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1. The season of one-act plays opens tomorrow, and my first attempt at directing will be exposed to a paying audience. I'm not worried; the play's come together really well, it got a good response from the people who saw it at the dress rehearsals, and in the unlikely event that the proper audience is less appreciative I have Oscar Wilde's bon mot ready to hand.

The fact that I'm not worried didn't stop me having the usual between-final-rehearsal-and-opening-night-mare last night. Interestingly, it was the usual "on stage and forgotten my part" version, even though I'm directing and not acting this time; I suppose since I've never directed before, my unconscious doesn't have any raw material to craft an appropriate horror out of.

2. The annual performing arts festival was last weekend. (The music section; the drama section will be in a few weeks, after the one-acts are done with.) What with one thing and another, including rehearsals for the one-acts, I didn't make it to any of the sessions except the one in which I played in the brass band. I didn't even stick around long enough after we played to find out the results, but I expect we did as well as we usually do. I completely missed the Character Vocal section, which is the bit I look forward to all year. According to the programme, that means I missed out on someone in the under-14 division attempting my solo number from Chicago; I have no idea whether that's something to regret or be thankful for. I also note the unusual fact that nobody sang "A Whole New World", "Beauty and the Beast", or "Colors of the Wind" this year. I've always suspected there was a particular singing teacher with a partiality; I wonder if somebody's left town?

3. I have seen the new Doctor Who episode. The gap between a new Doctor Who episode airing in Britain and in Australia has been gradually decreasing: at first, the ABC wouldn't begin running a new season until the whole thing had run on the BBC, then they started airing new episodes with only a few weeks delay, then it got down to one week. It's probably stuck at one week as long as the BBC and ABC both prefer showing Doctor Who on Saturday evenings (the ABC can't show it on the same Saturday as the BBC because Saturday evening in Australia is Saturday morning in Britain, so Australia would be getting it first) - but this year, new episodes are being made available for viewing on the ABC's web site less than 24 hours after they debut in Britain. So I have seen the new episode, even though it hasn't actually aired in Australia yet.

I'm not going to do a reaction thingy, partly out of respect for [ profile] lost_spook's expressed intention not to read such things. (Probably a sensible attitude. Certainly some of the reactions I've been reading have made me wish I'd adopted a similar resolution.)

4. I assume everybody on my friendslist who's interested in the Liaden novels already knows that the latest one just came out in hardcover (and has probably already read the e-book), and that all the novels - including the latest one - have just been released as audiobooks. Just in case, though, details are available here.

5. I've occasionally pondered the idea of an alarm clock that matches itself to your sleep cycles, so that the alarm goes off when you're in a position to wake up easily, and not when you're in the middle of a deep sleep. I'd always assumed that this would require being wired to the clock with some kind of complicated and impractical sensor to detect out where in the cycle you were. Apparently I was wrong: a lot of people can get by with assuming an average sleep cycle duration, and get the same effect with a normal alarm clock and a bit of mental arithmetic. Somebody recently pointed me to, which has an explanation of the math, and automatic calculators for both directions (one suggests good times to go to bed, given what time your alarm's set for, the other good times to set your alarm for, given when you plan to go to bed). I've been using the system for nearly a week, and getting good results. (Especially considering that I'd previously been giving serious thought to giving up on the alarm clock entirely because I slept through it so often.)
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1. Chicago has concluded successfully. I get a bit of a break while everybody's scattered for school holidays, then it's the annual season of one-acts, which this year will include my directorial debut. (And, wouldn't you know it, every one-act this year is something I would have auditioned for like a shot if I hadn't already signed on to direct.)

2. As of the beginning of the new financial year, I am down to working four days a week, with no decrease in my weekly salary. The secret ingredient: An enormous pile of accrued holiday time, which I wasn't looking likely to use up any time soon, since the reason it's piled up is that I hardly ever find time for long holidays. So what's happening is that I'm taking a two-month holiday entirely in Wednesdays.

3. I went to see Pixar's new movie Brave last Wednesday, and enjoyed it a great deal despite having guessed the big plot twist that the trailers carefully avoided mentioning. (All the people who talked about the movie on my friendslists and blogrolls had also carefully avoided saying what the twist was, but when half a dozen people each say something that's not a spoiler in itself, it's sometimes possible to put two and two, or one and one and one and one, together.) If you've seen the movie, or don't mind spoilers, you might be interested in this essay (not by me) titled, with irony tags firmly in place, "Just Another Princess Movie".

