Archive for the ‘backstage life’ Category

So, it seems my actors continue to make me laugh. Here is a new installment of random comments. Enjoy!

“Some quality boo-age.”

“Did you see your first spit yesterday? It was fantastic. It nearly hit Lindsay.”

“Take your prick.”

“The ham and the monkey are on the thing when I move it.”

“Oh, you’re being someone else now? Ok.”

“Has anyone ever said your monkey’s on the puff in the whole of time?”

“That went over like a lead caboose.”

“Are you afraid of your bellybutton?”

“In the end, it wasn’t a barbie dress, it was a coaster in the shape of Argentina.”

“I’ve got water all over me. What a dork.” “Your water broke?” ” Yeah, my water broke. I’m lactating.”

“The hand thing… I wasn’t watching, but I’m pretty sure it was too slow.”


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So, we opened this week. After we’re done with understudies on Thursday, there won’t be anymore rehearsals. So this could be the last one of these for a while. On the other hand, I’m still working with a load of certifiable goofballs, so it may not make any difference.

“I really try and stretch my bag as much as I can.”

“We heard don’t get a ticket from the giant rubber. What did you actually say?”

“I’m now kneeling on the raisin I’ve got in my fucking pants because of your daughter.”

“Just tell them to waltz and not move.”

“So, burp to mummy?”

“Have you done him for him?” “Yeah, he wasn’t impressed.”

“You’ve lost faith in your wand.”

“Ooh. Very rude fairy.”

“This needs to be a good deal more erotic.”

“How often do you get to boo your boss?”

“Wow. That’s quite the eggplant.”

“If you think you can hold my wand, you’ve got another think coming.”

“Hump the curtain!”

“It’s going to be a pumpkin night.”

“Wow, you just took me right to creepytown.”

“This one over here is whale semen, and that one is pistachio crunch.”

“Her poofs are crooked.”

“I use my tongue for too many things.”

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I’m working backstage on a pantomime at the moment. And I’ve been taking notes. Some of these are not necessarily laugh out loud funny, but I have heard some damn strange thing in the rehearsal rooms over the last few weeks…

You get three installments at once, because these were originally posted in my personal blog, but I decided to bring them out here and see what happens.

So. From the week of November 17th:

[Please note, none of the following are actually lines from the play.]

“You’re yourself. Playing a guy.”

“Follow the bouncing singer.”

“Let’s go back to hello.”

“You can hit him every time, too.”

[Some context: our musical director plays in the live band on a local musical. The musicians there have a fuck-up jar; you fuck-up during the show, you put a dollar in the jar.] “We fuck up so often, we’re sponsoring two kids in Africa.”

“Take a nice big breath here, because I don’t want you to breathe again until the end of time.”

“I don’t know how to do it with a but.”

“Sorry, I’m slipping on your pants.”

“And you still have your monkey in your hand, is that right?”

“I love orange balls. They make my life so happy.”

“You enjoy the flavour of your burps.”

“Let’s cut the second buttocks.”

“Maybe we’re looking at the menu or whatever, but mainly we’re getting our purse and our monkey.”

“I like ding dongs.”

“Stool blocking. That’s a note to myself.”

And, not exactly overheard, but worthy of note:

An actor walked past the production table carrying a pumpkin and a tambourine. This had nothing to do with blocking or props or the show in any way. I didn’t ask.

Three actors, in the ‘wings’ while a scene was going on ‘onstage’, did a reenactment of selected scenes from Back to the Future. As you do.

Week of November 22nd

“I want him to do it because he does Richard Monette.”

“I love that pose. That’s my good calf, with the knickers and everything.”

“I swear to god I’m buying you a pair of knickers for every day life.”

“Don’t touch yourself!”

“The trees are running off stage left, right?”

“Although, fuck me orange, I’ve wanted one of those things for ten years.”

“What does a wand sound like? I don’t fucking know.”

“And when the kids look into the pit they’ll see them, all the band’s PPs.”

“I’m looking up spit fetish.”

“And you’re just in awe, because you could never be that black.”

“Don’t hump the hoop.”

“You should be carrying a pumpkin. That should help us with the horse joke.”

Week of November 30th

“He just didn’t get it in his mouth in time to blow.”

“I’m ready to do my heatwave and everything.”

“Ooh. I’m full of gummy bears and red rose tea.”

“My chicken leg just farted.”

“The second burp is tzatziki.”

“I’m not going to spend a lot of time telling you all how wonderful you are. I just don’t have the time.”

“I need to look at the blocking of the pepperoni exit.”

“Don’t ever notice the forest fairies. Just sit on them.”

“And say your line quietly because you’re in the feed bag.”

“Which one was that?” “After they’ve got a lot of sucking to do.”

“Cindy seems generally hot in her speaking scenes.”

“Hand. Hello. Quicker.”

“Closer to the uglies on the scream.”

“I know you want to be slow, but believe me you’re slow enough.”

“I got into the gravitational field of Dan as I was walking.”

“Oh fuck, do whatever, I don’t care.”

“You’ll hear me say COCK! on opening night.”

“I need to look at the blocking of ding dong uglies Jeffries.”

“Stop squeezing your salami.”

