We are a breed apart from the rest of humanity, we theatre folk. We are the original displaced personalities, concentrated gatherings of neurotics, egomaniacs, emotional misfits and precocious children. ~ Herman Mankiewicz
So much. So, so much. As I said to Ditz as we crawled home on Friday night. I love rehearsals. I love watching how theatre people co~operate to drag something into existence that was never there before. Naturally Ditz rolled her eyes at this philosophical outlook. Performance is the thing! It's all about the performance. I'd scrap the performance any day for a rehearsal.
Having had time to seriously consider what gets me so fraught about driving Ditz round the place, stuck as we were in peak hour morning traffic, before I was even properly awake & so unfair! I came to the conclusion it's not the navigating that spins me. I get lost on a regular basis. I never stay lost. No. It's the time constraints. I have a commitment to be at a certain place by a certain time & I was raised to keep my commitments. Getting lost without enough time to get unlost makes it rather difficult to keep commitments like that. Hence the sick to my stomach feelings, the pressure I put myself under to not get lost & the inordinate worry about where I'm going & how I'm going to get there. Unfortunately knowing what the problem is does not fix it.
So Thursday we crawled through the morning traffic with Ditz abandoning the refedex in favour of the sheet of paper which told her which map she should be on & which signs she was looking for. Okaaay... We finished earlier than I had expected.
Friday there was a little bit of fog getting of the boat. By Brisbane it was pea soup & the airport was diverting flights. Wonderful! We crawled. Coming home we finished late so hit the peak hour traffic, all headed to the Gold Coast for the long weekend. We travelled at 5k an hour until we turned off the highway. I was so pleased Liddy wasn't doing the driving~ both ways.
By Saturday I figured it just couldn't get any worse & we actually had a great run both in & out.
Then there was the other stuff. Creative Generation is a showcase for public school students. We got involved because Alison is the choir director & keeps a few places in the core choir for the VM kids. There is a good reason for this but we'll get there. It provides an opportunity for PS kids to work professionally with professional artists to do one of the largest variety shows in Queensland. It may even be the biggest but I was tired & being just BIG is, you know, meh. Rehearsals have been going on for months but Alison pulls VM in at the end because her kids are trained to get it together fast. It sounds boastful but she does train her choir to work professionally, end of story. When a soprano on one of the mikes disappeared a VM student was asked to replace her because the crew knew she knew the music, wouldn't get stage fright & knew how to work with a mike. A little safety precaution. Smart. Very, very smart. Plus the kids can put it on their resumes.
One of the things I love about working with Alison comes purely from my enjoyment of watching how a very different teacher teaches. I mean, Alison is gorgeous but her beauty is enhanced by a charismatic personality & a great sense of humour. Two pluses. Add in she is a totally kinesthetic teacher & she is amazing. A non~singer, non~professional like me can come in & so long as I watched Alison I was cued kinesthetically for everything! Even lyrics. Certainly for any moves. I have never seen or worked with anyone quite so geared that way & it gets her results!
There are lots & lots of good things about doing something like this. I love watching Alison kick of her shoes before stepping up to conduct. Tickles me pink every time. No~one can see her feet but her choir. The rest of her is coiffed & manicured & ironed & pressed to perfection but every time the shoes come off. I think half the choir also ditched their shoes judging by the interesting aromas. The kids get a reality check about the theatre too. It's not about glamour & glitz. It's about sitting still & quiet while the technos run sound checks & lighting checks, & time runs, & glitz checks & set up the props for the flying violinist, the girl on the moon, & the gymnastic work. OK, so quiet was asking a bit much but that is the idea.
Anyway this is actually a professional production, big enough this year to go to the entertainment centre which I estimate holds about 5 000 in the audience. The massed choir alone was 1 200 strong & then there were the kids dancing & involved in the backstage stuff. We've worked with a lot of the professionals before ~ David Kidd [10 tenors], Paul Bishop [Strawberry festival]; William Barton [Strawberry festival]; ditto Shenzo; the Back~up vocalists ~ a lot of VM grads in there. Small professional community but lots of our bigger artists work overseas & are based there.
Then there are the negatives & unfortunately they are the ones that leave a bad taste in the mouth. The kids that got kicked out because they just refused to follow instructions. What's with that? A once in a lifetime opportunity & they think their right to do whatever they want over~rides other concerns? The talkers who talked through every rehearsal, every song, everything! Why were they there? The kids who thought it was o.k to que jump the food lines. Rude. The pushers & shovers who barged up & down the backstage stairs with no concern for others & where were their teachers? Asking them not to run was like issuing an open invitation to do just that. And the noise! Even when they were asked to be quiet it only dropped to a barely audible hum. It didn't ever quite stop. Lots & lots of gifted & talented kids. Most of them are never going to make it & I always wonder when I see the arrogant theatre behaviours well & truly to the fore if they have something to anchor them in life when they crash & burn on their dreams? Talent is not enough. One has to work hard, sacrifice & realise that only a very, very few are going to be the stars they all dream of being & if they aren't a star do they still want to work in this industry?
And then there is the really good stuff, stuff that leaves you feeling the world might just make it through the next hundred years. We were the back row. Six of us; only 5 who could actually sing. I opened & shut my mouth a lot like a fish. I'm not sure who the school in front of us was but they had the most amazing teacher: young, enthusiastic, Christian! His choir obviously adored him though our kids tended to think him beyond weird to start with ~ that is everyone bar Ditz who seeing him high~fiving his class as he moved to his seat promptly stuck her hands out & struck up a conversation! Only Ditz! And he was so lovely. Really encouraging to all his kids. Supportive. We got chatting thanks to Ditz. He'd just seen Traviata, which we missed because I couldn't get tickets, & of course 'Ri was in that & he knew people too so it got very friendly all round & the girls kidded him about his jacket, a felty feeling thing they were allowed to stroke like a pet.
Packed to capacity for both performances & as I told Liddy, neither Ditz nor I have actually seen this performance yet. We watched it from behind! It will be televised out here on October 3rd so we'll get to see it the right way round then & Liddy & Dearest can see what we did with our time though Liddy's sure to declare it incomprehensible. She's quite convinced all theatre people are incurably mad. Knowing Ditz does not help matters.
You know, I was theatre not music & my main interest wasn't ever in performance anyway, so while I enjoyed myself [far, far more interesting than sitting in the foyer with a book] it wasn't a big deal for me either. Not jaded but been there, done that & I'm secure enough at my time of life not to let little mishaps rattle me too much but I had time to really get to know one or two of the kids better & they let slip some stuff that blew me away. One kiddie said he did 2 years with the Australian Youth Choir. They are BIG, big. They did the Qantas ad singing Peter Allen's I still call Australia Home. HUGE! Confessed VM was much, much better. My jaw dropped but he said in 2 years he'd never had so many performing opportunities & he was over the moon. I said, " Tell Alison," because that will absolutely delight her. She works hard & her choir is her baby.
Oh, & we ran behind both performances. I was scrambling to make the last boat back to the island. Drama, drama, drama.