March 2008

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Another review

Hello again.

Here's a second "review" of our show: click here. Gawd bless the online community!

Earth Hour

It was Earth Hour straight after our show on Saturday night.

 

The show was heaps of fun, really warm audience and nice to start a two night break with a big bang. Then we all filed out into the darkened hallway at trades hall to discover we were standing in the dark.

 

When I say dark... Really, exit signs are good enough. Exit signs and the odd candle and suddenly everyone's gorgeous. Suddenly the bar looks rustic and European and it's hard to believe we sat in the Old Council Chambers on Easter Friday with a full house sweating it out in almost forty degree heat. In the downstairs bar at Trades Hall, there are heaters. Those big ones on sticks. They looked wonderful, glowing away up there, illuminating people's features and giving the beers an amber glow. Then, a debate ensued about whether they consumed more energy than electric lights, and at about that time the lights all went back on and the mystery was gone.

 

Our show is about the environment, and if we'd taken a microphone around and listened to people's conversations in the dark that night, I reckon we would have had a Part Two for sure.

 

Earth Hour. I know it's symbolic and subject to debate, but that's kind of the point and in my view it should happen more often.

Nearly the end of week two

We are nearly at the end of the second week of our comedy festival show, Greatness Thrust Upon Them. It is so much fun. So worth all the angst and horror of writing in a tiny office for months on end. Maybe. The cast is brilliant, the show is heaps of fun, and the audiences have been excellent.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the capacity of each audience to have a personality of its own. It's a fact. Each audience feels different, laughs in different places, understands and favours certain elements (plot, character, jokes, serious bits) and as a result each audience sees a slightly different show each night.

Who leads these audiences? Who is the mood-setter? How does group psychology work in a situation like that?

Of course, a lot of it is circular. The actors are slightly different, the pacing is slightly different, the weather is colder, or hotter, or the traffic was bad, or good, or they've just come from work, or they haven't eaten, or they have.

And there are always the pedants. There are the people who notice the newspaper the guy is reading is outdated, there are people who suggest the main character wouldn't say a certain thing because it conflicts with an earlier statement about bananas/life/chess/umbrellas.

The study of audience. Audienceology. I'm into it.

What People Think

You never know, when you do a show, particularly a comedy festival show, whether you'll be able to turn your metabolism upside down so that you're totally pumped at seven each night and able to get out of bed again the next day for work.

 

It's only after it all finishes that you realise you're really ready to run a marathon at about ten to seven each night and you get tired and tetchy at four in the arvo.

 

Someone saw me hanging around in Trades Hall the other day and asked me if I was IN our comedy festival show. I said no, I wasn't performing, I was just writing and directing.

 

"Oh", she said, "Oh well that's great! How relaxing!"

 

I would like you all to know that she remains unscathed. Didn't lay a finger on her. Didn't flick her with a towel or douse her in flames or anything.

Relaxing. Pfft. Pass me that paperbag.

Second week starts tonight

 After a great first week (excellent audiences and great work from our team including the actors and our lighting tech, Johnboy) we start it all again tonight for tightarse Tuesday and the rest of the week full of shows. 

 

I had an easter break which consisted of me getting relaxed enough to remember what it was like to sleep and as such my body doesn't understand what all this rushing around being vertical business is all about. I will have to re-educate myself with a glass of wine at Trades Hall tonight before tottering off to bed. 

 

See you there! (Trades Hall, not bed).

First Review

We got our first review today for our new comedy festival show.

Check it out here.

Yay

Opening night last night.

 

Yay.

 

That's about all I have to say on the subject.

 

Just, yay.

One day to go

Our comedy festival show opens tomorrow night.

 

I have always thought there should be a word for "not enough time but heaps too much time". Sometimes I feel like that when I see someone I haven't seen in a while. It has been ages since I saw them and heaps has happened but conversely it feels like no time has passed at all. That's what waiting for a show or a deadline to arrive feels like. Heaps to do, so little time, but so long away that you can't imagine it happening.

 

Maybe there is a word for that. Maybe the word is EEEEEK!

 

 

Two days to go

Two days to go until we open.

 

Trades Hall is awesome.

 

And people! People are so lovely.

Having been locked in a room writing for six months, coming across actual human beings is always a shock. Coming across people who are clever or generous or kind or good at cards or funny walks or whistling... well, that's just a reminder of why you write in the first place: because observing things like that is delicious.

 

Here is a random selection of just some of the mind blowingly useful people who helped with bump-in today:

 

1. We have a magic fairy called Hannah who turns up and solves all of our problems. I don't know what you guys have got - probably, you know, iPods and stuff. But we've got Hannah. She seriously has a Mary Poppins bag and makes stuff out of thin air when you're not looking.

