It was a while ago now- the work in progress showings were in July and then I ran away to Vancouver for some training and then I started teaching at the uni and the next thing I know is its December 23rd.
Observation. I did two shows in quick succession, the first was packed and the energy was electric- every joke landed and then some- honestly it felt like stand up. But the down-beat stuff didn't quite punch people in the feels as I would have hoped. The second crowd was much smaller, weirdly spread out, sedate and included my dad. Which was TOUGH, it felt, well the only way to put it is raw. Jokes didn't make people BARK and I have never felt so vulnerable or exposed in my life. I really can't explain how odd it was because there was a kindness in the room, people wanted me to do well, and most (!) enjoyed it..... but yeah, this taught me a lot very quickly about how a crowd can totally dictate a performance, not just it's energy but even what stuff MEANS- an aside joke to one lot might translate to something dark or cutting to another.... BLIMEY.
But I pulled it off, and in a humble-brag sort of way I'm pretty proud of myself. A long time ago I got a piece of audience feedback that I wasn't supposed to see:
"I just felt really embarrassed for her."
But this time the audience response was overwhelmingly positive and what was even better was the GOLD people put in their feedback forms all of which will go towards the second phase where I re-write and finish the thing. Fingers crossed it gets funded! I'm going to leave the audience feedback below for posterity- I think it's kinda interesting!
The only other thing that needs to be said is that the Gulbenkian staff were so lovely and supportive I can't imagine a better venue to start this journey with. And then there is Daisy Orton and Faith Austin who are FUCKING SUPERSTARS- I'm a rubbish solo artist because I can't do things on my own (don't even-let's just not go there) and these two were there helping me make it, deliver it, cheering me on, feeding me caffeine and hugs and making the whole thing possible. I love these beautiful women and as long as they are not working with me, you should be working with them.
Anyway- here for posterity is all the gold-dust:
Collated Audience feedback from work in progress showings of The Daddy Blues at The Gulbenkian Theatre
What did you find interesting about the show?
● The premise of inventing a new dad.
● Clearly a deeply personal issue that's taken a lot of courage to write about
● Addresses the issues of life in a fun, informative way.
● I found it original and interesting as I’ve never watched or heard anything like it.
● Moving, honest, very brave.
● Use of the equipment it was almost like another actor
● Really enjoyed the use of media and loved the music.
● Audience interaction fast pace
● Loved the ‘code’ needed more introduction perhaps?
● Really well developed use of technology works well in conjunction with performance
● Not seeing the FF adds to the dark, self deprecating comedy and was a good decision
● I liked the story and how it connected with Phoebe’s real life
● I liked the way the AV stuff mixes with the rest of the story
● I like the anti climax
● I loved the surrealer segments lipsync and coding
What deserved further attention?
● The technology was a bit selfconscious either use less or have someone do the tech
● Yentl lipsync was too long. I hoped the eulogy would have revealed more about the dad and taken us from humour to thoughtfulness That feels like that still could be the perfect mechanism to take us from knowing laughter to nervous giggles to actual emotional response anger? sorrow? through to some sort of resolution.
● Showbiz dad references worked well but only because I recognised them will all of your audience members?
● Loved the montage effect of multiple ideas and actually think it would be a shame to smooth this over.
● The miming was slightly out of sync but still entertaining and hilarious.
● Hated Yentl (and i’m a member of the Barbra Streisand PenPal Associationno really) too long.
● Ending a bit abrupt more lead in.
● Definitely relatable I have a bad dad maybe ask for others experiences? Although this does run the risk of abuse stories
● Room for heignteing of jokes
● Heightened lipsync props? dance?
● Use windows XP error noise?
Does it raise any questions for you?
● Yes: re personal vs fictitious material maybe in the interests of drama, the stakes might be higher we didn’t know why the real dad was ‘bad’ Was he that bad?
● It’s a powerful metaphor, and being a member of the Bad Dads Club has made me consider my relationship with my dad.............The prospect of putting all your hopes and designs on a perfect dad into something that is inevitably doomed as frankenfather namesake creation is quite tragic.
