Saturday, 15 January 2011

Dressing Room Doodles

I type from the corner of Dad's dressing room. Boy is off in the land of nod in the corner, stretched out on the equity cot, a canvas fold out number. Above me the close of act two blaring out. It's a good house tonight. I can hear the laughter rolls out from the crowd caught by the actor's mics. It has been an entire day of music and theatre. We began with our weekend stop in at the Suzuki music school, where the three of us are being put through our paces in a parent student class. There are much drums involved, and songs, and a cheery lady on a grand in the corner. And a parachute at the end. Everyone loves a parachute. After a lunch a la ma' boy and I were given free tickets to Drowsy Chaperone from a local chap who had interviewed Cory earlier in the week for a local tv station and after chatting, invited the family to his show. It was, thankfully, an amazing show. Small house. In the round. If you can pull off a music in the round you have achieved much. We even squeezed in a half hour at the local hippy hang - finally I managed to follow my nose to the coffeehouse end of town where they take their beans seriously seriously. Just the way I like it.

Bow music. I have only moments to get my thoughts down before we pack up for our 10 mile trip home. The burbs are great for a growing trampolining sort of boy but whenever I get in the mood for company we make sure we take ourselves out to the theatre with pops. Besides, nothing beats being snuck into a box for the close of act one just to have your actor family wave and do little special improvised dances for you. Or Mr. soundie taking boy to the sound desk for his daily check. Then there are stage management duties to fulfill such as calling the actor's to their places at the appropriate time. In a loud voice. Over the tannoy. Tonight he was christened with headset for the length of the show. He has been speaking to imaginary crew for the past few hours. With a serious crew expression. THere's the last chord. They'll all be back again shortly, a quick about turn and we;ll do our late night drill of me dressing boy in outdoor clothes (still sleeping) then lug him into car, still sleeping, into car seat, still sleeping and up into his bed, yup, you guessed it, still sleeping. till about three o clock of course, that witching hour, in which he will call out for one or other of us and eventually worm his way into our bed. It's fine when there is a king sized bed enough for five of us short lot. Last night, in that no-place place between awake and dreams, I had a full conversation with my late aunt, who told me that returning to London with the boy for a little stint would be a fun break for all of us. It felt absolutely real up until the point that Sam called for me and I realised I had been sort of asleep or thereabouts because I was conscious of waking up. Stranger still was the feeling that I had honestly been talking with her. I stopped myself in my tired stupor from looking behind the furniture to see if she was hiding out for me.

Nothing brings you shuddering back down to earth with an almighty thump however like those three little letters “T” “A” and “X”. Any chance of us loosing ourselves completely to our vaudevillian fantasies is ushered on its way by our annual scramble to get up to date and pay ourselves out of debt to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Brows furrow, receipts confetti about us and we add and subtract till our pea brains ache.

Much the same this year only this time it coincided in the week that saw us search for a home, lug our cases across Dallas several times, underscored by a fat dose of my lunar hormonal rollercoaster that I’m sure always leaves husband wondering whether he oughn’t to have stuck dating those English roses of our drama school he dallianced with before I.

From roach land we have defected to the burbs. Apart from the distinct lack of an ash blow dry and those teethy Texan mega buck smiles, I have for all intents and purposes donned my soccer mum guise once again. Have a fat Japanese SUV (something I promised I would never do back home), a flurry of classes for our boy to which I am ferrying him to with wit if not grace. I barely see over the blinkin steering wheel. And I’m on the wrong side of the road. And I seem incapable of becoming one with my iphone GP-wotsit. Trips to the grocery store become a mini safari with no compass.

Thank goodness the gym is within walking distance. Boy gazes out of our window and asks whether it is gym day today. Every day. Luckily for him we have squeezed in as many classes as is healthy for a four year old Olympian. Coach Cody, all broad shoulders and Texas swagger tells me after class that Sam is a typical boy and needs his attention captured with something akin to sergeant major commands. Obviously in my sleep deprived state I immediately wonder whether this inherent army based relation to boys has dire consequences, especially in this part of the world. But, as quickly as he declares this, he adds, that he too was a challenge to stay focused. Folk’s perceptions of children’s behaviour reveals much more about their own upbringing and adults relations to them as children than the child themselves. And yes, Sam was ping ponging around a little more than his usual ferocious concentration on the straddle at hand. Coach in Orlando’s one critique of the gymnast was he erred on the serious.

Leaving Dad at home in Tax purgatory (I’m too kind) we ventured to our local YMCA to find out who really lives around here. Nigerian soldiers apparently - I was eavesdropping on a conversation between two African body builders, obviously, several Porsche driving neighbours and a pack of senior weight lifters who were showing me how it’s done. Children play one side of the gym, parents pump iron. Boy figured out a puzzle or three, force fed his babysitters pretend food then chatted all the way home. We sit, at our bar height table, all corporate cool, and inhale a quick carbonara made with one hand whilst I type with the other. Will tell coach Boy is picking up those bad habits from his mother who promises to exhibit unswerving focus to onethingatatime. Staring tomorrow.

The post show hubub is in full hustle, doors opening and closing, farewells, hellos, soundie's round up of mics, costumes being ferried to the laundry, wigs whisked to the hair room and Vicky, Cory's dresser a-busy with her evening rituals. Special mention needed for these folk. A unique breed. The best ones, like the one in question, are the caring, funny, jovial back bone of theatre. Vicky has been on the road most of her life, her father was a stagehand, and, as is the case with many behind the sceners, the tradition and passion is handed down. She and her colleague crochet outside dad's room and ruminate on Sammy's future. So far they have ordained him actor par excellence, though his fancy moves with the headset this evening have put their judgement into doubt. He may be behind the scenes after all they agree. We'll leave it to time. He is after all, just a few months into four year oldom.

Older than most americans for a first trip to Chuck E Cheese. Think trocadero meets disney and you are half way there. We bought token upon token, and the troupe that joined us there, on their insistence and proud to be at this monumental initiation, decided that nothing would stop them from saving up 3,000 of those ticket jobbies to get Sam a mini basketball net for the dressing room. They managed it too. Whilst teasing me about my bemused expression watching the animatronic Chuck E Cheese at the end of the room, whilst boy plays with the television camera lined up with a small blue screen so that dad and friends can cavort in front and be projected on the giant screens. We go home with said net. And sparkly bracelets with what's left over. And a candy or three. Good times.

Now I really have to get my skates on. Folks are doing saturday night out on the town planning. Boys and I should really pack up. There is a saturday night chat to transcribe, sound department debating at the doorway on what saturday night is all about anyway. One says he is going to listen to a good band the other teases that weekends are for single folk and boring for those already attached.

Boy has his eyes a little open in true Sardinian fashion. We are in cowboy country after all, best keep your wits about you. We intend to find ourselves some bonefide types in the coming weeks down at the stock show and rodeo. Till then I will just have to dream up some, head out into the Texan night for some shut eye, past the grand piano room at the end where someone is rehearsing for the cabaret this monday night off.


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