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This is a question Performance

Have you ever - voluntarily or otherwise - appeared in front of an audience? How badly did it go?

(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 9:26)
Pages: Popular, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

I was on Radio 4's Midweek with Libby Purves
Live, not sure how many million the audience was, but I was talking about historical toilets. Seemed to go well.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 11:36, 2 replies)
Evil dwarf, neutral
I've got a few stories. But not because I'm an actor, but due to the fact my job involves stages and speakers, though I've done a fair bit of proper theatre too.

But my favourite stage appearance was:

I'd got a colleague to call a speaker prior to the event to check their name spelling. But as they had a gender-neutral name, it was also to find out Bird or Bloke. My colleague got off the phone and went 'um, I still don't know'.

So I rang the client, who was a colleague of said speaker, and they, quite revealingly with hindsight, said 'um, we don't know'. To be safe, we left off the Mr/Miss/Mrs etc on their welcome pack.

So the speaker arrives on the day, led in by my colleague who, wide eyed and suppressing hysterics, steps aside to reveal It.

It is small - about 5'1" - grey-haired, feminine face, grey goatee, kind of shrivelled but not in a 'oh, it must be genetic' way but just sort of cramped, wearing a suit three sizes too big, doesn't understand personal space and speaks in what can only be described as a Terry Jones old lady squeal. I still do not know if it is male of female. I shake the hand, show them the podium, and remind, er, it, as I do all speakers, to relax and speak upright - do not lean into the microphone, we can just turn you up etc... I'm getting a bit worried because not only is this creature a bit weird, when practicing it seems to be doing the exact opposite of what I'm saying. I demonstrate it, describe again, and hope for the best.

The show starts. The gender-neutral goes up, and immediately starts speaking into the podium mic like it's a sports mic. Despite having playback speakers, and the entire audience gasping and holding their ears, the penny does not drop that the loud bangs and crunches and whistles being created are its own fault. The thing carries on.

I rush to sound, who shrug. I need to get him/her to lean back. I sneak up with a note that says 'PLEASE STAND BACK FROM MICROPHONE, AUDIENCE CANNOT MAKE OUT SPEECH' and place it by the mic. And the little f***er just waves it away and carries on.

The client is giving me pleading faces with their fingers in their ears, so I break a cardinal rule and get onto the stage. I try to look confident but respectful as I tap the entity on the shoulder, who responds with an evil glance and carries on breaking the sound system. I have to be firmer, and this time I gently but firmly turn the speaker around and lean them back, and politely, with bowed head, ask them to please stand a pace back and upright, as their speaking into the mic has prevented the audience from hearing any of their speech. I say it firmly but kindly. I also, because I'm not getting in trouble for this crap, say it loudly enough for the mic to pick it up so the audience can nod in approval and my break of etiquette can be forgiven.

You know what the little arse does? Pushes me AWAY. HARD. I actually stumble backwards - I'm only a tiny thing myself but it's the sort of push that would make bouncers smash your face in if you tried it with them.

THEN. Leans INTO the mic. Speaks EXTRA LOUDLY. And leaves me, dumbfounded, standing on the stage giving the audience a look of WTF before theatrically shrugging at the client and walking off.

We turned the mic down to near silence and let the audience talk amongst themselves.

W*nker/a

And that is the one time I ever got onto stage during one of my own shows.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 11:35, 7 replies)
I'm a programmer. I have been one for 22 years. Programmers generally don't interract with the public if we can avoid it.
In my previous job I did everything I could not to have to interract with the public. I wasn't very confident.

But after being made redundant I went for an interview for a new job.
They told me that any successful applicant would have to interract with the actual proletariat from time to time. I told them I was fine with this (I wasn't fine with this at all).

I got the job.

Several weeks of blissfull programmy goodness went by before I was told that I was going to be 'technical sales support' for our M.D/Sales Director as he did a presentation.

Nobody told me that the M.D was a lying weasel who would avoid responsibility at any opportunity but it was clearly too late before I found out the hard way.

"..and this is Airman Gabber who will be presenting the product to you." weaselled my boss as he sat back and left me to stand in front of 8 senior managers who we were trying to convince to buy our software.

60 sweaty and uncomfortable minutes later I sat down and let the weaselly one smarm his way with corporate management bollocks.

We got the sale. I was uplifted.

Helped my confidence no end and since then I've happily presented our products in front of audiences of 30 or more.

I could do sales, me.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 11:33, 4 replies)
Ask me tomorrow...
...because I'm playing tonight (if anyone's interested it's here www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=269427043070883 ) but if it goes like most gigs, it'll involve insulting someone, saying something crass and occasionally speaking in Cornish.

