Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Darker Side of Am Dram...

(Source here)
OK. So perhaps the title is rather over dramatic but there is a nastier side to a bunch of people all wanting to get up on a stage together. Performers are inherently a bit of a diva (don't you deny it!) because people don't put themselves up on a stage unless you love the applause. I totally love it, I'm sure many people will agree with me-there's very little in life that feels as good as standing in the middle of a curtain call watching lots of people clap at you. But then there's the flip side of this, when you're stood at the back completely obscured by the row of principles in front of you and you want with all your heart to be in that line but know you'll probably never be offered a chance. Because Am Dram groups have a tendency to be rather cliquey and it's horrible. If you're not in with the "cool kids" then you will never be offered anything more than a couple of lines. I know from experience-I did 10 whole shows with my old drama group and probably had 10 whole lines too. Me and my Dad didn't go to the pub with the main bulk of the group, we didn't socialise with them after rehearsal or at weekends and therefore we were never considered for anything other than a very minor part. I'm not just being completely self absorbed and melodramatic either (I realise I am a bit)-we aren't complete clutzes on the stage who don't know stage left from stage right. My Dad has an amazing singing voice and yet was never given a role that had singing in it. I'd like to think I'm pretty good at slapping my thigh with the best of them but I never came close to my coveted principle boy role. Being in the chorus of a show is pretty damn fun, don't get me wrong, but sometimes you just long to be up there singing that solo or being the one who gets the happy ending, or at least I did. I longed for it with every bit of me, whilst I was standing in the back in the chorus line again. It creates this kind of horrible atmosphere where people start thinking that they're not as good as the people who are picked time and again for the solos, for the main roles, for their chance in the spotlight and it kinda broke my heart a lot. All I ever wanted was my chance to shine!
Which is why I am so glad that I stopped going when I did, coz this big old thing called university beckoned me with its wise old talons. And there I found, to my sheer delight, some Am Dram groups that WEREN'T CLIQUEY. Firstly, I found my USLES who have the motto 'Immature Dramatics' and care very much more about the people than about the quality of the show. While they look to put on as good a performance as they can (and there have been some absolute corkers!) they're much more concerned with everyone having a good time than making sure every line is perfect or that the cast have the ability to sway in time to music. It's a very excellent thing. Plus I fiiiiiiiiinally got to be a principle boy and perfect my thigh slap, which made my life to be honest.
Then in my 3rd year, I made the spontaneous (and probably unwise) decision to audition for a random drama group, simply because they were putting on a Pratchett play. I auditioned with low expectations-after all, if they were anything like my old drama group then the same people would get the lead roles each time and I would be lucky to get one of the small walk on roles. To my surprise and delight, I got offered one of the main roles in the show-the role of Agnes the witch, who is pretending not to be one by running away to sing opera.
This is Agnes. She's a tiny bit of a MASSIVE diva.
I love her.
I have to confess that Maskerade was my favourite show out of all the ones I've performed in over the years. Not only was it an awesome show with a really brilliant bunch of people, but it helped to reaffirm my confidence in myself. Yes, I can actually act and I am good enough to stand in the the centre of that curtain call, regardless of what previous experiences have taught me. It also made me realise that not every drama group chooses its next performance based on the person they've already selected to be in the main role, and that newbies can have a chance to steal the lime light too. It was all kinds of brilliant.

Now I'm back in Nottingham and my Dad recently asked me if I wanted to go back and audition for the next show by my old group. Despite the fact that I am really missing being in rehearsals for some show or other* I decided not to because I know that they haven't changed. I know that there's no point in me auditioning because they've probably already decided who their principle boy and girl are going to be even though they've only just finished performing their previous show. I just don't want to go back to that kind of atmosphere, where there's a definite segregation between the people who have been doing it for ages and the people who are new or not in with the crowd, it's really unpleasant. Instead, I'll bide my time, I'll carry on waiting to get back to Sheffield and get back to The Company and to USLES, the kind of groups where I feel appreciated and accepted regardless of whether or not I go for a drink with someone.

Here's a note for any producers or directors of Am Dram groups though. Next time you're auditioning for a show, why not consider someone new for a part rather than the same old faces? You might just make someone's life-it sure did mine.**


*This is the first time in about 10 years I haven't known what my next performance is going to be. I'm a bit lost, to be honest.
**And for all my Edinburgh friends, that's the Power of Love.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Ink Me Up, Baby

