Lost and Found rehearsals with guest blogger RJ from STOMP

4 Dec 2012

Sharing his thoughts on rehearsals is Guest Blogger is RJ - performer with STOMP, the world-famous company who bring The Lost and Found Orchestra to Brighton Dome from 20 - 29 Dec.

I worry about leaving a mark on this world. Right now, however, I’m sitting in the dark on an airplane, weeping, watching the Katy Perry documentary. I relate to the “dream come true” story because I’m about to rehearse The Lost & Found Orchestra. A show I love performing in. Created in Brighton by two brilliant street musicians. If their legacy be mine, then oh, to be a piece of lint on a hair on the toe of their footnote in history.

I arrive at Heathrow merry as a jet-lagged schoolboy. In the toilet, I wave my hands under the automatic sink, but nothing happens. Doesn’t this sink know who I am? I call the limo driver in. He arrives and holds up the laminated placard with my name on it. I’m impressed. But the sink isn’t.

Walking to rehearsals the first day, I spot a Brighton Blue Plaque and feel the little tickle. I love these stamps, for posterity, which some man or woman has left on this world. Abbreviated. Iconic. Indelible. Also, ignored. Irrelevant. I peruse the plaque:

“CHARLES DICKENS visited JOHN LEECH 1817-1864 Humorous Artist who lived here in 1849”.

I experience an underwhelming roller-coaster of emotion. What made this visit so plaque-worthy?

At The Old Market, my memory of what I do in the show is vague. We rehearse all day for seven days straight. I am allowed to join the talented orchestra and play some of the invented instruments. We rehearse the sublime symphony that will soon swirl ‘round inside the Dome. Luke and Steve occasionally cast asides to me about sticking a comedy bit in between a musical bit.

To that end, I claim a dark cubby hole behind the Stage Right curtain, and while the rest of the Stompers and Melody Makers are practicing inside the theater, or in the box office hallway, or downstairs in the practice rooms, I sit in the dark cubby and think about how to be funny. I also nap here. And eat chocolate here. In the dark cubby. Worrying where I fit into the magic that all of this rehearsal will become. After too much chocolate, I try to do chin-ups and accidentally break a support bar on the set. (Sorry, crew.) It’s not funny. But it’s pretty funny.

Rehearsals done, I walk back to the hotel after a night in pub. I pass that Brighton blue plaque again. In my hotel room, I Google Dickens and Leech. Their names are mentioned together with the words “street musicians”! As it turns out, Dickens and Leech hated street musicians and were instrumental in passing The Street Music Act of 1864. Then Leech died because of the stress caused by noise of the street musicians. Now, that’s plaque-worthy.

Soon, we’ll get to perform Luke and Steve’s sophisticated street symphony for you. I hope it moves you. Leaves a mark on you. Maybe Luke and Steve will get a Brighton Blue Plaque one day. It’ll say something vague like “Luke Cresswell looked at Steve McNicholas here”. No one will ever know I was there. In the dark cubby, napping, and eating chocolate. That’s okay. Because being onstage with my LFO cast-mates reminds me of the only thing that truly matters: Be here now. (But still come to the show later, too.)

RJ Samson