Apparently my blogs are like busses, you wait around for ages and then two come at once! Seriously though, my reason for blogging twice in two days is that alongside the emotional rollercoaster that has been the Jackalope saga I have also had a couple of other interesting burlesque-y developments going on, but by the time I had blogged all the Jackalope stuff I felt shattered and thought I would leave the rest for anyther time.
To counteract all the serious stressing, thinking, difficult costuming and huge amounts of 'am I a hack?' type soul searching, I started working on another act. The idea was to pick something that would be the antithesis of the Jackalope. Something with a simple narrative, or even none at all. Something where the costume was not restricted to having to look like a particular thing, so that the chips could fall where they may a little more. Something fun and upbeat so that, whilst really breaking out of my comfort zone with the Jackalope, I could also have the pleasure of working on an area I am more familiar with in this new act. It was my other half's suggestion and working on this really did help in these last few weeks when the work on the Jackalope was making me feel really grim. The hope being that because the costume and concept were more simple, the execution could be better and more refined. I could take more time to focus on the performance and less on complicated costuming, shoehorning a difficult narrative into something complex and generally tying myself into knots over non-performance related things.
So, the idea I came up with was (very) loosely inspired by a a performance by a stand up comedian called Kevin James. If you don't watch a lot of stand up you may also have seen him on the sitcom 'King of Queens'. My partner showed me one of his stand up acts and the act finished with a performance that was essentially mime to music on the theme of a woman buying a greeting card (here's the link if you want to watch it). When watching this I got one of those 'I wish I had thought of that' moments. The mime work is simple but really perfectly matched to the music. Compared to burlesque it is very pared down. He doesn't use costume or big production values, just his own skills of conveying emotion and a suitable (probably custome made soundtrack).
I decided to use this idea of conveying emotions in a humorous way, using appropriate music as my starting point for this act. Obviously, I am neither a mime nor a stand-up, so doing it in the pared down way that he works is not for me. I still wanted to include more burlesque-y elements like striptease and a ritzy costume but for the main focus to be a funny act where I play out some sort of emotional transition, hopefully honing my skills of physical and facial mime and humour in the process.
This idea evolved into the concept for my new act. I don't want to say too much and give away the element of suprise but suffice to say it has now moved sufficiently far from my original starting point that I don't have to worry that they are in any way similar, but it still retains the spirit of what I really liked about that act. So while I beavered away working on my Jackalope costume I was also researching tracks for this new act which I have named 'The Emotional Strip'. Usually track searching is a long and laboured process for me but I had promised myself that I would try to not obsess or nit pick on none-performance related stuff for this act. Not that I wanted to be slapdash about it, but I wanted to keep my eye on the main focus - the performance skills - and not allow myself to be overly sidetracked with the other pieces of the puzzle. I had a few sticky points searching but all in all I found the music came together quite comfortably.
After I had edited my music I found that mapping out the simplest blocking and basic choreography (not that it's a particularly dancey piece, so I do use that term loosely) came relatively easily. Because I knew my goal was, rather than performing abstract dance moves, to try and perform literal emotional mimes it seemed to make the whole process a lot easier.
So, flash forward a couple of weeks and devising and rehearsing stages are going well and I have also started working on my costume. Because it is not me playing a particular thing (a cat, a badger, a can of coke ect) or a particular person (Michael Jackson, Captain Kirk, Marie Antoinette) there is a lot less pressure for the costume to 'look like' anything. I can just make it look good (or at least my interpretation of 'good'). I have set myself a target of trying to improve my grasp of colour theory (which I am awful at, but which is a particular passion of my abstract artist other half) while making the costume and hopefully this will be something I can improve upon over time and transfer any skills I might gain to future acts. As the title of this blog suggests though, the costume is going to be bright and fun!
So apart from this, just one more development to mention. I now have my own website.
It's pretty simple but on there you can see my list of current acts (with performance pics), upcoming show dates, acts in the works, modelling photos and all sorts of other tidbits. Please take a moment to have a visit there and please feel free to give me any feedback on it/how it could be improved.
Til next time