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Tag Archive | "Becci Curtis"

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Hedda Gabbler: Nativity Naturals

Posted on 13 December 2010 by Becci Curtis

Coo Coo Coo-oo-oo

Coo Coo Coo-oo-oo

It’s Christmas time,

A child is born,

So let me sing to him,

A carol for Christmas with love from a dove…

And so, sang in the tentative soprano of a pre-pubescent, I, your weekly Gabbler, was launched onto the school nativity circuit to rapturous applause (ok, it was mainly my mum). Imagine me, aged ten, high up in the church choir stalls, singing the solo vocal accompaniment of the ‘Dove Song’ over the interpretive dance of the dove, performed by the primary school prima donna. Surprisingly, I remember the song to this day – above is a darn near match to the original, although I will spare you the pain of attaching a sound clip.

The year after my dove début I was given the main part of ‘Babooshka’ (trans. ‘Grandmother’) in a Russian version of the nativity – not the Kate Bush alter ego, I hasten to add and rather unfortunately too I now believe. I was a nativity starlet and having graduated from being the back end of the donkey, to ‘chief candle carrier’ until I finally reached the dizzying heights of ‘Granny Christmas’, I felt it was about time I got a little recognition. I think it was about this time that I told my ‘band’ (three girls, a shed and a karaoke machine) that I was going ‘solo’ – the ridiculousness of this statement was not even lost on my two fellow ten year old ‘bandmates’ then, which shows now just what a truly ridiculous ten year old I was. For some bizarre reason, I was also stuck on the stage name ‘Sally’ and insisted we be called ‘Sally and the Girls’ – I’d like to blame the E numbers but I think the truth is that I was just a bit of a knob. I use the past tense optimistically.

This week has seen the advent of the local school’s nativity plays and the Arts Centre, where I work, has been inundated with the little darlings. Some of the regulars have turned their noses up at the, and I quote one such regular here, ‘exuberant ones’ and resent them for invading their place of contemplation with chaos. I, on the other hand, have loved it. It’s been great having so many kids running around, minus the peeing and the puking, they’re just really funny. You get the kids who are so nervous and scared and overwhelmed at the same time that they start to cry almost immediately; kids who are so into it that their ‘Away in a Manger’ begins to resemble Willow Smith and kids who can’t help but take the whole thing very seriously and almost need a black beret in place of their halo.

To top it all off, when they come out of the theatre to their waiting parents when the show is over they all look exhausted but beaming. I suppose it just shows what a big wuss I am but it genuinely brought a tear to my eye, up until I waved one cheeky little chappy goodbye and he gave me the finger in return, bless him.

Merry Christmas!

Image by Alex Lecea

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Hedda Gabbler: ‘It’s behind you!’

Posted on 06 December 2010 by Becci Curtis

Widow Twankey

Do you know your Widow Twankey from your Buttons? Your Puss from your Peter? Well you better brush up on your stock characters and your double entendres, ladies and gentlemen, because once again, it’s that time of year – oh yes it is (oh no it isn’t!) – that the Panto season is set to grace our stages nationwide…

Panto is everything set down on paper that I would typically abhor on a stage. The bile inducing mince pie on top is the influx of contracted ‘has beens’ and ‘wannabes’ treading the boards in Disneystore costumes, in a desperate bit to churn the last bit of brandy butter out of the well-worn fame machine. But this is the season to be jolly, my friends, and I’m not about to go all Ebenezer – the fact is I bloody love it!

For the same reasons I love, Commedia Dell’Arte, Alfred Jarry, Joe Orton – I love Panto. Cleary they are all interferential in issues of style and form but Panto always seems to go by the wayside. Yes, it’s tacky and naff and altogether in bad taste but as far as I’m concerned, the best things usually are. I believe the trendy among us now label them ‘kitsch’.

Irreverent and rude, yet considered suitable ‘family fun’, it is the contradictory nature of Panto that I adore. When looking back to my childhood Christmases, there were always family outings to the nearest am-dram show and it still cracks me up now to think of my prudish grandparents, roaring away at near the knuckle innuendos – even though at the time it probably went way over my head. For a generational homophobe, I find it more than surprising how much my granddad seemed to love a man in drag!  Surely this is subversion at its very best.

Panto is one of those rare things that if the set fell down, the actors forgot their lines and the band was out of tune, I would still have a great time. Hell, it’s not the same as watching a three hour technically inadequate performance of Pinter’s Caretaker and all the while wishing you (or the actors, more to the point) dropped down dead.

The other thing that’s so great about Panto, is that it gets people to go to the theatre who would never usually consider it and quite frankly, I don’t care if it’s for the right or wrong reasons, whatever they may be. My dad for one is never keen on the theatre but on the two occasions I can remember, he practically glowed after his dalliance with Cinderella and Scrooge. After A Christmas Carol, my dad turned around and said to me, “That was really good but it was a shame Shane Richie couldn’t be in it.” To which I replied somewhat confused, “But Dad, he played the main character…” Clearly the theatrical power of illusion held my father in full force: “Oh,” he said, “I thought it was weird that he kept talking about someone called ‘Peggy’.” Ha! Bloody brilliant.

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Hedda Gabbler: 3D: Over-stimulated and Underwhelmed

Posted on 29 November 2010 by Becci Curtis

3D

Back in the day, 3D went as far as a pair of cardboard comedy glasses attached to a comic or the kids’ supplement of a weekend newspaper and you still had to go cross-eyed for the full effect. I always remember it as being really awesome for an easily impressed five year old but nowadays? I’m not convinced and for some unfathomable reason, 3D is starting to make a big comeback and I’m more than a tad confused as to why…

A large proportion of newly released films can now be viewed in 3D with increasing frequency. I, myself, have forayed into the realms of this retro revival with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and more recently, the oh-so-sophisticated Piranha (and no, for all of those wondering, you do not get a 3D virtual grope of Kelly Brook’s sizeable bosom). Personally, the reason for viewing these films in 3D was just for the novelty and perhaps an added dash of peer pressure – nobody wants to be the cinema scrooge! Still, both times now I’ve been highly disappointed.

In skipping to the cinema seat full of the excitement of a comparative toddler, the fuss around 3D failed to materialise. Perhaps my expectations were too high – I wanted images flying in my face and knocking me off my seat. But nope, none of that. Perhaps my glasses weren’t working properly. No, I don’t think so. Perhaps I’d gone to see the non-3D version of the film. Nope, not that either. Therefore I have been able to draw a full, solid and well-informed conclusion: 3D is crap. Full stop.

What a waste of sodding time and what a way to ruin perfectly good, old school 2D films. But then maybe that’s just it, maybe the clever marketers put the 3D bells and whistles on all the passable films so that us silly, over-exposed and desensitised audience members are too wrapped up in the attack gentle scratch on our senses that we fail to realise how the film in question matches the 3D effects in crapness rating. That’s what I think anyway, until I hear an ungodly rumour about the development of 3D TV: please tell me this is an extravagant joke. Does this mean people actually think it’s any good? You can call me a philistine; I’m one of those who swear blind they are unable to tell the difference between regular and HD TV.

In all seriousness though, if you want an exercise in three dimensional entertainment, go to the bloody theatre! I know mediated performance is all the rage, especially with initiatives like NT Live but that really is an entirely different animal if you ask me. For someone, who cannot go to London regularly and lives in the sticks like me, a three dimensional theatre experience transposed onto a two dimensional cinema screen is pure genius, not to mention pure convenience. The reverse is just a shoddy attempt at theatrical imitation. Although, I will admit, the new Ray Ban style glasses are pretty cool and I may have saved my pair, you know, just in case…

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Hedda Gabbler: A Letter to My Future Successful Self

Posted on 08 November 2010 by Becci Curtis

Dear Future Successful Self,

This is your conscience calling. You seem to have forgotten in your upward spiral of fame and fortune your younger, treading-the-water-to-save-from-drowning, predecessor. Try to remember, I know it must be hard, a time when things weren’t so stable and the life you are enjoying now seemed impossible to imagine and you felt like giving up.

I’m sure this must be a painful reminder of a past long forgotten, now that you’ve reached the side of the grass that’s greener, but you once wrote this letter as an exercise in ‘never taking for granted’ and I’m afraid the time has now come for lesson number one.

Sure, you have age and wisdom ahead of me. You know best. You are running the National Theatre single-handedly after all and the RSC call you twice a day to see if they can poach you. You’re married to George Clooney who you had a whirlwind romance with on the set of a film he was directing and finally convinced to settle down. He bought you an art gallery in Florence. But you know all this already…

Today, an unassuming girl caught you in the corridor to ask about work experience and ways to get involved in the arts. ‘Do you have an appointment?’ She wanted some advice on how to get started. You were her ‘hero’ she said. Yah, yah, great, yah, you replied. How annoying, you thought and sent her on the way with few words of encouragement to hand her CV into the front desk where you knew it would probably stay – honestly, you must get about a hundred CV’s a week. You are just too busy.

How did you get your first arts related job? Your past self is, at this moment, running around on empty steam, studying full-time, holding down two jobs and an internship just trying to get her foot in the door. Hard work pays off and your past self knows it won’t be long until her efforts are rewarded by an added dash of luck. Right time, right place and someone will give her the break she needs. The rest, as we now know, is history.

Please, do your younger inexperienced self a favour. Give her that break. Go down to the front office and have a look at her CV. Give her a ring and invite her for a little chat, you’ll be impressed. After she has successfully proved herself to be an asset to you, you will offer her a job. After this, you’ll realise the value of potential new recruits and there’ll be no stopping you: An annual advertised internship; a mentoring scheme; subsidised tickets; community workshops; a round table industry career talk… And you’ll increase your profit margins threefold allowing you to build that experimental programme you’ve always dreamed of but never had the backing for.

You may be sceptical and wonder at how your past self seems to know so much about the path you should be taking but you suddenly remember that your younger self was always looking towards the future. So why aren’t you?

Trust me – it got you this far.

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