Monday, 18 October 2010

Tech day

I thought that today was going to be an absolute nightmare. We had the band call this morning, which I thought would probably be fine, but then we had the tech this evening, and in my experience tech rehearsals are generally a nightmare. They are the first time you get on stage with all the scenery, microphones, costumes, props etc, and generally everything that can go wrong does, and you have to repeat things endless times for the tech crew to sort X out, which is fair enough as it is their rehearsal, but it really is tedious. And of course constantly being told the rehearsal isn't for you - it is for the tech crew can be frustrating. So yes, I wasn't exactly looking forward to it - I don't think it is anyone's favourite part of a production.

I couldn't get to sleep last night because I was really stressed about one of my costumes. It is the one I have to wear for the ballet and the scene after, and I was expecting something fairly flimsy and light, and easy to dance in etc, but was given a fairly typical Victorianesque child dress - fitted body, mid calf length full skirt with a ruffle thing at the bottom, sash, etc. I was stupid - at the costume call I just checked it fitted and that the skirt was full enough for me to do the splits in, and I didn't even think about anything else. Then last night when I was trying to sleep I went into panic mode about it. I decided that a) it was too heavy and I wouldn't be able to lift my legs properly in it, b) that my pas de deux partner wouldn't be able to work with it as he is used to dancing with me in jazz pants, when he can easily grab my legs etc, without layers of fabric getting in the way, and c) that my foot would get caught on the hem attaching the ruffle bit and I would end up stuck or falling flat on my face. And basically just thinking it would be a complete and utter disaster and there would be no way I could dance in it. And I couldn't sleep because I was just getting so stressed about the whole thing and how terrible it would be. So it was late when I finally got to sleep, and then I slept really badly with loads of dreaming and waking up and tossing and turning, so I was not happy about getting up, and I was feeling pretty stressed. The day did start well as I have lost 2lbs in 2 days, so felt slightly less grotesque, and slightly more ok about being on stage and dancing etc, but I really was tired, and I just cannot shift this cold/sore throat thing I have, let alone my bad back.

I got to band call today and immediately went up to the choreographer and told her I was concerned etc. She said she had also been expecting something more floaty, and to see how I got on, and a replacement could be got if necessary. I decided to put it on at band call to give me an extra chance to try it out and see how it felt. To be fair it wasn't as terrible as it was in my head last night - I think I was catastrophising a little.... The ruffle/frill bit around the bottom is probably the biggest problem, as although there is no chance of my foot getting stuck in it like I was imagining, it is where most of the weight is, which is one of the problems both because it makes it heavier (although again, not too heavy to lift my leg like I was imagining...) and because it sets the weight of the dress in a weird position, and doesn't allow it flow like it should. It is also a shame that the material is not at all sheer/flowy as it means you can't actually see what my legs and feet are doing, which is kind of important in ballet. The dress would be absolutely fine for ensemble number dancing etc, but it just isn't right for a ballet. And because of the weird weight line it throws my balance off slightly, which isn't good. One of the chorus members had the bright idea that we could just unstitch the ruffle and get the costume woman to sew it back on before returning it to the hire place, but I am not sure about that - sounds a bit dodgy! Anyway, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting - my centre felt a bit out as I said, and you can't see my legs/feet which is a shame after all the work the choreographer has put in, but it won't be the end of the world if I have to use it - it will just be a shame. It felt worse in the band call this morning than it did during the actual tech rehearsal, but I think that is partly because the venue the band call was in had a really slippery floor, as so wasn't good for dancing in full stop. The choreographer was great about it though - I asked if the director would have a problem with me changing the dress, as he liked it at the costume call, and she said 'Well, you are my dancer, and if you aren't happy with it and I'm not happy with it, then it doesn't really matter what he thinks to be honest - it is primarily a dance costume, so I have the final say!' so it was really good to know that she would support me, as I had expected her to just say something along the lines of not being sure there was anything they could do about it etc. Her, the director, and the costumier are going to the hire place tomorrow, as there are several more costumes needed because of the ones being sent not fitting etc, so they are going to see if they can find anything more suitable for me, but if not I will just have to make do with what I have.

