2017-134-Arts Project (show 3 and 4)

Arts Project (show 3 & 4)

Hello friend,

We had some time in the morning to sort out a few technical glitches; sound effects; lettering the cubes for the house; sound levels, etc. Ran through a few parts with Project Instrumental; I could spend all day with those guys, just listening to their playing.

The afternoon went so much better. Everyone was so much more relaxed and the band, strings and performers were a lot tighter; hardly any mistakes. All of the stress from the day before had gone, so this was just a lot of fun.

The guy from the Geese Theatre Company was there. He was almost lost for words. Actually, he had really helped the performers unlock their emotions and understand their characters’ motivations. There was another dramatic arts group (Tipp) who work with prisoners and attended; also very excited by the show. It all went so well.

The evening (and final) show was the best; apart from a couple of gaffes on my part. The scene at the start is set on a beach. The strings play a slightly off kilter ‘Beside the Seaside’. The vocals come in one at a time, “ba-ba-rap…” layering a 4- part harmony. My part is the 3rd vocal where I come running out into the performance area, doff my hat, and we’re off. Unfortunately, I stupidly had reversed the position of my headset mic battery pack, so when I tried to slide the mute button it didn’t unmute (as I was sliding it the wrong way). I managed to unmute it halfway through my first verse, duh!

My 2nd and, more embarrassing moment happened when I left the ‘stage’ to join the band; which I have to do 3 times. On one of these occasions, I bumped into the first violinist’s music stand sending their score flying! All of the quartet found this

amusing, judging by their smiling; or were they just trying to make me feel better? Ever the consummate professional, the first violinist had the score back on the music stand, turned to the right page and was back playing the right bar within a couple of seconds. Impressive.

By halfway through, we were really cooking. I even got some of the quartet to join in some of the unison, hooky, vocal chants. On one number we all shouted “NO” at the end of each line, to exorcise the dark character. The cello player was really going for it; cue lots more laughter from the quartet. It was a lot of fun.

On the final number, ‘Coming Home’, the guy playing ‘Jimmy G’, the main character, got so overwhelmed by the emotion of his character’s journey and the lyrics of the song that he actually broke down. He’d told me that it nearly happened on the afternoon show, so I knew why he had stopped singing. I had to take over the vocals at that point but then I started struggling to hold it together. Oh, my word! What a shared experience that was. We got the biggest standing ovation of the run after we limped to the end of the number.

The great thing about the building of the house during a song called ‘Coming Home’ is that when Jimmy G gets handed the final cube to finish the house the audience instinctively know that the journey is over, the show is at an end, and start clapping. Throughout the rest of the show, there was no clapping and you could hear a pin drop in the few, purposely, silent moments. One outside visitor said they struggled not to clap after each number; the silence was really powerful.

We did the curtain call, to a reprise of the most upbeat, hooky, and unashamedly sing-along parts of the show, during which I nearly went again, and then it was all over. As the evening shows were squeezed into the short amount of time we get out of our cells, we are very quickly moved out of the chapel and back to the wings; no time to chat or indulge in after show hospitality.

I had my own after show party after being locked up for the night: ice-cream and summer berry fruit – rock ‘n’ roll man! Although, it only took 2 mouthfuls of ice cream clarted over my moustache for me to shave it off there and then; finally!

Well, the shows are over but some parts of the project still require completion; the evaluation, for one. I think I need a few days to recharge before getting stuck into anything else.

“Why did you leave, did it all get too much
All those dreams that we had, with us sharing our touch
Now take all my pain, give me hope in its place
For our future, the one I can face….with you”
(The Guardian – Graham Coutts)

“Meet me at the station
Eskimo eyes
You were my salvation
My love, star and sunrise”
(Coming Home – Graham Coutts)

Be happy, be safe.
Graham Coutts, 17th October 2017

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