2. Paul and Johnboy, who made the whole place run for us while we ran about saying things like "Take it from the top guys" and getting downstage and upstage mixed up. Which is prompt, by the way? Which is off-promt? I never know.

3. Stew and Rits, who suddenly take on different roles as soon as we get into the theatre. Like, you know, running the place (same as usual) but differently.

4. These guys:

 

 

 

 

The cast (Megan, played by Julia Harari, Sam, played by Miriam Glaser, and Robin, played by Chris Buchanan). 

Today

Hands up if you did this today:

- Awoke from approximately six minutes' sleep after night of thinking too much about everything.

- Up at 7.15 to iron shirt for big day ahead.

- Accidentally iron self.

- 8.30am meeting with Rita in which attempt to soothe ironed section of arm goes awry when cool silver sugar bowl in cafe (used for cooling down arm) gets warm and has to be rotated to put new cool silver part on burn, at which point sugar spills all over table. Apologies to the lovely Tim and Lilly in Dr Java.

- 9.30am meeting about kids' TV idea.

- Rush home to sleep. Completely fail to even lie down.

- Receive eight billion phone calls and emails. Deal with them. (Check The Age tomorrow for giveaways to our show, by the way!)

- Rush to my old school to do a talk about "having a career in the arts". Hilarious.

- Did I mention it's about 60 degrees in the shade at this point and my old school is on the other side of Punt Road?

- Sprint to the car in order to make it back to rehearsals at 5pm.

- Rehearse until 8pm.

- Walk down to dinner and a meeting. Put up a poster in Brunswick Street. Get attacked by crazy dude ripping poster down and screaming at us. Terrifying. Obviously he doesn't know much posters cost.

- Come home. Work. Sleep. See you tomorrow.

 

I ate lunch in the car. Oh yeah.

Career in the arts.

You betcha.

 

OUR SHOW OPENS NEXT WEEK

HOW EXCITING!

Our show, Greatness Thrust Upon Them, opens next week at Trades Hall, as part of the Comedy At Trades programme in the comedy festival. There are so many things to be done but the process of staging a theatre show is so much more fun than the process of writing one, for the following reasons:

1. Producing a play involves more than one person sitting alone in a room feeling overcome and wishing she was outside in the sunshine splashing about in a swimming pool.

2. Producing a play does not get thrown completely off course by websites such as lolcats or youtube or google searches such as "budgie sings Justin Timberlake" or "mime of Natalie Imbruglia song". Searching these things while attempting to write is, however, most dangerous and I advise against it.

3. Producing a play, if you know what you're doing, means lovely/hilarious/interesting people get to spend more time together rehearsing and producing and organising and eating jellybeans which are technically supposed to be props. 

4. One doesn't spend most of the time in one's pyjamas. This is normally a good thing, but rehearsals require an upgrade to tracksuit pants (fake velvet with a fake drawstring) which makes the transition to opening night frock less shocking than it would be if the process was PJs to frock. A situation with which I would not cope.

 

By the way, some of you people are lovely. Thanks for your notes and your generous support and I can't wait to see you next week. Hopefully in my fake velvet trackies. Awesome.  

Amy Sedaris

Man I love Amy Sedaris.

 

Thanks to Fahey for directing me the the new Vanity Fair edition about women in comedy. Check out this video.

 

Amy's the one with the backup plan, pregnant and chugging on a ciggie.

Rehearsals

Sometimes when you're rehearsing, you work over something so much that you find yourself analysing how an actor says the word "the". You find yourself thinking about the possible meanings behind things. You think, wow, maybe this bit connects to that other bit and what's really going on here is a deeper reference to a far more important (yet more subtle) point in relation to the symbolism of this metaphor over here.

 

You know what's particularly interesting about this process in our rehearsals at the moment?

 

I wrote the play.

 

I'm finding double meanings in things I wrote myself. I'm seeing interesting links between things that weren't there when I was writing it.

 

It makes me think that all the kids in my English class were right when we insisted to our teacher that Sylvia Plath "really was writing about mushrooms". Nothing more to it, we reckoned. Not death, not lost love, not complex relationships. Mushrooms.

 

Discuss.

Jump starting a career in idiocy

I am in the Diamond Valley Leader.

That's my home town.

In the photograph, I am jump-starting a gum tree, with jumper leads and (these are the photographer's words) "crazy eyes".

If you are a Diamond Valley resident who maybe went to school with me or something, please understand that I was not in a serious accident impeding my intellectual or physical abilities, but merely am a victim of the media machine.