The actual tech rehearsal went surprisingly smoothly! I don't even like saying that, as I feel like it is somehow jinxing the dress rehearsal, but it really did! It was definitely the easiest tech I have ever been involved with. You normally have to stop so often, but I think we only had 2 proper stops, possibly 3, which is really pretty good going. There was one that affected me - the middle tabs go across at the end of the scene before the ballet, and the scene continues front of tabs as it merges into the ballet scene, and the tech crew have to change the set behind the tabs, and then the tabs open and I start the dance, but they hadn't set the scene in time, and so the music for the ballet started and the tabs were still closed, so I just danced around behind the tabs for a little while until the director stopped the show and got them to reset the previous scene and do the set change again to see if they could do it in time, and it worked fine that time, so hopefully it won't be a problem in the future. The ballet went fine, despite the dress. Dr Theatre worked his magic and stopped my back hurting the whole time I was performing, although I was in a lot of pain when I finished. The only other things I was really concerned about was a couple of things I have to do very quickly - the first is put my radio mic on after the ballet but before I have to enter for the next scene, which is about 30 seconds, but with someone helping me we managed it in time - I was a bit worried as I can't have it on for the ballet as the mic pack would probably get in the way with the lifts etc, but I have to have it on for the next scene. The other thing was a very quick costume change - I have to change out of the dress I am wearing for the ballet, which means undoing the sash, unclipping the pin mic, zipping the dress, getting out of the dress, getting out of my shoes, and then putting on a petticoat, long white socks (would have been tights, but thought socks would be quicker to get on, and look the same as the dress is long), a different dress, different ballet shoes, another sash, attaching the pin mic to the new dress, and putting in a hair slide with a bow on it in maybe a minute and a half. It is definitely a pretty quick change - one to be done in the wings for sure and with 2 people helping. We managed it with about 15 seconds to go I think, so that was pretty good - 15 seconds is a lot in a change that quick, but there is definitely not going to be time to get back to the dressing room, even though it is number 1, and therefore closest to the stage - just through the stage door. But that's ok - I have done plenty of changes in the wings before, and I seem to have someone pretty efficient helping me, so hopefully it will be fine!

In between the band call and the start of the tech I went out for a meal with some of the other cast members - the girl playing my mother, who I think is one of the most genuine, lovely people I have ever met - she is just so sweet and caring to everyone, and then 3 of the girls from the ensemble. We went to Pizza Express. It was nice. They are a really nice crowd. A couple of things were a bit difficult - firstly the obvious - eating out is always difficult for me. I desperately wanted to purge but couldn't as for some reason we all went to the toilets together at the end of the meal, so there was no way that was going to happen. So that was tough. I tried to keep telling myself it was the only meal I was going to get today and so it was ok, and that I was dancing too, but I am sure I will have gained weight tomorrow, and that will be far from ok. Then the other thing that was slightly uncomfortable was that my 'mother' mentioned her husband being away at the moment, as his 19 year old brother had died, and it turned out to be a suicide, and one of the ensemble girls said her uncle had killed himself and she had been the last person to speak to him, and so it lead into a bit of talk about suicide, and I just didn't know what to say. None of them know that I have mental health problems or anything, and it didn't seem an appropriate time to mention that I have tried to kill myself a couple of times, so I just sat there and felt a little awkward. But it was good apart from those two things.

This was meant to just be very quick before I went to bed, and I have ended up writing loads. I should have learnt by now that I am not good at writing a little bit. Luckily I don't have to be up early tomorrow. I do need to get some eyelashes at some point, as we are apparently supposed to wear false eyelashes I discovered today - I will be shit at putting them on, I might have to get the make up people to do it for me. I am just not good at things like that! There is a possibility I will have to go over to the costume hire place to try on dresses, but I expect the choreographer will sort it out without me needing to go over there. Then I have ballet 5:45 - 6:45, and then the dress rehearsal starts at 7:30. I am tempted to try and book another physio appointment for either tomorrow or Tuesday, as my back still isn't better, and maybe there is some treatment they could do now that would make more of a difference. It is better than it was, but it does still give me quite a lot of pain, and I don't think it should be 3 weeks after I hurt it, particularly with the quantity of painkillers I have been taking! Just a shame it is so expensive! I hope the dress rehearsal goes as well as the tech did - if it does then it should be a good show.


  1. I'm glad it went well. I always hated Tech rehearsals when I used to perform at school. It's been a long time since I went through that particular nightmare though!

  2. Glad things went much better than you were expecting them to be! And I think the costume issue won't be such an issue-- it sounds like you have people who understand that you need to dance in it.

    Even though your back still hurts I'm glad that you're still able to perform.

    Wishing you well,

  3. I'm glad the tech rehearsal went well, it sounds like you have a supportive crew with regards the dress.

    Sometimes, in a wired way, I think catastrophizing can be a good thing,'if it means reality is perceived as 'not so bad after all'