Saints and Sinners turned out to be an interesting show. Interesting in the sense that it worked and seemed to be successful. I didn’t have doubts that it wouldn’t be good, but because the show was complied of many contrasting pieces it was hard to know how the audience would take it. I know that is the exact thoughts of anyone who is putting on a show, but I think because this is our final major project and it didn’t have a very simple plot line, so myself and the rest of us were worried and really wanted it to be good.
I thankfully didn’t go through many stresses especially at the beginning, although we were missing out on three weeks we still had 10 weeks to make a show which is a long time. For me it seemed even easier because three of my acts were songs and they’re a lot easier to learn for me than a monologue, my other act was a dance routine, but since I have already had two years of intermediate dance lessons at the college I was well prepared and ready to learn whatever choreography they wanted me to do. We didn’t ave many group meetings however or conversations about anything and this made it very difficult to know what was going on as it felt like the actors were taking charge of the show. This was due to lack of communication and to fix this problem we selected a person from each pathway to discuss what we would all do regarding the show and then report back to our classes. For the actors they had Beth, the dancers used Chloe and myself and Scott both decided to do it together because we weren’t in Bonnie and Clyde and so we knew when it came to it, we would have a lot more free time. Since I knew I would have free time I also decided that I would help write the script as well. Even though selected head people for each class was a great idea we all then mixed and communicated anyway and so it was no longer necessary.
I had a few minor issues with my solo song as it was originally a tenor song. This was a slight issue as there were parts of the song I couldn’t sing and so I went to Birgitta for help. Thankfully Voice Squad which Birgitta is in charge of did Sweeney Todd only last summer and so she had a different version of my song which was in a key that worked for me. I’m not very good when it comes to understanding sheet music, but I understood the whole “key” concept. We practised it a few times and decided where to cut the song. I also practised it with Bethany who also worked on Sweeney Todd and so also had the right version which was wonderful and made my life easier as well. If it wasn’t for these two teachers I wouldn’t know what to do and I would have just stayed with the original instead and sing it the best I could. It was difficult to understand what to do when I brought an instrumental version online as you couldn’t choose a key, you would instead click an arrow up or down and it would just say +1, +2 or if you went down then -1 or -2 etc. You also could only listen to about 10 seconds of the song which then made it harder for me, because I didn’t have very long to know if it was right or not. However because it didn’t cost much I decided to buy a couple of versions, but one didn’t actually work properly but I didn’t have time to waste so I used the one that was available to me.
When it came to the show the tech students really messed up my second night as the music was so quiet I couldn’t hear it to sing, my confidence went down so much because I felt like I was working 10 times harder just to be heard and that also meant I may have had some pitching or tuning issues, but I don’t know if I did or not as I got positive feedback from my family, but that is a very bias opinion. So my experience with this song and the show aren’t great ones, because this was a big opportunity for me as this was my final show where I would have a solo and I just felt like it was ruined especially because after the first night I specifically asked for it to be a bit louder and the opposite seemed to happen instead. Unfortunately I didn’t have a conversation with the tech students about this because I would feel bad if I made them upset, even though they didn’t do anything right for me, but I still didn’t want to have a go at them.
On a lighter note however all the help that Jess and Tom gave me for the duet really payed off. It went so well and I could hear we were so in tune and it was full of energy and I loved it. Again however the tech students must have had a few issues because even though they got it perfect the first night it seemed as if something went terribly wrong to their minds the second night. The song itself was just very quiet and our mics seemed even quieter which I didn’t even know was possible. Considering Jess sits right next to me I couldn’t even hear her very well and we couldn’t hear Tom at all even though his guitar was plugged in and he was playing right behind us. My father saw the second show and he even mentioned to me that it was very quiet, so I knew there wasn’t something wrong with my ears.
The Bring on the Men routine had so many issues with the progression process. We started off really well creating a great little piece for the instrumental bit in the song, however when the singers found a version which was unspeakably different and didn’t even involve us in the decision things went very downhill. We only had about a week and a bit until the show and we had to create an entirely new routine which would now be longer as well. Faye and Zoe were saints and to save time they created a routine that night for us to start learning as we didn’t have time to waste. Funnily enough karma came back to the singers as they didn’t realise how awful the timing was to sing to and also how difficult it was, but this did cause a problem for us as well because our whole dance was based on the lyrics being sung at the right time. This then annoyed us and in the end all the singers sang together because it gave them more support and also because Emma just couldn’t sing the song in tune and therefore this helped her a lot. We managed to pull through in time for the show and it was a great closing act for act 1.
