Like every good book, film or theatrical production, when you are creating an act for the stage, you want to hold the audience’s attention from the beginning right through to the end. Unless you intend to improvise right the way through the piece (not advisable at all, unless you are a very accomplished performer!), the best advise is to map out your act.
- The story – what are you trying to say?
- The emotion – what do you want the audience to feel – and don’t forget, as well as the usual responses of laughter, wonder at the beauty of the act, attraction, excitement, you can also invoke sadness, sympathy, political questioning, revulsion and horror – plus more (although if you go for the more ‘controversial’ or questioning side, you will have to think who will book the act? And how would you cope if the audience were offended?)
- The delivery – how will you tell your story? What are the key points you will get across and through what medium? Are you a performer who relies on strong character work? Are you more of a dance act or do you combine with a skill.
- What is your strong start?
- What will let you go out with a bang?
- Expecting her audience to be respectful (national anthem and standing?)
- inspecting her subjects and being outraged as the lack of decency (cleavages, legs on show, men in hats) – the odd approving glance to those who are respectful
- We are not Amused sign
- Layers of clothing on with various messages to the audience
- juxtaposed rudeness – thrusting, etc
- rude facial expressions
- really stern facial expressions
- Queen Victoria’s Orbs
- the final reveal – that remains a secret!
I might also make a list of costume pieces so I can fit in the removal and choreography to the act map – eg, lewd chief, Amused sash, bodice, skirt, underskirt, corset, crinaline…
(Victoria’s Secret steps)
(Music: ‘God Save The Queen’ Royal Choral Society and BBC Concert Orchestra, ‘Fight For Your Right To Party’ Beastie Boys and ‘God Save The Queen’ Queen)
“national anthem” Queen stood rigid, proud, nodding at subjects. Slightly arrogant, but very royal.
“guitar kicks in” (8/8/8/8) Queen glide-steps to right, holds skirts and turns / glide-steps to left, holds skirts and turns
“you wake up” (8/8/8/8) Bold step to R, posh hand, survey subjects on R, horrified/delighted by the state of undress, points a few out (leg and wrist are ‘disgusting’)
“You miss two classes” (8/8/8/8) Bold steps to L, posh hand, (if points at someone who is well-dressed they get the royal nod…”, point at someone, disgust and then pull out handkerchief, revealing ‘lewd’ at the stop.
There is no right or wrong way to map out a routine, just as long as it makes sense to you. I usually write the attitude of my characters into the movements so I can see what the motivation is.
- Rehearse your routine as often as you can – with all the costume, props and the shoes you will wear on stage. This can’t be said enough.
- Video your rehearsals if you can – you will then be able to see what the audience sees. Remember that every frozen frame of the video should look like a photograph; your actions should be deliberate, and if performing with a troupe everyone should be in unison.
- Show it to a few fellow performers of friends whose opinion you trust (those who are not just going to say, “yeah, it’s great”). Get some feedback on which parts work and which parts don’t.
- Your face! It’s surprising how many forget their face is there to tell the story too through expressions. There’s no point having a cracking routine if you have a blank expression – build some facial expressions into your routine. Similarly, if you are just smiling, all teeth and eyes, it will look fake if the routine doesn’t call for it. And warm up your face as well as the rest of your body before you go on stage (a simple facial warm up is to exaggerate a silent ‘a-e-i-o-u’, screwing up your face and opening wide with each vowel as you go through them).