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Sunday, March 13

Two things were due to happen on this Sunday. My weekend visitor was due to return to the distant place whence she came (calling her a weekend visitor sounds a bit seedy actually - let's assume that I wasn't paying her for her visit and that we have a perfectly above-board and wholesome relationship). Secondly I was due to convert my one-man-home into a house-share again and start preparations for The Musical!. The other half of the aforementioned (indeed over-mentioned) show was due to arrive during the afternoon sometime.

Life was due to change gear again. What had seemed like a distant dream back in February when I was selling tickets, was going to come crashing down as a harsh reality in only a few days. I needed to concentrate on bums on seats and wires again. We had a tour to organise and, in all honesty, only the bare bones of it was in place.

When my musical-other-half arrived, he came with a new guitar (which was soon to join the show) and a CD of music he'd been working on since last we met. This CD was well-produced pop. Last time I'd heard some of these songs, they were recorded on my multitrack recorder in my dining room and in some sort of embryonic form. Now, here they were in full polyphonic glory and they sounded really good. The 20 minutes of music passed by quickly as I and my young ladyfriend sat like a polite audience and listened hard. I felt some sense of pride, despite having had no input whatsoever on the results. I guess it was just pride of association... a bit like the moments these days when I point to the telly and say "I've met him/her" (I vary the statement depending on the gender of the person, I don't say "him/her", which might be insulting and might discredit my claim to have met the person - "If you've met them, surely you know their gender?").

Although it might seem like I was kicking out my house-guest of the weekend once the new resident had arrived, there wasn't quite a complete cause and effect relationship between the arrival of one and the departure of the other. It was certain that I had work to start with my musical-partner and it was also necessary that my guest returned to the deep south of England in plenty of time to get rested and ready for the week ahead. So, the arrival of one did act as a convenient cue for the preparation of departure of the other. I sat in the middle and watched it, wishing I could have more time.

But time is a strict mistress and you just have to do as much as you can in that which is available. So, I bid farewell to my not-so-strict-human-mistress (neither of us are married, so that's "mistress" not "Mistress" - I think the capital letter makes the difference in my mind) and prepared to prepare for the show.

Oh god... the show... the show
We hadn't performed our songs or the routines between them in months. This was the 13th of March and our last performance at the Fringe had been the 29th August. So... how many months is that? six and a half? We were bound to be rusty.

We took it slowly at first. We ran through the songs in my dining room. We didn't use the set. We just had a go at playing the songs through. They were rusty. We pretty much remembered them, but they didn't come together especially tightly. It wasn't scary, though. We had four performances to give, starting in less than four days, and things were not looking too worrying just yet. But we hadn't started the floor work.

The other task we accomplished that evening was to watch the video of the show. This video was taken at the height of our powers in Edinburgh and we worked the reasonable, though not completely easy, audience pretty well on the recording. Watching this brought back much of the script and also reminded us of the little bits and bobs which had worked their way (through ad-libs) into the performance. My co-performer had blossomed greatly during the run and the show had too. Sometimes you can't rehearse or write these extra little interplays between the characters up front, so it was nice that we'd captured them in their natural form on DVD. We planned to include them this time round too.

Watching the DVD is a disturbing experience, not just because I get quite naked in the show, but also because you (as the performer... so not you... more me) sort of see it from two perspectives simultaneously. You're watching from the audience, but because you did the performance the first time and still know it, you're also faintly aware of how it feels to be on the stage. You know what line's coming next. The whole thing feels like a memory in your head that's being broadcast onto a screen from a different perspective... because it pretty much is just that.

I certainly felt that the viewing of the DVD helped refresh the show in my head. One thing I forgot to mention about my U.S. trip is that I forced my hosts to watch this very DVD with me. I don't quite know why I did that. It wasn't entirely necessary for them to see the show, but I kind of wanted them to. So they very gamely let me show it to them. As a result, the show was even fresher in my mind, which undoubtedly helped with the preparations for the coming week's shenanigans.

The new week starts here
After some late night chat with the recently arrived-back-down-south ladyfriend, which undoubtedly took us into early Monday morning, I went to bed ready to tackle the week ahead. The plan was to work from Monday until Wednesday and then I had Thursday to Monday as holiday. Thursday was to be the day of the Newcastle show. Friday we'd travel to Glasgow and set up the show for doing there. We had two consecutive days in Glasgow (Fri and Sat) and were planning to stay at the house of a friend of mine on the Friday night. On the Saturday night, we were planning to go to the North West, where we'd stay at my co-performer's parents' house and then get up early-ish on Sunday in order to set the show up in Altrincham and perform it that evening. The Sunday show would be attended by the recently-down-south-travelling-but-soon-to-return-to-the-north young lady, who would then return to Newcastle with me after the show on Sunday evening. Monday was to be a day of rest.

It was going to be one hell of a week. Rehearsing a show we hadn't done in 6 months back to performance standards. Performing in 3 cities, 4 times, in 4 days. I hadn't done any press. I hadn't got any posters. I didn't have a confirmed techie for Newcastle and I had put my blind faith in the Glasgow promoter to provide me the right techie for there. I had no PA system for Newcastle, though I had some bits which looked promising, and there was a PA system in the Newcastle venue... basically, there were a lot of challenges to face.

Could we do it?

Well, given that I'm writing this in April, backdating it to the time in question... I know the answer, but on this occasion, I'll let you read on to find out.


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