Tag Archives: childrens theatre

Q&A With ROUS’s

17 Dec

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After the performances of Narnia, all actors have been encouraged (contractually) to reappear on stage in costume and makeup (profuse sweating as a bonus), to mingle (scare the shit out of), take pics (squint funny faces), and chat (in accent mostly) with the little people in the audience (target patrons numero uno.)

…Which makes for some interesting interactions really.  And I’d be remiss not to give them a little entry all their own.  So here it is.  Some of the top Q&As of last week.  Keeping in mind that in our particular production, our costumes and makeup ride the wave of animal-people just this side of the scary valley in computer animation.  This means we are mostly people, with a few animal touches as suggestions. People clothes, but with furry accents. People faces, but for mostly nose and lip alterations.  This makes it both cute, and totally relatable on a stage, and yet (understandably) kinda super freaky to a two-year-old, when you’re squatting and talking to him about a foot from his face.

Top Ten Questions/Comments To A Rodent Of Unusual Size:

10. From a sister of a cast member: “How do they stick your tail on?”
Answer: “It jus’ grows there, silly! (Wif the ‘elp of two extra large safety pins in me bum.)”

9. From a Mom: “Can she touch your ears?”
Answer: “Of course yew can, deary!”
From Mom: “Can I?”
Answer: “They ain’t as grand as Mickey’s, but they’re sure feelin’ popular today!”

8. From Me: “Well, and wha’ was your favorite part?”
From a Big Brother: “I like the wolves. Cuz they’re mean. And that one lady. Cuz she’s mean.”
Me: “Ah…but yuh saw wha’ ‘appened to ’em!”
Big Brother: “You were alright too…sometimes.”
Me: “When I was mean?”
Big Brother: “Yeah.”

7. From an actor: “Have you seen yourself on film, doing this? The whole way you move is just hilarious! This round, wide, rolling waddle thing, with your butt popping out and hanging mid-air in that weird squat kind of shelf…?!”
Me: (long pause.) “Um. Thank you?”

6. From a friend: “So. should I start NOW on the beaver jokes or wait until later. Cuz after that whole thing, I’ve got about 140 stored up.”
Answer: “Stand in line. I’ve got 5 weeks worth, myself.”

5. From a grade-schooler: “You and your husband fight like mommy and daddy!”
Answer: “Well ‘at does ‘appen sometimes, don’t it?”

4. Two Adult patrons: “Can we take your picture?”
Me: “Certainly!”
Adult Patron one: “With us?”
Me: “A course!”
Adult Patron two: “As beavers?”
Me: “Done and done!”

3. (Toddler stands with total horrified look frozen on his face)
Toddler Mom: “Hi, he just wanted to meet you.”
Me: “Oh, alrigh’…well, ‘ow are yew, then?”
(toddler stands with total horrified look frozen on his face)
Me: “Did you have fun watchin’ all the animals?”
(toddler stands with total horrified look frozen on his face)
Me: “Which ones were your favorite?”
(toddler stands with total horrified look frozen on his face)
Me: “Am I to’ally freakin’ yew out and will la’er turn up in a shrink session someday?”
(toddler stands with total horrified look frozen on his face, as parents laugh)

2. From a Dad: “You really get into that beavering, don’t you?”
(Dad realizes what he said and starts to blush)
Dad: “I mean…”
Answer: (with a wink) ” –‘salright, love, I’ll jus’ stop yuh there…only gets worse when you try to wiggle ’round it.”

1. From 311 adults in the past four days: “Doesn’t your back hurt hunching over like that for two hours?!?!”
Answer: ” (*FUCKING) YES!!!!!!!! (*OBVIOUSLY)
(*the asterisks, implied.)

~D

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All Animals: On Deck

12 Dec

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Tomorrow is Opening.

…And in Children’s Theatre, I am now prepared to state that this means exactly the same thing as for “adult theatre.”

…Only with less cussing on final dress.

The melt-downs are a through-line, however. 

End-of-tech week, it’s something to be expected of Actors and Crew…SM’s and Directors, to have at least one or two rage/yells/freak-out/bitch-snap and/or good crys by the point we have reached today: which is the final rehearsal before Opening.

…I would just like to state right now, however, that though I’ve seen and/or participated in my own fair share of such freak-out traditions in my time, I  was only yesterday fully informed of how I’ve been doing it all wrong this whole time.

I have been SCHOOLED.

It has been NOTED.

The thing is: no one is as expert at throwing a tantrum as a preschooler.  No one is as fussy with their makeup as a teenager, even with an animal nose.  No one will complain more about what they are wearing than a grown man in a fake beard and/or knee socks. No one has known pain until they’ve played a hunched-over animal for 20 hours (so far) this week. No one understands a mother’s level of zen, until wrangling 3,000 (or so it seems) middle-schoolers, across two months of time.

