Some might have taken it as a bad omen that, by the time the cast of the pantomime took to the stage during the interrim of the inter-house drama competition, the stage was covered in an assortment of straw, discarded crockery, and a couple of broken glow sticks.
That "some" clearly didn't stick around to see the performance.
I was so giddy by the end of it that I almost fell off the stage. The punch-lines were spectacular, the improvisation by the cast was impeccable, and our put-upon lighting and sound director was absolutely spot on - especially when she wasn't meant to be.
Dancing down the aisle between rows of cheering spectators, waving a school tie around my head and singing along to "Oppam Gangnam Style", I can't remember the last time I was so proud of anything.
I hadn't just been in the play. I'd written it. I'd cast it. I'd gone prop hunting, I'd organised rehearsal times, I'd dealt with queries from cast, crew, and curious onlookers. I'd even decided on some of the music.
Until our housemistress suggested the idea, I'd never written a script before. With only a couple of weeks to go before the performance, we thought it would be better to simply buy and alter a script from the internet - it would save time, anyway.
Just our luck that the script we bought was useless. So, I decided, I wouldn't waste my energy mangling someone else's work. I'd do it myself instead. After all, it couldn't be too hard, could it?
If I ever work out why I thought it would be clever to make the narrators speak in rhyming iambic pentameter, nothing will ever surprise me again.
Not only that, but there were so many new dynamics to script writing that I'd never had to deal with in a novel or a poem. Actual people were going to have to play the roles, so characterisation was more crucial than ever. I needed stage directions every other sentence, so that the actors wouldn't be left hanging between one moment and another. I needed to set out which lines were the punchlines, and place them to avoid both over-saturation and sparcity.
Thank goodness for my wonderful housemates. They wrote the musical number, they sorted out the costumes, they sat at the back of the hall to see if they could hear us, and left me to deal with the script itself.
The acting came easy after that.
The stress was inevitable, really. Cast members pulling out, not turning up to rehearsals, complaining over parts, getting distracted, forgetting lines, forgetting moves . . . I suppose it was my fault for organising our first rehearsal only three days before the real performance.
We had five rehearsals in total, because it had taken me so long to write the script.
But it was amazing. They loved it, the crowd loved it, I loved it.
The compliments, congratulations, and suggestions of pursuing stage writing as a career are lovely, but nothing will ever make up for the fact that this is a moment I'm going to treasure for the rest of my life.
Not in the least because I have never seen a more interpretive version of the chicken dance. And I doubt I will again.
~ Charley R