Sunday, 11 March 2012

Much Belated Update - Where did those balls fall?

The pull was too strong.  The desire to fulfil another theatrical goal, before I was left on the proverbial Thespian shelf, got the better of me and I have been touring with the musical Avenue Q since January.

And as the lack of blogging reflects, yes, it has consumed my life.  It seems that I threw myself into the consequences of my life decision (lamented in my blog Juggling Balls) and lost the other 50% of myself.  And now that I am able to come for air, nearly three months later,  I am able to consolidate my experiences so far and reflect on them through my favourite medium - writing!  How I have missed writing - but as you will see it has proved rather hard to do with a knackered arm!

Avenue Q has been the challenge my unsatisfied musical theatre-self was looking for.  For those of you who don't know it is a musical advertised as an adult Sesame Street.  Inspired by the episodes full of learning in a New York street; our characters learn slightly more adult lessons complete with singing and puppets.  We manipulate these gorgeous and zany puppets to bring the story to life and after seeing the production in London it has always been a dream of mine to be in it.

I told you a bit about puppet school in previous posts but I have yet to describe the crippling and nerve searing pain that a two hour show actually creates!  It is not natural to have your arm at a 90' angle in front of you, with a cocked wrist whilst you manipulate your thumb joint up and down lip-syncing in time to your own speech patterns! And as a result of not using these muscles ever before, I am in daily agony and twice on a Friday and Saturday!  We have an angel (Physio) called Brian who visits fortnightly to ease our suffering and he has administered numerous rememdies to the four puppeteers.  The boys resembles Gwyneth Paltrow in the early noughties with big red circles on their backs after "cupping" treatment whilst I have had electricity pumped through acupuncture needles into my wrist, elbow and shoulder joints.  We still have 19 weeks to go and our arms need to survive!

I am definitely now more developed on the right side of my body from my daily arm workout and if you add in the image of the needles you would be right to picture me as a Quasimodo/Frankenstein hybrid - talk about suffering for your art!

Having said that I did bound off the Plymouth Theatre Royal stage after the first performance exclaiming that "it was the best fun I have ever had on stage!"  It is an exceptionally fun show to be part of with really young, talented and positive cast mates.  (I don't include myself in that as I am one of the three elders of the company with all the experience and cynicism that entails!)

As for the challenge; I have learnt how to attach myself to another human being and become a two handed puppet, I have learnt how to bob my poor elbow joint up and down to make my puppet walk (and not ice skate) in time with me and I have learnt how to get puppets to perform lurid sexual acts to music.  (You'll have to see the show to believe that one - my Grandad did!)

I have had to master multiple characters, break the theatrical rule of not running backstage as I sprint from puppet to puppet and somehow sing and dance as my puppet does the same.  There was no module on that in drama school!

So yes, I think I made the right decision.  I am enjoying the daily challenge, sometimes succeeding sometimes falling on my face but I had to give this dream a go.  The only downside is what I have yet to tell you - it is a touring show!  No comfy West End commute for me, I am currently driving the UK with my wardrobe in the boot of my car.  And the stories, trials and tribulations that come with that are.... worthy! 

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