Drama Queen

I met my husband at an amateur dramatics group nearly 40 years ago.  We fell in love during a production of Charley’s Aunt, got engaged while rehearsing for Middle Age Spread, and got married post What the Butler Saw.  This was over the course of three or four years, and including these plays, we were doing at least two productions a year – mostly performing, but sometimes working backstage. Working alongside a group of like-minded folk to produce something entertaining, and as top-notch as am-dram can be, was, I remember, fun, but also, hard work, frustrating and nerve-jangling,

When I got pregnant with twins we decided, quite rightly, that we couldn’t commit to gruelling rehearsals and set building any longer and hung up our make-up bags.  Neither of us have acted since.

Well, that’s changing.  You may know we moved, nearly a year ago now, and have begun building a new life some 200 miles away from the old one.  We left lots of good friends behind who we miss terribly.  We belonged to various groups: art group; poetry group; writers group, yoga class…. (gosh we sound a bit dull… but they were all fun… honestly!) and now we’ve lost all that.  So we had to go out and find some new way of belonging, and the best fit for us locally seemed to be the local amdram group.

‘It’ll be fun’ we said

‘like the old days’ we said

So we joined.

The people in the group are lovely and we’ve been attending the socials and readings and have now been given parts in a one act play which is part of the next production.

Aaaaggghhh……. I don’t think I thought this through….   I’ve only got a small part, but there are lines to learn, cues, and remembering to be in the right place at the right time.  My brain is forty years older.  I can’t even remember how to remember lines.  And….. and wait for it…. I have to sing! Alright, the character is not supposed to be a good singer (I can do that bit), but I’ve never had to sing on stage before, and it has to be a song from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the one blooming musical in the world that I’ve never seen! (I’ve been watching bits on youtube… my goodness its dire!)

Dear god, what am I thinking!  Currently we’re rehearsing twice a week, and yes, it is fun, and the play is funny (well, makes me laugh).  But I do feel a bit like the weakest link.

Lets get this straight, I’m not, and have never been, a talented actress. Not naturally talented, I have to work, think it through. I am rubbish at accents. It takes time for me to get it right.  My husband on the other hand has a natural talent that everyone recognises (hence his immediate leading role!). He can employ any accent at the drop of a hat.   

I know my limitations.  But 40 years ago I was getting leading roles, and my nerves didn’t get the better of me (not too often anyway) and I enjoyed the challenge.   Now, I must get over this inner panic, put my big girl pants on, stop being a drama queen, and learn to love the spotlight again.  So I’m off to learn my lines, and exercise my vocal chords…..  ‘Oh the banyard is busy, in a regular tizzy…………….’

Cast of Middle Age Spread, Ashtead Players, circa 1983
Me and Him, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Polesden Lacey Open Air Theatre, 1984
Time and the Conways, Ashtead Players, circa 1985
Me and Him as Arthur and Sybil in Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, Ashtead Players, circa 1985

Wake up, it’s Wednesday!

Here’s a bit of Soca to get you going with a smile this morning.

I first heard this in Tobago a few years ago.  We were at a beach party drinking copious amounts of rum punch and dancing in the sand on the most beautiful secluded beach you’ve ever seen. I was particularly happy as, somewhat amazingly, I’d won the limbo competition (prize….more rum…) It was a perfect day and hearing this reminds me of how much we danced and laughed and generally had an amazingly good time.  It’s been making me dance and laugh and sing along ever since, I defy you not to do the same!  Enjoy…

Musical me?

I like music.  I listen to some sort of music – ipod/radio – every day.  I sing to it and dance around the kitchen, and I have been known to cry to it.  I can still remember as a dumped teenager how every single word of a love song, any love song, cut right through to my soul in that dramatic way that only teenagers feel. Knowing ‘Everybody Hurts‘ doesn’t necessarily make you feel better when no-one hurts as much as you.

My taste is eclectic. I put this down to being exposed to pretty much all types of music as a child.  My father loved to stand in front of the fire, mock conducting choral and classical.  I particularly remember the stereogram belting out the cacophany of the 1812 overture making the floor shake, and we always listened to the dire ‘Sing Something Simple‘ at teatimes on Sunday (did it really run ’til 2001???). I watched countless musicals with my mum and nan, and can also thank my sister for introducing me to the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Elvis.

So now I have everything from the soft and beautiful ‘In Paradisium’, through every genre (except Jazz which fails to stir me) to the loud and brash ‘Start Wearing Purple‘, a track that always makes me happy from one of the many Gogol Bordello albums, on my ipod. Some days I’ll listen to endless Green Day and others a bit of Anthony and the Johnsons, The Civil Wars or The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.  For some reason, though they are all different sides of a spectrum, they are all capable of soothing me and cheering me up.  Without a doubt, music has strange and mystic mood enhancing qualities.

Now, there is one problem with all this.  Despite immersing myself in music, despite learning to play the violin and the cello at school, despite singing and dancing nearly every day of my life….. I am not musical in anyway whatsoever.   Anyone who has heard me will confirm that singing is a very loose term for what I do, and frankly, as ‘wii dance’ will testify, my movement is hardly ‘seemly’. Leans more towards dad dancing than graceful swan to be honest.

Despite my shortcomings, I recently joined a choir.  Choirs are big news in this country at the moment, and thanks to the fabulous Gareth Malone, they are springing up everywhere.  Retford is no exception, and when I saw the advert for the newly formed ‘Retford Community Singers – You don’t need to be able to sing to join us’ I jumped at the chance. Well, it’s their own fault, they shouldn’t have said it.

So I’ve been trotting off on a Tuesday evening to join around 65 others all belting out weird and wonderful verses in the round, and traditional folk songs in strange languages.  I’ve found I am an Alto rather than the Soprano I imagined, and hence can reach the notes (well nearly reach the notes) a darn sight easier.  Some people can sing better than me, and some (not many) worse, but the overall noise we make is amazingly good, rounded and uplifting.  I come away smiling and humming to myself.  So thanks Gareth!

All I need now is to find a dance troupe for which you don’t need to be able to dance.

Talking of music though, I just found out about the completely wonderful and amazing ‘Landfillharmonic‘ take a look, have a listen, and be prepared to be astounded by the ingenuity and skill of the adults and the talents of the children.

By the way, I have Christmas music on right now.  Don’t you just love ‘The little boy that Santa Claus forgot’?  What was his mum up to then? You’d have thought she’d have got something sorted…!