I’m delighted to invite you to my first off-site concert! Today, I’ll be covering songs made famous by Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Diana Krall. Get your dancing shoes on and join me at Creamy’s Spot, today at 2pm SLT.
I’m delighted to invite you to my first off-site concert! Today, I’ll be covering songs made famous by Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Diana Krall. Get your dancing shoes on and join me at Creamy’s Spot, today at 2pm SLT.
I’ve had more than a couple of people ask me about the actor that plays Juliet in our dance production. She’s never seen before or after the show and nobody seems to know the avatar behind the character. So, who is the mysterious Juliet? Well, it’s actually no secret that Juliet is my alt. I created her when we unexpectedly lost the actor who was playing Juliet to… err, I’m actually not quite sure what we lost her to. But, anyway, we lost her. So after all hope was gone of seeing her again, we decided that it’d be best to move forward with a Plan B: enter Juliet Ford.
Given an infinite choice of looks, we decided we wanted a youthful yet beautiful Juliet (she was after all, only approaching 14 in the script) so I went with the S@R Hybrid Avatar Head Nea that I first read about on Juicy Bomb in March.
Because we are 4 people playing 5 characters, Ame and I decided to share the Juliet role with the exception of one scene.
Because Ame is on stage as Mercutio during the “Come what may” Scene, I opted to play both parts (Romeo and Juliet) during rehearsals for this scene. Yeah, it was tricky, to say the least. But with a little bit of choreography, timing and practice, it was doable so I decided to keep up the practice during the performances. It also helps that Romeo and Juliet are dancing for most of the scene, which really isn’t that hard, even while driving two avatars.
As soon as that scene finishes and the curtain closes, I walk up to the balcony and log off Juliet, whilst remaining online as Romeo. During the interstitial song (Ella Fitzgerald’s “Too Darn Hot”), Ame then logs off as Mercutio, relogs as Juliet and perches up on her famous balcony, as seen above in Strawberry Singh‘s wonderful photograph. I, as Romeo, then sneak up onto the stage to meet her, we dance and the scene ends.
The next scene has Juliet (still Ame) and I meet in her bedroom, and eventually in her bed as they make love to Jack Black’s “Let’s Get It On”. Ame then logs off Juliet at the end of that scene and begins playing Mercutio again. As soon as that happens, I log on again as Juliet.
Juliet’s next scene is with Paris and it’s set to Lily Allen’s “Never Gonna Happen”. In this scene, I play Juliet, and run away from Paris as he pursues me from the top of the audience bleachers, up and down the ballroom stairs, and finally to centre stage where we dance.
Juliet’s penultimate scene, set to Moby’s “Sleep Alone”, follows. I wrote about how that scene was constructed in another post. What I didn’t mention then however, was that I (as Romeo), actually do all the dancing in the Dressing Room, and invite Juliet to dance on my HUD. I then drive Juliet from place to place on set until she finally lies on the altar after taking the potion and falling asleep.
She remains asleep during my scene as Romeo, when I finally join her on the altar dead. She rises up, sees her lover dead, and kills herself with his dagger.
For the encore scene, I continue playing both Romeo and Juliet (we’re dead on the altar for much of it so it’s dead easy). Finally, we each run down onto centre stage and dance with the ensemble cast to Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, and the final curtain closes, finishing the performance.
To date, I’ve noticed that most people who take photographs of the show share photos of Juliet’s “Sleep Alone” scene. I can see why. The music, the ballet, the set, it’s all just a wonderful chemically-influenced dream of a young girl’s love-sick subconscious, that we get the shortest of chances to witness. Whilst this was last scene we completed, it now stands as my favourite one just for its beauty and emotion.
Please join us tonight, for our third performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Basilique Playhouse. This will be our first performance targeted at an American audience. It will start promptly at 5pm SLT – so don’t miss it! Seating is limited to 30 avatars, so lighten up on those scripts and get there early to claim your seat!
I came to know Amethyst shortly after she started dancing at the KamaSutra in 2012. I remember being immediately impressed with her thoughtfulness and quick wit. How fitting that she’d play Mercutio, one of the most beloved and memorable of characters in Romeo and Juliet.
