Saturday, March 03, 2007

Mummy, What Does "Shake Your Ass" Mean?

Wednesday. I was hired to drive a van for Ilona and the Lochaber Youth Acting Drama Whatever they are called Group. Another one-night production of the Strictly Scottish play I had built the set for last year. I spent last Sunday tarting up what was left of the set, and replacing bits that had vanished and on Wednesday I borrowed my dad's car and picked up the Van from the van hire place in the Fort*. Parked the car round the back of the hire place in the customer parking and drove to Kinlochleven, picked Ilona and 'stuff', drove to the Clachaig to pick up Andy who was doing the lighting and as much of the heavy lifting as I could arrange before he cottoned on, then to Ballachulish to pick up the set (and more 'stuff') and then to the Fort where we set up the show and fretted about whether all the cast were going to turn up.

There were seven in the cast. The girls all lived locally but the boys were hot-footing from all over Scotland just for the one show. Paul from Aviemore, Grant from Dundee and (mind gone blank insert name later) was coming up from Glasgow. Paul arrived and helped set up. The Girls arrived. (Mind gone blank insert name later) phoned to say he had missed his train but it was all right he was on a bus! Grant arrived at ten past six. The show was due to start at seven. (Mind gone blank insert name later) phoned to say there was an accident and the road was blocked and he was hitch-hiking back to Glasgow to try and get up another way. There was no way on earth he would make it in time. Ilona looked at me. Would I go on instead, with a script in my hand and read (Mind gone blank insert name later)'s part? There was no way I could say no. We quickly ran through the show (or at least the bits I was now in). - "Ok, Come on that side, Sit down. Go off there, do this, do that, do the other, laugh at him then, be sleazy there...". I frantically wrote all over the script I had borrowed.

Twenty minutes before the show we found out the costume fitted me - kilt, shirt, waistcoat, and jacket followed later by a bad periwig and a very real sabre.

The show - I don't remember too much about. I was too busy trying to remember where the hell I was supposed to be, where my props were (all 2 of them), and trying to work out how to get my voice to reach the back of the steep raked seating while looking down and reading a script. I managed to fuck up at least twice - even with the script in my hand - but we got through. Then we reached the final scene. We walked on. The play is set in a cheap interactive tourist attraction - we were playing the actors playing the parts of historical characters. Scottish History for tourist (I was playing a guy who played Bonnie Prince Charlie). In the final scene it's the end of the season and all the actors in the tourist trap have just put on the final show and are about to go their separate ways. There's an air of finality and sadness. It was only at this point I realised that the last direction Ilona had given me on the run through had been "get changed into your civvies." seemed reasonable. The scene is set in the changing room but... wait a minute! I'm on stage! (downstage yet) in front of a whole bunch of people who have paid to be here - and I'm supposed to take my clothes off? I considered ducking behind the bit of scenery the girls were changing behind - while popping up and down delivering their lines - but they were girls. Girls I don't know that well, teenage girls getting changed on stage in front of friends family and paying public... erm... as a boyhood fantasy it might have been entertaining, as a middle-aged man it was big scary "oh noooo - don't even think about it!".

Fuck it.

I took off the dress-shirt and quickly pulled on my t shirt. Okay, that was painless. How do I get my kilt off and my trousers on without - oh bum! I remembered I was wearing pretty loose baggy boxers shorts, the type with a fly... Okay, trousers on UNDER the kilt first - then take the kilt off! Brilliant! but I couldn't get the trousers up all the way and ended up doing the most ungainly bandy-legged wriggling as I managed to hold up my trousers (mostly by will power) while using both hands to unbuckle the kilt. Meanwhile I think I lost a cue and the whole scene went a bit very wobbly. We got to the end though. No one threw anything and people were complimentary afterwards.

The set was struck and in the back of the van in 20 minutes.

The set and 'stuff' was delivered to Kinloch and Ballachulish. We raced back to the Fort to:

1. pick up Ilona,
2. fill up the van with fuel,
3. leave it at the hire place and
4. drive home in Dad's car.

Parts 1 and 2 of the plan were pretty painless. We arrived at the hire place about 11pm - there's no one there but we were to lob the keys through the letterbox. We got out of the van. I locked it. I said "Are we sure we have taken everything out of the van? Because I'm going to put the keys through the letterbox." Nothing in the van says Ilona. Right. I lob the keys through the letterbox and walk round the back of the building to find someone has parked their car right behind my Dad's. We're blocked in. I've just posted the keys to the van, and the last bus left town about 20 minutes ago. We can't get home - and it's raining.

I say "Fuck". A lot. Very loudly.

Thank god for power steering. I said we were 'blocked in' not 'boxed in'. There was, thank you gods of the Theatre, an empty space to the left of the car. With Andy out in the rain peering at the very small gaps front and back, Ilona relaying his signals to me and me doing a lot of steering while driving VERY slowly backwards and forwards we managed to get out.

Home at midnight.

Still, it's better than working for a living.


Anonymous said...

I usually remember halfway through that there are little girls in the car with me so I end up saying: Oh fffffffun! Isn't this fun, girls?

(driving enhances my swearing or is it that swearing enhances my driving...have to think now)

Anonymous said...

Woulda loved to have seen the expression on your face as you struggle through that fffffun script :)

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