a sort of theme b&b in Brighton feel (obviously a huge compliment).

Everyone is very sweet, and I am actually enjoying feeling as though I am living in a Californian co-op once again - I'd actually quite missed the late night kitchen table chats, the goofy injokes and the bulk buy shopping. Today being Shrove Tuesday the other artists in residence, Paper Cinema, made pancakes and a jolly good time was had by all. The community of itinerants here is far more relaxed than I remember the co-ops being, though I could well be surprised, it is early days and a squabble over how to sort the recycling may well be on the cards.

At the moment it's just the builders who are causing controversy, they seem pretty baffled as to why there are people on their building site, trying to make plays! Over the weekend our set had to be loaded into the theatre, but unfortunately this clashed with a major moment of re-wiring, so the set had to be brought into the building in the dark - hilarity ensued. I do think that we're winning the builders over though, early today the show's director came back from her lunch break to find a bunch of them trying on the costumes from the show. How I wish I could have seen those hard-hatted, dust streaked fellows in my red spangly dress and Erin's blonde wigs! Not to mentioned the glittered stack heels! To quote the late, great Anna-Nicole Smith, it must have been "J'gorgeous!"

I felt similarly myself, after I had my face overhauled by Vinny at Armani, who made me look like this.

Afterwards the real work began, and I had new platforms to climb a ladder in (not a metaphor). It was the first time I had seen the touring version of the set, and I must say it looks great! There's an extract mannequin amongst the detritus and a whole lot more UV paint, which is always a good thing in my book. So what's next? Well, unless I am devoured by my furry little room mate during the night, then there's a whole lot of rehearsals, interviews and even PERFORMANCES ahead! But I promise I'll keep you posted.