So for the last little while I have been preparing for a speech contest! Not in English but in Japanese. As per usual, I usually start with too high a goal. Which makes things interesting, but… also frustrating.
Back in Australia I worked with The Human Library and Working it Out, two great organizations, to tell my story about realizing I was gay and coming out as part of various programs designed to increase acceptance/sensitivity to various minority groups. It is a really good, refined polished talk that I enjoy a lot, although wouldn’t mind adding a few extra pieces. It might appear more in a written form on this blog one day.
But this talk I had been doing for several years, I had decided would be great to do in Japanese! Since Japan has such a large part to do with my coming out story, and is in part one of the reasons this country is so special to me, because it played a large part in me finally accepting this part of myself.
In every large scale event, be it musical, convention, game tournament, if you are organised you should reach what I have scientifically called the PEP point. This point isn’t where you have organised everything, but you are at a point where you are sure if things keep going as they are, short of any major disaster, you are going to be fine. Event organisation this happens less so, my experience with Musicals makes me think this happens every time.
The great thing about the PEP point, is that it gives you a chance to play around a little, have fun with whatever you are doing as some of the stress is off, and also polish the things that are a little lacking.
So for this last rehersal, a number of us who weren’t in the scene being practiced, mostly spent the evening alternating between chatting, singing the opening number, and running through the dance. As many of us are at different skill levels and the first dance is actually fairly complex, so everyone can brush up on it.
Also, this is the point where subsitutions become a great thing! So, obviously not everyone attends EVERY time. So, people sub in for other roles. This is the point where everyone knows what the show generally should look like, and often subs take that role to 11! Most of the subs so far have been adults playing childrens roles. Which usually results in an extra line like “My my, you are big aren’t you?”
Other than that though, nothing too eventful. Although this should generally be the fun part of the musical probably until around mid to late July.
Then it will get serious.
So so serious.
I realise I have missed a diary entry for last practice. So time to play a little catch up.
Last week’s practice was pretty simple, new song, dance routine, followed by some staging. I probably didn’t write much about it because there wasn’t much to say other than our dance instructor saying “Please use your fun mode” which I will interpret as ENGAGE FUN MODE like some kind of deadly dancing robot from the future.
In all seriousness, this is actually a pretty important lesson in any kind of performance, you’ve got to do more than perform, you’ve got to be happy about it if it’s a happy piece. If you aren’t cheery, how are you supposed to get the crowd happy about whatever nice thing happened.
Today’s rehearsal marks what I think is the best point for a musical to be in though. Everyone is generally familar with the script, all the scenes have now been generally mapped out, although not everything is perfect. We are at the time of polish polish polish! But… also at the time where people are really feeling out what they can be doing as we are beyond just the clear following instructions stage. This is feeling out our characters, postures, and so on. And also now everyone is familiar with how things should work, whenever someone isn’t around you can bet on great substitutions from someone.
The last point of note for today’s rehearsal was towards the end, where we were asked to sing “tate”, vertically. Not that I am a huge singer by any means, but the idea of singing vertically has never cropped up before. By singing vertically I mean making the focus of moving your mouth on the top and bottom centers of your lips rather than pulling with the sides of your mouth so much.
But… curiously… it… really really helped with diction at least in Japanese.
So, remember kids, engage in fun mode and sing vertically!
Last Thursday we started dancing.
I had kind of dreaded this to be frank. But was pleasantly surprised with how well I did it! Also, I think I managed to make a bit of a social breakthrough with a few people. Asking just the right questions, not in perfect Japanese, but the questions that showed I was really thinking about the motions going on. Obviously, we have a large range of skills within the cast, old, young, fit, … not fit. However, the dance is pretty manageable for everyone which is nice.
I must admit one of the biggest things I enjoyed about the dance practice was how less important language is… Because honestly it is SUPER SUPER DRAINING trying to work in Japanese all time.
However, on this day I also discovered there are people who can read sheet music while dancing.