Today I was at the very sunny London 2012 Party in The Mall. It was a great day all round - but more on that tomorrow. I'll let the main terrestrial channels batter your senses with Olympic Fever first.
So, Mac is back from Apple Hospital and I'm back from Edinburgh - my wallet's a lot lighter but the penchant I developed for food and alcohol on the run has balanced the lost/gained...errrr...balance. But what the hell, it was a laugh. Literally.
My festival-going activities were mainly planned within the walls of the Pleasance Courtyard (in the rain) but then carried out at many of Auld Reekie's sprawling comedy venues (in the rain). I am very glad to have seen David O'Doherty just before he won the main award at the If.comedy Awards (previously known as The Perrier Awards) and very due a win he was. Any thirty-two year old man who can sit in front of a full house singing about text messaging, picking at a two foot piece of plastic and still deserve applause, is well worth a trophy as far as I am concerned.
I saw a good selection of shows - from stand up through to audience participation - and never had it struck me so strongly, how much a backstory matters to a performer - comedic, ensemble or otherwise. These were the guys that 'worked' - they had a sense of a solid background precedence/backstory, whichever. The ones that didn't - well, they just didn't.
It's perhaps a strange observation from someone who has been a performer all her life, but background research and backstory formulation is just something I do automatically when prepping a role. Nothing used to crush me more when I would ask my director, "So if she did xxx, would I be right in thinking she would need to have experienced xxx in order to get to that psychological state? Possibly around the age of xxxx?" to be met with a blank stare and a shrug. Not a stare and shrug in the vein of, "Go create your own character; do your own work..." but in the vein of, "Don't ask me - I'm the Director". Hmmmph.
So, the moral of this post? Get your backstory straight - in your mind, if nowhere else. At least that way, you will know where the characters came from, in order for them to go somewhere. And you never know, some random actor-type-peep may even ask you for your input one day. If they can get past the shrugging Director. ;)