There’s a lot about this picture you might not like. Just as there is a lot of this Panto process that is maybe starting to become more difficult to get your head round.
The waiting -for one.
The higher standards of performance demanded here – for another
The language we now use in The Rehearsal Room – is tricky to click Into .
Technique , Foot Work , Aesthetic , spacial awareness , energy drain , upper body , mindset , audience/ actor circle , the fourth wall , symmetry …the vocab goes on …
Members of SPACE and HuB naturally understand this way of speaking in a rehearsal room , others pulling from many PACE group levels may not be used to this stage-work talk and the way we tend to speak and act around each other.
It is an exciting new environment to be part of, once you get the hang of what we are “talking” about and realise that we can’t always put it in a ” plain way ” – that we need to express ourselves better , to raise our standards to a professional acting space.
I don’t see you as just young people , but rather as young Panto “actors” …if I just saw you as “your age”, I would treat you all differently and that wouldn’t be good for our one cast , one “direction” show .
So you have to start “learning the room lingo” and in this case ” getting a bit more theatre French ”
Hence the picture and the title of the Post – with a whole lot of Bouillabaisse …
As we’ve been a bit ” soupy ” in our opening number critique since we came back into rehearsals again , maybe this strange French word needs some explanation.
Bouillabaisse is a hearty French Fish Soup – almost a stew , full of potatoes , tomatoes , onion , celery , herbs , spices and “fruits de mer” ( seafood )
A whole filling tasty meal in a bowl !
I love it… But then I love seafood . Some may , as I said , look at this picture of it and go ” yuk ! ”
But the point is not to like it , the point is to understand and appreciate all the wonderful , different ingredients that go into making it so appetising.
Almost a national dish in its’ own right , just as we have Haggis ( for me – yuk!)
And as this dish offers its ” seafood ” challenges to some fearful palates , so does the opening of our Sleeping Beauty 2015 , in respect of its French natured , Commedia-explosive , quick footed, interactive , stage managed , prop dependant , upper body energised , well acted components.
If Bouillabaisse ( pronounced bweeabess) is the ideal “look” of the opening in “heartier” French food terms , then other soupcon attempts will just not cut the French mustard or taste so good to the “hungry for entertainment” audience! We need it tasty , chunky and satisfying to get the show started right.
We’ve had it all this week: from clear stock ” Consomme” (team 3 style) to a slightly bland but fuller Vichyssoise ( cold potato and leek ) with other teams maybe just missing that << je ne sais Qoui ?! >> factor in their opening delivery
It probably starts best from the way you << Allons y >> – how you command our attention and how you then <<tour en l’Air >> into the entrance of that CAKE !
The French do cake very well ! Just look at this one ! Very Crouquem Bouche !
Wasn’t it the decadent and glamourous Young French Queen ( by marriage ) Marie Antoinette ( sadly beheaded at the hands of Madame Guillotine during the French Revloution ) who said of her starving French People
” let them eat cake! ”
I think she probably didn’t realise the extent of her decadent Versaille lifestyle and how her idea of cake being “daily bread” was somewhat misplaced.
Anyway I digress …( Comme toujours )
The opening like a cake of perfect Rose delight has to be a huge special statement , one to leave the audience eager for more …
…to let the professional cast then enter on our happy opening “high” and to continue to drive the play ” sweetly , comically and romantically ” forward.
For that to happen successfully , there has to be a whole lot going on in your stage cooking pot, such drama ingredients as
Great Stage Interaction – using one another as actors for building excitement
Eye popping visual imagery – shapes , stage patterns , perfect choreography
Electric physicality – bodies full of energy , grounded, open , strong and delivering quick moves and gestures that seemlessly blend into each other
Audience rapport – eyes engaging the front , middle and back rows at all times , looking for people to entertain.
Passion , precision , personality , presence ….a pot pourri of perfumed stage action …
There has to be BOUILLABAISSE !!!
This won’t happen without more effort , without harder work , without a dedication to your role that goes beyond just turning up for the rehearsals . More than just getting up and doing the moves , and definitely more than going from 5.30-9 in PACE.
Casting Panto is never easy . There are many who are natural for it , the ones who have trodden these famous PACE Panto boards before , who know the way to go and yearly follow the yellow brick road all the way to their emerald city – they know it’ll be tough , long ,a bit Mhairi scary at times – but they know that what they get when they spend one short play there , is worth all the stress in the Ozian end .
Then there are the ones who deserve another go , who maybe weren’t as great last year as they could have been if they’d only had more understanding of been ready for what was asked of them , but who at least merit the chance to do it all again – this time so much better .