Today I consider Ame one of my very best friends. Her help and support in transitioning from the KamaSutra was absolutely invaluable and I will always be grateful. She continues to be, since our opening in January of this year to this very day, our staunchest supporter, always lending her time, effort and ideas.
Romeo and Juliet is the first Second Life performance that Ame has been involved in as a player. Yet, she took on a tremendous amount of work as part of the commitment. She helped choose the music for her three scenes, and choreographed them too.
Her scenes include the scene that opens the play, where Mercutio rouses Romeo from his doldrums and invites him to the Capulet Ball (“Straighten Up and Fly Right”).
Her second scene is the most pivotal one in the play, a fight scene with Tybalt, where she dies by his hand (“Kung Fu Fighting”). This is really the turning point in the Romeo and Juliet story, an act of murder that brings about a cascade of terrible events that eventually lead to everyone in the play meeting their end.
Finally, being the first of the cast to die on stage, she is the first to rise up in the last number (“Crazy Little Thing Called Love”) where she leads the troupe in a group dance to finish off the play.
When it became clear we needed a replacement for Juliet’s part, Ame also took on Juliet’s role for two numbers, namely “Fever” (also known as the balcony scene) and “Let’s Get It On”, which is a cheeky sex scene we’d figured we’d insert to portray Romeo and Juliet’s one night of passion. But more about Juliet later…
Considering she’s never done this before, she was a natural, taking part in five fantastic and highly memorable scenes that really frame and set up the story of Romeo and Juliet.
I sat down with Ame and asked her a few questions about her experience on working on the show.
Becky: Hi Ame What did you first think when you heard about being part of an Second Life Dance Production?
Amethyst: I knew from the moment I discovered you were doing a Burlesque show at Basilique that I wanted to be part of such a production. I was very happy to volunteer and be chosen to be part of the next.
Becky: Do you think the story of Romeo and Juliet is still relevant today?
Amethyst: I think it absolutely is or we wouldn’t still be enjoying it so much. I think it captures the timeless quality of love and love lost.
Becky: How would you describe your Mercutio’s personality? His strengths, his weaknesses?
Amethyst: In taking on this role, I of course researched Mercutio a bit to really understand his role in the Romeo and Juliet story. Some critics of the time claimed Mercutio was gay or bi-sexual, and thus Tybalt’s accusation of “consorting”with Romeo” takes on a whole other tone…. Mercutio’s name came from “mercurial” … volatile, and I believe the story shows that clearly and he paid for it with his life. Maybe his weaknesses and strengths came from the same place.
Becky: Wow, that’s very insightful, but then, you always are insightful! What were some of the challenges in preparing and performing this show?
Amethyst: The biggest challenges came with finding dedicated, uninterrupted time for the shopping, training and rehearsals and the technical difficulties that sprang up during the shows themselves. Though playing live with so many variables is exciting, it was also nerve-wracking because I had a sense of responsibility for the guests that had come to spend hours of their time with us. I was just thankful I didn’t forget anything, (laughs) and that the problems were beyond our control.
Becky: I know what you mean about responsibility. It’s clear in the effort you made throughout the rehearsals as it was during the performances. What was your most memorable moment during the making of the show?
Amethyst: When I look back a year from now and think about this show…. what will I remember first? I think the general fun and laughter involved. Creating something is a wonderful process and a bit of a high when it clicks into place. I’ll always remember and laugh at Becky coming onto the bedroom set as Romeo in socks. That’s comedy and tragedy all rolled into one.
Becky: Ha! Would you do something like this again if you have the chance?
Amethyst: Not only would I, I’ll make sure I find a way to.
Becky: What kinds of shows would you like to be involved in, in the future, and what would you like to do in them?
Amethyst: I have a bit of “performer” in me from way back…. I enjoying making people feel something…. I have been highly encouraged that there’s interest in such a thing here and that people come out for it. I’ve been very appreciative of the praise and compliments and I hope we can continue on from here to bigger and better.
