MOT Pantomime and Status Quo

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On Friday 2/2/18 I went to watch a band, MOT, at the Halfway House in Rickmansworth.
I know the lead singers, Marco and Carmel as they run one of the Open Mic’s that I go to. I also know the bass player, Alan too. I cannot ignore that there are others in the band (Dave, Clive, Matt) who provide the keyboards, lead guitar and drums respectively and also vocals in their own right.

I have seen the band play in different places and the good thing is that their playlist changes from venue to venue. They are pretty eclectic in musical taste as I hear music from 60’s Rolling Stones and Beatles, to 70’s, Blondie (Debbie Harry -my childhood crush) and Kim Wilde to more recent- Daft Punk. This is all mixed with various Rock songs.
In looking at why this appeals to me is that in life we must not stop and sit still as the world goes on around us. Whilst the music is recognisable, there is a difference in the way it is performed and there is an opportunity for requests which may or may not have been practiced by the band ever- do they just wing it?
I have also watched various other bands whose playlist is the same wherever you watch them and sometimes it is great to be comforted to see the familiar and keep the status quo. Ironically, Status Quo (the band) evolved/ changed from psychedelia to Rock and put then later their own spin on older 50’s music in the 1980’s. A running joke was that they only played 4 chords and people would comment “Status Quo have just released a song and what have they called it this time!!!” This therefore is not totally true
This somehow leads me somehow onto Saturday.

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The women in my life (wife and daughters) are involved in the local Drama club. Over past two weekends the drama group have been putting on a pantomime- Treasure Island. My three daughters had good parts, lead girl, comedy pirate and Spirit of the Sea, and my wife is the ‘go to mum’ and organiser behind the scenes.
Like everything in life, putting together the performance has to be worked on. There is a saying ‘piss poor preparation leads to piss poor performance’. The process of auditions, scripts, choosing music, songs, jokes etc. happens well before the first rehearsal starts. It doesn’t stop there, as the script gets readapted, songs change, and jokes are added and taken away. The director supervised the acting, ensures all know where everyone should be, everyone has learned their lines, and liaises with the sound, lighting and stage crew to promote the shared vision.

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This is to ensure the symbiosis, as if one part doesn’t perform (the backstage crew or the effects) then the acting doesn’t work as well. If the actors don’t learn their lines or dance moves, then no matter how good the effects or the back stage crew are then the performance is ruined.
On the performance day, whilst there is a script, there may be times when something happens which will cause a change – someone forgets their lines, falls over, loses their voice. There then has to be adaptations, each knowing what was expected and helping each other out.
The audience also then becomes part of the team too by clapping, cheering, booing, and being encouraging and singing the community song. This year I got pulled up out of the audience to be the ‘captain of the left side’ when it was time to promote audience participation. If there is no participation then the performers and the performance can fall flat.
How this links together may be a bit tenuous but this year’s community song was “Rocking all over the world” by Status Quo, which I alluded to earlier.
As the Pantomime Dame was unwell due to tonsillitis, there was a change in ‘performance whereby the comedy pirate had to lead the community song unaided and ‘adapt’
Even Status Quo had to adapt and Classic Quo changed their drummer and guitarist before the mid 1980’s.This didn’t mean that Rocking all over the world was finished as when they toured, the new guitarist and drummer knew what to do. By the way the community song worked!!
In linking this to my poetry and my book writing, one of my poems, Friendship alludes to a childhood friend and how we used to listen to Status Quo in his bedroom and play along to Rocking all over the world on ‘tennis racquets.’
I cannot go back to those days but I can use those memories in a different way by writing and using the life lessons.
In using the analogy of the pantomime for my writing, the script/ content is there (poems), there is a need to get an audience to appreciate it (spoken word, open mic, reader, social media and so on), the effects ( the way it is written, the cover), the performance( the actual content of the poem and if spoken how it comes over to the audience).
Being a self-published writer, you end up pulling everything together yourself- a self-director. Every bit needs attention and if you forget one bit then the equilibrium- the balance is lost. However, good directors also seek help from their cast/ audience/ other directors and that it where belonging to the open mic/ spoken word groups comes in.
You get your feedback on what is working at present and you can seek advice.
However there is also an oxymoron-Seek others advice but don’t take it. This is better explained by
“Seek other people’s advice, but don’t take orders. And don’t take 100% of anyone’s advice. Make sure every decision you make is a product of your own conclusion. Be a student, not a disciple.” Jim Rohn

“In other words be confident in yourself”

Author: Joe Campling

Joseph Campling lives in Buckinghamshire, and is married with adult children. He trained as a both a General and Mental Health Nurse in the South East of the United Kingdom in the mid 1980’s and has worked in various roles over the past 30 years. His first authored article in 2007 was jointly written about the need to share positive research based practice amongst care teams locally which was then published in a professional journal. He published “Mild Musings May Mitigate My Mentality” which was his first collection of poems in 2018. He has subsequently published MERRING or is it MRS GREN? Having written sporadically over the years (usually for friends and family) he has been writing more consistently over the past two years and has begun to recite his poetry at various Open Mic nights and Spoken Word events. He is often found ‘scribbling’ and then performing what he has just written. He recently has also been collaborating with a jazz composer by writing lyrics which have been put to music. His interests include watching live music, trying to play the guitar (still project in progress) and quizzing. He also likes to watch TV; mostly factual documentaries, comedy and quiz shows He also needs to read more and swears that he will do so very soon as he has a pile of books to read. He also ‘hangs out’ with members of the local drama club although he has no plans to act but is partial to the odd pint of orange juice and lemonade!! He follows rugby and can sometimes be found cheering his team on (London Irish) whether they win or lose.

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