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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Things I learned about myself from stage kittening 
8th-Oct-2014 10:25 am
Hearth
If you follow me on Facebook, it cannot have escaped your notice that I am super into burlesque. I go to kinda a lot of shows. I volunteered at local burlesque expo Alterna-Tease.

And last month, one of the leaders of local all-guy troupe Sirlesque posted on Facebook that they were looking for volunteers for one of their shows. I thought "Cool, I can go to a show for free!" and e-mailed the stage manager, whereupon I was told that there were three options: taking tickets, selling merch, and stage kittening.

I had a moment of "well, tickets, obviously" but then a moment of "wait! Year of Being Brave. Um. Kittening."

(What is stage kittening? In the course of a burlesque show, many items of clothing are shed and flung in various directions. After the routine is over, someone comes out and gathers everything up so the next routine can happen. That person is the stage kitten.)

So I arrived, reported to the stage manager, got my set list and tech sheets, and chatted with people. The #1 question was "Are we going to see you up there dancing sometime soon?" A natural question, given that that's a normal trajectory, from assisting to screwing up the courage to dance oneself. "Probably not!" I said, giving my usual and totally valid answer: my body is unreliable, and I wouldn't want to commit to a performance and have to pull out because my body did a weirdness.

And then OMG SHOW.

So let me tell you which skillsets surprise-intersected here. Because I find this fascinating - this has been a year of me being good at surprising things and realizing that that's so because of multiple skills that you wouldn't have guessed would equal anything in particular when put together.

1. I am a tiny human. 102 pounds right now, though 108 then (yeah, last week and stress nausea.) This means I can be incredibly compact and unobtrusive in the wings. The wings, at Club Cafe, are very tiny.

2. I have pretty much zero need for personal space in that sort of situation. Yeah, somebody's butt is pressed against me, but in a totally professional way!

3. Near-photographic spatial memory. Adam knows this superpower best, as he is always misplacing things.

"Where's my book?"
"I last saw it on top of the microwave half an hour ago."
"Why would I-"
"I don't know, but I refilled my coffee half an hour ago and that's where it was."

The coffeepot is nowhere near the microwave, but my brain clocks every single thing in the room and tags anything that's out of place. Not consciously, but if you ask me where in the house a thing is, I will know where it is. Unless someone put it back in the wrong place and I haven't been in the room since.

I keep forgetting that other people do not have this?

But that's why the stage manager was surprised that her brand-new kitten could collect all artfully-flung clothing in record time. Watch routine, clock where things land, plot course that allows for most efficient and unobtrusive collection of stuff, one trip around the stage and surrounding environs, done.

"You got everything?"
"Yep!"

(They have another show at the end of the month and asked for volunteers again; I offered, and she said "you're a shoo-in!")

So, right, intersecting skillsets make me good at a thing, but what did I learn?

That, holy hell, I am more uncomfortable than ever with having a spotlight on me.

At one point in the show, the MC called attention to us and told the audience to thank us, and I had to go out and do a little curtsey, and I was like "ACK NO OKAY I AM SMILING BUT I WANT YOU TO IGNORE ME" and scampered back offstage as soon as I could. Ditto during the curtain call.

So I have been saying that I probably do not want to actually do burlesque as a dancer, and that really solidifies it. Because I loved kittening, but what I loved about it was that it hit all of my Making Things Go buttons, that I got to work backstage, that I got to help make a super-fun show happen...

But I really really just do not want anyone looking at me! (From the audience. Had fun goofing off with dancers.) I want to help as invisibly as possible.

That's a good thing to know! And it plays into my next post.
Comments 
8th-Oct-2014 07:44 pm (UTC)
..and now I have a mental image of you scampering across the stage in an all black ninja suit, with cat ears and tail...

9th-Oct-2014 12:57 am (UTC)
9th-Oct-2014 12:29 pm (UTC)
*THUD!!*
9th-Oct-2014 07:58 am (UTC)
That sounds like fun.
9th-Oct-2014 04:47 pm (UTC)
Presumably, because he was reading when he went to take something out of the microwave, and discovered he didn't have enough hands.

And yeah, it's a very useful skill I often regret not having. P and I have an ongoing tension surrounding "open shelves so we know what we have" and "closed cabinets so it doesn't feel intolerably cluttered", and even after twenty years it still surprises me that he knows where things are without seeing them.

The closest I come to this is "No, I'm pretty sure the X wasn't in the Y, because if I'd seen it there that would have seemed odd and I'd remember thinking that, which I don't."
11th-Oct-2014 07:14 am (UTC)
What? NO most people don't have that. You have a daggum super power there. I'd consider paying you to follow me around and help keep track of stuff if I had money for such a thing. If you could do that with the things in my HEAD, OMG.

(Why yes, ADD issues have become more of a problem again...)


... Also, I have a mental image of you scampering around with an overflowing armful of burlesque gear, being briefly caught by a stage light and pausing to look out at the audience in alarm and half yelling "IGNORE ME!" like that giant alien robot thing from Venture Brothers.
11th-Oct-2014 01:45 pm (UTC)
....I might need to cosplay the giant alien robot thing next time so I can do that.

And see, this is why the short-term memory fuckery in 2003-2006 was so horrible! I'm used to what I have now, and during those first years of the anti-seizure meds, nothing stuck...
11th-Oct-2014 05:53 pm (UTC)
Whereas I had never been on meds for ADD at the time, and truly did not understand that other people's brains DID work that way! I mean, in a vague academic sense as some of my teachers were frustrated that I couldn't seem to keep my shit together, but yeah. I knew it was a departure from your normal, but I didn't understand at the time just how different YOUR normal was from mine!
25th-Oct-2014 10:31 am (UTC)
So I'm doing a touch of LJ-catch-up, & I run across this. And it occurs to me: you would be an amazing Stage Manager. That spatial memory thing? Wonderful for knowing where the props are supposed to be backstage. And you'd be great at scaring the actors into Putting The Props Back/Keeping The Props In The Correct Place (bane of pretty much every SM's job, evar).

You might love a quick-change show. A couple of years ago our local community theatre group did Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some). Three actors on stage. One stage manager (me) and two assistants; one of us assigned to each actor, helping the others as needed. It was an hour and a half of sheer madness & fun chaos backstage as we grabbed the actors' next prop/bit of costume & put it in their hands as they walked off-stage for 30 seconds (or less), grabbed previous bit of stuff from actor coming off-stage & put it in the correct place so we could find it the next time we needed it, & quietly tiptoe-ran to meet the actors who entered stage left but exited stage right & needed the prop they'd just left on the other side of the stage.
25th-Oct-2014 02:04 pm (UTC)
Ooh. I'll look into that!
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