... and that you may contribute a verse!
I shall start by something that sort of made its way into this Journal beside my notice. But I now must include it, especially given the title of this Journal, although this on its own is kind of relevant to another part of it.
And this thing is: Dead Poets Society
This is a film that comes under the class 'films that aren't for everyone' - and to this I will agree. Because it would be more blasphemy to watch this film knowing that you wouldn't appreciate it than to, you know, not actually appreciate it. There's nothing worse than someone forcing films and fandoms down your throat, but...
If you have any love for theatre, English, poetry, good literature, the human soul, or actually have such things as emotions, this film is... It speaks for itself.
I watched it several years in the past, and was reminded just a week or so ago - I found it cheap, and watched it again just now. And... It hadn't lost any of the appeal. Maybe gained some because I was expecting it more this time, and was able to think a little deeper about it - but, doubtless, it is and will always be an incredibly powerful film, if you can appreciate it. So I cried, you know, a lot
, and felt inspired for a bit. And now I'll give you some quotes, you know, until you can watch the actual thing.
And then you can carry on reading my actual Journal, if you like.
O Captain, my captain!(alternate title to journal entry)
We don't write poetry because it's cute. We write it because we are human beings, and the human race is full of passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life - but poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.
Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.
I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately - I wanted to live deep, and suck the marrow out of life! To put to rout all that was not life... And not, when I die, discover that I had not lived.
You must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even if others may think them odd or unpopular. No matter what anyone tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
I close my eyes and this image floats beside me. The sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain. His hands stretch out and choke me. And all the while he's mumbling. Mumbling truth like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold. You push it, stretch it - it'll never be enough. Kick at it, beat it - it will never cover any of us. From the moment we enter crying to the moment we leave dying it will just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.
Yesterday afternoon, I had an audition. I failed to mention this leading up to the audition because, as you know by now, my Journals are less frequent than Jonathan Creek's bowels(which, we are given to believe, are indeed very frequent), and also because if it went badly I simply wasn't going to tell you about it at all. But it does seem to have gone quite well, therefore I feel decent to tell you about it.
This is the first musical theatre audition that I've done - which is to say, the first time I've sung properly for professional purposes. Over the past week of knowing about the audition, I have passed through several phases of emotion:
- OH MY DAYS GUYS I HAVE A MUSICAL THEATRE AUDITION
- I... I have a musical theatre audition
- UHUHUH I HAVE A MUSICAL THEATRE AUDITIONNNN
- It's been three days and they haven't contacted me. What if I don't have an audition?
- I don't have an audition. Something's gone wrong
- AHUIHAIHAIII THE EMAIL WAS IN MY JUNK BOX AND I DIDN'T SEE IT MY AUDITION IS TOMORROW
- I just-
- Ohhh it's been postponed one day I have life again oh my days
- There is literally like sh*t coming out of me right now
- Audition. Like, five minutes. Why am I not panicking? Should I be panicking? I should be panicking
- Well this is all right
And then it was kind of over and I gave in my CV and answered some questions and decided it wasn't worth going back for the last quarter-hour of school.
Oh, yes - it was sort of during school-time. Because the ve'y intelligent Windows 8.1 mail app has no junk folder, I didn't get the message about the time slots for my audition until Wednesday - the only slots were 4.00pm Thursday and 1.30pm Friday. Seeing as the Thursday slot would have given me half an evening to prepare a second song(i had gotten one ready, only to be informed in the(regrettably late) email that two were required), I requested the Friday one - as school finishes an hour early on Fridays anyway, this would take me out of only the end of lunchtime, and last lesson. Bah, it's only Maths...
Yes, sorry, audition details.
The show is Stop the Train!
- a new musical by Guard & Rice. Essentially, the deal is that if it does well at the Grand, they're to be sponsored to take it to the West End. Here
is the website because... Well. Effort.
I chose to sing Demons
, by Imagine Dragons, and The End.
, by My Chemical Romance. Both of these are quite different, and neither is particularly musical theatre-esque, but - as I pointed out - I'd rather be challenged and taught during a rehearsal than audition with something I wasn't comfortable with. This seemed to be quite a good attitude to take, and it was quite well agreed with by the professionals, which made me feel better. It's hard to recreate experience of opinion - for instance, even if I recreated our entire conversation, because of things like facial expression and tone of voice you might get something completely different from it than what I did. But, from what I gathered, I think it went quite well - although it's always, of course, hard to tell.