Tattoos. Everyone's got one. Well 1 in 5 of us at least. They're so commonplace nowadays that people don't even think twice when they see someone with one, and we do see them everywhere. I'm not about to start ranting on people who get tattoos (I hope) or start saying they're evil and ugly or anything like that-if I did I'd be a hypocrite because I have one, and I do love them as much as the next person. To an extent.
Here's mine, in all its freshly inked glory.
I think people don't really think about getting a tattoo any more, it's just not a big deal to pop into your friendly local tattooists and get them to draw something onto your skin. People say that it's addictive, and I can almost see why you would want to keep getting and getting them once you've had your first*. But the thing is, I don't think people consider that they're a  permanent addition. I thought about getting my tattoo for about 4 years before I actually went ahead and did it, and even when I booked my appointment in at the studio I had this massive sense of almost foreboding that I was doing something that would change things forever. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally in love with the end results and definitely don't think it's something I will end up regretting doing but I still recognise that it's a massive thing to do and would really consider it just as hard before I got another one**. I don't think it's something that most people my age really even think about before covering themselves in them. I also thought long and hard about where I wanted it-it had to be somewhere I could cover up if I wanted to but also somewhere I could see every day. I really like wrist tats, but would never get one coz I hate wearing long sleeves, same with neck tattoos and wearing my hair down. I want, some day, to be employed by someone somewhere, and recognise that visible ones could be problematic in that respect (plus I don't think my Dad would approve!).
Maybe I've just got a touch of middle age about me, but I just think people should really think a little more carefully over something as important as inking themselves for life. After all, what's that swanky chest piece going to look like when your cleavage starts sagging? What about those stars on your arm when you decide to stop being a hipster? The date on your neck to a potential employer? What about when your kids (/someone's kids/any kids) ask you what YOLO means and you have to explain it was a meme way back when you were a teenager? What if it's a private joke that's no longer funny or just something you end up plain old regretting coz you got it because tattoos were cool? 

Tattoos can be beautiful, or tell you life stories about the person who has them, or represent some memento of a personal triumph and a million other things, but I reckon they should be done in moderation and thought about a lot more than people seem to do it. After all, You do Only Live Once so why get something put on your body that you are going to regret when you're older? You have to be a grown up someday, folks.


P.S This is an interesting example of just how mad some people go with them.

*Even my tattooist said she hated getting them done (Newsflash: THEY HURT SO VERY MUCH!) but once she had one she could never wait to get another and another. 
*The fact that I originally typed 'get' instead of 'got' in that sentence tells me that somewhere inside I'm already considering having a second. Oh dear.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

All The Small Things...

Trust me, this'll make sense in a bit...maybe
Something weird I've noticed with my new single status is how much I haven't forgotten about the person I used to be in a relationship with. Sure, I don't know what he's doing day to day or what's new in his life or anything that really matters any more, but I can still remember all the silly little things about him that I feel like I shouldn't any longer. It feels really weird, like you know everything about a person but you don't even know them any more, it's like you've been listening at key holes and snooping through their lives like a ninja with a penchant for archiving. I can still remember what he looks like naked, I can still remember every scar (and how he got some of them). I remember anecdotes he told me that have no impact on my life and didn't involve me in any way (for instance, when he was 2 he was on the front of a jigsaw puzzle in France. Why do I need this information???) and my favourite photograph of him shown at his 21st birthday party when we had been going out for about 3 weeks. I'm really conscious of every time I mention his name in case people think I'm talking about him too much and that I'm still in love with him and maybe I just shouldn't talk about him at all if they think that but there's so many things I remember that seem to be pertinent to a lot of conversations and aaargh. I still automatically chop my veg up extra large because then he'd be able to pick it out easier, then I realise what I've done and feel silly (and cut it up so small it's almost tasteless). I remember 4 and a bit years ago we were sat on a bench in Nottingham city centre and his electric toothbrush turned itself on in his bag-stupid things that no-one in their right mind would bother to remember because they were entirely uneventful. I have always had a really good memory for silly little facts and titbits of information, which has never been a problem before, but in this instance I would rather not have a exceptionally good recall for everything and would rather be forgetful and really annoying when it comes to remembering dates. I don't want this stuff! This stuff should belong solely to his new girlfriend and therefore shouldn't live in my head any more-I shouldn't remember his birthday and his mum's birthday and his brother's birthday and the names of all his pets. She can have the title of his favourite song, and his favourite film and the name of his bloody plastic anatomical skeleton which cost £37 on ebay and came from Germany. If some magical hobbity thing came along and offered me a big red button or a pill or something to take away the memory of all these stupid things that fill my head up with their crap then I reckon I would take it and be done with the whole thing.
Except. Except if the side effect of the magical spell or foul tasting potion or weird mind altering experiment involving electricity was that I would forget him entirely, forget everything we had, I don't think I would. Because I don't want to forget him completely, and I don't want to forget all the good things we had together. I can recognise that I don't want them any more, but that doesn't mean I can't still enjoy the memory of them, right? Being with him was truly one of the best experiences in my life this far, and I still really appreciate everything that I got out of that relationship, regardless of how it ended-it made me a better person than I was at the time it began and I do feel like I've grown up a lot through its 3 years. So I guess if I have to take the memories of his favourite animal and the way he organises his DVDs and the side he parts his hair on and his middle name in order to keep the memories of every time he made me smile and all the time we laughed together then I shall. For we had something good together, he and I, something that has left its imprint on my life and something that (overall) makes me smile to think about it, which I do frequently.

