Here is the next guest post on the theme of Joseph. Don’t forget to get your contributions to the Barnstormers website team soon!
Their jubilant shouts of victory rang in his ears as he lay slumped in the dirt. Sand and dust blew in clouds across the dried-out well as he breathed, in and out, in and out. His body still refused to give up hope even as his soul lay in tatters.
The betrayal had come so unexpectedly. He thought they were pleased that he had dreams for his future and hopes to become someone more than he was now. He’d taken their good humoured smiles at face-value when he’d danced around in the beautiful coat his Dad had made for him. It never even crossed his mind that they’d worn thinly veiled masks hiding their jealously and disgust at his fortune. And, now they were too far from home for anyone to save him, they had attacked. He hadn’t been ready for them. No chance of fighting back as they beat him to a pulp, ripped his coat to shreds and threw him away like discarded rubbish.
He looked up as his eyes slowly began to acclimatise to the bleakness of the dark. Was that a loose section? A foothold? Hope surged through him as he pulled himself upright and reached up. It immediately disintegrated at his touch and his hopes dived. Helplessness descended. He could hear them in the distance discussing his fate. He knew now that he may have no future. This could be it. The thought chilled him.
A shadow fell across the top of the well. Time was up.
The calm remains. It is an odd feeling. I have now begun to think that something must have gone horribly wrong after all, but then I look back at my notes and the schedule for this week and realise that it is all ticking along quite nicely, thank you very much. What I needed to have sketched out for this week is already down there on paper (yes, it is even from Act 2) and we are so well on target that I even managed to get some old posts up onto the website.
The most recent fun has been caused by cyberspace flying on Facebook, email and text to work out whether we had enough interest in our little Children’s Choir to make it viable. Thanks to huge support from some of the Choir-hopefuls, and their willing parents, we just managed to find a small group of very excited and enthusiastic girls (I dare not call them “children”) that will do very nicely as our happy little choir for the show. It would have been a personal disaster had we not managed to find such a suitable brood.
You see my vision for the show begged for cheeky, smiling faces to look up at Joseph and the Narrators with wide-eyed innocence sporting the biggest smiles you have ever seen. Without the Choir half the show would need re-staging to cover the gaps where the Choir would have been. My detailed planning would have fallen apart and heralded a new season of chaos. For now at least, all’s well that ends well.
Friday marks our very first rehearsal with the Choir bringing with it both excitement and trepidation (in case no-one actually turns up – it is half-term after all). The word sheets are all prepared and only need to be photocopied tonight which should be a straight-forward task so as long as the Producer is not let loose on the task again (if it were it a pantomime I would “boo” him with great conviction…sorry, Mr Producer). Once this is all done we just have to arrive on time (hoping and praying that the traffic is light and no medical emergencies arrive for our in-house doctor) and then we are off and running.
In the meantime, I’ve been playing around with the spice and herb pots again. This time it was because I needed to use the contents. You would not believe how difficult it was to get the contents of Matt and Mandy out of the jars and into my curry. Don’t try this at home, kids.
We have just introduced a very exciting new “Guest Posts” section especially for you!
Hyder very kindly submitted the first entry: the story of Joseph from the perspective of the Camel. This fantastic short story can now be found ONLY on the Barnstormers site under the “Guest Posts” sub-folder.
It would be fantastic for as many of you as possible to submit entries for the Guest Post section. It could be a short story from another character’s perspective, a poem, revised lyrics for one of the songs (keep them clean, please), thoughts about the last or current production, memories of other productions or rehearsal anecdotes. We would love the backstage teams to have a chance to share too so please feel free to submit entries by email (word ideally) to Seb and Louisa so we can get these posted up on the site.
The world of a director is a fickle one. Several weeks pass in a frenzy of chaotic CD listening and prancing around on the kitchen floor (much to the dismay of one pet dog who is determined to take us both off for an evening walk) and then, suddenly, peace reigns again. Has something gone wrong? Has the enthusiasm for this crazy project finally waned for good? No, it is simply preparation paying off.
Act 1 is all on paper (yes, believe it or not, it is true) and most of it has now been sung, staged and danced. Although we’ll need to work through it a few more times until we reach performance standard it is already starting to be great fun to watch and the cast’s enthusiasm rolls off the front of the stage (well, over the tops of the children’s plastic chairs we are using to mark out the stage area).
The wonderful ladies of the wardrobe have spent two delightful evenings listening to my excessively enthusiastic monologue on costumes and have now set off to seek out the goods. The goods so far are looking extremely impressive – can’t wait until we start seeing them come to life on the cast.
And then, on one bitterly cold night before the snows set in, I met with the delightful creative team behind the set and prop design over a cuppa or two. After a few strange looks we started to come up with some plans. Not helped, I have to add, by the keen footballer supporters running in and out of the room at a moment’s notice or by the incessant beeping of our mobile phones. Ah, but creativity cannot be reigned in by even the most intense distractions and on we marched into the deep world of scenery development.
It was not long until I realised that I do not have measuring skills. I had not brought a tape measure and had not worked out the size of the stage versus the size of the scenery I was suggesting. Nor had I thought through all the practicalities. I genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with considering the possibility of a full-scale revolve in the centre of the stage or a hydraulic lift sequence built into our humble wooden stage. I mean, who would? With that grander vision put to one side we started out on the more interesting things like how to develop an over-sized giant Bible or how to give life to skeleton sheep. And did I mention what colour pyramids we are going for? It seems dusky pink is not appropriate.