And finally “the newbies” – the risk taken , the unpredictable but seem so keen , the “just have a feeling about this one” .
It’s difficult to know how anyone “new to panto” will be in the rehearsal room scene, if they’ll manage to get throuh boot camp and onto stage – in the end.
Panto casting is never easy . But it can made worthwhile if you live up to the expectations I have for you and to your end of the bargain , which is – I let you in – what can you do for this ” creative stage ” in return ?
Group pages – a daily digest of information about your Team’s development shows only one side of the journey – the other side appears every time your team gets up to block – make sure you are completely involved in both these things.
I think all teams are functioning satisfactorily now .
Team 1 is clearly showing a more natural feel for this year’s style of delivery ( Commedia ) Will they continue to do this? – why not ? Abby is a very dynamic role model both as a performer and team leader and as the longest serving panto member in the entire Cast, in PACE – having appeared in almost a decade of pantos . Starting as a young P4 in the role of ” a friendly mouse” in Cinderella in 2007 . She has fantastic Panto credentials and is throughly invested in this part of PACE heritage , believing as I do that if you don’t get PANTO , you don’t ever really “get” PACE.
Team 2 are still I feel , to find their operating level (energy wise) . I think the team is still “syncing” as a group , people still finding their feet with each other and taking time to assess the playing field around them – and while this is all very positive , isn’t it time to throw caution to the “Pocahontas” wind and get stuck in ? !
I’m sure Erin would appreciate this sentiment ! She is the epitome of someone who cares passionately about others and the journey they will have through this privileged stage once they let go . So come on Team 2 , “leaf” your fear at the door and show us your true colours!
Garth like Abby is a Panto old hand , a product of the best of Panto days. His aim is always perfection . No bad thing , why be less than you are capable, simply because you fear harder work. Team 3 is his current team leader “harder work” and he relishes the challenge , he , like a “force Majeure ” will turn your world upside down and inside out and make you want to better , just because …
The team is not daunted but not fully settled , but easing in certain good places . But I think a little more fishy food will fatten their act !
Team 4 , last at the Spires 1 door , but first to enthuse and rise to the challenge ! I like their spirit , I like their group page …so Inspiring the way they support each other in cyber space. But there is a fracture still on stage , something not coming over from the whole team page ethic . A woodland / folk thing . That I think needs to be fixed for this team to gel.
Nathan is great in his ambition for this team , he has a broader vision of things and is culturally open to making this experience as enjoyable for his cast as possible . Not just the stuff we need to understand to get references in the room , but also introducing you to other drama sources out with. A very enlightened approach
What we have here is 4 teams and 4 inspiring leaders and I haven’t even got to the Deps yet ( I’ll save that for another post )
We’re there for you . But you all need to reach up to us , so we can help.
The Opening will be done by Sunday . The next number awaits and then the next and the next and then we’re ” finale home” …
One month and counting …time to ACT.
So here are 12 rehearsal ways to beat the “Consomme” or ” Blancmange” or ” Comme Ci Comme ca ” in your approach to Panto Performance …
1 – find a “better” role model to aspire to
2 – make a connection on stage with a focused acting other
3 – get a little tricolour in your French delivery , white for open , blue for calm , red for passionate
4 – listen to what is being said in the room by birds of a different feather , signs are everywhere for you to follow – you just have to look with better eyes at what is going on , round about you.
5 – passion drives people forward in performance , so ask yourself these key drama questions before a rehearsal – who are you ? why are you here ? what is your ultimate goal ? when are you going to be ready? how is this going to end ?
6 – sitting waiting for it to happen isn’t going to work , you have to start pushing now. Panto is about one golden opportunity , don’t let it pass you by
7- swimming with big performance fish isn’t easy , but it will make you feel more stylish in the long run if you at least try and do as they do
8 – the more effort you put in , the more you get out , the more compliments will come. as you are finally seen.
9- Dance is the body’s natural reaction to drama – stop making it the problem – you control your body , you control your mind – let your emotions simply process the way you are feeling to your muscles instinctively , and LET IT GO. Dance will follow – naturally.
10 – “leap and your wings will appear” so stage truthful – be brave in this Panto , be bold in your ambition to do well here .
11 – At some point , you’ll hear the sound of music and just dance !
12 – follow the beat of our SPIRES drum , not the PACE crowd and this could be the start of something very Panto different !
In the words of one celebrated ( American ) French Cook – we can always learn to get better ….
Recipe for cooking up great rehearsals from now on ? ….absolutment!