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29 December

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 7 months ago

Thursday 29 December

Here is the Show!

 

Well, I'm much less tired and depressed today, and not feeling nearly so boring, so hopefully the diary will be a little more scintillating - fingers crossed!

Good but frustrating

We have had a very good (though long and tiring) day at a very big school (3,000 pupils apparently, though we obviously didn't work with them all) called Ko Pang Ga School in Phuket Town. (I must get Somchai to spell the name properly for me tomorrow - and indeed spell the names of all the other schools, as I have probably got them wrong!)

 

Yet again it was a day of constant frustrations (wrong numbers and ages, the schools staff bringing in the biggest children first rather than the smallest children, so that you can't get the audience shape right, etc.) but we rose above it splendidly and pulled off really good workshops and shows (sorry if that sounds big-headed, but it really was a VERY good day.)

 

We set off from home at 8.30 and got to the school at 9.30 and set up the PA and part-set the show before our first 70 workshop children (aged 12-13) arrived for an hour's workshop - badge-making, juggling, plate-spinning, ribbon-twirling and diabolo. They worked really hard and we were able to use their plate-spinning and ribbon-twirling routines as the warm-up to the first show, which had an audience of at least 500.

Managing the music

As Jess has to go back to England on Sunday because of college restarting, I will be running the sound for all the shows from Monday onwards (anyone who knows me well will know how truly dreadful I am with machines, and what a horrifying idea this is!) so I have been paying particular attention to the order of the shows, the cues and the music (though it has to be said that these can change dramatically depending on various factors such as school finish-times) and I can now try to give you an idea of the how the show runs rather than just saying, "The show went really well and the children loved it", which was getting pretty boring! I will also try and get photos of each part of the show in the right order soon, so that you can get a clearer idea of what I am writing about.

The show begins

So, we start, wherever possible (depending on the talent of the children and the time allowed for the show) with presentations by the workshop children's of plate-spinning and ribbon-twirling (usually to a very jazzy version of "Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf?")

Haggis and 'Geoffrey' (Jake)

The first showThen Haggis steps onto stage, looking tremendously smart and rather haughty in his new Thai silk black suit with 3/4 length trousers, with red stripes and lapels, followed almost immediately by Jake in his role as "Geoffrey", a buffoonish man-servant, who gets untidier and untidier as the show progresses. Geoffrey carries a clothes brush at all times and he gets all the bits of fluff off Haggis's costume correctly before attacking Haggis's hair and the hair of the children in the first couple of rows of the audience. Haggis then does his one-hat and three-hat routine to the strains of Frank Sinatra's "I get a kick out of you!" This is followed by a bit of Haggis/Geoffrey silliness and they then leave the stage.

 

HAGGIS HAD DROPPED A HAT DURING HIS 3-HAT ROUTINE TO THE STRAINS OF FRANK SINATRA'S "I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU!". GEOFFREY HAS RETRIEVED IT AND DUSTED IT WITH HIS EVER-PRESENT CLOTHES BRUSH AND IS HANDING IT BACK TO HAGGIS.

 

 

'Daisy' and the walking suitcase

Busy, busy "Benny Hill" type music for Jo's entrance as "Daisy". She rushes in with her green Sri Lankan suitcases and then bustles off to get her big, grey suitcase and then bustles off again to get yet more of her props. The "Pink Panther" music comes on and, to the audience's amazement, the grey suitcase sprouts legs and walks a few yards, then settles down again. Daisy notices that the suitcase has moved and takes it back to its original position, only for it to move again without her noticing. The third time it moves, Daisy notices it and reprimands it, and eventually carries the recalcitrant suitcase off stage. Roo (Jake and Jo's 5-year-old son) then has to be liberated from the suitcase backstage!) It really is very funny, and the audience's faces are a picture to behold during this part of the show. I remember standing backstage with Charlie in Sri Lanka, watching Roo being packed into the case and saying, "Goodness me, what has this Charity come to, packing children into small suitcases!" Roo really loves being such a star though - indeed he would object very strongly were we to remove this piece from the show, so we feel OK about it.

