As sunday afternoon blends into evening I reflect on Friday.
A succesful day for me, in terms of finding pleasure in the space.
It was cabaret day on Friday and we were all asked to bring in smart clothes.
So clean shaven I put on the hat, shirt and tie I borrowed from Francois.
I thought I looked ok but Monsieur Gaulier said I looked like a fisherman going to get married.
Great! Exactly the look I was going for.
We re-arranged the chairs in the space into seating for the show. Philippe said that we would need a compere for the show. Julia's hand shoots up "I'd like to nominate Mark".
Philippe "You want?"
"Yes, okay, yes, sure I'd like to host." normally have run from this idea but I'm beginning to feel more comfortable out there with little or no idea so yes, come on, lets see what happens.
He explained that as it was a cabaret he wouldn't be giving any zero's today that instead he would ask for drinks, if we were good he would ask for champagne if we were quite good - whisky, average - vodka, bad - coke and the worst - diet coke.
He asked for 5 people to go behind the screen and we start.
First entrance: I rush on too whooping and cheering from my classmates "Welcome to the cabaret Ecole Philippe Gaulier Yeah!"
"YeeeeeEEEEAAAAHH" from the audience
And from behind them......"Boom boom boom!"
"Non. This is not a high class cabaret this is like in a pub in Kentish Town. Non this is a high class cabaret. You have to have class."
I leave the stage and enter again, this time slower, taking my time to establish myself with the audience, not pushing. What good is sitting alone in your room come hear the music play, life is a cabaret old chum come to the cabaret.....Madame est Monsieur Ladies and Gentleman, Bienvenue and welcome to the cabaret ecole Philippe Gaulier . And now for our first act, all the way from sweden via Texas would you please welcome Gawayne and Dan."
And we were off.
I was pretty happy with the comparing stints I got to be up there for 2 more rounds and the 3rd time Philippe said that I need to change to be a bit more sado-maso. I think he was trying to get me away from the nice guy image that i was showing on stage, I enjoyed that a lot, especially when I caught Hannah yawning on the front row and I turned on her saying "I'm sorry are you bored?" the sound of intakes of breath from my colleagues.
It was wonderful to sit down and see Philippe work with people. To George he got him to sing a greek song first on his own, then with Vera and Suzee holding his hands. George is great with 2 good looking women at his side.
Julia from New Zealand came on to sing little red corvette. When she first appears stage right wearing a long classy dress she looks very sexy. She looks at us, walks forward and starts to sing.
Philippe stops her.
"Why do you come on so quickly? You enter again and tek your time."
"Now you look at Mark and you sing just for im."
She is beautiful.
She sings to everyone and leaves very slowly.
The difference before and after Philippe works with students is really noticable, they shine brighter, become more beautiful on stage, then it is down to us to process what he has done let it settle so we can use it next time we are up.
I learned a lot watching Philippe work with Julia.
Later on, stood back stage waiting to go on to sing "Can't take my eyes off you" I told myself not to rush.
There was a black coat backstage, too small to fit me but I thought if I slung it over my shoulder, it might make me look less of a fisherman. For the last 8 years or so I've had a man crush on Tom Waits, I imagine that the addition of thecoat makes me look like Tom in his earlier years, less jazz beard, piano and cigarettes.
Danno comes over to me, "I'm thinking about saying something about your manly chest what do you think?"
I didn't get it.
"Huh yeah sure."
Danno is the 3rd compare of the day His first line for Yazid was he's from Singapore but he doesn't sing poorly would you please put your hands together for Yazid and so it went on pun after pun and now its my turn.
This guy is famous worldwide for his manly chester would you please welcome Mark from Manchester."
Laughs and groans from the audience.
Okay do or die.
I slink round the curtain and walk slowly forward till I am fully in the light.
I look out at the audience.
I can see expectation in their faces.
I make eye contact with Carolyn.
"You're just too good to be true. Can't take my eyes off you. You feel like heaven to touch, I wanna hold you so much, at long last love has arrived, and I thank God I'm alive..." She looks down a bit embarressed, I keep focussed on her, she looks back up. "You're just too good, to be true, can't take my eyes off you."
Hold the eye contact for another second. Scan the room. Take in everyone. I look for another pair of eyes to have a moment with and zone in on Vera.
