Different types of funny

These two week “holidays” from college don’t get any less hectic. Busy busy.

Last week was the end of our penultimate term and we had our usual end-of-term performance, presenting a few things we’ve worked on during the previous weeks. Usually, pieces in the performances have all been in response to provocations from the teachers as part of our weekly Creation themes. This term, in which we’ve looked at clowning and other comedic territories, was more free-form and so some of the pieces performed were put together just because someone had an idea.

(I just about resisted putting quotes around “provocations”, “themes” and “territories”. There are some words that have become completely commonplace at college — “pedagogy” is another — but I’m guessing sound pretentious and/or meaningless outside of that windowless room.)

Aside from my recent concerns about not even attempting a few things I’ve enjoyed most of this term. The comedy stuff, particularly the clowning, has been fun. I enjoy the construction required to work out exactly how to make something funnier, and the deadpanning of the clown in a ridiculous situation.

And so I don’t think I’ve had such a relaxed end of term as this one. I was comfortable with what I was doing for the performance, and happy with the quality. I was in three of the 20-something pieces we presented, although one was a more supporting role. Unfortunately some people weren’t in anything that made it to performance, and others were only in one or two, so I was lucky this time around.

Of my two main pieces the best received featured Roblin and myself performing a few minutes of Swan Lake. We weren’t any good at the ballet of course but our clowns really wanted to be. Lots of energetic leaping and spinning and me wearing a large pink tutu (thanks Mary!) seemed to get plenty of laughs. It was also great fun to perform the dance in a straight-faced way, and refreshing to have a piece in which simplicity was enforced. All there was to it was to try and dance, and there were no opportunities for us to over-complicate it with extra ideas, themes, conflicts, etc.

The other piece was also about dance: a very pompous little troupe of modern dancers and their musicians, introduced by Michael as an equally pompous dance festival host. The ridiculousness of the introduction and music and dancing seemed funny in itself, and runs for several minutes, and we then introduced me as a clown who stumbles on to the stage. It was interesting to try and combine different types of funny in one piece. I think it worked OK, although I think there’s plenty of room for improvement. Unfortunately I can’t remember what the audience laughed at. Still, it was a fun and interesting piece to work on which we may explore further.

The performance overall was slightly fraught at times. With so many scenes we needed many set changes and music cues etc. and despite the valiant efforts of our volunteer stage manager there were still a few hiccups along the way, generally thanks to people not turning up to help when expected. We really need to find out how to work better together as a big group, as the organisational aspects of the performance day weren’t pleasant for anyone concerned.

On a more personal level of frustration, my iPod disappeared during the tech rehearsal, requiring me to bus home, burn a CD of our Swan Lake music, then pedal back to college with minutes to spare, which was also less than fun. It never did turn up…

But apart from all that, everything else was a pleasant end to the term. Next is the final term: two weeks of polishing things we’ve done over the past year and then performing them to a few friends and relatives, followed by a few weeks with everyone developing their own piece of theatre to have performed. I’ll have an idea for that any day now, right? Right?

14 May 2008 at Twitter

  • 08:51am: Being drawn in to the @neb and @schulze breakfast gravity well. It's chilly out here; forgot spacesuit.
  • 11:57am: After a spot of work, on tube to Hammersmith to meet parents to see matinee of 'The Birthday Party'.
  • 02:08pm: Stanley looks a bit out of place. Too much 21st century, an indie band lead singer.

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