Tag Archives: Theatre

Stagecoach Drama saved my life

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Candice: You may have heard of Stagecoach. It’s a theatre school for children from four to 16, that teaches dance, drama and singing. My daughter joined up around 18 months ago. Initially, she was quite reluctant; it’s a big step to go into a large room full of children you don’t know while Mommy walks off. There were tears as she clung to me. We had been to a trial session which she said she loved so I wasn’t just dropping her off thinking “whey hey, child free time”. Well, I was, but I also knew she’d enjoy it.

My daughter has always been a drama queen. If I’d let her she’d have set up her own YouTube channel by now. She’s always asking me to video her, or pretending to make her own videos. I knew something like this would be perfect. I also know how much I loved drama growing up, and would have killed to do this.

So, along came a global pandemic, and no clubs, classes or going out. And we went on for the whole summer like that, with us parents coming up with the entertainment as we all fell over each other in the house.

Then someone realised that you can run some clubs remotely. Suddenly all these zoom lessons started popping up. And I’ve come to rely on the three-hour reprieve I get on a Saturday afternoon.

After a whole week living in each other’s pockets it the chance for the other half and I to get on with some stuff, without the whole ‘who’s turn is it to entertain the small child’ fight going on. Every parent out there will know this daily battle – you have things you want or need to do – it might be admin (I’ve spent this afternoon doing finance stuff!), it might be a workout, it might be tidying the loft. But all of these things are easier without a little voice telling you they are bored, need help etc. And you know you have three hours to do it. I end up shoehorning so much into that time I need a lie down after!

And in the lounge, one happy child is chatting with her friends while she learns to sing, emote and dance (her favourite part).

Like Phil’s involvement in Marian Keyes’s writing tutorial last week, we are all getting creative and actually finding some of these work. Sometimes it doesn’t, trying to run a disco where no-one can hear the music is a perfect example, but in a lot of cases, it can.

So, I’m going to savour every Saturday where I get my ‘me’ time. Hang on – I’ve got six minutes until she finishes, what else can I get done….

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False endings

inspectorcallsPhil: Years ago, I was a top hospital radio presenter. Every Tuesday evening, our team would gather requests for top tunes from those unfortunate enough to be on the wards (although lucky enough to be able to listen to us) and between 8 and 10pm, we’d be spinning the platters that matter on the wheels of steel for their entertainment.

One of my favourite tracks was, and still is, Mr Blue Sky by ELO. If you know the song, you’ll remember that it has pitfall for DJ’s – a “false ending”. Basically, the song comes to the end, pauses for a fraction of a second and then an instrumental section bursts forth.

If you don’t know this, you’ll probably be speaking when Jeff Lynne and co come back and drown you out. A top jock knew about this, could whack the fader down so the CD stopped, read out the list of the next days shows and then fade it back up again. How a career on national radio eluded me, I don’t know.

False endings aren’t confined to music though. I was watching the BBC’s excellent new version of JB Priestly’s “An Inspector Calls” recently. Not knowing the plot, when the Inspector left the family, I was thinking that the play was every bit as good as I’d been told.

If I’d stopped watching at this point, I’d have been happy.

But, no. Preistly then takes things a further step by making the inspector who had so brilliantly shown the family how they were all partly responsible for a girls suicide, into a ghost. He didn’t exist and it’s not really obvious what he’s supposed to be.

I’m not great with ghost stories at the best of times but this annoyed me. The ending, where I thought it should be, was powerful, tied up all the lose ends and pretty much perfect. Instead we had this wooly stuff which didn’t finish matters up to my satisfaction.

What happens?

Do the writers decide they need to fill a bit more time and wang a bit on the end?

Did ELO see the first pressing of their disk, notice some unused vinyl and think, “We’ll rustle up some instrumental stuff to fill that.”

Was Preistly persuaded by the theatre management that audiences would like another 20 minutes for their ticket money?

When you reach the end, here’s some advice. Stop. Just stop.

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Murder Mystery Nights

Candice: Has anyone been on a murder mystery night?  I’ve been on one a long time ago for a Hen do.  To be honest we drank too much and couldn’t really keep track of what was going on.

However, Friday night I went to an amateur one, amateur performers but a professionally written play performed by them. The proviso was a wedding where the whole family were there and suddenly in the middle of the performance someone keeled over and died.  It was our job, as a table of 8, to work out who done it.

The deceased was the father of the groom, an obnoxious man who told everyone what he thought of them before keeling over. The rest of the wedding party then came round each table and you were able to ask questions about what you had seen or heard.  This turned into a bit of a bun fight as everyone on the table wanted to ask questions at once (and got progressively worse as they drank more Crabbies Ginger Beer).  At the end we had a conclusion…however it wasn’t the same conclusion across the table!

After a vote we decided on the answer but I didn’t agree, it seemed too obvious to me.  The murderer was supposedly the wife of the deceased, killing him for being cruel to her.  Well, the fact she had her arm in a sling was a bit of a give away.

However, that was the consensus and we went with… and we were right.  Or rather the table was.

But to me it did not ring true.  In my world of plotting, she was too much of an obvious subject and I thought it was some else, some one more subtle.  However, in all my reading and watching these kind of programmes perhaps I am looking for the red herring before the actual culprit.  This show did not break off 10 mins before the end to have an advert break before announcing who the real killer was, which messed up my usual lines of deduction.

So, am I not as good as I thought I was?  Perhaps I’m just better as murder dramas for TV or film, not for entertainment on a Friday night in the local community hall.  Good show though!

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