I've worked with Rick Guard before, and Director was in the auditions, but I'd never met Phil Rice until about ten minutes before, when he came downstairs to get a glass of water - they all seemed very nice, though. I talked to Rick at the networking event discussed in Concussion and Cravat
, and he actually seemed a little condescending. He was much nicer yesterday though - however, I am trying not to think too deeply into what was said or the tone with which it was done.
There's an odd thing with my voice. It's an odd voice. The thing with singing with it is that I can't produce conventional sounds. It's too deep for high notes and tends to warble, and I can't hold a single straight note without it going hoarse and flat. It's one of the few things I have to work very
hard at. Art is difficult, yes, and I constantly try and expand my range and technique - but there's a kind of raw talent there in terms of knowledge for it. Writing has its hard moments, and it requires a lot of development and bad versions to get the perfect standard, but a lot of the time it flows of its own accord. Maths and science take great thought, but there's a kind of backward ease for me there, a kind of essential basic understanding. But singing? That's hard. That requires effort, and without any professional training it takes trial and error, and it sure as hell doesn't turn out nice some of the time. But, I should like to think at least, when it does work, it does work
. Thus the comment "It's certainly an unusual voice
" was true, and though seems slightly snide, was said in a reassuring and polite manner, with lots of nodding and "Mm
" from the others. The following "But it works well with that style of music
" is also one that I shall leave to my subconscious to decide on. Then we had some nice conversation about music, and Director said that he'd never heard Demons
before, though when I said that the other one was The End.
, he seemed to know what that was. And also, all four of us were sort of bobbing in time to the music, which was both funny and a teensy bit awkward. Two of them are musicians for a living, one of us was singing to it, and Director I think just felt left out. It was filmed, too, for a documentary to be made about the musical - so the camera could see me bobbing, but not them.
When I got home, I found his Facebook status on Ribcaged's main page: Auditions... Ever feel like you want to be Gary Barlow, and end up like Louis Walsh!?
This should be funny to English people, but others might not get it.
And now I'm going back in time again
, to all of the day before that, Thursday, which again also relates to both the title and to the article above.
Since I have begun to work in the theatre, I will be honest in that something is different about watching a play, for me. This isn't always particularly bad - indeed, it does add a slight trick of magic, to someone like me, who likes to know how things are done. The only thing that has really lost the magic is school visits from theatre companies - because I know, from hearing dozens of complaints about it, how much actors hate
schools. One of the most mortifying stories was when Actor was doing a sex education show with his schools-outreach company. They had been asked to visit a 'youth centre' by the local council - now, this was a show which a)
was incredibly condescending, to the point where the actors were cringing; b)
designed for children of about ten years of age; and c)
was... You know... A sex education show. They arrived at the youth centre, prepared to condescend some rebellious ten year-olds - and walked into a room filled with men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five, their wives, and their children.
So when Actor asked me a few hours later if I would consider acting as a profession, I simply raised my eyebrows. "On the one hand,
" I said honestly, "this. On the other hand... Sex education in youth centres.
But the same message still stands: I have never yet met an actor who enjoyed a schools-visit. For sex education or plays, it just ain't nice - kids are horrible, teachers are rude, and the pay is, depressingly, about the same as anywhere else. I mean, Sod's Law - it should either be great pay, to make up for all the awfulness, or terrible, to add another factor to it. Ordinary pay is just wrong. So when we were told that a company would be coming to perform An Inspector Calls
to help with our GCSE understanding of the text, I was sceptical. Mostly, I was just apologetically anticipating the actors' misery.