Things that come to mind are repeatedly telling the sound man that I'm getting electric shocks from the mic but no-one believes me until the guitarist touches his mic and collapses on the floor.

...being threatened with death by a bike gang because I called them a bunch of pussies. That was fun, especially as the guy who threatened to kill me had only just got out of jail for manslaughter.

...last week I managed to get the crowd to moon someone across the road who we'd been told was complaining about the noise, turned out he was just enjoying himself though.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 11:17, 7 replies)
Attempting to coax a performance
Many years ago, in the early days of home video, I had an urge to make a movie. A mate of mine came up with a story idea, and a project was conceived: we would make a comedy, to be called "Biggles Flies Undone"!

After many drunken nights arguing over the script, we had a lucky break: we met two girls, best friends, who were interested in being in the film. I had a "screen test" with them, and they were naturals - just effortlessly funny, feeding off each other brilliantly, and the camera loved them. A few other friends were signed up, a mate who had an empty flat was coerced into lending it to us, and we prepared for a two-day shoot.

And that's where it all started to go wrong. After giving up on one actor who insisted on using a real spliff for his scene, and consequently got so stoned he couldn't deliver his single, solitary line coherantly, I started to work with the girls, the jewels of our cast. I quickly noticed that the natural chemistry that I'd been expecting was strangely missing; there was definitely something wrong.

Eventually I discovered that the night before the shoot they'd had a huge row, and were barely on speaking terms. One of them had consequently caned a bottle of vodka before she'd even turned up. This had been noticed by one of the male cast members, who spent the entire time trying to shag her, rather than concentrating on his scenes. The other girl just kept weeping in a corner.

On the second day, the girls failed to arrive at all, and the one cast member who did bother to turn up had had his hair cut the night before, so looked completely different.

You'll be amazed to hear that the film never got completed. In fact I've never even been brave enough to watch the rushes, not even once.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 11:14, 6 replies)
My voice never really broke.
It just gradually descended, and it didn't have far to go. And no, I don't currently sound like a girl.

Combined with my singing 'skills', this meant that when our primary school class was contracted to perform a few songs for the anniversary celebration of the children's hospital next door, I was taken aside by my teacher and tactfully instructed that those with 'voices like foghorns' were, preferably, just to mime singing during the concert. As far as I remember, I was the only one told this.

Of course, being a contrary little tyke, I ended up being discreetly hustled off the outdoor stage and back into the audience somewhere in the gap between songs one and two. I think they positioned me on the edge of the group for this very reason.

Later in life, I once performed "Sympathy for the Devil" in a bar that had not, as yet in the night, been graced with an overabundance of excellent karaoke singers, only to get absolutely no reaction from the audience other than stares and meaningful drink-sipping. Even the fourteen squealing unsynchronised bints who'd murdered a Tom Waites song had got some applause.

As a result of these and similar experiences, I've accepted that the world needs to be forced to appreciate my extraordinary singing talents, and I sing loudly at the least opportunity until they finally understand that I'm actually really good at it. Oh yes, I'll show them.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 11:09, 2 replies)
A tip for students:
The lecturer that stands in front of eighty of you for a couple of hours each week, the one with the scruffy jeans and the Converse that you think she's too old to wear, the one that makes shit puns and laughs at her own jokes - well, laugh with her. She'll remember you fondly when she's marking your coursework.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 11:08, 14 replies)
My wife is an amateur dramatics actress and director.
Until the past few years whenever she was in a play I'd regularly have nightmares that she'd roped me in as a stand-in, which I'd foolishly agree to (I've never acted in my life and have no desire to).

Every fupping time she was rehearsing I'd dream of finding myself on stage in front of a huge audience unrehearsed and usually naked. So vivid was the image that I'd usually wake up a gibbering wreck.

The only time that she did actually ask me in real life to stand in for one of the actors who's only role was to drunkenly stagger on stage, throw up over someone (vegetable soup makes ideal vomit apparently) and then slump on stage for the next hour with my head down the toilet, I declined through fear of ending up naked.

Cured me of the nightmares though.

so.. um. there's a story of how I managed *not* to appear in front of an audience. um...
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 11:06, Reply)
I landed a job in marketing
Somehow i managed to get a job doing the marketing for a fairly large multi manufacture car sales group.
On my first day I was told I was to attend a meeting with the director and regional sales managers, presumably to introduce myself and explain I was bringing to the company my insight and market awareness.
I clammed up and it was immediately apparent that I knew fuck all about marketing.