● I think it does raise lots of questions and is very interesting
● I haven’t made up my mind on whether it should end as it did. It is succinct and left me empty which may have been the point.
● Made me think about my own father N.B lots of people said this
● Most of the questions I have relate to things I wonder about with my own family, and I appreciate theatre which makes me think!
● Definitely got me thinking about what i'd like my dad to be
Do you want to hear more or less of Phoebe’s personal story?
● Less the personal story is the starting point for creating theatre the material doesn’t have to be factually true. But more story please.
● Wanted MUCH more of Phoebe’s personal story why was she looking for a better dad, what made her dad ‘bad’?
Short glimpse we got via the audience read scene didn’t sound too bad to me.
● Love to hear more of her story.
● Personal story was really important
● More of Phoebe’s story, the coat anecdote was very telling.
● Exploring the tastes, sights and sounds of your past more might be a good road to go down, like with creating a body (going through all the body parts one by one)
● More of Phoebe’s personal story enjoyed the script reading and sharing of his voice a sense of him giving permission. This took the heaviness out of it (along with the use of humour)
● A bit more of the personal story would have enhance it further.
● I wanted to hear more of Phoebe’s personal story little more info on the bad dad
● Would be fantastic to hear more of Phoebe’s personal story
● More personal story it gives a deeped interest in the story told and adds a real sense of feeling and truthfulness to the performance
● I like the amount of your story we heard little flickers of hurt and damage done without it becoming uncomfortable/indulgent/therapy
Do you want to see the Frankenfather?
● Don’t want to see FF, better in my imagination
● I didnt want to see the Frankenfather
● No I liked him being hidden. On idea with a voice clever idea of voice and character. Whether naturalistc or not add clearer idea of D speaking and why.
● I don’t think its necassary to see the Frankenfather
● Didn’t want to see the Frankenfather it was obvious from the start that he wouldn’t actually be revealed, but that was fine.
● No! I didn’t want it to be a moment of comedy
● I want to see the frankenfather unconditional love
● Definitly want to see the FF but maybe that means you shouldn’t show it. Everyone wants to see it but hiding it makes more interesting questions for an audience.
● I don’t want to see the FF
● Yes I want to see the FF, the ideal physical representation would be very interesting to see
What do you think the next, more developed incarnation of the show might look like?
● Frankenfather to wake up and ‘I love you’ then ‘error’
● Potentially more audience interaction
● I would really like to see a full length choreographed dance number
● Would be fantastic to see the ideas behind what makes a bad dad evolve
● I really loved the Frankenstein framing of the piece and I think this could be taken further. It would be interesting to see how your relationship to the subject matter could change when you become a ‘father’ yourself.
● A more developed show would have more humour, a chorus line of of dancers in sequined leotards and feather headdresses as backing for the Bette Midler lipsyncing section.
● Perhaps elements of Phoebe’s personal father experience could be integrated into the building of Frankenfather
● More questions ‘suggested’ to the audience could provide a basis for personal reflection and allow them to draw more from the experience
● More of a reaction (or some sort of epiphany) may create a more rounded ending?
● Lots of potential.
● I found you just jumped from one thing to another without answering all my questions.
● I was confused whether it was a play in which you were asking rhetorical questions or whether it was more of a conversation play Although I’m 13 so it may make more sense to adults.
● Like the Yentl mime
● Excellent tribute speech
● The error ending worked well.
● Liked techno mix and as more rehearsed, I think that will work really well.
● Personal delivery style was great.
● Brave and Bold
● Hard to watch as a parent, would be interesting to know if parents react differently to those with children, possible
● Keep going, I think there's an exciting performance on the horizon
● Loved the lipsync
● I wonder how you really feel about your father (and if we knew how this would help?
● Great comedy clever and personal
● Dramatic pauses added suspense and allowed elements of personal reflection
● More academically presented, this could make for an excellent Ted Talk
● The show was captivating with the mix of humour, visuals and the tug of the heartstrings.
● How has having a ‘bad dad’ informed your character/person? Do you think that you are the person you are because you had to deal with a difficult parent as a child? Isn’t this important too? How do your siblings feel?