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Who’s got the carpet now?

September 25, 2019

What a great rehearsal last night.

There are many problems involved in performing a panto on this little island. One (a very big one) is the fact that the performance venue – the community hall – is definitely not a proper theatre and far from an ideal. Somehow we always make it fit for purpose, but it’s always a challenge.

Another problem is the fact that we only get three actual rehearsals at the hall before the first show. The rest of the rehearsals take place in a rehearsal room with the stage area marked in tape on the floor.

When I first read the script for Ali Baba, there was one scene in particular that had me worried. It’s a comedy chase scene involving the villain, his four henchmen, the hero, the dame, another character and a monster – oh, and the heroine, who’s been kidnapped by the bad guys, rolled up in a carpet. (Don’t worry, the heroine in the carpet is a dummy. No actors will be suffocated during this production.)

This scene, which involves a lot of running back and forth with the carpet changing hands (or shoulders) multiple times. It was written to be performed in an actual theatre with actual wings into which the actors can disappear whilst handing over the carpet. We don’t have that. We have one jury rigged exit, stage right, which leads to a set of narrow stairs. Obviously the stage directions, as written, would never work.

However, if we could somehow pull it off, it would be very funny.

Last night we gave it a go, setting up a stage and exit.

The actors were all remarkably game and very patient as I worked out who should appear with the carpet next. They also came up with some great ideas to add to the comedy chaos. It took several goes, but we nailed it.

We can actually pull it off. It is going to be hilarious.

What a great team I am working with, both on stage and off. My hat is off to all of them.

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