Another thing I have learnt, however, and another way it has changed my expectations of theatre, is that I now basically know that everyone knows everyone. It's not particularly a matter of "Success is about who you know
" - but the thing about there being a lot of actors all over the country is that there is also a lot of work for actors. That isn't to say that actors don't spend half their life out of work and most of it poor - but there's a lot of interconnection. As one man who has been in the business for many years fluently put it: "It gets to the stage where you never meet anyone who at one point hasn't been your wife, mother or daughter
" - the circles just keep moving around. So every time someone comes into school, or we go to the theatre, or there's a networking event, I end up thinking, "I'll probably know someone here
". This hasn't happened in a school production yet. Until Thursday. I walked in, sat down, and said the following compounded sentence/s to J-sh: "Wouldn't it be funny if I had worked with one of the-- I KNOW THE INSPECTOR!
" And I did. He had been in the first ever production I'd done with Ribcaged, Oliver Twist
. I was thirteen then, and I'm sixteen now, and that's quite a development gap - although it was odd, strangely, to think that he would have gone from being twenty-four then to twenty-seven now. I don't know, maybe I thought he was the Doctor. And I tried not to be annoying and catch his eye and be recognised, but I did succeed in being annoying and poking everyone sat around me and whispering "I KNOW THE INSPECTOR. GUYS, GUYS I KNOW THE INSPECTOR. THE INSPECTOR, GUYS. I KNOW HIM.
J-sh did not appreciate the level of excitement this caused me. My topic-based example did not help.
"Well, I don't know - it's just
surprising, that's all. Like, I always think that I might know someone, but it's not actually happened before. Well, it's like... Like meeting the guy who sold you your boat in the quay two years later.
He just stared at me. "That happens all the time.
Whether or not he did ever recognise me I'm not sure(though as proof of the above hypothesis, it turned out that the actor in question had been working with the man who commented that everyone was at one time or another his female relation only a week earlier) - it was the Q&A session that will make this visit forever memorable, however. I know for a fact that these stories will be passed on by the actors backstage at other times, and that Ribblesdale will never be forgotten.
Or visited again.
You had to hand it to them: they did a great job of a seven-man play with four people. And Gerald/Eric was very
enthusiastic - you could see that he really was the sort of person who did schools visits because he wanted to reach out to troubled children and change their lives through theatre and the arts. This is an aim I fully support, and would love to be a part of and help to succeed - unfortunately, he picked the wrong school. There were quite a few questions(once people had got started, which took a while), however the true greatest moments, to be passed around whilst telling horror stories over cups of coffee during 7am rehearsal breaks, followed as such:
"So, has anyone got any questions for the characters or the actors?
"... You sure?
"... No... All right then, I'll start the questions off, shall I?
All of this from poor Gerald/Eric. He really, really
"Sir, has anyone ever told you that you sound like Jack Whitehall?
This was directed to the Inspector, who I had known. All the actors laughed at this point, and made him say loads of things to see if he did, in fact, sound like Jack Whitehall. It was decided, after about ten minutes, that he did - ten minutes that Miss S. was not particularly pleased about. This does explain why I've always thought I recognise Jack Whitehall's voice.
"Why does Eric look like someone from Boyzone?
I have to say, Gerald/Eric handled this one very well, explaining how he thought the issues raised in the play were still relevant today - up until he tried to explain why the 1910s costuming wasn't what they wanted to stick to, with the following statement: "We just didn't want to get into the period
". There was a pause. You could see every teacher thinking Please don't let them laugh
and every student thinking Should I laugh?
- for about six seconds, no-one laughed.
Then, in unison, the giggles broke out and the actor covered his face with his hands and the teachers closed their eyes and sighed.Then
"Mrs. Birling, how can you
possibly say that your reputation is more important than someone's life?
A very reasonable question. Unfortunately, the poor actor - remaining in-character all the while, which I can assure you is no easy thing to do - was not able to complete her answer before being cut off:
"But how could it be that important!?
The actor once again tried to remain in-character and answer as Mrs. Birling - however was hardly given the chance.
This went on for several minutes. I have to say, the actor did a damn good job of keeping her cool. She hardly flinched, and stayed in-character despite the onslaught.
I mean, really, we all want to slap Mrs. Birling sometimes, but there's no need to have a go at the actor.
They do, after all, hate schools.
So, in a month's worth of Journal entry, I have only three things to report.
Yet, as the Dead Poets Society teaches us:
"'What good amid these, o me, o life?' Answer: that you are here. That life exists, and identity - that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on, and that you may contribute a verse.