Becky: Are there any new projects you’re working on that you’d like to talk about?
Amethyst: To be announced…. stay tuned… or something like that. *curtsies and blows a kiss*
I first met Cloe Nyn when I wandered into the Amouresque Club late last year. I was busy visiting all sorts of high-end clubs whilst researching what I might do after the KamaSutra (which of course ended up as the Basilique). I never imagined then that we’d be sharing hours and hours bringing Shakespeare to the Second Life stage!
Together with her business partner Belice Benoir, Cloe is one of the owners of the Amouresque. The Amouresque Club is an exceptionally stylish modern deep-house music club that I really think is best in class. The interior decorating is as good, if not better, than most clubs you might find where I live (London, England). The furniture is top-shelf quality, and you can just see their designer’s eye, and attention to detail, pretty much everywhere you look. The music and DJs are some of the best I’ve heard in Second Life. I love dancing there in their outdoor bar or inside lounge… and, their pool! Their pool makes me feel like I’m on a 5-star tropical holiday. I tend to stick around the Basilique a lot, but when I want a complete change of scene, I really can’t think of a better place than Amouresque. Just go already!
We at the Basilique have worked hand in hand with the Amouresque girls in putting on performances (like the Burlesque Spectacular we performed there) and several joint parties starting or ending at each others clubs. I find these women to be two of the most open-minded and forward-thinking club owners I’ve ever met – always happy to cooperate and share information with each other, always reliable and very keen to just make a better second life… it’s a great partnership on so many levels! Anyway, enough of the Amouresque infomercial!
When we were casting Paris and Tybalt, two essential players in the Romeo and Juliet story, we looked no further than inviting Cloe and Belice to take part. They were thrilled and did an amazing job. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, make plans right now to do it – the next show is this Friday at 5PM SLT!
Something I’ve wanted to do for some time was to interview all the players to get their take on what it was like to take part in this performance. And of course, I couldn’t resist asking my favourite Second Life fashion photographer, Strawberry Singh, to capture the players in their 1940s costumes and on set. She’s done a fantastic job of capturing Juliet’s over-confident and ill-fated suitor, Paris. And here’s Cloe Nyn, in her own words, on what it was like to play Paris:
Becky: What did you first think when you heard about being part of an Second Life Dance Production?
I think it was shortly before we had Purdie and you dance your Burlesque show at Amouresque. And when I saw the smooth syncing of the music and the dances, I thought ‘hey, I want to learn that too!’ For me it was an opportunity to learn this great performing skill from the professionals, so I was very excited!
Becky: Do you think the story of Romeo and Juliet is still relevant today? Why or why not?
Cloe: It is a classic tale of two people falling in love despite of what they are told and taught by their environment. Even in 2013, in a modern world, people try to tell you what is wrong and what is right. This tale is about following your heart, your passion.. no matter what. Live your own life.
Becky: How would you describe your character’s personality? Strengths, weaknesses?
Cloe: Paris is a confident guy. He actually has fallen in love with Juliet and finds it hard to believe she doesn’t return his love. That is his weakness, because he is rather full of himself. A bit of thickheaded guy, I think. Which can be a strength, but for this play, not really.
Becky: What were some of the challenges in preparing and performing this show?
Cloe: The biggest challenge was to find proper dances for my music. With synchronizing it to the music we really pressed SL’s possibilities. Lucky for us, Harvey was able to script a new dancing HUD . That really helped us out and made us feel more secure on the dancing scenes.
Becky: What was your most memorable moment during the making of the show?
Cloe: The first time I saw the pieces fit together, the whole play. The storyline just fit.
Becky: Would you do something like this again if you have the chance?
Cloe: Actually, this performance has made me so enthusiastic about SL performances, that I am working on a show myself. It must be the magic of the theatre or the applause you get after the show that makes it addictive. It is tricky though. You don’t want to become the young art student who walks into a museum, gets excited and runs home believing he can be the next Mondrian. It looks way easier than it actually is. So, the next Romeo & Juliet, I will not produce, but to be in it, I wouldn’t hesitate to say ‘Yes!’
