Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Printer to Script to Plays to Television

Following the example of my daughter, who has to print out pages and pages of University material this year, we bought a Brother printer which prints at speed - but only uses black ink, no colour.  (But there is a cash back promise comes with it.)

No problem, we thought: we hardly ever use colour.  Of course the first two things I print out both have colour in them...  We haven't got rid of the printer that does do colour; if really necessary we can just hook up that printer and go for it.

One of the items I was printing was the script for Grimhilda! - the prompt needs a copy.  It was printed in record time.  Stageworks, the company that's producing the musical, has a wonderful lady called Jan who'll be doing the prompting.  She prompted for The Mousetrap, and very occasionally got herself accidentally seen by some members of the audience (if they were paying attention to what went on backstage) when the downstage door was opened just a little too far by one of the cast.  Or when, as one night, it opened by itself...

Jan also prompted for The Christmas Carol, which we did a couple of years ago.  Prompting is not a job I'd like to do.  It seems simple reading along in the script as the play progresses and hoping nobody will dry.  That's the easy part; it's when an actor skips a section and another actor has to follow, and the poor prompt isn't sure whether they'll catch up with what they've missed, or forget about it entirely.  That's what happened to me once, in The Magician's Nephew.  The young fellow playing Digby skipped a page or so of dialogue, and, because I was in the wrong place for the line he spoke, I went completely blank in a way I've never done before.   The prompt was on the opposite side of the stage, and was prompting like billyo, but for some reason I couldn't pick up what he was saying - there was what seemed to me to be an eternal pause before we managed to find our own way back to native soil.

I always admire actors who do weekly television series, especially those who get long speeches that they've got to have memorised within a couple of days and be able to say with the utmost conviction.  I'm a slow learner, comparatively, and like to feel my way into lines so that by the time I'm on stage with them I feel utterly confident.

Which reminds me, for some reason, of last week's Doc Martin episode, and the uncongenial Doc's remarks to the funeral director's son who was taking supplements of various kinds in order to make himself stronger and bigger (and more attractive to the ladies).  He was also having cod liver oil (which made him unattractive to the ladies - one of them telling him to stay 'over there, your breath stinks.')   He was also tanning himself, and the cellar in which he was doing this was not only full of muscle-building supplements, but tanning supplies.  Doc Martin stormed in there, barely managing to avoid hitting his head on the very low beams, and verbally set the place alight, giving the funeral director himself an earful for letting his son go through all this nonsense - and bringing on him some obscure medical problem in the process.

People on these medical dramas/comedies never have plain ordinary illnesses.  You wonder where the writers dig up all the peculiar problems that beset the characters.   I understand that variety is the spice of life on television, but some of the illnesses are just plain ridiculous - though not to the characters, obviously!

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