 

Daisy starts to unpack her suitcase and comes upon her feather duster and dusts the audience, then to the music of "Life Could Be a Dream", she performs her one, two and three-club dance/manipulation/juggling routine. Daisy is a wonderfully "daffy" character, short-sighted, with glasses, who gets annoyed very quickly if things go wrong, and she is very, very funny - the children love her! She picks on a man in the audience to flirt with, and this poor man is normally used as a volunteer later in the acrobatic piece towards the end of the show.

Juggling and clowning

Daisy exits and Haggis and Geoffrey return in their snooty and subservient roles respectively. After some foolishness (the Thais really love "slapstick"!) Haggis performs his very fast and zappy 1-5 club routine to the sounds of The Pogues' "Pied Piper". When Geoffrey holds out Haggis's jacket for him to get back into again, he tears off a (velcro-ed) sleeve and then throws it into the audience, with the aim of blaming the children, rather than getting into trouble himself for his clumsiness - this caused absolute mayhem with the large audience this morning (there were wild screeches of laughter and children were literally rolling in the aisles, rocking with laughter!) and after Haggis remonstrated with Geoffrey and bopped him on the nose, Geoffrey burst into tears and sat howling on a child's lap in the audience, which had the audience in stitches.

A nice cup of tea

Haggis and Geoffrey exit and Daisy returns and, to the strains of "I like a nice cup of tea in the morning", sets up her cups and saucers and spoons on a green silk cloth on top of her Sri Lankan suitcases. She wants one of her cups filled with water and asks one of the children from the audience to pour water from her teapot into the cup which she places on her head. The teapot has a pump and jets water out, drenching Daisy, the volunteer and the front row of the audience (not too much of a punishment in this heat!) Thai children are so polite and good on the whole, and take some convincing that it is alright for them to be dousing Daisy and that nobody is going to be cross with them. The child then hands her teaspoons from the tray which she attempts to throw into the teacup on her head - she got it third time today, but it has been known to take 10 attempts!

Only kidding

During this part of the show Daisy also produces her trick knife and appears to cut her arm really deeply with it - looks of horror on the audience's faces and then huge gales of relieved laughter when they realise it is only a "gag". Geoffrey does a bit of vital mopping up of the floor, which has, by now, become very wet because of the spouting teapot. Daisy gets the children to pull her magic rope which she tries to make stand upright in the air, and then it suddenly turns into a red scarf to the children's amazement. She whisks the tablecloth away from under the cups and saucers (normally perfectly, but we have had a couple of broken cups yesterday and today!) and then takes off her boot because her foot is hurting. She removes 2 stones from the boot which she throws backwards, hitting Geoffrey, who starts to get annoyed. Then she removes a very large (compressed foam) rock from the boot and throws it backstage - we hear a clang and an angry shout from an aggrieved Geoffrey, who bursts onto the stage with the "magic bucket", which he forces onto Daisy's head and twists, so that it appears as though her head is being turned 360 degrees first one way and then the other way.

Those 'heavy' rocks

Normally the "rock routine" happens next - but today we were running short of time at this stage and had to leave it out. Basically we bought three very realistic rocks made of very classy fibreglass when we were in Sri Lanka. ( They were part of our Sri Lankan show with Jo and Paddy passing them between them with apparent huge difficulty, and they were part of the very bulky overweight baggage that Jo and I brought from Sri Lanka to Thailand. The gag is that they are meant to be terribly heavy - they are brought on and juggled with, with immense difficulty, but then when they are placed on the ground again, 5-year-old Roo bounds in and just lifts them up and lifts them up easily to take them off the stage.