On the plus side, my assistant was a fox and she always had too few buttins done up on her blouse.

God I loved that job
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 11:03, Reply)
Charity Stars in Their Eyes.
To start with, I hate TV programmes like this let alone peforming on stage. I get utterly petrified (despite having been in two bands as well and being able to play a better than average guitar/piano). So I've no idea how I was talked into entering a charity Stars in Their Eyes competition at work a few years back. My friend suggested that we do a duet - he used to be a red coat and is comfortable doing the whole entertaining thing so i thought this would be OK. We decided to try the Proclaimers "500 miles" as it had just been the comic relief record, would suit two guys with mediocre voices and would hopefully distract the crowd from our poorly hidden embarrassment. Also, there was a prize on offer - flights to the Maldives. The travel company I worked for ran a charter flight there so seats weren't expensive to give away. A few days after entering, my friend was sent miles away on a secondment with work. He didn't return for some weeks by which time the event was only a few days away. We decided to bail. So i went to the organiser, one of the office managers and gave him the bad news. He looked like he was about to cry and told me that other people had pulled out and asked if would i reconsider. That stumped me and in a moment of weakness, i said OK, i'd think of something. In the meantime, my redcoat friend had been sent back off on his secondment leaving me to ponder my fate alone. I had to decide what to sing and presented myself with the following criteria - it's got to be mercifully short, something reasonably lively and something that i know all the words to. And so, a week or so later I was stood behind a stage curtain, surrounded by billowing dry ice, absolutely shitting myself and about to be unleashed on a crowd of about 500 strangers and colleagues dressed in a spangly Elvis jumpsuit, '50s' wig and sunglass to sing the King's lesser known, but awesome song, Guitar Man. My prayers were answered and I didn't screw up, and people were even kind enough to give me a good cheer. I didn't win though. That went to some professional-style cunt of a singer who brought lots of her mates to watch her sing that song off of The Bodyguard. She even blacked herself up for it. What a racist. A lot of people spoke to me after the show to say well done (which was nice) but most people just said they'd never heard of my song before. Arseholes.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 11:00, 3 replies)
And with a swing of her hips... (pearoast)
Every year the one-horse town in which I was raised has a carnival week that culminates in a hugely popular float parade on the Friday evening. As a shy (honestly), quiet (I've changed over the years) 18 year old fresh from her first year at Uni I went home to help out with painting a trailer or two. While doing so, people kept buying me very large gins. This pleased me. I was obviously doing a great job. A few hours later as I drunkenly slapped some emulsion on some hardboard, I was approached by the float coordinator- would I wear bikini and a grass skirt and dance my way behind the float? Seven gins said of course I fecking would, though I'd never worn a bikini in my life before, so self-conscious and shy was I. It was hardly the weather for it either- a Norn Ireland fishing village in June tends to be differentiated from the Arctic only because the Artic isn't as damp.

Fake tan - which was actually a Bisto and water paste - was duly applied, a bikini was borrowed, and I was handed a sellotaped bit of shredded brown paper which represented my grass skirt, and at 7pm the parade set off. We'd gone half a mile when, in a particularly energetic bout of hula-ing, my grass skirt fell off in front of 2000 spectators. I couldn't even pretend that no one had noticed - it made the local paper.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:57, 4 replies)
Plenty to tell here - no lies; no puns
I was born into an amateur dramatic family, so have spent a great deal of time on-stage in productions of assorted quality. From my first performance as Herod, aged 4 (I was aged 4, not Herod), I've tended to be typecast as a villain or psycho of some sort, which surprises me being the well-adjusted normal type of person that I am. Quiet at the back, there...

Act I, Scene I

Anyway, after an apprenticeship of playing heralds and walk-ons, I was finally ready for my first 'proper' part: a young and upcoming barrister in a courtroom scene. It was there I watched a master demonstrate what to do when you forget your lines.

Let me set the scene for you: my opposing barrister was a veteran of the stage, having appeared in umpteen amateur productions every year for about twenty years. Nothing pretentious or sniffy about him: he was just a good bloke with lots of free time who knew how to handle himself well on stage: he never succumbed to nerves. I'll call him Steve - that was his name, after all.

In the dock is Jim, a bluff old Yorkshireman who relied on a lot of shouting and gumption to cover up the fact that he was crap at learning lines. A big-hearted, charismatic fella, he got cast regularly because he was a proper presence on stage. More on Jim later.

Our judge is Derek, a proper old typecast. A doddery, ancient member of the society (actually, at the time he was probably only in his mid-fifties, but you'd have been forgiven for thinking he was at least seventy). He never remembered ANY lines whatsoever, and the judge's role was a blessing for him, because he could sit at a desk high up on the stage, with the entire script of Act I photocopied and sellotaped in front of him where the audience couldn't see it. On such things is amateur theatre run.