"Pardon the way, that I stare, there's nothing else to compare," Vera is laughing her hands covering her mouth. "The sight of you makes me new, there are no words left to say." I glance back at Carolyn, I don't know if I imagined it or not but there seems to be a frustrated look in her eye, as if I have just used her, jealous almost.
Back to Vera
"And if you feel like I feel please let me know that, it's real. You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off you." Vera has stopped laughing but looks totally engaged.
Another look around the room.
Open my mouth as if about to sing.
Back to Carolyn.
Then back to Vera.
"I love you baby..." (laugh from the audience) "...and if its quite alright I need you baby to warm my lonely nghts, I love you baby, trust in me when I see."
For the room now "Oh pretty baby don't bring me down I pray oh pretty baby now that I'm bound to stay and let me love you baby let me love you."
Boom! From Monsieurs drum.
I leave to applause.
I'm normally terrified of singing but that felt good.
Really good. There is a huge difference when you connect with the audience and when you do something alone. The former being the way forward.
So Friday morning Dan and I arrive at college at about 11 to run through what we've been working on.
Yann is there and he and he and Amy watch what we've got.
Basically we have a crap magic act with 2 chairs.
Yann doesn't laugh once, uh-oh bad sign, if Yann doesn't laugh then Philippe is going to eat us on toast for breakfast.
Dan asks Yann for feedback, he points out that the relationship between us isn't there, that there is a bit at the beginning which needs cutting and we repeat the same gag with the chairs twice and it isn't funny the first time.
ACtually, the oppositte of Merde, we've roadtested and it didn't work. Great but now what?
Yann offers us a lot of suggestions, cut the beginnning, its not funny. Try something else with the chairs, which we do, a levitation with the chair act, seems to work, he adds a really cheeky idea too. The gag is that I'm on top of a set of ladders behind the curtain. I pretend to be a magician and levetate a chair, which rises up above the curtain (Dan is holding the chair) I pretend to magic the chair along the top of the curtain away from me, but Dan the idiot of the pair is holding the chair by the far legs so as he walks back with the chair he ends up backing onto stage. The audience see him holding the chair, at which point he lets go of the chair and goes on stage to be with them, when he does this Yann, who was behind the curtain takes hold of the chair and from the audience it looks like the chair is actually levitating. Yann you are a genius.
Dan comes back to the chair and we play a bit more, he sets the chair down, etc
So, armed with our new version for class we sit down.
Dan is adament that we are not getting up first.
Steve and Duncan do.
Philippe kills them.
Oh shit! We're gonna die.
"Anyone want to go? Anybody"
Come on lets do it. We rise slowly out of our chairs.
"We'll go Philippe".
"Bon, you want music?"
"actually we've got our own" I give him my i-pod to plug in and go back stage.
I didn't see Yann get up and I don't think many others did either.
The ladders clatter against the shelving backstage. A little laugh.
I climb them, get to the top, lose my balance and nearly fall off. Laugh.
I pretend to roll up my sleeves, concentrate and do some magic hand acting.
The chair comes up.
I start to wave my hands and Dan moves the chair back. Hewalks backwards onto stage.
He lets go of the chair and walks out front, Yann has the chair.
Laugh and slight gasps of how are they doing that.
Dan goes back to the chair and starts to take it on stage.
I'm getting frustrated at him messing the trick up but trying not to let on to the audience that he is making mistakes, Dan who isobviously the bigger idiot of the 2 of us is just loving being out there.
I try and get him to take the chair back to the other side of the stage whilst stil playing the magician.
Philippe stops the music.
"Me. I like it."
Huge swell of emotion.
"But you have a problem. You need a brilliant idea to get him (pointing at me) onto stage."
Dan pipes up.
"Well I think we can solve that."
"You think so?"
"Yeah we got something and I think you might like it."
You've got to admire Dan's balls.
"So we go back to the beginning and we start again."
they laugh in the right places again, only this second time I feel more alive, the voice is coming out more and more.
When it gets to the same point. We put the chair down.
Dan looks at me and makes magic fingers, I make that I have just had a spell put on me and go down the ladder. In front of the curtain Dn does similar movements to what I had been doing as if he is moving me along behind the curtain ready to be magicked on stage right.
He walks off behind stage to see what has happened.
I walk on stage left look for him and walk off. (Classic gag)
Dan walks back on stage then off again.
Philippe stops the music.
We walk back on stage
"La, it is a good idea. Yes this could be the beginning of a number."
High praise indeed.
What will next week bring?
Got to keep on discovering more.