I sense tonight is gonna be a long night. It's already 1am and I haven't yet finished formatting band parts for all the sequences of underscore in the piece. There's no way on earth that I'll manage to finish this process without making an insane number of errors. There will be badly formatted parts, no doubt, some of which will subsequently go missing in cyber space. These are the times when being a composer has its drawbacks. I am so so tired!
It feels like it's been another long, but productive day, although people are reaching almost comic levels of exhaustion. It is, however, often when actors are in this near comatose state that the barriers are dropped and the magic can begin. Josef and Ben who play Alf and Tom gave me an intriguing sense of what they are both capable of last thing this evening, despite barely being able to keep their eyes open. Theirs is the hardest task in a production of almost epic complexity. They play two young soldiers who may or may not be gay. Nothing is explicit. Nothing is written. Everything is implied or takes place in a series of scenes where neither manages to quite express what he's feeling.
Of course, from my perspective, it's vital that this is played out in a believable way, despite both actors being straight. My dear friend Ellen recently sent me a birthday present of a book of photographs which someone had collated after years of going through junk shops, house clearances and car boot sales. No one now knows who the people in the photos are or who took them, but they show gay, lesbian and trans people in the early to mid 20th Century, just being themselves, really, at a time when just being themselves was not just illegal, but highly risky.
The pictures are hugely moving because they show people in love. Some of the shots are almost terrifyingly intimate. I found the images of mock marriages particularly upsetting. Same sex couples, usually one in drag, smiling happily, hoping against hope. Sadly, same sex marriage was not destined to be a reality in their life times and yet, for those few moments, as the camera shutter snapped, they were entirely free of the shackles of society. These men and women are my absolute heroes. Without their bravery I would not be the man I am today. I would not have been able to sit with Tom and Robin, nonchalantly chatting about my wedding whilst looking at a clip of Sara Kestelman singing "gay, happy wedding day" with a rogue piece of pink blossom flying through the air and attaching itself to her button hole!
It was the arrival of this book which made me determined to treat the Alf/ Tom relationship in Brass with great integrity, in honour of those glorious men and women smiling from its pages.
We had a very amusing moment today which followed on from a set of notes I gave to choreographer Matt. In one of the notes I asked that the quavers in the orchestration of one of the sequences were brought out somehow in his choreography. In response, he noted (jokingly) that he'd send one of the stage managers off to buy me a packet of cheesy curled crisps. He was, of course, making a funny joke about musical quavers having the same name as the famous cheese flavoured crisps. Anyway, this afternoon, the efficient stage manager in charge of reading notes arrived with a packet of quaver crisps asking if she should give them to me or if Matt would rather do so himself! Apparently Matt was laughing so hard that Sara rushed out of her rehearsal to tell him to be quiet!
Keen-eyed Brass audients will also notice Matt's visual ode to ABBA in one of the sequences from the show. I shan't spoil the surprise, but suffice to say, our leading lady Laura gets to channel Agnetha...
Right. Back to the grind stone. There's much to achieve tomorrow!