4. As I mentioned when I started, I've been rewatching Cinar's version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I have now finished it, with, I'm sad to report, something of a sense of relief. It was fun revisiting a childhood favourite at first, but over the course of 52 episodes its shortcomings got a bit wearing. (Jo Walton occasionally writes about the Suck Fairy, who steals the books you loved as a child and replaces them with oddly similar books that aren't as well written, contain troubling isms that you never saw before, and in which that favourite scene you've revisited a hundred times in memory is merely a single baldly-written sentence. The Suck Fairy visits animated series too, leaving a trail of regrettable acting, shorthand animation, obviously recycled footage, and - in this case - an annoyingly intrusive narrator who insists on explaining stuff you already know. I'm almost certain she wasn't there when I watched this series every day before school.)

5. A while ago I got talked into buying an on-demand water purifier, the kind that attaches to the end of your tap, even though I'd been happy with the filter jug I already had. It's ended up on the bathroom sink, because that's the only tap in this old house with a tap modern enough for the attachment to attach to. I think I will probably end up admitting to being happy I have it, but not just yet because I'm still grumpy about their sales technique. (I did put my foot down, firmly, when they started asking whether I have relatives or friends who'd be interested in a water purifier. Maybe I do and maybe I don't, but I certainly don't know anybody who'd thank me for siccing a salesperson onto them.)
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Chicago opened last night.

It's going well so far. I didn't forget any props this time. A few people dropped lines (including me, fortunately in the middle of a monologue where it didn't inconvenience anyone), but there were no disasters.

People continue to be appreciative of my efforts in the role of Amos. This is something of a mixed blessing, because it can be quite difficult to be mournful and forlorn in the face of all that appreciation, but on the whole I think I'll take it as long as it keeps coming.
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1. I will be in Perth this weekend for the State Band Festival. (At UWA on Saturday afternoon, all day Sunday, and Monday morning. We will be playing in the 8.30am session on Sunday.) Normally, that doesn't leave me any significant amount of free time, but this year there appears to be a Saturday-morning-shaped gap in the schedule. Anybody have a suggestion of what to fill it with?

2. Last Saturday, I went to see a local high school's production of The Taming of the Shrew. On the whole I found it to be a satisfying night's entertainment. I don't think they entirely succeeded in establishing a persuasive arc for the relationship between Petruchio and Katherina, but then a lot of productions don't, and it gave me several new things to think about. Being a school production, there was a certain amount of trouble with young people unconvincingly playing old people, and some actors not having the ear for the language (and a lack of consensus about how to pronounce some of the foreign words). The actors playing Katherina and Petruchio were good. (They were the same two who took out the top honours in the drama section of the Performing Arts Festival last year. The guy who came third was also in this, as Petruchio's comic-relief sidekick, and was another highlight.) An interesting production thing: The sets and costumes were colour-coded - Baptista's household in red, Petruchio's in blue, Vincentio's in green, and so on. Bianca wore pink; Katherina started out in a lady-in-red dress, and after the wedding to Petruchio appeared what appeared to be the same dress but now coloured a more muted purple.

3. Speaking of colours and clothing, I appear to be developing rudiments of colour coordination in my dress sense, to the point that I recently bought a new jacket, despite already owning several quite serviceable jackets, because none of the ones I already owned were colours that went particularly well with the blue section of my wardrobe. I'm finding this oddly disconcerting.

4. And speaking of The Taming of the Shrew, about eight years ago I was in a production of Kiss Me Kate, which, being one of Broadway's many shows about itself, has an opening number which is about the opening of a new show. There's a verse in there that counts down the last four weeks of the rehearsal period, which I have often found myself singing during the last four weeks of a rehearsal period on subsequent shows, especially when they're musicals. Chicago opens in two and a half weeks.

5. Last Friday there was a revue night, with songs and comic sketches and so on. Included in the program was a preview of our production of Chicago, with three songs, including my solo. It was the first time I've performed it in front of a proper audience; I was more nervous than I usually am on stage (then again, I don't normally get solos!), but apparently it went over well. I got a lot of compliments afterward.
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Fiction books
Paul Cornell, et al. Superman: The Black Ring volume 1
Paul Cornell, et al. Superman: The Black Ring volume 2
Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse. Chicago
Kim Newman. Bad Dreams

In progress
Kim Newman. The Hound of the D'Urbervilles

Non-fiction books
Kari Maund, Phil Nanson. The Four Musketeers: The True Story of D'Artagnan, Porthos, Aramis & Athos

In progress
(collection). Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Kim Newman. Jago
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First rehearsal for Chicago. One thing I've learned about my character already: he talks fast when he's nervous. It doesn't say so in the script, but it's heavily implied by how much dialogue I've got to deliver in the space of a three-bar vamp.

