Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Welcome To The Show - Abra
I always say, as my mother said before me, life ain’t no fun without a little colour. Though I tend to scrap the “little” – if less is more, I’m queen o’ the biscuit gnomes.
Me name’s Abra – at least, that’s me stage name. “Abrakadabra” if you want the full version. I work the high ropes and trapeze with a travelling show currently based in the dirty great mess of a city called Scatterank, sometimes with a bit o’ dancing if the folks are in the right mood for it. It’s a hairy business, and it can get right squicky when things go wrong, but it’s taught me things.
Not in the least the value of suspension. Suspension of disbelief, that is.
The audience will raise their belief as high as they can, but you’ve gotta give ‘em something to rest it on. Smoke and mirrors it may be, but in that moment there ain’t nothing more real than what you and your friends are doing on that stage.
It’s called “drama” for a reason.
If you have a show with no tension, there ain’t a show. You gotta keep people interested, else they’ll take up their hats and storm out and leave you with not a scrap to pay your rent with.
So to up the drama in anything – performance, story or anything at all, you need your smoke and mirrors.
Here’s an inside look at the ones that work best. Trust me, I have a very good view from where I’m sitting.
I’ll start with me Mam’s favourite – colour. It pays to be imaginative with it, ‘cause nobody’s gonna sniff nothing of yours if it don’t look interesting. Giving people a touch of the colour makes it more real, ‘cause no matter what the scientists say, I refuse to believe we dream in black and white. And if you make it real, they’ll believe it. Keep it sensible, though. Anyone who says they met a lady with “emerald eyes” and “fuschia lips” is either drunk or trying to sell you something. Possibly the lady herself.
Next up, sound. It’s not something many think of, but any of you who’s been to them moving-picture things will know that it’s always the music that gets you. Don’t tell her I told you this, but Charley always starts cryin’ in a certain scene in Lord of the Rings ‘cause of the music. If you can’t use music, though, make sure you describe your sounds where appropriate. Battles, dances, whispered conversations heard from the rafters – they sound about as alike as chalk, cheese and a kangaroo. But what sort of cheese? That’s the sort of detail I mean.
Costumes next – me personal greatest irk. There’s nothing harder than dragging your tired, grumpy carcass up the wires in a costume that bites your ribs like a dog with a bad case o’ the mange. Think about it – if a soldier turns up to duty in a pink tutu and a flowery hat, he’d be laughed out of the country. Your costume is part of your identity on stage, and the same goes for folks in books, except they can’t dress ‘emselves without you working it out first. An’ for mercy’s sake, make sure you know the style and period o’ dress you’re working with. Elsewise you look a right Mediaeval cracknob at your Victorian-era dig.
I’ll finish off on sommat fun. A good friend o’ mine, Rembrandt, he’s one of them poetic types that runs around shoutin’ metaphors from rooftops (and that’s when he’s sober – it gets far more colourful once he’s had a cup or two). He’s a great words man, and his stuff sells like hot cakes on a Sunday. But once I got hold of a rough journal of his, and I got so lost in all the frills and frippery I hadn’t a clue what he was on about! Turns out it don’t take that long for him to write the thing the first time – what takes up all his time is cutting out all the rubbish that’s snuck in while he wasn’t looking. Near drives him crazy getting rid of it all, and there’s at least one notebook that’s ended up in the fireplace or speared on something pointy over the mantelpiece.
Watch your fluff, it’s deadly stuff.
Hope I’ve made some sense for you, folks. Love and kisses all round – come see me in a show sometime, I’ll get you good seats so you can get best view of the fun!