Sunday, 13 November 2011

NaNoBlogMo 13 - How The West Was Fun

Recently I got to do something pretty cool, thanks to my being in Sea Tea Improv. We got contacted a while back by the Mark Twain House about a fundraiser they were planning on doing with a theme of "How the West Was Fun", with a focus on Mark Twain's book "Roughing It". They thought we would be some good entertainment. Based on my past experience with reenactment dinner theater, I jumped at the chance to be involved.

I ended up writing and casting the majority of our script for the evening (with some help and improv from the others). I think one of my favorite parts was who I got to work with and thinking of how best to cast some of the other members of Sea Tea.

I made myself the saloon owner, a character mostly designed to serve as a sort of narrator. Julia, working for the Mark Twain house, I made a saloon girl. Greg, proper and sincere, I made Orion Celmens (Mark Twain's brother). Laura, tough as nails, I made a character from the book that fights back a mangy bad guy with a pair of scissors. Vlad, with a fantastic beard and good at a gruff voice, I made the mangy bad guy. Summar, someone I knew that would love dressing up, I made a fancy french lodge lady. Joe, not a fan of memorizing lines and always playing the more outrageous characters, I made a slightly-out-of-his-mind miner.

I also did some work with costuming. Some costumes or pieces people provided themselves, some we borrowed from the Hartford Children's Theater (which was a HUGE HELP, and also fun looking through their costuming supplies), and some I scrounged for at costuming shops and second hand stores. One area of frustration was that I couldn't find any decent gun holsters. I didn't want the boys wearing cheap-o plastic ones. Finally I just went to a craft store and got some leather pieces and metal fasteners (I already had a leather hole punch and leather chord for ties) and just made a pair. This way they also were made to specifically fit the pop-cap guns we got for the big shoot-out at the end. It was a quick, slap together type job, but it was fun to do even a little bit of crappy leather work again. I like that I have this odd base of skills that come in handy.

The night itself was a lot of fun. I got some weird looks since I was cross dressing (haven't had to bind my chest in forever...forgot how painful it can be!). I even drew on a stubbly beard with eye shadow and mascara. There were a few new experiences, such as wearing mics. It was weird to be mixed in the audience and having the other actor's voices coming from the speakers instead of where they were standing. I'm glad we ran some blocking before the show or I would have been very confused about where everyone was!

It was surreal in a few ways as well. In between our quick scenes we hung out in the cigar room of the Hartford Club (where the event was), which happened to be where the mayor of Hartford was a few times, so we ended up chatting with him for a bit (and even gave him a quick cameo in the show). He attested to my success at crossdressing by saying he at first thought I was a gay man... We were also given dinner afterwards, the same things that the guests got, so it was rather fancy. One of the members, Joe, still didn't have power because of the storm. He joked about the contrast of eating cornish game hen in the Hartford Club and chatting with the major before he had to go back home to his cold, dark apartment.

I'm not sure how long the link will last, but there is a Courant blog entry about the night HERE, which is where I stole/borrowed the top picture from. There was a professional photographer from the Twain House there, so I hope I get to see those pictures!

Again, sorry if this entry is a bit crap but I am in a rush to catch up on entries.

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