Anyway, we were drawing to the end of Act I; I'd performed my prosecuting lawyer with a bit of contempt and sneer (told you I was always a bad guy), and was looking forward to a couple of pints because I wasn't in Act II. Steve, the counsel for the defence, was trawling through about a page of monologue which was his summing-up speech; most of it was delivered straight to the audience with the little nods and winks that most good actors use when breaking the fourth wall.

In the middle of summing up, he sneezed. Not usually a problem on-stage, just cover up the sneeze and carry on. But for some reason, Steve stopped completely. I realised that he'd 'dried', a rarity in itself, because I couldn't ever recall Steve needing to take his prompt. It was as if he'd sneezed all the lines out of his head.

Most amateur actors, when drying-up on stage, turn into a rabbit in the headlights. Their mouth works furiously with nothing coming out and they stare into the lighting box as if that will grant them inspiration. They hope fervently that the prompt is awake and following the play (they often aren't; more on that later). You have to remember that this was a particularly bad juncture to forget what you were saying, because there was nothing happening onstage; Steve was the focus of 180 people who were hanging on his every word.

He probably paused for a maximum of two seconds, but I saw the plan develop there and then: probably the most guileful and brave thing I have ever seen on stage. He did not wait for a dozy prompt; instead he whirled round to face the judge, barrister's gown flourished, and delivered the line, in perfect legal-ese: "M'lud, may I approach the bench on a point of technicality?" My eyes met Jim's in the dock: this was not in the script, and amateur actors do NOT ad-lib. Derek must have been completely baffled, but to his credit managed a strangled nod and "you may". Steve climbed the long steps to the judge's table, and carried out a completely phony under-the-breath 'inquiry', while looking at some 'legal documents' that the judge had in his position. Legal documents, you'll remember, that were in fact the script for the first half of the play. Inquiries concluded, he swept back down the steps and carried on with his summing up as if nothing had happened. I'm willing to bet that three-quarters of the audience didn't even realise that it wasn't part of the play. Genius, I tell you.

Act I, Scene II

OK, so let's fast-forward a couple of years. I had just finished Uni, and had returned home, at which point I immediately get cast in plays again, because am-dram societies NEVER have enough men. So, this time, I was a cheating husband, and spent a lot of time playing opposite my 'wife', played by Deb, a long-time actress and a very good one. She was about twenty years older than me, but on the am-dram stage everyone is 'about mid-thirties' regardless.

Anyway, this play (a not-terribly-good comedy, as I recall) culminated in my wife leaving me and my 'big speech', a realisation that I'd been a horrible man and thrown my life away. I wasn't used to doing such emotional and heart-rending stuff (my varied roles at University had included Abanazer, Sergeant Colon and the plant in Little Shop Of Horrors), so really put my all into this speech, making sure I slowed right down and putting long heartfelt pauses into all the right places. It was, if I saw so myself, quite moving.

Or so I thought.

This production ran from Tuesday to Saturday, as did all our plays, and it was widely agreed that Thursday was always the 'dead' night. This is when the cast got too over-confident and the audience filled with deadbeats from the old folk's home and the local Scout groups because it was the last night of concession tickets.

This particular Thursday hadn't gone too badly though, no obvious disasters, and the audience were quiet. I'd assumed they were dramatically hanging on every word as I entered my final tear-jerker. The speech was nearly two pages and took over five minutes to deliver, which is an eternity in any stage production. There was no worries about learning lines - I am proud of the fact that I've never had to take a prompt - so all I had to do was make a connection with the audience.

This, I miserably failed to do.

I still remember the last lines of my monologue now: "...but I see, now...it's all gone...it's all gone." There followed perhaps a dozen more lines between me and Deb before the end of the scene and a graceful blackout. Naturally, I'd taken to leaving big dramatic pauses between the "it's all gone"s, and I was proud that I could deliver the last one bursting into uncontrollable tears (crying on stage ain't easy, folks).

Tonight, the pause was about to be defiled.

Me: "But I see now...it's all gone..." long dramatic pause, prepares for hysterics

Old Lady in Back of Audience: "YAahhhOhhhhYAhhhOhhhhYAhhh" the MOST theatrical and drawn out yawn I have EVER heard

Talk about breaking the tension. There were giggles around the auditorium. Deb made the involuntary snort that you make when you're trying really, REALLY hard not to laugh. My big line, ruined. I was also in difficulties, because normally I'd be in fake tears by this point, but I was just staring aghast at the back-left of the auditorium where this horrendous noise had come from. I declined to finish the last three words of my monologue.