I'm playing Amos Hart. This news has produced a reaction of "Yes, thought so" from pretty much everyone who knows me, knows the show, and knew I was auditioning. Including me, to be fair.

So far the plan is not to do the accents, which seems a bit odd for a show with such a specific setting, but I have sympathy for the director's viewpoint, which is that using our own accents is less likely to go wrong (or likely to go less wrong) than an amateur company aiming for American accents and missing.
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In the end, I did audition for Chicago. So did my sister-in-law, and my brother is going to be working backstage (on the understanding that, no matter how many actors the production loses during rehearsals, there is no way he is going to be sweet-talked into doing a walk-on).

My sister-in-law is hoping for a particular role. I generally don't do that - it saves on disappointment, and in any case I believe that if a play is any good every role has something to recommend it - but ever since the production was announced, I've had a strong suspicion about which role I'd be most likely to be given.

(I'll give you three guesses. That's more than generous: I'll be greatly impressed if you can even name three male roles in Chicago.)
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So, I've just appeared in the newspaper. Again.

It's not because of anything I did, particularly. The Rep Club has started to advertise its productions for this year, and I've been shopped to the local rag as a human interest story: local boy who's been on and off stage for twenty years now turns his hand to directing. Last week was a brief mention in an article about the club, this week was the human interest profile thingy.

Being interviewed for the profile thingy was kind of interesting. Everything I said got translated into The Way People Talk In Human Interest Profile Thingies as it was written down. And if I couldn't think of what to say, I was offered a selection of Things People Say In These Circumstances so I could pick one to be reported as having said.

The factual bits of the profile are accurate, more or less, but the bits about what I said and did during the interview happened more in the interviewer's head than in the interview room. There's a lesson in that, probably.

My directorial debut will be part of the season of one-act plays in September. Before that is the Rep Club's big production for the year, which will be 'Chicago'. I haven't decided if I'm going to audition yet. I've done quite a few musicals in recent years - that became 'admitted to a particular liking for musicals' in the profile, which isn't right, because usually by closing night I'm worn out and swearing never to do one ever again. On the other hand, well, it is 'Chicago'.
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I didn't mention it when it happened, but the final performance of Cabaret has been and gone.

Gone, too, is the beard -- I decided I needed an appropriate ceremony to mark the end of the production, so when I changed out of my costume for the last time, I shaved the beard off. Reactions were mixed: some people took a few minutes to notice the beard was gone, and some people took a few minutes to figure out who this beardless stranger was that was suddenly about the place. (I don't blame them. There were times, for the next few days, when I looked in the mirror and wasn't sure I recognised me.)

I got to keep the coat, though.


Another thing that's been and gone without me mentioning it is the first half of the annual Toastmasters speech contest. That is, as you may recall, the Table Topic (1-2 minute extempore speech on a given topic) and the Humorous Speech (5-7 minutes, prepared in advance) competitions.

As always, I entered the Table Topic competition, on the grounds that the only way to get better at extempore speaking is to keep trying. I came second out of a field of two, but the important thing is that I bettered my own performance from last year. I had to keep padding the first half of the speech until I could think of something to say for the second half, but I did actually manage it, unlike last year, when the second half of the speech didn't come to me until five minutes after I sat down.


Coincidentally, this post makes an interesting matching set with the last "Things I forgot to mention when they happened" post I did.
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Whenever I go to a convention, I always seem to wind up passing over a proper report and just posting a list of the things I would have written about if I'd had the time and attention span.

The same fate seems to have befallen my intended post about what I did during the weekend that I didn't go to Worldcon.

Therefore, the following topics will not be covered in more detail under a cut:

* Reasons why I didn't go to Worldcon
* Cabaret continues well
* Family members in the audience (including two from out of town who travelled specially)
* People in real life who look like fictional characters; I keep meeting Aelliana Caylon
* Watched more of Gankutsuou; see previous post for details
* Local performing arts festival also this weekend
* The Character Vocal section is always my favourite
* For a girl who cain't say no, she sure sings it often and without any apparent difficulty
* "Who can say if I've been changed for the better / But because I knew you, I have been changed for good"
pedanther: (cheerful)
Opening night went well. A couple of lines got dropped, but nothing significant, and somebody (*cough* *eyedart*) went out for his first scene without his props in his jacket pockets, but managed to bluff his way through. The audience was appreciative, laughed and applauded in appropriate places, and gave a very satisfying collective gasp at my favourite plot twist. (That was reassuring; I'd been kind of worried that they'd see it coming.)

