Monday, 24 June 2013

Shows will go on!

The whole point of rehearsals, studying and training, costume fittings, technical rehearsals and struggling with lighting boards and CD players is to perform, eventually. So, this past week was the type of week someone like me lives for. Last Saturday my show at the State Theatre, Today’s Youth Tomorrow, for the Youth Expressions Festival opened. We moved into the theatre at 8 that morning, started a technical rehearsal at about 10, and performed our show in front of an audience for the first time at 12 that day. We had a fantastic performance on Saturday, with a standing ovation, but the day had not started off that well. I left my flat that morning at 7:30 to fetch 2 benches which were incremental to our show, and upon which we had been rehearsing. I picked up two cast members and headed to the space in which we had been rehearsing. The benches, try as we may, did not fit into my car. Bailey, the most experienced of our cast of four, and the glue that held me together during this process, decided that we would surely find a substitute once we reached the theatre. When we did reach the Momentum theatre in which we were performing, we found the set piece which the set department from the State Theatre had prepared for us.

I had asked for a chair, resembling that of a tennis umpire. I had also mentioned, repeatedly, that the cast would be climbing onto this chair. The rickety chair standing in the middle of our stage, kept upright by about six stage weights would not support an orange, never mind an actual dancer. It was removed from our stage pronto. Then Bailey and I took a brisk walk through the loading bay to find something appropriate which we could use to substitute our flat benches we had been rehearsing on. We found two benches, which were stable enough for us to dance on and which were of the correct size, but unfortunately they had backs. We moved the benches on stage, and changed the choreography to work on our brand new set pieces.

The cast of Today's Youth Tomorrow: Myself, Bailey Snyman, Mdu Nhlapo and Chanel van Wayk
in our dressing room at the South African State Theatre

And after the high of Saturday’s performance, I rehearsed until the early evening on the two other shows I am dancing in which opened respectively on Friday evening and Saturday evening. Sunday we had off in order for our bodies to rest, bruises to heal slightly, to disinfect the floor burns we got during the week and usually to catch up on work we didn’t have time to do during the week.

Apples and Oranges: Setting the stage
for Today's Youth Tomorrow.
And early on Monday morning I got ill…violently ill. My presence at rehearsals for all three shows was cancelled and when I got to the doctor on the public holiday I was informed that I was the third patient he had seen that morning with a 48 hour stomach bug. I required it to be a 24 hour stomach bug, as I had to perform Today’s Youth Tomorrow at 2 the next afternoon.  And propped up on medication, vitamin water and jelly babies I did. I left the stage feeling nauseous and dizzy, but proud that I had survived the entire show. Along with the stomach bug, I had to deal with a new technical team, as the theatre did not apparently deem it necessary for our lighting and sound operators to actually know the show, and with no stage manager from the theatre back stage to act as a bouncer we had a surprise guest artist appear on our stage, in school uniform halfway through our show. But the representative from the festival who came to watch our show was on his feet during the curtain call.

Tuesday evening I was back in rehearsal as we plotted lights for the opening of our shows on Friday and Saturday. Thursday evening we replotted the lights for our shows, and then had our first full dress rehearsal, under the lights and the watchful eye of a video camera. And the next evening we performed As Night Falls. Saturday afternoon I performed Today’s Youth Tomorrow and at 7 that evening I performed Chasing.

Bruised and Burnt: My feet on Saturday evening after
performing three dance shows in two days.
Three different shows in two days. It’s been a wonderful week.

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