This is the truth, my friends.

…And I have SEEN it.

…A three-year old Peacock having a total melt-down backstage, while Aslan is dieing and an audience looks on?  Been there.

…Frequently late Beavers, missing entrances cuz of flirting with evil wolves? Seen that.

…Unauthorised spur of the moment dance-offs during blocking, by grade-schoolers of all animalia ranges? Yep.

…The total and COMPLETE inability to stand still and listen when placing two middle-school girls together (in any variety)? Check.

…A final threat to confiscate ALL cell phones if the SM so much as catches a GLINT of glow, or thumb mid-text, on any of them, from any person in the cast, ever again? You know it.

…The come-to-Jesus final last-straw frustration of still dropped lines, fucking up whole scenes at a time, three days before opening? Uh huh.

…The look on the lead makeup artist’s face (of 24 animals), when told her earliest actor calls are only an hour and fifteen minutes before curtain? Witnessed.

…The realization that we have three days off and ten shows between now and the end of the run next Sunday? Registered.

Final conclusion?

Children’s Theatre ain’t for sissies!

You gotta MAN UP to ride this ride, people!

…There’s no “glamor.” There’s no “pacifying.”

…There’s 47 too many people in the dressing room.

…There’s 111 too many in the lobby during cross-overs.

…The lamp post is NEVER going to be where it once-upon-a-time was supposed to…so just fucking get OVER it!

You WILL run into the wardrobe on accident, during black outs.

…And several small people.

You WILL hear when the 5-year-old Stag misses her entrance.

…And mostly cuz 15 people behind the curtain will be sotto-voce-ing it to her from afar.

…Also, there WILL be laughter when you are trying to lay down whole plot monologues, which no one seems interested in…cuz holy fuck, aren’t you that one chick who was in that show that time, with the stuff and the thing…??!! And now you’ve got ears made of felt and an animal nose!?!??!

The suspension of disbelief and/or improv at this level is a thin, thin line, my friends. Some are better at playing both sides, than others. I am not one of the better ones.

…I am going out there (stupid as it may seem to some) as a fucking BEAVER.

It’s my job.

So: I’m doing it. And I take it seriously.

It’s studied, and justified, and articulate, and specific as all my stage work always is. I don’t know how to do it any other way. I never have.

…So: from day one, I’ve been Mrs. Beaver. And this weekend, I was Mrs. Beaver. And tomorrow, and the next week…I will show up for every performance and bust JUST as much ass, being a non-hibernating mammal, as I have in anything else I’ve ever done.

…Because, (though I have tried) I don’t quite understand the way to differentiate it out.

A role is a role.

A scene partner is a scene partner.

Age ten or not.

…And though it may come with plenty of “good” sides to it: this mindset is a dangerous one to have (I’ve found) in the world of little people theatre.

…The expectations: for myself, are the very same I expect from them. From everyone. I always have.

I’m a hardass about “show up and work.”

I admit it.

…And while I am TOTALLY glad I’ve come to play with my friends and theatre family in Narnia over the holiday…lets just say: I’m comfortable in acknowledging that I’ve not missed my “calling,” all these years, after all.

Three things I know to be true, from the experience of where I stand now (in retrospect):

1) I am not “mother” material

2) I will always be frustrated by wasted/unfocused rehearsal time (child-related or not)

3) I can play a decent Beaver

Let it be noted.

~D

Behind The Scene Beaverfications

3 Dec

So you’ve never been a beaver before. That’s cool, I mean we were all there once.  But I know stuff now that might come in handy, should you ever undertake playing one…(or becoming cursed or otherwise enchanted into it.)

…First: little-known truisms:

* Beavers secretly have the best butts in the whole of the animal kingdom. And legs of steel.  This is because squatting and waddling burns so many calories per hour that you could eat a whole Giant Red Sequoia and still come out lookin’ like Suzanne Somers from the 90’s Thigh Master years.
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(How everyone NOT in the Beaver lineage, keeps it fit.)

* Beavers aren’t big on the “animal soundtrack” album.  They are still frankly pretty pissed about not being offered a contract with the “See n Say” recording studio.  But that’s okay, cuz  little-known-fact is: (and by “fact” I mean “we totally made it up”), Beavers sound alot like Chewbacca. Expecially when angry.
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(Only the “popular animals,” my ass! Beavers are the cheerleaders of Narnia, bitches!)

* Beavers know all the answers to every plot question ever known to man. And all the secret forest pathways. In fact, Wizards have been studying them for centuries, cuz they only WISH they were as awesome. This is why you have two all-powerful pointy-hatters in those “Lord of the Ring” books and it STILL takes 80 years, two generations, ten or twelve armies, and three months of constant video streaming time, to climb one fucking hill just to throw a stupid ring off the top…and why our show is currently clocking in at an hour and a half.
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(“I got this.”)

