Friday, 11 December 2009

No rest for the wicked!

As I predicted my week was just as hectic as last week if not more! So on Saturday we had our first performance at Ham House and it went brilliantly. The whole day had a real Christmas feel to it and both the public and performers I believe thoroughly enjoyed it. With every new performance there is that nervousness and excitement and I didn't feel it straight away in the morning but when I was waiting in the buttery and I heard the door go suddenly the excitement kicked in it was like a switch and suddenly I was Mrs Claus. Originally the idea was for it to be Q&A with Mrs Claus , poppy the elf and her son Nicky , however all this changed ! While the character of Mrs Claus being a feminist, modern business woman was genius, it didn't transcend well to children so instead we decided that Mrs Claus would be more about Christmas but still of course a feminist ! Hannah played poppy the elf and did a wonderful job all the children really responded well to her character. So the first day really to me was all about testing the waters , seeing what worked and what didn't.

Taking what I had learnt from the day before I came to Ham House with a better idea of how to approach my character. My initial costume of a suit was replaced with a bright red dress, Santa hat , boots and a big over sized coat. This simple change in costume was exactly what I needed to do in order to create a connection between me and Santa Claus for the children. I genuinely felt a lot more relaxed in my role with this change of costume and my character developed a softer and warmer side. The children didn't know much about Mrs Claus but were able to interact with me better due to my attire, it became apparent that in order for them to see me as Mrs Claus they needed the visual connection which was the bright red dress and hat. I didn't have to change my characters appearance but I felt it necessary other wise I think I would of been unhappy with my end performance.

However I didn't change my character completely she was still quick witted and confident but her focus had shifted from her own personal achievements to Christmas which the children understood better. But the day itself wasn't all about the children it was a family fun day so we had to be able to cater to adults as well. On my first day it was mainly about the children and how myself and Hannah interacted with them. On the Sunday a group of adults came up to the Buttery with out children and just presumed that our piece wasn't aimed at them but I asked them just as I did the children , what they wanted for Christmas. As soon as I had engaged them with the opening questions they felt relaxed and began to ask me and Hannah questions which was brilliant. With adults being the ones to fire the questions I could give answers back that children necessarily wouldn't understood. Someone asked me what I did on my day off to which I replied " A nice hot bath with a Catherine cookson novel " This sort of humour is something the adults could relate to and I particularly enjoyed this part of the day as I could try out jokes that were of more adult humour and understanding.

I did have an issue with my time at Ham House and that was my face painting skills ! Some members of the group were utterly fantastic at it, I myself however wasn't. But I still had a go anyway but wont be putting face painting on my c.v any time soon! All in all I thoroughly enjoyed Ham House the whole process was incredibly exciting but hard work at the same time. And I look forward to our summer project there when we can use the beautiful gardens and maybe just maybe not eat as many biscuits !

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