“I lost my sperm in ‘Nam.”

“Watch the wand in the pants. It now really looks like you’re stabbing him in the penis.”

“You’re going to be ba-dooming all fucking night tomorrow.”

“Tzatziki killed. Of course, it’s got a ‘k’ in it.”

“I apologise. I’m great.”

“I still like the quartet’s girls’ legs.”

“Blah, blah, blah. I’ll fix it tomorrow.”

“We need a third burp.”

“Can we please have the uke on? Please? And not the territory in the north of Canada.”

“I need ta-das with those poofs.”

“The horses eat the sparkly stuff.”

“Pumpkin sting. Pumpkin sting? Fuck.”

“Rather than give the rest of the notes, there’s a good bass player joke…”

“Can you hit her on the head with the pizza box?”

“I was still laughing at shave your child.”

“I need you to use all your National Theatre School training to make me believe you’re covered in pumpkin juice.”

“Guys, you’re all going to blow up if you don’t listen to what I’m saying.”

“You crossed the line into tragedy there.” “Yeah, I usually do.”

“Fun is hard.”

And not overheard but worthy of note:

During the tech while we were working on some lighting, the cast and the musical director amused themselves by taking songs from musicals and setting them to a reggae beat. They got it to work for ‘Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better’ and ‘My Favourite Things’ before we had to move on with the tech.

At another break in the tech rehearsal, one of the crew guys was throwing a cork to centre stage where one of the actors was trying to head-butt it into a tin can that was sitting on the set. One of the other actors was behind him playing catcher. The game was still 0 – 0 when we had to move on.

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If you watch DVD extras, you’ve seen it: the tearful goodbyes, the heartfelt declarations that no cast has ever been this wonderful… The Firefly box set and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King are excellent examples. And, depending on your temperament, these things prompt either envy or eye-rolling.

Having been through the same kind of thing, those DVD extra moments now tend to prompt tears. It’s a weird, weird aspect of the entertainment industry. Whether you work in film, television or theatre, long hours are the norm. Jobs descriptions will often call them anti-social working hours, because basically, once you sign up, you aren’t going to see your family or friends again until your contract is up.

My first experience of it was when I went on tour with Cirque du Soleil. Not only was I working longer hours, I was working them on another continent. I got to go home about twice a year for a couple of weeks each time and that was pretty much it. We moved every 6 to 8 weeks changing cities and countries both. For the most part I didn’t speak the local language. So my entire world, for nearly three years, was made up of the people I worked with.

And it’s odd. You’re brought together not because of common interest or matching personalities, but because you happen to work in the same place. It takes a little more work to make friends, in a way. And it can be a very lonely thing, even when you’re eating three meals a day with 150 other people. Looking back, it was probably the most amazing time in my entire life, but at the time I wasn’t entirely happy. There were wonderful things about the life and there were sucky things about the life, and some days I wanted to tour forever and other days I wanted to go home RIGHT NOW.  Same as with all things, I suppose.

The point of this is, that I didn’t realise until I had to say goodbye, just how much it all meant to me. And ‘it’ was this huge thing, made up of the people, the life, and the show. The show itself becomes this living, breathing thing, a part of the landscape of your life. I heard the music ten times a week, I saw the show once a month. Everything we did was to get it up and running every night. It’s hard to describe, but I miss the show itself as much as I miss any individual person.

I literally had no concept of any of this, though, until the tears started flowing. And with the circus I had to say goodbye twice. Once when Quidam was moved from Europe back to the US while the support staff remained behind to go to work on the incoming Saltimbanco – effectively tearing the team apart – and the second time when I left the circus altogether. They are two of the most traumatizing moments in my adult life and it’s hard to even look back on them. Particularly when looking through the weepy eyes of the people on DVD extras.

In order to be able to move on with my life once I had left, I kind of had to go cold turkey. I tried keeping in touch and going back to visit, and it turned out to be the third most traumatizing event in my adult life. And when I was ready to start remembering and talking to people… I had lost contact. No one had a permanent cell phone number – we all changed SIM cards every time we changed countries. E-mail addresses have changed as people have left the circus or changed continents and shows. I was ready to embrace that part of my life again and it had disappeared, and it sucked.

And then there was facebook. Can I tell you how much I love facebook? I had to be bullied on to it in the beginning, after years of vehemently resisting MySpace, but now it’s one of my favourite things. It’s a way of unobtrusively just keeping tabs on the people who have meant something in your life without having to have enough to say to them to fill an e-mail. And when all you ever had in common was a job you no longer have, this is an excellent thing.

At first, it was just the members of the last theatre company I worked for. ALL of them are on there, and it was fun. Then a couple of people from high school found me, then a couple more from drama school. But in the last couple of weeks a dozen of the people that I loved most on tour, whose current contact information I didn’t have, have appeared on facebook. This has made me so ridiculously happy, I had to write an entire blog about it. For some reason, there has been this sudden explosion, and now I get to see pictures of kids I held in the kitchen tent when they were newborns, and see where everyone has ended up, half a dozen-odd years later. I know people scattered across the entire globe, now.

And the best part is, I don’t need to bore them with a long rambly e-mail about ‘what I’m up to these days’.

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Rosemary Kirstein

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