Friday, 6 July 2007

Be prepared

It is the first day of Squirrel's ballet performances, and the show starts at 7pm. We have been here since 6pm, thanks to Miss Tuzy telling me yesterday that Clouds are needed for a 'technical run through' at 6.15.

The Clouds are the first act in the second half. Now, I'm just putting together the information I'm gleaning. I've found a running order, and there are 20 dance sequences in the first half. If each sequence lasts 5 minutes then we're looking at 100 minutes. Given a late start and slow changeovers on the first night, say nearly 2 hours. Which makes the 15 minute interval start around 9pm. I reckon Squirrel won't be on stage until 9pm at the best, and 9.15 more probably.

Which means a three hour wait from when we arrived, and I am in a strop. All the Clouds and all the Cloud mothers have been ushered by Miss Tuzy and her clipboard into an airless room doubling up as a dressing room and told to wait. By 6.30 there has been not a word about a call to the stage for a 'technical run through'. By 6.45 I can safely tell Squirrel it's not happening. By 7pm I am not in the best of moods. It's just as well Miss Tuzy and her clipboard seem to have disappeared.

But for this, I am prepared.

Experience has taught me a few things and I have a stack of books about pirates and fairies and a bottle of white wine in a picnic hamper. The bottle of wine I have decanted into an anonymous plastic bottle where I can take discreet swigs of it and pretend it is home made lemonade. The books are all adventures stories and I start reading them to Squirrel in a loud and theatrical voice, sometimes accompanied by actions.

Now I'm not saying the wine took over at this point. Sometime in the last 20 years I did teach English and Drama. And after managing screaming triplets trashing a shopping centre I have no inhibitions and no dignity either. But I am starting off this evening in a bit of a strop about having to wait for three hours while Squirrel is blown across the stage, and it has to come out somewhere.

The actions become exaggerated and the pirate voice becomes booming. When I get to the bit where Pirate Joe is showing off his steely claw, which he got when the Mad Cap'n Crake slammed the lid of the treasure chest down on his hand and sliced it right through, I am thoroughly enjoying myself. In fact I am unashamedly showing off with a complete stage performance. I am surrounded by Clouds and a few Fairies who have wandered in from another room and whose mothers are not far sighted enough to stack the picnic hamper.

When the story's over I get a bit of applause and a Cloud attaches herself to my leg and asks for another tale about Pirate Joe, and this time, she says, can I show her the claw. I say I'll think about where I might have put it.

When Miss Tuzy appears in the doorway at 9pm to collect the Clouds and to suggest that for tomorrow evening's performance Clouds need not turn up before 8.15, she does not get the tongue-lashing she deserves. But I do give Miss Tuzy a brief unsmiling stare as Squirrel shouts out excitedly 'Mummy keeps a cut-off hand in her picnic hamper!' Miss Tuzy looks like she doesn't quite know what to say, and I think, Well done, Squirrel.


Em said...

"The bottle of wine I have decanted into an anonymous plastic bottle where I can take discreet swigs of it"

you would fit in just right at one of the camps! As various people could be seen sipping 'special water' from plastic sports bottles in the 'entertainment area' at Kessingland camp this year.

grit said...

dash! i thought i was very clever to do that. now i find out it's what everybody's been doing for ages!!