One of the other cast members is a subeditor at the local newspaper, and was dropping hints in various directions, including mine, about the desirability of reading the review in this morning's edition (which was already written, the final dress rehearsal having also been a press preview). The review turns out to be complimentary all around, and indeed even has a couple of nice words to say about me. It also, I was relieved to find, avoids plot spoilers; perhaps that's untrusting, but after the audience's reaction to my favourite plot twist I'd started worrying that the reviewer would blow it and all the rest of our audiences would know it coming in.

I don't think I've mentioned before, but for the last few years, whenever I've been in a stage production, I've always had the same nightmare on the night before we open. Apparently, it's now so familiar that I immediately recognise it, and spend the entire thing standing on the sidelines tapping my foot and muttering "I know what this is, I've seen it before, hurry up and be done so I can get some proper sleep. I have a performance tomorrow, you know."
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Today we had our first full run-through of Cabaret from beginning to end with no stopping. Now we're only a week and a half behind schedule.
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Rehearsals for Cabaret continue. Today the director laid on a bit of extra workshopping for one of the key scenes, which is mostly between the two leads with me coming in for a page at the end. Before we started, I assumed I was being included just because it would be easier for the leads to do their bit with me there, but it turns out that once you put everything together it's actually a pivotal scene for my character too. It's nice to have a director who's good at thinking these things through, especially since clearly I'm not unless I'm given a hint.
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And why is it that whenever I'm in a play set in a historical period where left-handedness was frowned upon, I'm always cast as the character who spends the most time writing?
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Fiction books
(anthology). Batman Black and White volume 2
Kurt Busiek, Brent Eric Anderson, Will Blyberg. Astro City: Confession
Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener. Atomic Robo and the Shadow From Beyond Time
Warren Ellis, John Cassaday. Planetary: Crossing Worlds
Warren Ellis, John Cassaday. Planetary: The Fourth Man
Warren Ellis, John Cassaday. Planetary: Leaving the 20th Century
Warren Ellis, Darrick Robertson. Transmetropolitan: Lust For Life
Warren Ellis, Darrick Robertson. Transmetropolitan: Lonely City
Warren Ellis, Darrick Robertson. Transmetropolitan: The New Scum
Warren Ellis, Darrick Robertson. Transmetropolitan: Year of the Bastard
John M Ford. The Dragon Waiting
John M Ford. The Princes of the Air
Diana Wynne Jones. Enchanted Glass
Diana Wynne Jones. The Game
Joe Masteroff, Fred Ebb. Cabaret
Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Jamie Grant. All Star Superman volume 1
Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Jamie Grant. All Star Superman volume 2
Dennis Palumbo. City Wars
Anthony Price. The Alamut Ambush
Steve Purcell. Sam & Max: Surfin' the Highway
Osamu Tezuka. Astro Boy: Volume 3 (re-read)
Naoki Urasawa, et al. Pluto: 007 (re-read)
Naoki Urasawa, et al. Pluto: 008

In progress
Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace

Non-fiction books
Russell T Davies, Benjamin Cook. The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter
Paul Dini, Chip Kidd. Batman Animated

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Louisa M Alcott. Little Women
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Rehearsals for Cabaret continue. Consequent of people dropping out and various other rearrangements, I am now playing a single role with enough lines that it would be churlish of me to insist on knowing the exact number. (By which you can tell it's not any of the four I used to be doing.)
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First read-through for Cabaret.

I'm currently down to play four of the smaller roles (although I suspect that will change, because two of them are on stage simultaneously in Act 2 scene 5). One of them has four lines, one of them only sings (I have a solo!), and two communicate entirely through unfriendly body-language. Which will be interesting.

[Edited to add: And you remember I mentioned I was playing one person with a name and three people with job descriptions? It turns out that one of the job descriptions also has a name mentioned in dialogue - in fact, three of his four lines are him having to remind people what it is.]
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Casting for Cabaret has been announced. I'm as far down the cast list as a person can be and still be playing a character with an actual name, which is about what I expected.

(To be precise, I'm playing four roles, of which only one, "Max", has a name. Unless the others were actually christened "First Waiter", etc.)


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September 2017



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