However if there are any magical hobbity things/Torchwood members with access to Retcon reading this, then I wouldn't object to you slipping a few my way, K?


Monday, 1 October 2012

Don't Feed The Trolls

Source: Thankyou Wikipedia

Thankfully, I have never (yet!) myself fallen victim to those most heinous cowards; the Internet Trolls, but I know of several people who have and heard about many unpleasant things that have been said and done to both my friends and total strangers. Tonight I followed such an incident on (where else) Facebook-one of those groups that are specifically set up to invoke rage in people. You know the ones- usually being very callous and heartless about a subject that many people will find inflammatory or hurtful such as (genuine example from the pit of the Facebook Trolls) "Cancer is funny coz people die, LOLS." The particular group tonight, much as I hate to promote them, was called "I Hate Teen Moms" and was basically doing a good job of what trolls do best-upsetting a group of people for fun by calling them all "immoral" and "a burden to society" as well as being "illiterate". Now don't get me wrong, everyone is entitled to have their own opinions* on a particular subject matter (and heaven knows I have been far too judgemental myself from time to time) but this group was specifically set up to troll-to cause offence just to get a reaction. When one young mum posted on their wall to say that she was finishing university that year and had completed GCSEs and A-Levels after giving birth at 16, she was leapt upon by the members of the group who began attacking her (all virtually, of course) in all sorts of disgusting ways-saying that she was "not mentally equipped to have a child at that age", that "95% of teen mothers are moronic and [she] was one of them", and that she was a "dumbf__k who couldn't keep her legs closed"** and on and on and on with this bile, all aimed at her because she tried standing up for herself against them. In the description of the group, it said that it was made for "satire and dark humour" but I could find neither in their personal attacks against her (and others-this was only reading just one comment thread of several!). I know that most people agree that you shouldn't 'feed the trolls' by giving them the reaction that they are aiming for, but when someone/the things they believe in are being assaulted then you can understand why they would try and fight their corner against them.
And the sad thing is is that this is happening in every crevice of the internet-anything that someone holds dear to them whether it be taste in music or sexuality, the way you dress or a disability, hair colour or a life style choice or horrible diseases that rob us of those we love and everything else you can think of. For every group created somewhere like Facebook to offer support, solidarity, friendship or a great chill out place for soft-cheese lovers there's at least one group of people going out of their way to (pardon my language) shit all over it just for kicks.
When did this become an accepted part of society? When did it become OK to just hurl abuse at people just to try and get a rise out of them. Since when did owning a laptop and an internet connection give someone the right to be a total dick to everyone they virtually encounter? I just can't imagine something like this happening outside of the virtual world where it's possible to be anonymous and hide behind a clever-dick screen name and offensive avatar. Outside of cases of prejudice-related violence and abuse, (which you will have to pardon me for not going into detail over today-another deplorable avenue of humanity for another blog post.) most of the judgements people make about people every day live in their heads and aren't used to bait people into a fury in the name of "satire and dark humour". Whether it's born from boredom, or cowardice or genuine malice, it sickens me sometimes to realise the lengths that people will go to just to upset other people. And whilst 90% of the time I will do what I always do, refuse to get inflamed by these groups and just click on the 'Report' button and wait for the group to be shut down***, sometimes you have to let it get to you,

Source: The Good Doctor
(Image created by me)

sometimes you have to notice how horrible human beings can be to each other in the name of a joke, and hang your head for the future of our species.

Source: Know Your Meme

Trolls, Cyber-Bullies, Flamers, Internet Dickheads, just fuck off and grow up will you? The world would be a much nicer place without you in it.


NB: I'm sure Facebook could do more than it does in stopping these troll groups from reaching as many people as they do-something similar to the Twitter-bots (who search for specific terms in tweets) could monitor groups with 'I hate' in the title for inflammatory content. If a group gets reported and shut down, the person who made the group should be banned from making any more groups or pages for a while. OR SOMETHING. I don't know. There must be more that can be done to make these hideous people take their poison to some other corner of the internet where no-one will find them, surely? Hopefully some day.

*The difference, I think, comes in how you express that opinion. A lively discussion between two parties that disagree is fine, but attacking every aspect of someone's personality for a belief they hold or the way they live their lives or whatever it is is just callous and pretty disgusting, especially when it's all for your own "fun".
**Spelling and grammar corrected here.
***Sadly usually to be replaced by several more on the same topic angrily swearing about the "frigid bitches who can't take a f__king joke" etc etc