Becky: What kinds of shows would you like to be involved in the future, and what would you like to do in them?
Cloe: I would love to do an actual play. Trying to find ways to get animations smoothly flow from one into another. But dance performances is for sure something I had a taste of and want to do again.
Becky: Are there any new projects you’re working on that you’d like to talk about?
Cloe: At the moment I am working on a Burlesque kind of performance. I have a few ideas that I would love to try to make it work. And the experience from the Romeo & Juliet play has given me the experience and confidence to make it work. I hope it will add to a more beautiful Second Life. Thank you!
And thank you Cloe! Watch this space for more interviews of the entire cast and crew, and for even more photographic deliciousness from Strawberry Singh!
Well it wasn’t just the Montagues and Capulets feuding during last Saturday’s performance. With all the technical issues we faced, we might as well retitled the play “Romeo and Juliet Versus The Gremlins!” As Harvey put it after the show “everything that could have gone wrong, did.”
The full dress rehearsal a couple of hours before went even better than the opening night’s performance, so we were pretty confident going in! Apart from one small incident with my legs not rezzing during the “Let’s get it on” scene and a missed text reader cue, it was pretty much flawless.
It’s worth noting too that we didn’t change a thing from the opening night. It was such smooth sailing two weeks ago, that we were hopelessly under-prepared for when the seas started getting awfully choppy.
We had a crowd of 25 in the audience – which was about as big as the first show – but this time things began to get really laggy as the show started. Group chat, which we use to communicate inside the production company, slows down at the best of times. Well, it pretty much stopped working entirely, which made communicating a major challenge.
While animations were looking a little slow to me during the first two scenes, we seemed to be muddling though. During “Come what may” (the 2nd scene where I – as Romeo – first meet and dance with Juliet), I noticed that I had to get extra close to the couples dance ball with my camera for it to respond. Clicking and camming in delayed the start of the dance which is timed to the second to begin at a certain lyric.
Then, I crashed as I was walking down the aisle during the “Fever” scene. Things just stopped cold and I was frozen mid-crouch.
After a relog, we restarted the scene and it went well. After sending Juliet back up to her balcony, I started my solo dance. One of the things we have to do if we crash, is we must run through our dances on our HUD so that we can cache them. This is necessary to avoid delays between the animations, which really doesn’t look good at all. Of course, in my rush from the relog, I didn’t cache my dances and I only realised this once the scene had started.
Lesson reminder: Always cache your dances after a relog, even if you’re in a hurry, the scene just has to wait.
The dance with Juliet went fine, but then I noticed my HUD wouldn’t respond to my clicking. I have about a 10 second buffer to start my solo, so after hitting the button several times to no effect, I had to reload the playlist, and start again. Again, the timing was about 3 seconds off, and again, not that noticeable.
Following that scene came “Let’s get it on”. This is the bedroom scene where I was missing my legs during dress rehearsal. Thankfully, I fully rezzed this time, but as soon as I hit my stage mark and turned my camera to click the couples dance ball, my screen just went a wonky shade of orange! And I mean, full neon-orange. I was literally blind, so clearly couldn’t continue the scene.
I relogged immediately, and had the presence of mind to log in at home, then try to get tp’ed back to the dressing room. Strangely, and I put this down to group chat again, no one would respond to my pleas to get teleported to the dressing room
Lesson 1: save an LM to the dressing room… duh!
Eventually, Harvey tp’ed there himself and teleported me in, which wasn’t ideal, but nevertheless necessary.
That scene turned out ok once we restarted it. I think at this point, I started realising that we had some major issues. I think Harvey came to the same realisation and started telling people to remove their scripts in local. While we do tell everyone to do so, I guess some people need a bit of reminding, so…
Lesson 2: While we recommend spectators remove unnecessary scripts, install a script meter and have an usher enforce a strict script limit.