* Beavers are the sole of discretion. Especially if you accidentally-on-purpose run away to join in cahoots with a White Witch, and decided later (when she tries to kill you), that maybe that wasn’t the best idea. No questions asked, you can rejoin the good-guy team, whenever you want to. (Also, we won’t say anything about how you accidentally tooted while waddle-running in battle that one time.)
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(Honey, what I know could fill a book, but buy me a drink: and we call it even.)

* Beavers have a certain sophistication which most forest animalia lack. Where the horse may have some powerhouse elegance, and the birds: a certain designer-label-born beauty…the Beaver can muck around, sweating and rolling all over the stage (or forest floor) all night long, battling Russian wolves and evil she-creatures galore…but their favorite way to unwind end-of-the-night, is still a decent sized cocktail, while watching Once Upon A Time on bluray.
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(Some “me” time, end-of-the-battle day.)

* Beavers are masters of disguise and stealth. In fact, they can hide in plain sight while overhearing stage conversations for whole scenes at a time. Their secret is keeping super still. And the fact that apparently every other animal is really really nearsighted with terrible senses of smell.
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(The famous “statue” pose, figuring largely into our specific production.)

* Beavers like to argue. A lot. They’ve placed first at every International bickering convention since 1902. Mostly tossed up in a good natured way, the bickering is how the Beaver shows their over-protective love. Kinda like your Mother. (And other alternatively aggressive ethnic family.)
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(“For Chrissake Ralphie, you lazy bastard! Did you mud over that last layer yet?! You want we should all die in a hut cave-in or what?!”)

…In short, when undertaking to portray one of these fine, noble, classy bastards…have some respect for the Mob Boss of the forest. Cuz they’ve got this animal kingdom shit tied up ’round their little finger. Truth.

~D

The One Where They Start Throwing Money

11 Nov

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Strange how much not like a whore I feel today, being as Corporate finally folded and started throwing greenbacks our way to get us to stay.

…It is a small amount, but larger than we realistically thought they would offer, is set retro-active to the day Boss walked out, and will be the FIRST of a PHASE of raises, impending this year, as the office continues to restructure.

…Which means: I don’t have to keep looking for a job anymore (the worst second full-time job EVER) and I’ll be able to actually pay ALL my bills now, (instead of just running a bastardized Lotto system every month to see who wins all the bucks THIS time.)

Huge giant leaps in the world of less stress…I gotta tell yuh.

…And not only THAT, but the WHS Pimp (acting head of OPS) decided we should split the branch bonus every month instead of just accruing it himself…so a certain someone might even be able to stuff some bucks away now…or like, you know, opt into a retirement plan again (which I haven’t had since my young 20’s.)

About. Fucking. Time. (Says I.)

About. Fucking. Time.

…So, that happened last week.  Along with the usual other work shit…which strangely is a lot less stressful in retrospect with a couple of bucks in your pocket.

In Other News: Inappropriate Beavering continues. I have my first Beaver fitting on Wednesday…which (I have to admit) is slightly terrifying. You guys, they took circumference measurements of my head. And also: we have tails.

…In my brains we look something like adults in furry footie PJs, and those knit beanie caps topped with animal ears, with a four foot plastic shovel sewed to our ass. During fight call last week (wherein I was given a weapon of a rolling pin, that I obviously haul around with me always and merely need to pull outta my Beaver pocket to use as needed), we discussed the concern of tail room in general. With the 30,000 children in this show, the possibility that it WON’T be stepped on (and thus rip my whole butt off at some point), is pretty slim. They had thought of this ahead of time, I guess, as we heard that we will have amended, smaller tails, which just changed the pictoral in my head to look something like a gopher with a giant cling-on poop coming outta his butt.

…Which reminds me…

…At some point we elder Beavers were like, “Um…what the hell kinda noise does a Beaver even make?” So, naturally, I went home and YouTubed Beavers. Which pulled up a whole PLETHORA of range in info…not all of which has to do with Beavers at all. And no, I’m not just talking about sexy stuff. I’m talking about the worrisome amount of adults WORLDWIDE who don’t know the difference between an Otter, a Groundhog, a Ferret, and a Gopher. Seriously. Most of these people were at Zoos…with their children…where the animals are LABELED in various languages. And yet there is clip after clip of Moms and Dads talking to their three-year-old about how cute the Beavers are, when any idiot can read that they are (in fact) Prairie Dogs.

…But after I was done worrying about the poor and utterly misinformed children of idiots, I spent the rest of the time watching National Geographic clips and fucking hilarious Canadian beer commercials.

…Meanwhile…never once finding out the kind of noise that a Beaver makes.

Apparently, it is an unsolved mystery.

Science may NEVER find out.

…So, I think I’ll just make some shit up and go from there.