This wasn't the end of it. Deb was by now puce in the fact and gnawing on her bottom lip in an effort not to laugh. And it was her line! After a few seconds of silence, I realised nothing was going to happen, so I did the only thing that sprang to mind at the time. I picked up my water glass, threw the contents all over Deb's spluttering face and stalked off. Thankfully, the lighting man had the common sense to plunge the stage into darkness at that point, but the entire audience were still treated to Deb's roar of laughter disappearing into the wings.

Act I, Scene III,

My favourite story, for now, doesn't involve me at all, but my father. I was in the lighting box for this particular episode, but the way my Dad tells it is marvellous.

So, we're about halfway through Act I of Season's Greetings, a venerable old Alan Ayckbourn comedy much loved to amateur dramaticians over the length of the country. My father is on stage and, like me, prides himself on never taking prompts. He has just finished a bit of dialogue with another actor who has just exited, and his next direction is to wander upstage (towards the back) and examine the bookshelves with his back towards the audience.

One of the female cast members comes on, dusts around a side-table for a while. Jim (you remember Jim from Scene I, yes? He's one of my father's best friends) passes by the french windows and enters Stage Right. Nothing is said for quite a long time. Jim goes to make a gin at the conveniently-placed drinks table in order to cover the silence.

My father, safely with his back to the audience, thinks: "Oh goody, someone has forgotten a line. I can probably blackmail them for a pint of Boddingtons afterwards, such is the custom"

As the silence grows ever longer and more tortuous, my father carries on thinking: "The audience must have noticed by now. There hasn't half been a lot of silence, hasn't there? I wonder if the prompt is paying attention. I bet she isn't, the dozy cow."

But he is proved wrong. The prompt suddenly splutters into life and hisses out: "Charles!"

My father thinks: "Well, that's a shitty prompt, isn't it? You're supposed to give the line, not the character who's about to speak it. Charles is being played by my mate Jim, so he's going to have to cough up a couple of pints at least"

Still more silence. Jim swigs his gin in deep contemplation; the lady dusts the side table until it gleams...

The prompt hisses across the stage again: "Charles!"

Still nothing happens. My father thinks: "Hoo hoo hoo! Jim's had a major aberration here. He knows it's his line, and he still can't remember it. The prompt's incompetent and just shouts out his name rather than feeding him the correct line. He'll be having kittens right now, and as soon as he speaks every single person in the audience will know that he's the one that's ground this play to a halt. Ha ha ha!

The silence is now extending into its second minute. Remember when I said that five minutes of monologue is an achingly long time on stage? That's NOTHING compared to two minutes of awkward silence. The audience are growing restless now and waiting to blame whoever delivers the next line.

The next line, in fact, being what the prompt now does deliver. In a hysterical whisper, she shrills out: "Charles!... has been showing me round his shed."

My father thinks: "Oh...FUCK"

Yes, it was his line all along. Turns out he does need a prompt occasionally.

Now, rather than deliver the line straight, he concocts a plan to get him away from two other actors and an audience, all of whom think he's incompetent. He simply delivers the fourteen lines of dialogue that he needs to get offstage. All at once, very quickly, without allowing anyone else to speak...

"Charles has been showing me round his shed yes it's delightful the begonias yes yes great well I'm going to check dinner do you want me to call on Joan yes she's a lot better now thanks mother no I have no idea after dinner that'd be great"

...and just walks off. You might as well go out in style.

Apologies for length. I may well work myself up to Act II later.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:51, 3 replies)
I did my first and only stand up comedy gig
at an old peoples home, they pissed themselves.....literally.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:45, Reply)
I went to see Bobby McFerrin in Dortmund in Germany a couple of years ago.
He was incredible to watch, but this isn't a gig review. About two thirds of the way through the show, he said "I've got a microphone and a seat here, who wants to come up and sing with me".

That sounded like fun. And after a couple of other people had been up, I had a go.

The thing was, the crowd looks a lot smaller from the comfort of my seat than on stage. So I froze. And I was pretty rubbish to start with - I sang a blues bassline while Bobby improvised something over the top. Then he said "your turn" and I said "I can't think of anything..." He said "Just tell us what you did today". So I did. By then end, I had 1,200 Germans cheering and clapping. Bobby and I had a quick hug, I thanked him, and then I returned to my seat. I forget the rest of the show to be honest.

