Sunday, 30 June 2013

Latin Lunatics, Wayward Wimples, and some very Nonsensical Nuns


Last week, I spent my days as a nun. 

'Has she officially gone mad?' you wonder. 

Well, as a matter of fact, no. She hasn't. But she DID have a very strange and exciting time last week, which she shall now elaborate on...

From Monday to Saturday last week, 9am - 10pm, I was a singing, dancing, latin-speaking nun in our school's big musical, 'The Sound of Music.' On those days I could be found running around the Civic Theatre in black robes that constantly tripped me over, wearing a tiresomely difficult-to-keep-on 'wimple', and sporting a rather mad grin, as I navigated through the constant stream of nuns, general dancers, nazis, and leads upon the crowded spiralling staircases. 

Dressing Rooms
The dressing rooms at the theatre were rather marvellous, equipped with a bathroom and shower, walk in robe, and individual mirrors surrounded by light bulbs, which made you feel like you were preparing for your debut on Broadway. In the red-carpeted corridors it was a tricky path that lead you to the end, which involved stepping over sprawled nuns, tripping on the gowns of elegant ballroom dancers, and dodging around annoyed nazis. That being said, my friends and I kept mostly to our dressing room (actually, it was theirs, not mine), and spent hours playing card games, chanting the oh-so-catchy 'Doe-a-deer', and fixing each other's silly 'wimples,' which just didn't like to stay put!


We would literally stay in that circle for HOURS each day, playing enthusiastic rounds of 'cheat,' 'speed,' and 'spoons.'



Hair and Makeup
When we arrived at the theatre each morning there was a mad dash to throw on our costumes and race upstairs to the makeup room. There we were painted with a more-than-generous amount of orange 'cake makeup', had so much eye liner applied to us that we sported an 'Egyptian' look, and had our hair painstakingly tamed and slicked into a tight bun with many bobby pins. Funnily enough, even the boys had to suffer through the same ordeal, but apparently when you sit in the audience the stage lights make everyone on stage look normal - thank goodness for that! The boys also had to have their hair slicked back with excessive amounts of gel, making it look as though they had grease caked through their hair - I found it rather hilarious, and it was very difficult trying to take the guys seriously as you talked to them, because you couldn't help but laugh at their long, black eyelashes, blushed cheeks and slicked back hair!

I almost enjoyed being 'pampered' each morning as my face was painted - It was sort of fun, and made you feel like you were an important actress being prepared for her show!



Backstage Antics
After our make-up was applied we had a long wait, and so we ran around in our nun costumes like crazed baboons, bubbling with exuberance-ness, (I know, I know, it's not a word...), tripping up and down the stairs, and yelling our latin chant for the world to hear. My friend and I also found great fascination in just about everything, especially taking photos in the light-up mirrors in our dressing rooms. We went a little crazy most days, no doubt helped by our lack of sleep and indulgence in sugar! When each performance was about to begin we would hear through the speakers in our dressing rooms, "Beginners for Act 1 please, beginners for Act 1," at which an excited squeal was let out by all nuns, as we scrambled for the mirrors, tucking in wayward strands of hair, fixing those annoying wimples, and pulling on stockings.

Okay, yes. I admit it. I MAY have been caught in the act of exuberantly singing on the stairs. Which was a common occurrence in my over-the-top excited state each morning...
My friend and I found great fascination in just about everything, especially taking photos in the light up mirrors in our dressing rooms!

The last minute adjustment of wimples before we were called on stage is one part of the whole experience that I WON'T regret. Those silly head coverings had a way of slipping and sliding all over your head, and just when you thought you had finally managed to get the thing to stay put, the side pieces would come poking out again!


Ready to go on stage with ALMOST perfect wimples in place. What a rare sight!

Under the Spotlight
I would love to say that we made our way serenely, maturely, and quietly down the stairs that lead to the stage, but as you've probably already guessed, that was assuredly not the case. During the two minute introduction piece played by the orchestra before the show, backstage erupted with the sounds of excited whispers, annoyed 'ssshhhh's' from the Stage Crew, the running feet of panicky nuns whose battery-operated candles didn't work, the slow thundering of large set pieces rolling by, and the squeaks of the ropes and pulleys controlling all of the stage curtains. After a nerve-racking wait, the large red curtain was lifted, the music began playing, and the nuns slowly and gracefully (on the most part) filed on stage, carrying the little flickering candles with heads bowed, singing our latin song. For me it was the hardest scene that we nuns were a part of, because at the beginning of a show you feel excited, nervous, jumpy, and giggly all at the same time - trying to keep a straight face and look peaceful and holy whilst your heart is beating 100 miles per hour and butterflies are frantically fluttering in your belly can prove very difficult indeed! 

There's me, on the far left of the 'balcony,' trying to keep a straight face!

Sadly, Fame Came to an End
By the end of each show everyone was rather disappointed that another one had finished - the time flies by so quickly when you're doing a performance! The musical ended with bows from all of us, and then an encore. The encores were so much fun - the stage is filled with singers and dancers, all laughing and filled with excitement and energy, and even the nuns get to loosen up and join in with the choreographed moves to the song 'Doe-a-deer!' When the song is finished, the lights dim and the cheering fades away, and that's it. Another end to a show. We all filed back to our dressing rooms, changed out of our costumes, tidied up our belongings, and then got driven straight home, where we fell asleep almost immediately after having plonked on our beds. (Well, I don't know about everyone else, but that's what I did!)

And finally, after all the backstage mayhem, we put on a spectacular show - here are all the nuns at Maria and Captain Von Trapp's wedding. I'm in the top right of the photo, contentedly singing from my balcony!


All in all, being a 'nun' was one of the most fun experiences of my life. Despite the long hours of sitting around back stage, the late nights, sore throats, tiresome wimples, orange faces, bossy vocal directors, crowded passageways and busy schedules, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the musical, and wouldn't hesitate to sign up a second time!

Until next time, my lovely friends :)

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