Then came “Never gonna happen”. In this scene, I play Juliet as she’s getting propositioned by Paris. I start the scene at the top of the audience bleachers, and literally run onto the stage with Paris in full pursuit. This is risky at the best of times, but with lag…. watch out, because it can get out of control in a hurry. What made matters worse, was that there were spectators standing in the aisles. This is troublesome for two reasons: A) they get in the way of our path which blows our timing, and Paris inevitably ends up running into me, and B) standing avatars create much more lag than sitting avatars. So…
Lesson 3: While we ask avatars to stay seated, have an usher enforce this practice and make sure they sit in their seats.
The first fight scene, “Kung Fu Fighting”, between Mercutio, Tybalt and me went down like honey. The second, “The Wild Boys” was a disaster on almost every level.
We all started noticing that the music stream was cutting in and out. Of course, not having group chat available, it was hard to tell whether this was just me not hearing it, or if it was parcel wide. Turns out, after IMing everyone individually, it was clear it was parcel wide.
Unfortunately, the realisation finally came after we had started the scene! Harvey’s connection was failing, and his stream was going with it. This, of course, is a show-stopper.
Lesson 4: Have a back-up plan for the music. It seems that with too much lag, the stream gets bumpy, and so it might make sense to have someone else have the playlist and be able to step in with it.
Things seemed to stabilise and the stream came back on. Of course, Paris was on stage already (and she is meant to enter from the church). So we had to restart the scene, again. At this point, I just wanted it to be over.
Lesson 5: Everyone needs to know exactly what to do if we have to restart a scene, we have to rehearse it and enact the procedure every time.
Miraculously, that seemed to be the end of our problems for the night. During the show I noticed pretty much every one in the company crash at least once, but if they’re not on when it happens, no one is the wiser. I crashed 4 times in total, and every time, I had to cache my dances.
Juliet’s solo scene, “Sleep Alone” had the same HUD delays I’d experienced during “Fever”, but the delays were only slightly noticeable. It was the same story for my last scene “Romeo and Juliet”, but by then I’d compensated and had pre-loaded everything about 10 seconds beforehand. To counter the delay, I had to manually override my preset HUD timings, which was no big deal, but added a little extra error. I don’t think anyone noticed apart from the company of players watching, so it was ok.
I’m pretty sure we all crumpled on the floor in the dressing room when we were done.
Everyone in the audience said they enjoyed it but I could feel the reception wasn’t the same. Sure, some people appreciate how difficult it is to do what we’re trying to do. And most people appreciate that Second Life can be an amazingly temperamental technical environment to do it in. Further, many people also say that the audience doesn’t notice mistakes as much as we do.
Still, when you crash and have to restart scenes, people notice. It blows the “trance-effect” that a good show should have – the feeling that you’re not watching a performance, but that you’re being transported into a story. When that goes, the audience remembers… “Oh! this is still SL… right…” It showed in the local chat that came afterwards, which was complimentary, but much more muted than the opening night. And, it showed in the tips.
Anyway, a few lessons learned the hard way! We’ll be making the required changes and practicing our responses to the worst case scenarios. I reckon that all the preventive measures will cancel out any of the worst case preparations, but in show business, you never can tell.
Join us for our next show this Friday at 5PM SLT and we’ll see if we can beat the gremlins together!
The next performance will be at The Basilique Playhouse at 1pm SLT. Arrive early as seating will be limited to 30 and allow at least 90 minutes to take in the show!
The dance performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Basilque on the 27th was amazing on so many levels. It was presented with text, streaming voice and music, dance, costume and set changes. I appreciate that it was well rehearsed in that there was great and appropriate music to listen to when the curtains were closed during the acts. There were lots of skills and vision involved to create this; you can read some reviews…
We performed Romeo and Juliet for the first time on Saturday the 27th of April. There was a full house in attendance and the first reviews are in!
Also, at the bottom of this post I’ve share future show dates if you missed opening night. With reviews like this, word will get out fast, so please ensure you plan on attending one of our performances in May.
“Outstanding performance and production… So freakin’ great to see SL used this way.”
“Better than RL”
“This was loads of fun.”
“Great job to everyone! Very good show!”