I wrote a lot of the script and so I was tense because I didn’t even know if what I had been writing was any good or clear to an audience. However I did get some help from Jack and Emma as well, as Emma was one of the waitresses and Jack’s character was the narrator/overseer. We worked really well together which sped up the process of writing Act 1 which we ended up writing after an entire day of working on it. Unfortunately due to Bonnie and Clyde we had to lose Jack however we still got on with it without his input. It was tough that he wasn’t available to us all the time, because a lot of the dialogue was for him and without him it was difficult to write for his character.
Sadly as Act 2 was being written I was no longer involved with the writing of it. Beth wanted to get involved and so took charge of the writing process and Emma and Jack started choosing sections randomly in the list of performances and started writing bits of dialogue. I personally felt that that was a bit unorganised and would be harder to then fit all the bits together, but that was how they wanted to do it. Also because of this I didn’t like everything they had written, but I just accepted what they had done and focused on what I needed to do for the show as I would have been outnumbered if I shared my views and it wouldn’t be worth the drama.
However all of this changed when Bonnie and Clyde started, Beth and Jack were occupied and Emma wasn’t focusing much on the script as she was caught up with other priorities involved in the show. So myself and Lynn paired up as she wanted to change some parts of the script and used my help to do that. I then went through the script again with Lynn changing and editing conversations and entries. Some parts were a bit weak or didn’t really fit the theme, there was also some language used that no one speaks in the modern world like the word honey and baby were used. This isn’t an 80s american sitcom after all. We also changed the ending speech and made Jimmy say weirder and stranger things like “skanky, lanky, streak of confusion” as it fitted his character more. After all he was very influenced and inspired by Captain Jack Sparrow. He did do a very good job at this, because the audience even mentioned in some of their comments that he was like “Jack Sparrow”, I think Lynn and I did well.
The audience and their feedback were extremely helpful as well. It was all really positive. Unfortunately with that kind of audience (as in the kind that is mainly filled with family and friends) they won’t want to criticise you or say what you can improve on. Which unfortunately isn’t helpful to us. However it is still good that the audience seemed to enjoy it. The cast came up with the some of the great questions to ask the audience. The first question was by Hannah and she asked “Did you think that the saints and sinners theme was maintained throughout the show?” We got some great feedback with answers like “of course, it was amazing!” and “absolutely a fantastic show!”
The next question was written by Beth and she said “Did you recognise the club as a representation of a kind of purgatory? If so what helped you understand this?” According to the comments Jimmy was the one that made this clear to the audience. This was helpful to know, because that was partly the reason for Jimmy’s existence in the first place. To narrate and comment on all the events that were happening throughout the night.
Lucy also asked a question which mentioned “Did you think the design of the show suggested a cabaret club? If so, in what way?” It was good for us to know the feedback for this. It seemed that the audience did understand that it was a cabaret club, as one person announced “yes, lights,bar,table,chairs and music what else do you need!” The audience also seemed to enjoy that some of them were able to sit at tables as if they were in the show. So it was nice to know that they liked the idea of being included as it is a bit different to seeing an average proscenium stage.
Leah (another tech student) “Did you think the performers created the atmosphere of a cabaret club? If so, in what way?” There was a response that we got which I liked, it said “amazing performance, different characters and the seediness of a cabaret club-brilliant!” It was good feedback, but unfortunately it didn’t answer the question very well.
Lou asked a very important question as it was relevant to me and the work I have been doing for the show. She asked “Was it easy to follow the different story lines throughout the show?” Thankfully for us script writers all the responses said yes and one person even added that it was “very clear”. At least I know that I co-wrote the script well, because the audience were able to follow it.
Lynn asked “Were the different characters clearly defined?” Again this question was very relatable to me, because I ended up playing three different characters and I wanted to know if the audience understood that. Thankfully they did and one person stated “when performers changed characters it was very clear” and another said “each character had their own defining marks which made them differ from each other”. At least from this I knew that by changing my outfits the audience knew I was no longer a lesbian or a drunk posh girl etc…
The final question was from all of us and we asked “Please add anything else you’d like us to know!” This would have been a great opportunity for people to tell us what their thoughts were instead of just being kind. In a good way all the feedback was positive, but it would have been nice to know what people didn’t like and also what they would have done in or with the show.
