Second night (or the tricky sophomore show)

January 25th, 2009

Today is the 3M Half Marathon. When I moved to the States in 2000 I couldn’t run for more than 12 minutes at a time. Less than a year later, with the help of AustinFit, I had run and raced every distance, from 5k to 10K, half marathon and finally the marathon.

It was only after I finished the marathon, that I realised what I’d achieved. Sometimes I need a reminder of how far I’ve come. And not just the 26.2 miles.

Today’s show gets a ‘good’. Not because last night’s was bad, but because I had more fun with it, I knew what to expect and I was able to fix some of the issues that had bothered me last night. And I ad-libbed a little, probably to my director’s horror, but just little things here and there. Probably not a good idea as it meant I lost my place a few times, but I think all the characters had a good time.

While I was rehashing the show last night over a few beers, a comment was made that I should step back and look at the achievement of writing and performing an hour-long show. I think I brushed it off with an ‘oh yes, absolutely right’ comment, but it didn’t really sink in till later.

When I was training for the marathon, it didn’t seem like a big deal. There were lots of us doing it, I was just part of the group. The enormity of the increasing mileage and the ultimate goal got lost in the daily routine and the schedules.

This show started out as a 10 minute performance piece at a workshop in Fresno, CA. It’s evolved and grown and been through so many drafts that it’s easy to forget where it, and I came from. I think I can honestly say I’m proud of it. As my friend Joy stated on Facebook,

“I’m really excited for you and I say “whatever” with a handwave and all to anyone who just calls it ‘fine’.”

Eight years ago I didn’t know anyone in Austin, it was just me and Erik. Now I have the most supportive, fun and diverse group of friends that I could ever imagine. That’s why Austin feels so much like my home. If you are judged by the company you keep then I can’t be too bad.

This is getting very maudlin and un-British. Where’s the sarcasm where you need it? I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for helping me find my place here. I feel pretty lucky and would hug you all, if it didn’t make me feel a little icky and uncomfortable.


First night

January 25th, 2009

A few years back I took a weekend workshop called The Mastery. It’s a cross between an acting class and a cult. There were lots of tears, laughing and screaming and through it I met one of my best friends.

The cult leader, Van Brooks is very clever and manipulative – in a kindly, benevolent dictator kind of way – and made us all feel like we could achieve anything. Which of course in nice in theory, but just doesn’t work in the real world. I mean if everyone followed their dreams there’d be no-one to do the crappy stuff. 

Some pretty intense stuff came out of the weekend but Van would never be rattled by it. You’d occasionally hear him take in a deep breath after someone had exposed their personal demons. But most often he’d just say:

‘well that happened, what’s next?’

It was the perfect response to an emotional situation. And it’s my response to last night’s show.

I have to admit to being pretty nervous beforehand. It was my first show of the Long Fringe and also the biggest in terms of audience numbers, the majority of whom were my incredibly supportive friends. Contrary to opinion, friends in the audience doesn’t make it easier. In my experience with stand-up it’s easier to play to strangers. If they don’t like you, they don’t wait around after to tell you. With friends, there can be a world of difference between ‘you were great’ and ‘you were great’. Ok, you need to be here with me, to hear the difference between them.

The show is pretty technical – lots of light and sound cues and props and costumes and set pieces so there’s a lot to remember and a lot that can go wrong. And because of the FronteraFest schedule, there’s a rush to get set-up and a rush to strike your set. And the FronteraFest staff don’t cut you any slack.

I felt quite emotional yesterday morning, thinking a lot about my dad. I then went to my acting class and was quite tearful. Fortunately, my acting teacher doesn’t believe in emotion so I had to stop wallowing and focus on the class. Faffed around for most of the afternoon, got a beautiful bouquet of roses from my dear friend Amanda, cried a bit more and left for the theatre.

The show was, in my director’s words, ‘fine’. Not really what you want to hear, but it’ll do. My main goal for the evening was DON’T SCREW UP. It’s a pretty simple goal really and perhaps instead of having lofty goals and dreams, as per my point above, people should just adopt this mantra. If everyone from pizza delivery guy to president abided by my ethos, then the country, nay the world would be brilliant. I am a global problem solver.

And I didn’t screw up. I didn’t skip pages of text, I didn’t forget cues or costume changes or props. I didn’t butcher the accents, and really who would know if I did? It was indeed, fine and at times, I even had fun out there. Today, I’m aiming for a step above. I’m not sure what comes after fine – is it good?, v. good? great? I’m working my way towards brilliance for my last show.

I think last night’s show may be reviewed. I know Barry P is reviewing two shows for the Chron but not mine. Someone was taking photos last night so it could have been a reviewer. Hope he/she didn’t hate it. Hope I look good in the photos. On the good side, I’ve heard that the reviews will only be 200 words each so how much damage can they do?