While we're at it, why is it that if you're a woman you're instructed by press photographers to "stop looking pretty - we want to see whacky. You're a comedian".

Why can't I be pretty too?

Writing

They say when you write on a laptop you should look away from the screen at particular intervals.

I never do.

So guess what. Someone invented a computer program that tells you when to take breaks! It's great! You install the program, you write for a bit, and then the computer reminds you every now and then to take a short (fifteen second) break, looking away from the screen. It does this by stopping everything you're doing and displaying a picture of a zen-like yoga dude doing a meditation pose. Then what happens is that you get back into your writing and just as you've entered a deeper level of creative consciousness, up comes the image of the zen dude. So you stop what you were doing and look out the window. You think about something else. You get distracted. You remember what you were doing and you go back to your work. Enter new creative zone... zen guy... window gazing... distraction... back to work.

Then it does it for TEN MINUTES WHEN YOU HAVE A DEADLINE AND IT IS ONE IN THE MORNING AND I TELL YOU WHAT, my friends, there is nothing - NOTHING! - more smug than a zen like yoga dude meditating in the middle of an EXTREMELY focussed moment of concentration.

Then - as if mocking me further - zen dude maintains his inner calm as I swear and get annoyed and grow further from my zen ideal towards a mental, frenzied, uncontrollable writer with no discipline.

But anyway. It was a nice thought.

Model Approach to Beauty

Having written the script for our show, Greatness Thrust Upon Them, I am now 100% more fun. Given that during the writing of the script I was probably 300% less fun than, say, wading through pineapple juice with open leg wounds, I am probably still in need of 200% more fun points in oder to render myself social again.

Many of my friends are not speaking to me. Some of them because my absence is rude. Some of them because they're waiting for me to resurface. Some of them, I suspect, are currently down at the cop shop describing my hair colour to the missing persons unit.

What happens when you stop writing (and thus being locked in a room avoiding things) is that you have to do the long list of things that has built up while you've been locked in a room avoiding things. My list currently runs to one A4 page and consists, pathetically, of the following three things which will be on my list of things to do for the rest of my life.

1. Clean your room.

2. Go to gym.

3. Get a haircut.

The last of these was thrown into stark relief this morning when, on my way to my "other" job (the one where they actually pay me money) I was contemplating whether the massive gash in my stockings really did require the (annongly time wasting and expensive) purchase of a new pair of stockings. During the walk from home to work, the stocking gash - like an animated cartoon or a flicker book - majestically stretched further down my leg, into my shoe and across my big toe. Extremely uncomfortable. Ergo the answer to the question RE requiring new stockings becomes a resounding yes.

SO... (yes, I am aware this is a tangent and please hold on to your tickets, there will be an interval)... there I was thinking "gee, I need me some stockings - pity Myer isn't open this early" when Lo and behold! There's Myer - doors flung open, people streaming in off the street.

Now. At this point, it's important to flag that while I am not a vain person, neither am I particularly self-conscious about my appearance. When adults told kids that beauty was on the inside, I was the only kid who listened. Well. Me and the backstage dude in the trench coat and the acid wash jeans tucked into his shoes.

So - not usually very self-conscious. But for some reason, this morning, stumbling into Myer with my stockings ripped to shreds, my stupidly unfashionable, way-too-windswept total lack of a haircut, and my New Scientist laptop bag, I unexpectedly felt unusually... well... ugly. 

I wondered why that was. I deconstructed my subjective approach to beauty. I wondered why I suddenly felt unnaturally short and piggy, with extra limbs and stupid lips and big forehead, and the kind of haircut celebrities list in interivews under "biggest regrets". Was it because I'd been locked away writing for so long that I'd forgotten how to be around other people without doubting myself? Was it because I was so tired from rehearsals? Was it the moon?

Turns out, Myer wasn't open. Turns out, I'd walked through the doors of Myer accidentally, ushered (perhaps herded is a better word) into the ground floor of Lonsdale Street by Melbourne Fashion Week models arriving for work.

Yup. Turns out it's fashion week. Turns out, the doors to Myer had just been opened and the models (with Melbourne Fashion week registration) streaming into Myer had been waiting outside together on the footpath when I joined them. Turns out I was right in there with the best of them, displaying the new "stocking-tear with lack of haircut in the morning" look. They were all checking it out. They were all wishing they'd thought of it. They loved it.

Next big thing. You heard it here first.

Seriously though. Beauty is subjective and all that, but honestly, if you're going to mix with the supermodels, try not to look like Helena Bonham Carter baking people pie in Sweeney Todd.