…This is what we call “Improv.” And is a totally legit thing to teach our Baby Beavers. Unlike the stupid people who scar their children for life by taking them to Zoos and calling Giraffe’s “cows” and shit.

The end.

~D

Beavering Away

29 Oct

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So, I’m popping my Beaver cherry. 

…And with that, as many gauche and explicitly  inappropriate  references to the subject that I can make (or anyone else can, for that matter) will follow.

Children’s theatre.  For the Holidays.

…Friends I know run it. Friends I know do it. So I thought, “Whelp, at least there will be friends…that I know…in it.” Thus began my first venture into the world of children’s theatre.

…Not that I haven’t done theatre WITH children (for, I have), or performed FOR them in the past (Hello, ridiculous 9 am student matinees)…but this would be the first time I had ever began a show whose goal audience IS, “children.”

As one of a handful of actual adults in the upcoming “Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe,” I’ll be attempting to embrace the wholesome atmos being a good and wise example, (whilst little people are watching)…and making fun of it as wrongly as possible, when they are not. 

Why? 

…BECAUSE I’M PLAYING A FUCKING BEAVER.

(Totally different from a Beaver fucking, P.S. You can tell, because I’m a “Mrs.”  That means there is a “Mr.”  We already have two beaver kids, and everyone knows…sex after that for married mammals is non-existent.  Which is prob’ly why they bicker so much in the script.  Sex antagonism.)

…First off, the “Mr.” is out, TOTALLY ignoring them all by working on his damn dam all day.  (A useful excuse if I ever heard one.)  I mean, it’s been ice and snow in Narnia for like what…five generations or something?  Am I right?  What the hell is he daming up?  There’s no stream flowing through there.  There’s no mud to pack.  Shit is FROZEN, bro.  Has been forever.  Prob’ly always WILL be.  But yeah, you go out and keep “working” on that dam, dude.

…Meanwhile, the “Mrs” is stuck inside that frozen hut all day, dealing with never-hibernating children.  Constantly hungry.  Constantly cold. And housebound. Everyone’s all freaky-deaky about the White Witch and all her secret followers, so even sending the kids outside to play and get the hell outta your fur for five minutes is basically just inviting the Child Protective Services to come knocking on your hut, being all:

CPS Rep (prob’ly a Kangaroo): “Uh, yes, Ma’am…we have report of child neglect from a few of your neighboring Oak Trees and local Ground Covers. They feel very concerned that you aren’t taking proper precautions to the White Witch Warnings.”

Me: “Oh, really?”

Kangaroo: “Yes, Ma’am.”

Me: “Well, let me ask you this, Mr. Roo …or-whatever-the-hell-your-name-is…have you ever been in constant fucking demand in an ice-bound hut, with no ventilation for three decades, going on four…while early onset beavopause, hot flashes night and day…running off and on like a sunofabitch, as your body keeps packing on winter weight you’ll never lose the whole of your fucking life, non-stop, while your children scream at you all day long about how bored they are of eating twigs and frozen bark, and your husband is out, every day, futzing with some goddamn dam, useless as a tick on a dog, without so much as a stream trickle to keep at bay, as even his PISS freezes before it reaches the ice-packed ground?!”

Kangaroo: “Well…no. I can’t say that I have.”

Me: “Alright then!”

…So begins the character motivation work.

Now that we know the dynamics of “home life,” we can begin to delve into the curious fact of there being but TWO Beavers (and corresponding children) in all of Narnia to begin with…which begs answers to questions like, “where did we even come from?” And, “If it’s so shitty in there, why don’t we just leave? Cuz clearly everyone else did.”

…Not to mention the supremely convenient, total-rip-off-of-entire-character-existence, by J.K. Rowling, in this whole business.

Seriously.

Make us human and call us “Weasley.”

Think about it for a hot second.

We’re Bohemian, country bumpkins with weird accents . (Check.)

We are the natural defenders and protectors of the “Chosen One(s).” (Check.)

We are responsible for explaining all the main plot, concepts, and obstacles, to the completely ignorant main characters. (Check.)

Our home is demolished by evil bastards in vengeance. (Check)

Our kids are almost killed by a total mentally evil and fucked-up Witch. (Check.)

…Only real difference is, the Weasleys have super-awesome magical powers…while, as Beavers, we have…

…Buck teeth.

And…

Yep. I got nothin.’

Wow.

Did we get the shaft on that one, or what?

So…to round things up:

We are the only surviving animals in our class, left in this place of total frozen devastation, waiting indefinitely for a prophecy to come true, which if/when it DOES, will mean CERTAIN war…which we will fight, with the use of nothing.

Good plan.

Totally logical.

Don’t see how it could POSSIBLY fail.

…I mean, it’s like work here at the office, really, when you think about it.

Frozen wasteland of crap, surrounded in devastation.

…And look how well THAT turned out for us!

~D

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