Saturday 12 July 2014

I'm King of the World....well Queen of, but that isn't really a thing.

So, Thursday the 10th of July came and went. My cabaret happened. Nobody died, well someone, somewhere in the world will have died but not as a result of my singing. All went, almost, to plan. I was remarkably calm and collected and totally ready for it. I, kind of, pretended I was really nervous but, by the time people arrived, I had resigned myself to the fact that I had to either just do it or fake a heart attack and get taken to hospital. Even I am not prone to such dramatic outbursts so I got on the stage and I did my 20/25 minutes of, well, something.

The Pheasantry, a Pizza Express on the King's Road, is SUCH a nice place to sing. I did not have to push, I had no problem hearing myself and the acoustic was (to me whilst singing) nice and pingy (technical term). I say I didn't have to push, this was, at least partly due to the fact that I chose not to sing anything that went above an F (an octave and a bit above middle C for those who understand such things) so, as a soprano, this was akin to a night off. I was in total control of my voice which is a feeling I have not had in an awfully long time. 

There was a tiny, nervous wobble in my first song which resulted in one of two moments of forgetfulness but for the first time ever, and I mean ever, it did not bother me and I just turned it into part of the "act". If the same happened in a musical or opera I would be beating myself up for days and, if the performance were to be repeated, be sitting in a corner rocking whilst reciting the words over and over again in an attempt to stop the same thing happening again. In this particular instance I actually enjoyed, I think that is the word I want to use, the way it added to everything. I am not planning to work this word slippage into my performances from now on but it is so nice to feel that it won't bother me if it happens again in future performances, and it inevitably will.

Remembering of words was the ONLY thing I was worried about, the only thing I was nervous about. For the first time in my performing life I felt I knew exactly what I was doing and that I was in total control. This feeling was cultivated with the help of my pianist, Simona Budd. Although we had only met once before the show I felt totally at ease and totally supported. She listens, to the point of it feeling like she was reading my mind at one moment, and went with everything I did. This happens rarely. I have only worked with a handful of pianists who I have this kind of connection with and she has definitely been added to the very short list. 

I was exceedingly lucky that I had an amazing audience who were supportive from the off. Not just because I had many, many wonderful friends there but the general vibe in the room was so calming. There was excitement but no huge, unreachable expectations. You could feel every, single person willing the people on stage to do well. Although you can not always be lucky enough to have this sort of support at every gig I was so, so grateful that I did for my first attempt at cabaret. It was lovely to surprise everyone in the room and exceed their, not unreachable, expectations, however, it was even more satisfying and surprising to have exceeded my own. I am hopelessly self critical so, for me, the fact that I LOVED every single second of my set and, even though things did go "wrong" they actually didn't as I would not have wanted the things that went wrong to have gone right as they made the whole experience even more special as I handled the mistakes in my own way and didn't apologise for my very existence (sorry for the long sentence). Apologising for my existence is something I am prone to do most of the time.

A friend of mine, who has done shows at The Pheasantry before, said something to me that summed up my experience. She didn't actually get to see me strut my stuff but she said the experience is "quite empowering once you start". This hit the nail on the head for me. I think the fact that it was my own material (not the songs, I did not write them) created a sense of achievement in myself I have not had before. I had put together 5 songs and found a way to link them and written blurb to say in between that people actually laughed at. I think the fact that people actually, genuinely laughed, not that fake laughing people can do to try to keep your spirits up when it really isn't funny, was the most thrilling and empowering thing about it. For the first time in a long time I feel I am good at something again.

So what next, I hear you cry? I, for one, can not wait to do it again. I already have another 20 minutes planned out in my head so put it together with what I already have that is, count it, a 40 minute set. So watch this space as, hopefully, there will be much more to come. 

After all these years and all that training, all those big shows and tours who would have thought that 20 minutes on a tiny stage in Chelsea, just me and a fabulous pianist, would make for the best 20 minutes I have experienced on a stage. Ever!

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