Tuesday, 22 November 2011

More thoughts on Matilda and Giants in the Earth performers and the musical theatre.

Went into the Watermill today and members of the Giants cast want to know what I thought were the highlights of Matilda.  Obviously there are some bits that stand out, some excellent individual performances but for me it was the coherence from beginning to end that made the show.  Coherence of intention, quality of performance, production values. They batted all the way down the order - not a weak link.  They were a company, not a group of adult actors who worked with a different team of kids each night.  The respect they had for each other was obvious.
And that made me think about the performers we're working with this week. And to start with I have to say that I'm not used to working with actors whose background is mainly musical theatre, and also I gave up being an actor, I'd like to say because I recognised my limitations, but really it was because I hated being out of work and at that stage in my life I couldn't handle rejection.
Okay. So between them our actors, and those I worked with on the previous development weeks, have been involved in a large number of the most popular musical. 
I do get irritated by what I see as the high level of drama that some of them bring to everyday events. Because I'm an impatient sod and I take no pride in that.
And I think it's a large and mitigating but I do understand why some appear to live every moment of their lives at hyper intensity. Vulnerability. At every stage of the process they face rejection. They are too tall.  Too short. Too thin.  Not thin enough. They're the wrong size for costumes that already exist.
They have to be the best.  The voice. The dancing. Every move.  Every note.  Has to be right on the money. Every time.  All the time.  Every audition  or they don't make the cut.
How do you erect the defences  to cope with that?
God knows it's tough to be an actor but to be a performer in the musical theatre...
It's a job.  It's not coal mining. Or working on a deep sea trawler. Or being shipped out to Afghanistan with your regiment.
But, come on.  We should applaud all those who face the vulnerability of human existence in whatever way it presents itself. So chapeau! To all those who are working with us. To all those who make the cut.  And to those who don't make the cut but keep on hanging in there.  Because that's what we're all trying to do, isn't it?

A musical week - Giants and Matilda

Working in London and at the Watermill Newbury on the second development week for Giants in the Earth.  Yesterday Matt and Neil the MD worked with the actors securing the music, today we'll start be doing more on the new sections in Act Two.  When I'm working on a scene even if it might appear to be a mess I know what I'm aiming for and what the process is that will get us there.  Can't do that with the music, not when it's as complex as this so in the afternoon  left Matt and the others and went for a walk and by the time I got back the disconnected sounds had come together and I could see where we were headed.  It's the same for him when I'm messing about. We trust each other's work and that's what matters.  I loathe offering up hostages so I'll go so far as to say that it appears that what we have written may very well not be complete rubbish.
On my walk I passed the Cambridge and got myself a ticket to Matilda. Top tip - £25 next to the sound desk, and only a restricted view in the strictest sense.  Brilliant show.  Loved it.  Go and see it - you don't even need a tame child to take as an excuse.