I've played guitar and bass in various bands, sung a bit too. I don't think anything will be quite as intimidating or exciting as that show was. And although I was a lot less rubbish at the end than at the start (I think the improvement was where the enthusiasm from the crowd came from), I was still rubbish.

If you go and see Bobby McFerrin and you can hold a tune, try to get an aisle seat.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:43, 2 replies)
Oh my gosh a question that feels like it's JUST FOR ME!
(This will seem long winded like it's going no-where but it does become relevant I promise) I'd had singing lessons and been in loads of performances when I was younger and loved it. It fizzled out when I was about 17 and didn't even consider continuing it after I left school. Life went on, I had a child, got married, had another and was fortunate enough to be able to stay at home for 5 years doing housewifey things. I volunteered for everything I could but being quite ambitious about everything I do I usually ended up getting too involved in my voluntary stuff and ended up running the groups and joining governing bodies of the places I helped out at. The catch to this is you stop being everyone's friend and become the person in charge and you don't get to join in the social side of stuff because you're so busy organising it. Eventually I gained employment with one of these places but having 5 years at home had knocked my confidence greatly. I was incredibly low, I was desperate for validation and was very paranoid about peoples opinions of me. Because of this I found it hard to feel like I fit in, despite my colleages being wonderful and kind and patient and very reassuring, I never felt comfortable with who I was. My temporary contract came to an end and I realised how unhappy I was there, not with the people or the work, but with myself, so I chose not to accept their offer of permanent work. Before I could allow myself fully back into normal society I had to banish my own demons.

I spent my days sat at home feeling very sorry for myself, I could feel real depression creeping up on me (I was probably already there but not willing to accept it) and I didn't know what I could do to drag myself out of this pit of self hatred and despair. I was invited to a 60th birthday party and it was to be my first night out in about 4 years. I only managed an hour of it before I felt dizzy and sick at the thought of being around so many people and having to come home crying the whole way in the taxi because I was positive everyone was looking at me and saying bad things, I don't know what I thought they were saying and in hindsight it's completely ridiculous to have felt like that.

One day not long after all this I was flicking through the channels on the telly and one channel had a performing arts program on it and as I was watching it I suddenly felt incredibly jealous of the people on stage, I could do that, I I wanted to do that! I grabbed the laptop and googled for local societies and by chance found the exact one I used to be a member of on facebook. I sent an inbox message asking about joining, thinking it was one of these whims I often have where I start a ball rolling and then leave it.

An hour later I got a reply from the group owner saying they were auditioning for a pantomime that weekend, I thanked him and didn't think much more of it until that Sunday. I woke up and oddly the auditions were the first thing that popped into my mind. They were at 2pm, but I wasn't going. No way, I didn't know anyone and the thought of walking into a room where I didn't know a soul and singing and dancing filled me with dread and horror and made me feel sick. I spent the entire morning feeling sick to be honest, even though I wasn't going I was still really nervous right up until 1.45pm when I was sat on my bed in my pyjamas and my husband walked in and said "Why aren't you going, you'll spend the next few months kicking yourself and wondering 'what if' if you don't" and he sort of hustled me out of the door throwing clothes at me on the way telling me to get dressed.

I began to feel a little excited in the car and felt much better right up until the moment I walked through the door where I introduced myself and began shaking like leaf. I was handed some forms and a sticker with my name and number on it and wobbled off to find a corner to hide in. I looked at the form asking me what I was auditioning for and desperately searched for the "chorus" box and ticked it, when a hand touched my shoulder and said "Hi, (she looked at my sticker) [email protected], don't sit on your own here come over here" I grabbed all my things and went and sat with a group of people in the middle of the room, all of a sudden there were a million questions thrown at me. "have you done this before, do you know anyone here, can you sing, can you dance" I answered that I'd had singing lessons and could also dance, but I ONLY WANT CHORUS!

After a little warm up group sing and dance the characters names were being called out for audition and when it came to the principal roles (Jack and Jill) only one person stood up for the role of principal boy, after some encouragement from the director a few girls stood for principal girl and suddenly I felt a hand on my back shoving me out of my chair and someone shouting "[email protected]'s done this before she'll audition" I had a choice, look scared and sit back down and end up with nothing or just bite the bullet and go for it. So I did, I did OK and met some really nice people that day and was looking forward to hearing if I was villager number 1,2 or 3. I wanted 3 because they had the least lines to learn.

That evening I went to check my e-mails and after wading through african princes wanting my money I saw one from the Director. It simply read.. "Hi [email protected], thanks for auditioning today, we would like offer you the Principal girl, Jill". I couldn't believe I'd bagged the lead role on my first audition, I was happy, scared, gob-smacked - every emotion all at once.