Of course, this is a kind of calm before: “The Storm: Part 2″. Act 2 might be in my head but it is not on paper and definitely needs to be. If we have enough interest in our little Children’s Choir I’m going to need to get moving with the rest of the staging for them. The programme is calling for my attention and there will be plenty more discussions on costumes, staging, lighting, singing, dancing, etc still to come. But, I will enjoy every minute while it lasts. Where is that book I’ve been saving?
Week 4 of rehearsals. The passage of time is frightening, isn’t it? I wonder if that’s how Joseph felt as the weeks, months and years rolled by while he wasted away in prison? Unlike Joseph we’ve all chosen to be part of this machine known as “Joseph”. I, for one, have not been wasting away but have instead used rehearsals and prep time as an excuse for tucking into the leftover Christmas chocolates, Friday fry-ups and everything else that is less than good for one’s health. So far my cunning plan seems to be working and the scales have not bitten back with a nasty reading of weight gain. All is well.
Joking aside it is vital to keep up energy levels especially when the preparation for rehearsals takes up the other three weekday evenings and at least part of one day at the weekend. I don’t think I have ever felt quite so schizophrenic as when I am trying to be every character on stage at once. It is, as you can imagine, quite a draining experience. Thank goodness that we have some outstanding chefs on the Production Team guaranteeing me a wonderfully tasty and nutritious home-cooked meal every few weeks. There might also be a glass of wine involved.
Our last Production team meeting revolved around the wonderful creation below, known as an Annlentsagne:
It is quite simply divine. A luxurious take on the humble lasagne made with lentils, spices and all sorts of other culinary secrets that could not be divulged even by the chef herself. Served with a classic green salad, garlic bread and a singular glass of wine it was unbeatable as the cries of “mmm” at the table would attest. I won’t mention here that someone not too far away got the giggles over the number of times she uttered the “mmm” word or how hard it was to hold it back. I’m sure you have no idea who I mean.
Not only did we have this wonderful creation but it was followed by a heavenly dessert whose contents I am bound by oath not to reveal. I can tell you that the centre was packed with home-grown blackberry jam and topped with lashings of…no, not ginger beer (honestly)…of cream. Beauty itself.
With so much energy-producing food around it is hardly any wonder that we have almost finished our initial journey through Act 1. Of course there is still a long way to go. Lyrics need to be remembered, harmonies might need just the tiniest bit of recapping and the staging/dancing will need regular refreshing to ensure none of the little details are forgotten. But I think we can happily celebrate how far we have come in only eight rehearsals and be justly proud of the hard work and dedication going in to putting on an amazing production.
Here’s to all you have achieved so far and all we are going to achieve over the coming weeks. In the words of good old Cliff: “CON-GRAT-U-LATIONS!” Must be time for a late-morning donut.
This is the first in our series of Guest Posts on the theme of Joseph, kindly submitted by the one and only, Hyder Khalil. Watch this space for future submissions!
The Camel’s Tale
I am Noor, lead camel for a group of Ishmaeli traders. We are based in Gilead –you might know it as North-West Jordan. The traders make regular trips to and from Egypt – taking spices and silks from the East, pottery, and other things, and bringing back dates, wine, and the finest cotton.
That morning, they got us up early, obviously for another trip. The traders bustled about, while we stood around. We knew the drill – wait until they loaded us up. Not too much, we all hoped – part of the journey to Egypt is pretty rough country, and we camels don’t like heavy loads in such places. We had double rations and a good drink – both necessary to ‘plump the hump’ for the journey.
We set off, and all went as usual for two or three days. Then in the middle of a wild place we came across a group of young men. They were beating up one of their number – these humans, always quarrelling, why can’t they just get along? Then they go and throw the poor lad down some sort of pit, and start arguing about a rather pretty coat he had. A big bearded fellow turned round, and seeing us started waving and talking excitedly to the others. They all rushed over and jabbered at our traders, waving at the pit where the lad was. Then Amir, our lead trader, nodded, and handed over some shiny bits of metal to the bearded fellow, at which point the others dragged the boy out of the pit and handed him over to Amir.
Amir and the others don’t want anything much that they can’t sell, so I knew pretty well what was going to happen here. We were going to take him with us, quickly too, to Egypt, and they were going to try to sell him to someone rich for many more shiny bits of metal (which seem to mean a lot to humans).
We set off lickety spit. The lad had to go on foot. Amir and the rest wouldn’t make us carry him, for fear we might get hurt or lame, and we are their livelihood, so they make sure they look after us. On and on – just scraps of food and a few sips of water to drink for him. If he thought getting there was bad, wait till he got to Egypt. I’ve seen how some people treat slaves in Egypt, and I wouldn’t wish it on a snake.
At last we crossed into Egypt, and then on to the big city. When we arrived, Amir didn’t take us to the marketplace as usual, but straight to a big house – clearly where some rich high-up lived. Someone – some official I think – came out and had a look at the poor lad we had brought with us. He didn’t look in too great shape by now, even though the last bit of the journey had only been about 4 days. The official nodded, handed over a heavy-looking bag filled with more of those shiny metal pieces, and took the lad away. Then we went to the marketplace as usual to change our goods over and have a rest.
Two days later we went home, with new loads. There was no sign of the lad we had brought. He could be in for a rough time. Wonder what he was going to do.