The other evening, I was making dinner and listening to Rainer Hirsch’s programme on Radio 4 about Spike Jones, the wholly inimitable musical comedian. His son was talking about the huge undertaking that was Spike’s live show, which involved boxcars-full of props and stage gear, microphones, lights and (of course) a sizeable orchestra. Apparently the rider in the contract specified that the only equipment the promoter need supply on stage was a bathtub and a chair. Spike Jr was heard saying (or words to the effect),”Oh, yes, it was very complex. We had to make sure the audio was right, the visuals were right, the guns had to be loaded…”
Last night we had the tech rehearsal for Fallen, and for the first time we got an inkling of what it’s going to be like on the night. The scrim, painted in a pale blue cloudscape, is at least 20 feet high, and as wide; when the film is projected on to it, the images just seem to be floating in the church. When we work out how to get the DVD controls off the projected image, we’ll be in business. Also, I have to get down to the secondhand bookshop today and buy a cartload of old leather-bound books that can substitute for breviaries.
The habits were a little difficult – not only had I not provided long enough bits of rope to go round the collective bulk of waists and the vast acres of vile cloth, but the buknuks and the veils are heavy and slippery. Need to think of a solution PDQ, lest we all look like comedy nuns. And we just have to get used to singing in the headgear – having all that cloth over the ears plays havoc with blend and volume, let alone time-keeping. I’m still finding conducting with one hand and playing figured bass with the other challenging, but that’s because I’m inescapably left-handed, and it’s damned awkward to play bass lines with the right hand, conduct with the left, and still manage to face the choir. When I was at the National Theatre years ago, I had this completely sussed, but I do remember I had to practice and practice – and I never had to wear a habit.
I suppose I could always keep a starting pistol up my sleeve.