like a wayward tomcat I return to you, slinking back, somewhat guiltily, with my tail between my legs after being away for so long. Where have I been for three months? What have I been doing with myself? Sadly, the Real World (yuk!) has been holding me hostage and making me devote all my time to inept landlords, day-job related dramas, keeping my finances in check (a full time job on its own!), a long weekend in Norfolk and more day-job related dramas.
On the more positive side though, burlesque has still been a huge part of my life during my period in blogospheric limbo.
Firstly the most exciting thing I have to report is my adventures performing three big, exciting shows over the months of September and October. Firstly, there was Enchanted Burlesque's 'Sirens and Scoundrels' event in Birmingham. This show is held at the Old Rep (kindly corrected by James - where is my mind!) Theatre and is the first real proscenium, theatrical venue I have performed in since I began burlesque. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and found it a thrill to be on such a big stage in such lovely surroundings.
This was my first outing of my re-tooled Jackalope act and my slightly re-tooled Emotional Strip act. In my last blog I mentioned that I might add an extra funny bit to my Emotional Strip and I have to say, I'm glad I did. It caused such a reaction! The second I saw how the audience responded, I knew it was the right decision. With the Jackalope I had made some more structural changes. When I debuted the act I had felt it had a bit of an element of 'fannying around onstage' to it. By fannying around, I mean that it had parts that seemed not to add anything narrative or mood-wise, despite my best efforts. I knew what I was trying to say, but I didn't feel I was saying it effectively. This was mainly in the opening part of the act, before I start putting my costume on. So I looked at the act and tried to nail down what I was trying to convey, and how to say it more clearly. What I was going for was 'at home in the forest' and also, I wanted to show the character's shyness and timid curiosity. In the original version of the act I do this by moving around the stage in character but I never felt neat and clear enough. It just looked like fannying around. So I ended up adding in some fan work with fans made to look like autumn tree branches. The idea was, to show that the character was in the forest and also to show her shyly at play in her world. Peeking out from between branches and shrubs. I made the fans myself using regular fan staves, artificial leafy twigs and a LOT of hot glue. I'm quite pleased with the result and feel that it's a real improvement on the original version which, if you read my earlier entries, you will know I was not entirely happy with. Have a look at the video (if you haven't seen it already) and let me know what you think! I have also made a few tweaks to the costume since this video was made - what you don't see in the video is that the fastening on my skirt is not strong enough - right after the lights came down, so did my skirt! Nobody saw it, but imagine if it had happened part way throught the act!
A photo of my Jackalope at Enchanted Burlesque in September
(copyright James Thorpe - www.photoburlesque.com)
After performing at Enchanted Burlesque I also had the pleasure of bringing the Jackalope out again that weekend at Darkteaser's Leamington Spa extravaganza 'The Garter Lounge Grand Show'. The venue, the Assembly Rooms, is a 1920s Art Deco building that has been restored to its heyday's glamorous decadence and it was one of the lovliest places I have performed in to date. I also had the pleasure of being able to watch the majority of the show from the wings and, an extra special treat in a sea of fabulous performers, I finally got to see Vicky Butterly's rocking moon performance in the flesh. I make no secret of the fact that I stood at the side of the stage with tears in my eyes (and I was not the only one!). I felt so inspired watching that act and it was a privilege to get to see it up so close.
In other exciting performance news last month the Ministry of Burlesque came to my home town of Nottingham and I brought my Jackalope out as a 'Battle of Burlesque' guest performer. I felt very privileged indeed to be on the bill with MoB Mother Kittie Klaw and her very talented team of super burlesque and cabaret bods and I found everyone to be immensely friendly, inclusive and fun. The show, by all accounts, went down very well indeed and it looks like MoB will be coming back to Nottingham in December. I am going to try and organise to come and watch this time as the show was so much fun but I was so nervous that it went by in a bit of a blur!
So, with the Jackalope and the Emotional Strip now firmly placed in my repertoire I can start turning my thoughts to new and exciting acts for the future. I tend to always have a handfull of ideas bubbling around in my brain but usually only a couple of those at any one time are in a position to leave the brain and begin work on. A bit like the Jackalope and the Emotional Strip, I have ideas for one funny act and one straight one. It's weird, despite how hard the Jackalope was to produce, something about the way I feel performing it, and something about the way audiences have reacted has made me feel a strong yearning to do more performance in a similar vein. Not exactly burlesque acts per se, but more acts that are lonely and strange and slightly other-worldly. In my mind I picture a dusky forest in which all these oddities live, a kind of Grimms fairytale kind of world where peculiar people live tiny lives. But, when I perform the Emotional Strip I feel like I am getting closer to the heart of British burlesque that makes people laugh and is so much fun to watch and perform. The two aren't really the most obvious fit for eachother but I don't think I could step away from either at this point. So part of me has been wondering about whether I should market the two sides more separately. Perhaps, when I have more performances like the Jackalope under my belt I should group them off under another label, so that I offer people burlesque acts OR these other things, that aren't quite burlesque, but fit in that sort of lineup.
Either way, I am hoping that in the New Year I should be coming out with a new one that comes from a similar place to the Jackalope, and after that I hope to begin work on another funny one. At this stage that's all I'm going to say about my ideas but be assured, dear reader, that you will hear about it here first when I decide to say more.
So, that leaves me with just one more exciting bit of news: I am putting on my own show! It will be my first time doing this and I'm very excited indeed. The event will be called ODDBALL BURLESQUE: More Fruitcake than Cheesecake (click the link to join the Facebook Group) and it will be showcasing the oddest, weirdest and funniest burlesque in the UK. The idea was, that often a funny act or an unusual performance will be just one point in a night of very traditional and classic acts. With this show I wanted to put funny, silly and weird burlesque centre stage and hopefully people will come and enjoy something a little different.
The show will be on February 18th as part of Nottingham Light Night and wil be held at The Central on Huntington Street, Nottingham. Keep your eye on this blog, my website or the ODDBALL BURLESQUE Facebook group for lineup information, ticket prices and other tidbits.
On that happy note, I am going to shuttle off to get on with a few show related bits and bobs!
'Til next time!