Friday, 1 June 2012

A weekend in the life of... Lashings!

kaberettPosted by kaberett

kaberett is a baby Lasher, acquired as a result of the panto. They're here, they're queer, and they couldn't decide which they liked more: the pronoun flashcards, or the cartographical love song. And they've just experienced their first Lashings dress rehearsal...

I'd been to shows (well, one show); I'd watched the youtube videos; and I'd bought the t-shirtcanvas bag. I had, in point of fact, fallen thoroughly in love.

I am quite possibly the worst kind of audience, though: having seen the magic happen, I wanted to know how the tricks were done. As it happens, I've rocked up to Lashings at a new and exciting time: we're currently trialling split rehearsals, with groups in London and Oxford working on skits and songs separately, before bringing them together.

And that's exactly what we spent this weekend just gone doing , for the show we've written about previously.

We gathered from our various corners of the country to Oxford, and specifically to an Oxford quad crawling with people in formalwear, where we sat on the grass and had a picnic (lashings of ginger ale were, sadly, absent) while chatting gently about who was going to be doing what and assigning lines. What surprised me most, as a newcomer, and perhaps shouldn't have done, is that when Lashings say they're (we're!) a collective, they mean it: this dress rehearsal was the longest and most productive facilitated safer space I've ever participated in.

In fact, this pretty much set the pattern for the weekend: we'd talk; we'd act; we'd give feedback. To give a little more detail, and perhaps a better idea: we began by running only the between-act patter, omitting the skits we'd rehearsed in our “local” groups, to sort out the detail of blocking; we had Exciting Technical Drama; we had mini-workshops on projecting and face-acting. The last thing we did before being kicked out of the theatre on Saturday was do a run through: the magic moment of “hold on a second we've actually made a show.”

Still feeling pretty stunned, we wandered blinking back out into the late-afternoon sun and started our debrief, which somehow turned into a fairly major restructuring exercise: the show you'll be seeing is not the one we had scripted on Saturday morning! We've swapped some acts around, edited the script to reflect this, relearned all our lines, and generally tightened up the narrative structure: and that, my dears, is what you will be seeing.

However! We were not all work and no play. I got to mess around doing (very basic) wheelchair tricks; on the Saturday night, about half of us piled into Sebastienne's and watched the panto DVD (callbacks! trifle! deciding we need a subtitles track!); and the following morning, S & I improvised French toast while wilfully reinterpreting V for Vendetta to make it less faily.

It was after that – during the Sunday itself – that we managed to ditch the scripts almost entirely, and do timed runs from memory (with a minimum of bad ad-libbed jokes about QUILTBAG figures in history vs duvet covers: sorry, everyone). During the last of these we got out all of our clothes and all of our props, and it's the pictures from that run that we've been sharing with you from facebook and elsewhere: snaps taken so that we could double-check that we were, in fact, facing the audience? Somehow turned into a pretty good summary of what Lashings is about: we're here, we're very queer, and we want to sing for you.

[Image: 11 people stand and sit in a semi-circle, wearing coloured tops such that they form a rainbow.]

And to prove that it's actually all happening, you can find us in honest-to-goodness show listings, including the Edinburgh Fringe Catalogue and interview with the Oxonian Review! I'm absolutely loving, though I say so ourselves, and I've got the stage nerves to contend with! - so please do come along. You'll be awesome; it'll be fabulous; and if you're very, very lucky, there might even be cake. :-)

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