Friday, June 13, 2008

Monkeys on TV

Yesterday at the WTTW studio was really fun and surreal. We arrived to rehearse onstage at 2:30. They hooked us up with lavalier mics, spiked our instruments onstage, and gave us a few run-throughs. Since some people were stepping into parts they'd only learned in one afternoon, that was a bit nerve-wracking, but after the first clompy run-through, we got it together.

Then they sent us up to make-up, which was funny. The girls fussed over who got more glitter on their eyes, and after it was done, we all thought we looked really good, so that was novel for a while.

We spent about four hours in a tiny room with only a monitor and each other for entertainment. Luckily, we're entertaining. We played MASH, and hearts, and warmed up in a tiny circle. The whole day had the quality of taking a roadtrip -- you're a bit "out of time" because there's nothing else you can be doing and nowhere else you're supposed to be.

And we enjoyed the craft services table, which was fully stocked with candy and chips and soda and Costco Asian Mix, which is my favorite snack food on the planet, partly because it's elusive when you don't belong to Costco. You know how some blogs have "wishlists" where bloggers ask people to send them things, "if they're so inclined?" If I had a wishlist, Costco Asian Mix would be on it.

As Govier reported on the Monkey Blog, people kept asking us, "So, is that what you're wearing?" and "Is that your costume?" just to make sure, because we were all in jeans and Monkey shirts. The other performers had costumes, flowy white ballet skirts, or elaborate African robes. The Dixieland band wore black and red, and the lead lady had a fancy red garter and suspenders. We looked relatively low-key, but it amused us a lot to play up the idea that we were out of place.

I noticed that at dinner too. They provided us an amazing spread, and we made a big deal out of sneaking extra cookies back up to our green room. The food was there for us. No one cared if we took cookies, but a lot of our comedy comes from preserving a childlike point of view. I've heard acting teachers compare actors to children more than once -- you get to pretend, you make yourself vulnerable, it's important to the work to have fun. Our company members are good at that, onstage and in real life too. I think we all enjoyed having that sense heightened by being ushered around, given a schedule, being made-up and fed at cafeteria-style tables.

And in reality, we weren't out of place, The tech crew really liked us, and we added some variety to a show that was largely based around music. Even before we performed, kids in the audience sat up in their chairs and had looks on their faces like, "This part of the show might just be for me."

Being theater types, the cameras made us nervous, and a couple of monkeys reported "blanking out" for the ten minutes we were onstage, but reports from the audience were positive, and we didn't screw up. It airs next Thursday, June 19th at 8pm and again Sunday June 29th at 4pm on WTTW.

No comments: