Panto Postcard 3.

73 hours
Another hard week in Chipping Norton.
Not a bad walk to the bus stop
I was on an earlyish bus back after a mile or so walk to the best bus stop, right outside Scottish and Southern Electric where a small compact thatched cottage sits beneath the pylons. I managed to get the front seat on the top deck and got good views through Woodstock and past the gates of Blenheim Palace. One of my design projects when I was at college used the Marlborough Tapestries, so a visit to the palace to see them is a must whilst we are in the area.
Chris the carpenter/dep production manager joined us again on Monday morning. There was a long list of jobs for him to work through, problem solving and hanging various things in the flies above the actors heads that needed to be done by someone competent.
One of my black cats
My printed cloth was hung by the time I arrived and it certainly was worth the money. The blues glow wonderfully when back lit for scene changes and it’s fluid movement across stage is wonderful. I wish we’d now had the money to do the same with the backdrop. The painting on this is okay, but in my mind too much paint was applied making it a bit crusty, so when it was folded (should have been rolled!) the paint cracked leaving lines. These would be excellent if you wanted the effect of a folded paper map!
The reaction to my painted floor was wonderful. The Pippins (local kids) were amazed and one lead actor went out of his way to thank me for painting them such a lovely floor, not often this happens.
The technical
Mark (Lighting Designer) and Jon (Sound Designer) joined us this week, so as jobs on the set were being done, they focused and plotted their black things that have plugs on them and took up residence in the stalls with lighting boards and sound desks. Chris and I managed to get to various bits and bobs whilst scenes were set to be lit. Scene change rehearsals took place, each attempt getting quicker. I spent quite some time this week sticking felt onto the bottom of pieces of set so that they could be slid along the floor rather than carried, saving peoples backs and hopefully some time, but making me a touch high on fumes in the process.
More technical
The curtains I’d made from a previous panto went up surprisingly well. I did think that this would be the moment when I’d prove to myself that I really should never use a sewing machine, but by fluke they hung rather well, just in need of a good steam to help the creases drop.
On Wednesday my phone decided it didn’t want to turn on fully. It would try but then give up and shut down. A message was sent to Mick via another phone to his email, telling him I’d see him on Saturday. My next concern was not being able to tell the time, or have an alarm clock. A hunt round Chippy ensued, at Gills (they have everything) hardware shop I got a small travel alarm clock which would see me through. The world of the internet could wait. However Mick dug out an old phone, got it set up for me to use and brought it to Chippy that day arriving perfectly timed with the actors vacating the stage. A quick hand over was done and I had to leave Mick to enjoy a pint in the Fullers pub next door as I got on with work.
Frockless Dame with undecided eye shadowSkeletons turning into mummiesSoup and toastTechnical rehearsals took over. This is when all the elements of the show are put together, tried, retried until it all works well. If things weren’t fully finished it didn’t matter just so long as there was something in it’s place to use. Virtually all the set and props were ready, but there were a few gaps on the costume front as alterations were being made. A few frayed nerves from the crew as set changes were worked. The gaps when I could get onto stage to do jobs got fewer as the week continued. Sitting in a seat taking notes meant that my knees started to sieze up a touch, so the steps on and off stage I’m now doing sideways as this is easier.
The props workshop, soon to become the Dame's dressing room
During the daytime we’d tech in the main acting company, getting as far into the show as we could. Then at 4pm the stage would be reset to go over the sections that the Pippins were in. As there are three teams of kids this meant having to go through the sections at least three times, each team cheering when it became their turn.
With the show worked through in detail the first Dress Rehearsal was upon us on Saturday morning. Gemma the Production Manager was back with us, a few things sorted out before we started. The house lights dimmed and the show began. The dress went well, a few blips, like several of the Dames quick changes were late (an S.E.P.), a few cues for the crew missed and one set change not quite finished in time.
The stage filled with things to finish painting
Technical notes were given out and most people then headed off their separate ways, leaving Gemma and myself with the set to get bits finished. During Tech week there may be breaks, but few are long enough for paint to fully dry before floaty costumes come back onto stage. So with a big list and everything accessible we worked for several hours. Some jobs took a matter of a minute, others an hour. But the majority of jobs were completed, the set left everywhere to dry and I was out of the building in time to catch the 6pm bus back to the boat.
Meanwhile back on NB Oleanna.
On Monday Mick had decided to carry on into Oxford on his own. At Drinkwater Bridge a local boater helped him, at the next really awkward bridge a passing cyclist paused to hold the bridge open and then the last bridge he had to manage on his own, but this one would rather stay open for boat traffic anyway. He made his way down to Jericho. He passed one boat on the 7 days mooring, nobody at the quiet mooring (this is 2 days only all year) and then found everyone. They were all near College Cruisers. One gap showed itself before the lock, so he went down onto the river turned and headed back to the gap. The very end of the arm was also full.
For a few nights he endured the trains passing, but when spaces emptied towards the quieter end of the moorings he backed up and settled down.
Trees! But far far too many people. At least this Oxford has a good playground for me, far better than Chester. Tom seems to like to keep the back doors closed now, maybe there is no need for extra crew at the moment.

Wibley wobbley bridge
Mick had a day trip into London to see what was happening in the various places he’d worked last century. He also visited the Tate Modern to see some of Christian Marclay’s The Clock. A 24 hour long installation of a montage of thousands of film and tv images of clocks which have been edited together to show the real time. He’d like to go back and watch for longer.
He has also been working on our laptop. This had become very sluggish. Each week I have received various parcels in Chippy which have been bits to help sort out the laptop. So this week he has replaced the hard drive with a SSD Drive. This took quite a bit of doing, having to clone the old disc and all sorts of computer stuff. So far, as I type this, it has done the job. The laptop is quick and no longer sits scratching it’s head pondering on what it has just been asked to do. My typing skills also seem to have improved.
The view

5 locks, 1 of them twice, 4.38 miles, 3 lift bridges, 2 assisted with, 1 full water tank, S3 bus four times, 5 tech sessions, 1st dress, 1 short day, 36 hrs hopefully at home, 1 high tailed cat.

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