A few bloggers also chimed in with their reviews:
Second Life Novelist Huckleberry Hax wrote:
“The whole thing was a marvel of precision and synchronicity, with more or less every element flawlessly happening at just the right moment. I can’t begin to imagine the complexity of all the scenery, lighting and costume changes – not to mention the cuing up of all the individual dances and audio files – under pressure of the time available to the team. This was a performance by people who clearly love using SL as a form of expression and who wanted to bring Shakespeare to this medium.”
Read the whole review on his blog.
Second Life poet and writer of short and long-fiction, Lizzie Gudhov commented on my post on irez.me:
“I have been to many theatre performances in Second Life. I have been to many ballets in Second Life. I have been to a ton of concerts, live and… well, not that live! All were the result of a considerable effort. SL is, nevertheless, merciless to this type of performance, and it’s quite frequent for the audience to get distracted by the oddity of the participating avatars’ behavior. Synchronization is virtually impossible. Taking into account all of SL’s quirks, Romeo and Juliet was an amazing performance. It’s visuals were beyond beautiful with a clean, uncluttered set elegantly decorated and lighted. The mix between text, dance and music was well balanced. The intermissions were a bit too long, but I gather this was due to the anticipation everyone felt to watch the next scene! The coordination needed to change the set, the pose balls, to get the music to enter on cue was extraordinary. To all who believe SL is not a pace for this type of performances… it CAN be done! I was told that there will be a few more performances in May, so, i you get a chance, do attend. It’s worth it! Huckleberry Hax wrote a great review post in his blog about this play where he said it was an hour and a half long. My reaction was “it was???”. It sure didn’t feel like it! Congratulations to you, Becky, to Harvey and to all the actors. It was amazing!”
Read her blog here.
All at the Basilique Playhouse!
What started as a crazy idea around a kitchen table in early February is now less than a day away from becoming real. The show opens for the first time this Saturday, April 27th, 2013 at 2pm SLT at the Basilique Playhouse.
So how does one actually stage a dance number in Second Life? Well, I thought I’d document the process of how I put together one of the last numbers in our upcoming 90-minute production. Consider what I describe here and multiply it by 10, and you might get a feeling for how much work goes into this kind of performance.
This particular scene I’ll talk about takes place after Romeo has killed Tybalt, as revenge for killing his best friend Mercutio. He is banished from Verona and flees. Meanwhile, Juliet’s father, unaware she is already secretly married to Romeo, has arranged that Juliet marry the governor’s son, Paris. Desperate, Juliet goes to Friar Lawrence for advice. He then concocts a cunning plan that has Juliet faking her death by taking a potion that will put her into a deep sleep. Her family will think she’s died, and will put her in the family tomb. In the meantime, the Friar will send a message to Romeo informing him of the plan. Romeo will come to the church and then take her away with him to Mantua. Unfortunately, the message doesn’t get through, and Romeo hears of Juliet’s untimely “death”, and ends up joining her in more ways than one…
For our production, we needed to have a way of showing Juliet taking the potion and ending up in the church all in one scene. It’s the seventh scene of nine in total.
My first step is selecting the music. For this number, we chose Moby’s “Sleep Alone”. It has the right melancholy mood and was a unique addition to the other songs which range from jazz to rock to folk to classical.
After selecting the music, we started building the scene. We built all the scenes for Romeo and Juliet and this image shows the entrance to the church where Juliet enters to take the potion.
The Playhouse itself was custom-built with this production in mind. The sets are a mix of furnishings, building parts and backdrops made from inworld photographs. For quick changes, the sets are all powered by rezzers that Harvey built specifically for the performance. Below is the control panel that is used to launch everything from the sets, the backdrops, lighting, curtains and special effects like fading buildings and smoke.
For costumes, we went with a ‘40s theme, mainly because that’s the theme of our club, the Basilique. Because this is actually a dream sequence, I decided to dress Juliet in a fantastic costume made of candles and skulls made by PurpleMoon.
Next comes choreography. I first cut my teeth setting SL dances to music with our Burlesque show, but this is considerably more complex. For the Burlesque Show, we mainly stood in one place on stage, did the number, and that was it. For Romeo and Juliet, we actually need to tell a story through choreography. So getting Juliet from centre stage to lying on the altar asleep, while dancing, is a challenge in itself.
