Limelight 4

[notice]This post original appeared on the 22nd September 2005 on my very first blog (that site now has another purpose) The article is now hosted on my “Other” blog From The Keyboard Of  Paul[/notice]

So there I was a pining mess, yearning and longing for my Canadian lovely, but then it happened. My whole childhood was about to be turned upside down and ripped asunder.

For the final week of my work experience it was half term. For those of you outside the UK, half term is a week off for the schools. I guess you get them too but call them something totally different. But anywho, during half term theatres across the country usually will put in some kind of kids entertainment. For the big theatres they will get a national touring show like the one we had, smaller more local theatres will have fun days and maybe a small theatre club where kids can devise their own plays and perform them for each other and mums and dads.

In our theatre we have a staged version of a kids TV show called Rainbow. Now in my house Rainbow was must see TV right up till I finished my work experience. After the fact it could never be the same again. The illusion had been shot to shit for me. I’d seen the puppet master weave his magic.

Rainbow was a puppet show, the main characters were Zippy and George – Hand puppets George was a hippo, sod knows what Zippy was but his mouth was a hole in his head held there with a BIG zipper. When Zippy made too much noise (at least once an episode.. someone would Zip the annoying little sod’s gob shut).

Zippy and George


Along with Zippy and George there was Bungle. Bungle was a six foot tall brown bear… and no I don’t mean a tall black hairy gay man.. I mean a furry six foot tall bear who happened to be brown… sheesh you guys have some depraved minds)




Leading this band of miscreant puppets and stuffed socks is Geoffrey. Geoffrey is the sexually ambivalent head of the house who never had a date in all the years of the show and must have been a pent up ball of sexual frustration.. due to the fact that he slept in the same bed as Bungle ( I am rethinking the big brown bear thing all the time!!).



These four were the main trouble causers but every episode you could bet your ass that the three roving minstrels Rod Jane and Freddy would show up. Now Rod Jane and Freddy looked like ex porn stars from the 70’s dressed in baggy clown clothes. They would turn up unexpectedly sing a song and then bugger off again. Once in a while they would be the main focal point of the episode (usually Jane had lost something… I kept waiting for the episode where she lost her dignity by having to go back to porn to pay Rod and Freddy’s crack habits, but the show was cancelled before that episode aired)

Rod, Jane & Freddy


Anyway back to the live show. This was a big kids show.. lots of colourful scenery lots of music and laughter. I got to meet the guy who did Zippy and Georges voices and I met Geoffrey (a really nice down to earth guy really.. liked a beer in his dressing room after the show.. couldn’t go to the bar because of the kids). Everything was happy happy. On the Monday after the get in, I was pulled to one side by the theatre stage manager and asked if I would like to take part in the set changes and actually find out what it was like to work under the real pressure of a big theatre. I of course jumped at the chance.I was paired up with an experienced crew member and was told what to do and how to do it safely. I was run through the cues and what scenery went where and when. I had this down to a tee with my trusty new mate…. only my trusty new mate didn’t hang around to long.. he was caught smoking something other than a cigarette about thirty minutes before the opening afternoon show. No one thought to tell me who I was going to work with now they just let the show start and took me along for the ride.Now… please remember.. this was my first time actually changing scenery on a professional stage.. I was REALLY nervous and to top it off my new mate was stoned and probably sitting in a park somewhere feeling no damn pain.2 minutes to the 1st scene change and the stage manager comes to me and checks to see if I am OK with what to do.. I casually answer ” NO.. I have no one to do the change with how am i supposed to move this on my own.. blah blah blah”. I did the one thing any theatre tech shouldn’t do.. I freaked out on-stage during a show. I was told to calm down and I would be alright and Muppet number 3 would help.Muppet number 3 was a casual crew member that is drafted in to help out at short notice.

It showed.

During the first scene change Muppet number 3 and I took our first piece of scenery on to the stage and all composure was lost. The scenery got out of control at his end and began rolling VERY slowly toward the Gauze backdrop we were working behind. If it hadn’t been for the stage manager running in front of the scenery and stopping it.. it would have been in the front row of the audience quicker than it takes a lamb to shit when thinking of mint sauce.

I was taken off active duty and told to go sit in the crew green room. Muppet three was not.. he was allowed to keep working.

After about ten minutes the stage manager came to the green room and chewed me a new asshole. I wouldn’t have minded taking the rap but it really wasn’t my fault. I was told that I was no longer going to be an active member of crew and that when I was on stage I was to steer well clear at all times.

I did as I was told… I spent most of the week sitting at the stage door signing autographs for Zippy and George in readiness for the crowds at the stage door at the end of the show.

On the Friday I had an assessment with the heads of technical theatre.. Stage Manager Head of electrics. I wanted to know how I had done and boy were they honest.

I was told they thought I wasn’t suited for the work and even though I had been great at certain aspects of the job like the get in and get outs and working with the incoming companies. I really didn’t suit working at a theatre in residence. I should be a touring techie and make the most of what I could when I could. I was gutted. They had ripped out my little heart and stomped all over my dreams. It wouldn’t be the last time someone who thought they were better than me did that. I am still here and I although I am no longer involved in the theatre.. I still haven’t listened to them and still aim for something better.