My wife’s background is visual arts & drama. In a past life she has been a Art (the whole Department) teacher, Drama teacher and a Special Education (History & Performing Arts) teacher. Now retired, she has become the directer & founder of the Elliot Lake Roundabout Exceptional Puppeteers. She is also a member of the Jewels of Harmony (four part harmony) singers and a member of Elliot Lake Arts Council (ARIEL).
You know, when you are married for as long as we have been and are now both retired, somehow certain aspects of one’s lives seem to blend into one another. To put it another way, a little over a week ago I found myself bound for the boards. Perhaps I should explain,……… .
It begins with the typical things, a need of a driver, a lugger of props & materials, ….. and there is a bit of technical support. You know, a few photos to be taken, a very limited assist with audio editing and digital copies, and perhaps a bit of assistance with image editing and the sort. Gladly given, along with assistance setting up a blog. Nothing out of the range of my limited skills.
Mind you, one’s home environment does get somewhat transformed over time. Stage lighting and props invade the garage & house.
Puppets start appearing in interesting locations – life size puppets.
Well, no matter, it adds a bit of surreal charm to the home’s natural sense of chaos. The singers did invade for a barbecue – the ladies appreciated the cooking and I got to prepare some of my better numbers on the grill. They were really happy as the evening progressed – must have been the sugar in the funny jelly cubes and fruit flavoured drinks. Lots of singing and laughter. And they did come by to sing on Valentine’s Day.
All in all, an interesting retirement, …… now, a couple of weeks ago is when things got a bit more dramatic. Liz had taken on the role of the Mad Hatter when Cora had to be away for a couple of weeks, then the scarecrow called in with medical issue. It was a Friday and the next performance was at a senior’s manor on the Tuesday. She asked my son – he who is in London – by way of Skype what he would suggest. “ Get Dad to do it,” was his reply.
So there I sat, watching them set up the stage, and calling up my spirit mentors, Harpo Marx, Red Skeleton and Stan Laurel. There is no dialogue – all prerecorded narrative multi-character voiced by Liz. Let me see,….. to be or not to be.
Tuesday evening Liz came in the door and said, “ You have a part in our play.” I had an existential moment of confusion – I was the Scarecrow again. As it turned out the Jewels were putting on a dinner & show Friday and Saturday and there was a need of extra actors.
Liz had been talking about the up-coming show. It seemed a bit confusing in the initial descriptions. It would primarily showcase the Jewels and a guest quartet, “On The Rocks”. from Sudbury. The theatrical element, as I understood it, was that it would be presented as if it were a live radio broadcast before a live audience.
Now the catch was “back to the 70s”. Not only was there going to be a small cast performing the roles of MC, sound effects man, and radio performers putting on a Old Time Radio mystery, but everyone was to act as if they were back in the 70s. The girls in the chorus would flirt with the MC and the radio performers and all sorts of shenanigans would ensue. In short a play with in a play. How Shakespearean, …… to be or not to be .
Liz said there was no problem. She told them that her husband was an English teacher and could do anything of a theatrical nature,…….. project voice, Italian accent. No need to worry, the “radio script” would be in my hand on Wednesday before the Thursday rehearsal.
Now as some of you know, I have a fondness for Old Time Radio and radio drama in general. My parents would talk of listening to the old radio shows and the impact it had on them. Back in the early 60s, when I was just turning into a comic-book and science fiction geek, there was a brief revival of radio drama – Lights Out and The Shadow had me hooked. Of course, I could not turn down the chance to perform in a mock radio drama, ………. oh, but who could foresee any complications before the metaphorical curtain went up ?
Well Wednesday arrived, the script did not. I did find out I was to be the butler with a “butlery accent”. There would be an afternoon 2:00 o’clock run through on Thursday, before the evening dress rehearsal. Unfortunately, Liz & I, being typical retired people, had an appointment with the doctor at that time. Well then the script would have to wait till dress rehearsal,…… this was beginning to feel more and more like teaching. You have a lesson plan and then the class walks in and the improvisation begins,……… back to Red, Harpo and Stan. It is a comedy after all and I can imagine the accompanying laughter.
So there I sat, watching them set up the last bit of props on the stage. Liz had created these fantastic Old Time Radio mikes with the call letters that went the stage banners. The Ladies came appropriately dressed in their 70s regalia. I made sure I had a brightly coloured wide tie. And so it began, ………. introducing the cast. A number of us had never met before. Interestingly, several of the gentlemen had wives who were in the Jewels chorus – quite a coincidence.
All went on, two nights of great music and a bit of laughter to fill the imaginary airwaves. If this should happen again, perhaps with enough advanced preparation portions could be recorded for online consumption. Why do I hear laughter ?
The final note, as I said at the beginning, there is a blending of lives. Liz tells me my efforts were acceptable enough that I am now considered community theatre worthy material. I guess they didn’t notice I had the script in my hand, but then it was radio.
Now is the time to check out some other blogs.
Hello Fig has a theatrical all star post for you
The done by hand work on this blog has been inspiring some of my own virtual projects & processes.
Over at Fuzzy Photo you will find
Dramatic Dragons in B&W (check other posts for parrots).
Go to Lemony Shots to experience the poetic & visual that is
For a Media Literacy look at Broadway and classical music on my other blog go to see & hear ………