 

Jo and Jake's acro routine normally comes in around this part of the show too, but had to be omitted today because of lack of time (these bits and the unicycle piece and some other pieces that are being developed will be used when we need longer shows - and actually when Trent and Martha join us in Khao Lak, and then Lee Hayes, we will have almost too much material and will have to pare down to "the cream of the cream".)

The Finale

Haggis and Geoffrey return and get a lot of oohing and aahing going in the audience and then Haggis does his 7-ball routine, landing up with them on his back like a dinosaur. Then the finale of Haggis, Jake and Jo passing 9 clubs happens to "Gridlock" (with them passing clubs around 5 children when there is time and space available), and then, to the Benny Hill music, they form a pyramid with Roo standing on the top, and take their bows. So that's the show and it can expand and reduce as needed. It doesn't sound very amusing on paper, but it really is VERY funny - lots of humour, lots of skill, lots of children's participation - and it works really well. And it gets better and better each day as the performers grow more used to their routines and the interaction between the different characters grows.

Workshop

After the first show we were fed a delicious lunch in the huge canteen, and then we raced back to the hall for the hour-long workshop for a further 70 children aged 13-14. The boys, particularly, were fascinated by the badge machine and kept handing me the components (usually the wrong way up!) They picked up the plate-spinning brilliantly and got a good ribbon routine together which were used to open the second show, which had another very big audience of about 500. More and more children kept arriving during the show, and children were pushing through to get a view - it was chaotic but brilliant! They really appreciate the skills in the show as well as the humour, and Haggis's routines with the hats and with the 7 balls raised cheers and tumultuous applause.

How we miss Steve and his translation skills!

The second show

 

"KHUN HAGGIS", "GEOFFREY" AND "DAISY" DO AM INTRICATE CLUB PASSING ROUTINE

 

Our only real problem at the moment is not having a translator with us at all times. Somchai is doing the best he can, but he also has various meetings he has to go to - after we had started setting up at the school this morning, he asked if it would be OK if he left for a bit and returned later - and as everything seemed to be going really smoothly with the school staff at the time, I said, "Sure, that's fine". But the MOMENT he left we started to have problems - first with the head teacher wanting us to run the show the other way round in the hall, which made no sense at all, and anyway it was too late to change it, so we just ignored that one; secondly with a member of staff who arrived with her class for the show when the workshop was only half-way through, and allowing her pupils to sneak in and get badges made when I only had exactly the right number of badge centres for the morning and afternoon workshop sessions; and thirdly when the staff brought the children in for both shows - despite us asking clearly, through Somchai, earlier, that the smallest children be brought in first and then the next smallest etc. so that we could set the audience in a sensible way so that everyone would be able to see the show really well - this was completely ignored and the audience were placed horribly haphazardly and not every child could see well, which was maddening and created a lot of jostling, running round backstage to get to the other side of the hall and general nuisance. Goodness we miss Steve, and how glad we are that he will be rejoining us for the Khao Lak part of the tour!

 

Two members of staff came and made lovely, gracious speeches at the end and waved us off. We stopped at Big C Shopping Centre on the way home to get more paper for badges, pentels for colouring the badges and a big plastic box for the fire torches and a new container for the "fire water" as it had been leaking horribly.

Cocktail party

We were invited to a cocktail party by the hotel management and drank a lot of gin and tonic and ate delicious nibbles and then came back to our villa - Jess, Jake and I cut out and circled all the badge centres we needed for tomorrow's school and Hags and Jo made up the hoola hoops from the tubing we had found at the hardware store. Impressive really, considering how much we had drunk!

 

It is now Friday morning and I've been up since 5.00 a.m. doing the diary and fighting my hangover. The others are slowly emerging and heading off for breakfast, looking as delicate as I feel - but I read the riot act last night about drinking being OK occasionally, but hangovers not being allowed to get in the way of the work, everyone is being very positive and gung-ho, which is great! We are off to Long Karkan School shortly, where we should have very large audiences again - there's nothing like a large, enthusiastic audience for perking performers up!

 

30 December

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