Overall it was great to think of some questions and present them to the audience, but I feel like the wording of the questions resulted in us having basic answers. In many of the questions we barely asked why and because a lot of them started with “did” it meant that you could just put yes or no as an answer. Unfortunately that is exactly what we got, a lot of “yes” and nothing else. This also then gave us vague answers that haven’t helped much with possible progression. However all of the feedback was positive which means that people did like the show or they wanted to spare our feelings. To solve this I think I would have worded some of the questions differently and also made sure the majority if not all the audience had a sheet with the questions on. This is because only some of the audience gave us feedback and we didn’t get many responses over all either. Where as if everyone had a sheet then hopefully they’d give more of an opinion and we would have more answers to get a more accurate idea on what people actually thought of the show.
Sadly my experience with the show wasn’t completely positive. Annoyingly it wasn’t my fault either. My first night wasn’t so bad the main technical issue was that the music was just a bit quiet for my solo and my duet, however we had sorted out timings and fade in and outs in the tech and dress runs so they went smoothly. To try and sort this I asked them if they could make the music a bit louder for the Thursday night show. I don’t know why but my songs on Thursday were just all over the place. For my solo I have a line that I say whilst the intro was happening so that I can lead into the song, for some reason the cue for that never happened and I had to say my lines then wait for the two bars instead. Then for some reason the music was insanely quiet even more than Wednesday night, and to top it off they didn’t fade it out at the right time either. Since my duet went well on Wednesday I thought at least that will be good and I was looking forward to doing that one last time with Jess. Thankfully this one wasn’t a track but live so at least I had chance to hear the music, however it was our mics that were the issue instead. Jess starts off the song and even though she was sitting right next to me I could barely hear her sing, when it came to the chorus which we sing together it was not loud at all. Considering we made a great noise on Wednesday and this time I was fighting just to make a sound, I also don’t think Tom’s mic was right either because we sing the same harmony and I only started to be able to hear him on the second chorus. I could not hear myself either when I sang my solo part of the song, so clearly there were some issues and if it was to do with our mics then if they were able to they should have checked them in the interval to make sure their batteries were still full. I was mainly annoyed at this because I’m not a confident singer and when I was given these opportunities I took them and worked hard on those songs, but because I then focused on all the technical difficulties that effected me I then wasn’t able to give a strong performance, I may have done that in some peoples opinions but not in mine.
On a lighter note I felt that the Bring On The Men routine was improved and it was a very good decision for all the girls to sing together at the beginning as it made them seem more confident and was easier for us when it came to timings. Personally I think I had done those performances very well as I remembered all the steps even the hitch kick which I constantly kept previously forgetting and I made sure to keep smiling and stay a cheeky dancer through out. As well as the routine I felt that the melodrama went well. Considering we had spent less than a week actually rehearsing it together I think we actually did a good job and we also brought some comedy to the show and I recall a few people laughing as well. We didn’t act it completely how we were meant to, I know that we all scrapped the whole drunk thing. It was unintentional of course but especially for me in just such a short space of time I was already thinking about else I needed to do and couldn’t focus being drunk on top. I did start it acting a little drunk by the way I spoke and walked over to the bar as well, but during the actual melodrama part I didn’t, but I think that is also because I was then being “Edward” who wasn’t actually pissed. Sadly it wasn’t my favourite thing to do in the show and I think it is because I felt obliged to do it as they needed someone to fill in, however it was good to work with Leah and James and Lynn really helped us out which really helped me when she went over the characterisation of our characters. I also think James did a very good job as well considering one of his main parts in the show had to be cut due to events happening in the world at the time and it would have been too insensitive to keep it. Even after that he really did well on the new piece he was in which was given to him the day before the show, so I think he and Lou as well definitely need some recognition, because at least I had a few days when they barely had 24 hours.
I think that this show was a very difficult challenge, it could have gone in any direction or path. I also think that we as a whole did an extremely good job of it as well, throughout the rehearsals and script writing and trying to sort all the dramas and problems out whilst focusing on the show as well. I honestly think for some people this was one of the hardest things they have done and they had to come out of their comfort zones and they did extremely well. Again I am talking about James and Leah as they have done very well with the pieces they were given especially since James had to learn a new piece in one day. Also Faye and Zoe as it’s not easy to do a dance duet especially one that was on the very serious and relatable subject of abuse in a relationship. Saints and Sinners was very different, but I think that’s why it was also received well by the audience, because it was kind of strange, kind of different and definitely unpredictable. There was no way you could guess what would happen next because it jumped around so much, but then that means we displayed the whole purgatory concept successfully. It was stressful, but this show has shown me all the elements of creating a show, because you’re so involved or aware of what everyone is doing and so you see the process of it all from literally the very start when we were told what we would be doing to that first and last night on stage, when all the performers really gave it 100%. I do think Saints and Sinners was good and I think with the support from each other and the tutors we made it great.