I selected dances from MyAnimation’s new Ballet Series and created a playlist in a Dance Hud. The playlist must be set in perfect time with the music to give the impression of a fluid and meaningful performance.
Frustrated with Henmation’s Dance Control HUD, which managed through the Burlesque show, but has buckled under the strain of what we’re now doing, Harvey developed his own proprietary dance HUD, which is a speed demon under the toughest conditions. Here is the playlist I created in Google Docs, that I then use to upload to Harvey’s HUD.
So what I do essentially, is chop the song into bits. After doing this, I might get about 6 or 7 natural breaks where the song changes direction – a prelude, a chorus, a verse, an interlude, etc… That’s the best time for a transition from one dance to another. After cutting the song up, I then play that bit over and over again, while trying different dances to it. Once I find a few that fit, I’ll make a notes and then move on to the next bit and repeat the process. Once that’s done, I make a playlist.
Once I have the best 6 or 7 dances that fit the song, I then block the choreography. This involves moving from one place to another to tell the story of the scene. We’ve used all sorts of approaches to this, from double-click teleports set to “move”, to automated stage movers that move you using a series of landmarks. While both work well, for this number I’m walking from place to place as it allows a little more spontaneity and control, which I like.
Finally, once I’ve got all the playlist and blocking done, then I practice the number. Over and over again. I’d say it takes at least half a dozen times to get to the point where I feel completely comfortable with it.
And that’s just a simple solo scene. Mixing it up with others, blending in couple dances, fight and furniture animations all adds to the fun and complexity. And that’s just the dancing parts.
Once the scenes are set, we need to make sure we have the streaming appropriate cued, the lighting right, and the curtains opening and closing on time.
We’ve written our own poetry inspired by the play, and I’ve read them and recorded them as voiceovers.
For this production, we’ve also experimented with a few special effects we haven’t seen before. For example, we’ll be delivering actual lines from the play in local chat while the dance numbers are going, using an automatic talking device. Yes, we actually went through every scene of the play and pulled out the lines that best fit the story we were trying to tell, and how we were trying to tell it.
The music too, has been a wonderful journey of curation. Not only have we chosen 10 songs for the dance numbers, but because we need time between songs to change sets, costumes, and get into place, we also have selected 8 additional songs that help to tell this seminal story. It’s such a great range of music, featuring songs performed by Nat King Cole, The Black Eyed Peas, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Buble, Queen, Jack Black, Papa Roach, Cowboy Junkies, Lily Allen, Josh Groban, The Swell Season, Duran Duran, Coldplay, Indigo Girls, and of course, Moby. We’ve even thrown a little London Symphony Orchestra and Enno Morricone into the mix.
So it’s been a fantastic journey and so much fun. Working so closely together with Harvey on this has been another incredibly creative and enjoyable exercise in stagecraft, writing, music choice, costumes, choreography and technology. Ame Dovgal (who plays Mercutio) has been super-trooper, planning and leading 3 dance numbers of her own, every one of them fantastic. She’s also in 2 other numbers playing Juliet. Cloe Nyn (playing Paris) and Belice Benoir (playing Tybalt) from the Amouresque have been a pleasure to work together with, and have contributed loads to rounding out the edges of the performance to give us a complete cast. Purdie Silkamour wrote most of the verse and was instrumental in brainstorming with us in the early stages of production. I play Romeo, but also play Juliet at the same time for one really busy number (the meeting), and in the proposal scene, and Juliet’s final “death” scene.
I do hope you’ll join us for one of our performances. We’ll be opening on the 27th of April, Saturday at 2pm. We will only have 30 seats available to keep lag down, so if you intend to see the show, please arrive early.
We hope to see you there!
I’ve got a load of new material lined up for this concert. It’ll be a mix of country and western, but I’ll not be able to resist throwing in some acoustic rock and folk just to help you avoid getting too low… See you Saturday, April 20th, 2PM SLT at the Basilique Campsites for a little marshmallow roasting and a lil’ bit of country under the moon and stars.