Maison Foo production journal - day 15 - by Séana Maggs-Cooke
The morning gets underway with a Morgan-made filtered coffee, and a discussion between Oz, Kate and Beth, or, ‘Bate and Keth’ as Matt comically names the duo. The discussion consists of attempting to work out lighting accompaniments for the show; deciding which type of lighting will emphasise each scene. Oz states that he has an idea of what The Foo want, and his job is to compliment the play with his lighting design; he also reinstates to the girls that the show is in 3 days time, and that getting into the studio space will be helpful in exploring the full potential of the lighting rig. Getting into the space is exactly what The Foo intends to do; tonight, the company move their masses of props and equipment, and vacate tomorrow they begin to tech at Deda- the auditorium where the show will be performed in.
I disappear from the conversation to retain my second, doorwoman duty, by letting designers; Tina and Kate into the gothic-looking residence that is Green Lane, and help them carry a few of their many boxes and bags full of bits and bobs into the rehearsal area. When Tina and Kate join ‘discussion corner’ I leave to investigate the make-shift recording studio that Matt is setting up in the disused store cupboard, just off the rehearsal room. Matt relays a fun fact to me: apparently Thin Lizzy recorded one of their albums in this very building, although, I can’t imagine it being recorded in a paint storage cupboard...
I occupy the cupboard with Matt and Morgan to witness a sound-testing session (I also, finally discover the purpose of ‘One, two-ing’ that soundmen/women repeat all the time.) Morgan gives some fine training-video-esque voice demonstrations of how to use paint safely and correctly, (read from a nearby safety poster,) this trial run then confirms that the Maison Foo recording studio is open for business.
When, Tina and Oz leave the building to visit Deda, (and designer Kate positions herself upstairs in the balcony, unbeknownst to anyone...) the cast take it in turns to read to use the cupboard-studio to recording separate voice-over sections of the play... and rather unexpectedly, I am honoured with the voice over role as tannoy announcer, and spend some time in the cupboard recording my own voice- to my extreme excitement!
There is a lot of concentrated silence in the Green room when the cast aren’t needed for recordings; Morgan types up the final version of the last ‘manic’ sections of shop scenes, and Kate proof reads and edits the script, (sadly, no peculiar concentration faces are pulled.) It seems to be full speed ahead today for everyone, and Kate confides to me that bringing a show together in that last week is a scary process, but also states that everything does come together in the end. Everything certainly seems to be coming together at Green Lane- if not quickly then certainly efficiently and in a qualitative manner.
During lunch, Beth and Kate find themselves in a design meeting with Oz and Tina- and Matt and Morgan find themselves stranded in the cold until I let them in. I rejoin the company-conference picnic in the Green room, but by the time I’ve finished typing up my first set of notes, the predominate part of the meeting has finished; now, a battle plan is being formulated for emptying the rehearsal room of all Foo-goods this evening; separating what is being used for the show, and what is being disregarded.
Before an afternoon of rehearsal antics begins, Kate and Tina expertly fix and adjust any props/costumes that need altering; they are the much cherished problem fixers of the group, ‘the elves’ and ‘workers’ as Foo Kate states. Everyone needs their own Kate and Tina on hand to save the day! Now, The Foo is in full swing; professionalism and focus is fundamental to this whole day!
Beth confessed that this process is a stressful one, but designer Kate reassures her that everything will work out for the best on Saturday; she also says ‘it’s good to be optimistic,’ and indeed it is, and indeed The Foo forever are positive about their work- and for every reason. Ideas started for the over half a year ago (or, as far as I’m aware.) This last week is predetermined to be a stressful and enduring one. Beth declares that she tries to aim for perfection every time; perfection is measured differently by everyone and for The Foo, I think this goal is very attainable.
Oz, Kate and Tina take up a desk just in front of me to make essential notes on the next run through, but before long, everyone is on their feet again, tending to jobs of their own. Beth, Kate and Morgan are arranging Pendulum bags, and attaching them to ribbon in preparation for setting up the next scene; the opening of Pendulum stores around the world. After Matt has finished his tweaking and arranging of the voice recordings from earlier, a preview of some sound effects blasts around the rehearsal room, and we hear, for the first time the proper sounds that will be used in the show; loud, aggressive, and frightening noises of trains, ships and lorries, signalling the transportation of children; it’s creates a menacing and unnerving tone. Not fully content with the already impressive sound effects, Matt fine-tunes some more, and creates a fairy-tale, twinkling-like music layered with horrific baby cries to accompany the travelling sounds; this gives the scene another, much darker intonation. This kind of fine tuning is the standard of perfection that The Foo strives for, and is, indeed an example of it being achieved.
Beth and Morgan, frantically and consistently practice their manic running around as the shop assistants in the end scene, and Kate aids Matt in his cutting and pasting of sound effects, meanwhile; upstairs the designers are also hard at work- it’s impossible to keep track of everything going on. Show week is a frenzy of occurrences- today being the busiest so far!
Kate talks to Oz about needing an itinerary of batteries for the torches being used in the play; I am forever more astounded by just how much preparation is involved in the creation of Pendulums Bargain Emporium. After I record one last tannoy announcement, (and then recoil at the sound of my own voice being played back,) I re-enter the rehearsal to find Kate and Morgan practising a ball dancing routine with an invisible manikin- it’s like a contemporary dance display. Tina occasionally wonders downstairs for costume fittings, and gives Kate and Morgan a tutorial on how to open the gift-box masks correctly; the most bonkers lesson I’ve ever seen. Oz and designer Kate make some important phone calls- to important people, about other aspects of the show; organised ‘chaos’ is a good simile for this afternoon’s events.
A half 6 tea break is welcomed with arms, and following it, another attempted full run of the show; to which I am again requested as sound technician. Oz, Tina and Kate participate as audience members, and make notes on what is needed now to complete the Emporium. After an exulting run, it’s time to pack up and say goodbye to the home of the Foo for nearly 2 weeks, and my home for almost 2... Here, the accomplishments and triumphs made by Maison Foo have been recorded-to the best of my ability and reflected in the progress of their extraordinary show. All that remains for the rest of the week is to finalise, tech and re-tech the show to perfection- The Foo standard.