September came and the auditions started, I made friends slowly with the other members and when Christmas arrived I'd learned all my lines, songs and dances and had the best time ever. Show week came and I stood on that stage and didn't drop a single line, I felt awesome, I felt like I was in the place I was meant to be. I sang "I dreamed a dream" all on my own with 200 people watching and was shaking so much the principal boy had to actually hold me up in the next scene as my legs were like jelly, but apparently, no-one in the audience could tell. Seeing my kids faces light up watching their mum on stage was the best moment of my entire life.

Since then I've returned to work, I work at the same company as the girl who played principal boy. I lost 2 stone in the 6 months from auditions to performance (it's creeping up again now we're "out of season though" and I no longer wonder what people's opinions of me are, I don't need validating (as much ;) and I am possibly the happiest I've ever been.

I auditioned for this years panto a few weeks ago, I will be playing the role of Principal boy this year. I've nearly learnt all my lines already and now I'm thinking of dance moves for my duet with the princess.

Sorry this is so long but I wanted to let people know how much it changed my life and if anyone has ever had a fleeting moment where they've thought "I wouldn't mind doing that" then just go for it and do it, it's fantastic and awesome and brilliant!
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:42, 3 replies)
A tragic waste
In a previous job I used to have to go to conferences and give presentations on occasion. It wasn't frequent - a couple of times a year, usually - but it was enough that I eventually got pretty good at it.

One time I got given the opportunity to give a presentation about something I was genuinely interested in and excited about. I worked hard on that sucker - I made far prettier slides than usual, practised it until I had it word-perfect and even managed to work in some genuinely funny jokes which is quite a rarity for me. I was really proud of what I'd done, and for once was really looking forward to giving it rather than the usual feeling of vague dread that accompanied the task.

The conference was at Birmingham University and I was scheduled as the opening speaker for the second day. The delegates were spread around the student accommodation in various places where we could be squeezed in and there was a complementary bus service to collect everyone and drop them at the main hall for the day's events. As a speaker I was one of a lucky few who got accommodation on campus, within walking distance of the venue.

The first day was excellent and there was a real buzz around the delegates in the bar that evening, so I was doubly revved up the next day. I got up bright and early to get set up in time, strolled into the conference hall, grabbed some coffee and breakfast and plugged my laptop into the projector for a quick run through to make sure all the technology was working as it should.

And while in the process of doing just that, one of the organisers arrived and told me the bus company had failed to send any coaches that morning, and while replacements were not on the way they weren't going to re-schedule any talks. So I ended up giving a triumphant, brilliant, cutting-edge presentation to about five people.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:40, Reply)
Johnny Ball reveals all.
When I was at secondary school my entire school went to watch Johnny Ball reveals all live. I think I was in the first or second year at the time (Year 7, or year 8) and there were lots of other schools in attendance this being quite a large event.

One of Johnny's 'reveals' was the joining of atoms in chemical bonding. I was picked out of the audience to play atom A, and an older girl from our school was picked out of the audience to play atom B. Part of Johnny's demonstration was to perform a mock wedding ceremony between us atoms to signify our joining.

As I'm sure you can imagine, me and the girl in question got the piss taken out of us by the rest of the school after this. Life was hell for a few weeks!*

*although I was secretly chuffed to have been on stage with the girl as she was quite pretty from what I can remember. Not that she would agree that Johnny's words were legally binding!
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:22, 2 replies)
I joined the school male voice choir, as it meant that every month we got to meet girls doing the mirror, to "rehearse" for a ... concert, or something.
The day of the concert finally arrived six months later. It was a Sunday, and I'd spent the Saturday at a punk gig, getting drunk, doing speed, and over-enthusiastically headbanging in the way that speeding 16 year olds do.

Thus the next morning I was feeling quite rough, and not a little stiff in the lumbar and neck regions. Very bleeding stiff. Dear-Christ-I-hope-I-haven't-done-myself-any-serious-damage stiff.

The time for the concert came, and we all got dressed up and prepared.

Being 6' tall and a baritone, I was pretty well bang in the middle of the assembly, standing on a riser about 4' high.

The lights went down, the curtains drew back, and off we went.

Those lights are hot. Damned hot. When strapped into a tux, they're bloody boiling. When strapped into a tux, under theatre lights, having been headbanging on speed, they're a killer. A killer. A killer.

Dear Christ.

They're a killer.

I could hear the singing. My neck was hurting so badly. They were a killer.

My neck.

This is not good - they're a killer.

