I just performed in a play! It’s been a while since I’ve been on stage in a full length production and this was my first time treading the boards in the good ol’ U S of A*.
This play (titled ‘Off Book’) is unique in that it’s written by my uber talented friend Khai Dattoli, who not only wrote and produced it, but also plays one of the lead roles.
There’s nothing like that initial panic you get when you first read a script and see how many lines you have. There’s always that moment of ‘I’m NEVER going to remember all this!’ but as I’ve learned, if the writing is good enough, it’s actually very easy to learn 100 pages or so of dialogue.
Since Khai knows me well (we take classes together at The Sport of Acting) and she has seen me perform many times, I’m honored to say that she wrote the part of Emily Roberts specifically for me. Emily Roberts just happens to be an uptight, condescending bitch (told you she knows me well) and the most fun character a girl could ask to play. The show also allows me to switch from British to American accents as we dive in and out of the ‘play within a play’ in the story, something I love to do! Although it did prompt the assistant director and several audience members to clarify whether I was British or not (I guess my British accent sucks.)
When I was a wee lass at acting school in Wigan, my life revolved around when my next stage production was. I played everything from a street-wise fairy to an Arabian princess and I spent a lot of time being pissed off that I didn’t get to wear blue costumes since I pretty much only ever wore blue (it’s the important things, you know?).
During this time, I must have been ages 10 to 14 or so, my Dad (remember 3rd rat?) would volunteer to do the backstage work with some of the other actors’ parents. They always became the highlight of the productions, sneaking in for cameos where they could and providing necessary banter backstage.
One time in particular stands out for me. Dad was in one of the wings during Arabian Nights and had one of the prop parrots in his hand. He picked up a rubber band and was pretending to launch it across the stage to one of the other Dads in the opposite wing. Quite entertaining for the bored kids backstage who only got to go on for two minutes of the entire show. However….the birds tail feathers came out….and the poor parrot shot across the stage in the middle of a scene and scared the crap out of everyone. Hysterical?, Yes. Professional? Meh, it was a kids community theater show…what did they expect?
In my teen years, I attended a Saturday drama class where we put on a slightly higher caliber of show and with this group I was able to perform at the Lowry Theatre in Salford as well as at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. My teacher in these classes was very different to the ones I had in my younger years. He was incredibly strict. During a performance at the Edinburgh festival my poor lobster passed out on stage and was dragged off. The second she came round she received the biggest bollocking of her life off our teacher! Of course it was completely her fault that she passed out you absolute numpty! How ‘bout a “are you ok” next time?!
We had some characters in that group, some extremely talented kids who went on to be pretty big stars both in the UK and the US, as well as the ones that….well….let’s just say they didn’t take things very seriously. One performance I was given some extra lines to say (because I’m awesome, obviously) and right after I said my line, on stage in front of maybe 50 people or so, the loud mouth girl behind me squawks “how come she gets to say that line?!” IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SHOW! Discussion for afterwards perhaps, love??
I’m pleased to say I am now old enough to have a hissy fit and demand that I wear blue in performances (Ms. Emily Roberts wore blue in ‘Off Book’ thank you very much), but I did miss my Dad’s antics in the wings. Don’t get me wrong, we had our own backstage drama during ‘Off Book’, mostly to do with flying bugs and doors that open and close when they’re not supposed to, but you’ll never beat Mr. Inappropriate, the parrot with no tail.
I think my poor little brother Daniel has been dragged to just about every play I’ve ever done. Typically, this being the one I’m absolutely proud as punch of, he was not in the country at the time to see it, nor were my parents. But don’t fear! They and you will get to see the show in shiny lovely DVD format very soon…..and before that….I could share a few of my experiences from the 6 weekends of performances we just wrapped up……stay tuned! And while you’re waiting, check out some of our wonderful reviews…… http://tolucantimes.info/theatre_review/off-book-a-world-premiere-at-the-secret-rose-theatre/
*pretty sure that’s something only old people say but whatever.