I had to get out I had to get out get out they're a killer I have to get out get out get out and so

in front of an absolutely packed theatre, I did what anyone in the same frame of mind would do:

I fainted, falling forwards, knocking everyone in front of me to spew out like so many skittles; tuxs, ballgowns, hair and shoes flying everywhere, as I loudly faceplanted onto the front of the stage.

Sadly, this was in the days before video cameras were so readily available, as from the stories I've been told, it was absolutely awesome.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:21, 1 reply)
Presenting to large audiences
is part of my job. That's about as close as I've got to any sort of performance in recent years.

I once did 300 slides over a period of 4 hours. I lost my voice for the last 15 minutes and had to point at the screen and grunt to emphasise which bits were important. Two people fabricated excuses to leave and one person fell asleep. When I finished, I got a round of applause.

That was some hardcore shit.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:11, 3 replies)
Accidental fame and infamy
Carnival, Rio de Janiero, 2000

Being somewhat drunk on cheap beer & caipirinhas, I attempted to salsa in the street. I didn't care that I gathered a crowd of laughing locals, giggling at the pathetic attempts at their national dance by a crazy (and ludicrously pale) foreigner. They even applauded when I finished, though I doubt it was in appreciation of my rhythmic skills.

I was less sanguine to be told by my relatives that it was broadcast on national television later that day. I probably still turn up on "Brazils Funniest Videos" programs...
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:06, 2 replies)
Art Fag
I once played a live hour long soundtrack of ear splitting howling white noise and screaming babies to an audience of six chinstroking bohemian types beneath an 8 foot projection of Japanese faux-snuff classic 'Flowers of Flesh and Blood' whilst wearing a dress and a carouselle style horse mask.

The best bit was that it was in the backroom of a rugby pub in Ipswich and confused punters would walk in looking for a place to sit and walk out looking utterly bemused and disgusted. Happy times.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:03, 1 reply)
I'm certain
I've mentioned this before but, once, when Terry Pratchett was doing a Q&A thing at a signing for 'The Last Continent' (At Liverpool's, then named Lomax 2 if you're interested) there were about 50-100 people present. There was time for one more question, I raised my hand. "You, with the glasses at the back." said Sir Terry. "Fuck", thinks I, "I didn't expect to have a question answerd and all the good ones pertinant to the book/his previous writings have been asked...ah I know, he keeps carnivorous plants, I'll ask him how they're doing."

Ssilence greeted the question. Followed by "...They're doing well, thanks."

And that's why I asked him to sign my copy "To the idiot with the question about plants." As a constant reminder that I shouldn't talk, ever.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:00, Reply)
Been in several bands, but I don't think I could make any decent stories, so here are some stats
Bands played in on stage:
3 large ensembles
4 original bands
1 covers band

Instruments played on stage:
Keyboard/Piano
Guitar (acoustic/electric)
Bass guitar (various)
Double Bass (plus effects pedals)
Drums
Vibraphone
Marimba
Loads of other random percussion

Outfits worn on stage:
Shirt + Trousers
T-shirt + shorts
Semi-dry scuba suit (+ fins and snorkel)
Duvet cover
Dressing Gown

Biggest band supported:
Wheatus (at my Uni, they were shite)

Best line from any of our songs:
♫I keep all of your scabs in a lunchbox♫
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 9:59, 5 replies)
Went to a swingers club once
and had a voyeuristic time.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 9:46, Reply)
4th
as a 11 year old boy i had to sing extremely high as the lead singer (a girl) was off. everyone was crying or laughing. bad thing is that i was actually good at it :( hated it

EDIT: its on tape ;(
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 9:36, 1 reply)
3rd?
Good good, story to follow.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 9:33, 14 replies)
Went badly
Client got 7 years
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 9:29, 1 reply)
Frequently
as I am in a band, with a shit and embarrassing name. The other guys won't let me change it :-(

My first forays into performance came at school, where I experienced the delights of backstage crew kicking out the plugs halfway through a song, and leads being left ever so slightly out of the socket so you can't figure out why the hell nothing is coming out of the amp.

More recently though we tend to play in pubs that are frequented by students or old men. Half the time people just stare at you with a look of disapproval. Quite often we will finish a song and there will be literally no reaction*. This will go on throughout a set of an hour and a half or so, and then when the time comes we will play our last song, and the audience will go mental and scream for an encore.

It's nice when people come up to you afterwards and say they enjoyed it, but it'd be a shitload nicer if they gave some indication that they were enjoying it during the act.

I find it fairly baffling.

*I'm assured by others that we're not that shit.
(, Fri 19 Aug 2011, 9:28, 3 replies)

This question is now closed.

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