Happy Saturday my dears, I am back!
Apologies for the silence over the past couple of weeks but I’ve been in a legal dispute about a recent fracas involving yours truly and the producers of a local panto.
I’d already learnt the lines before rehearsals commenced – the scripts for Panto are sent out extremely early, this is so the reality: TV celebs have sufficient time to learn one word a day until they get the script Off The Page. That’s what us actors say when we gleefully announce to the rehearsal room that we no longer need our scripts. It is usually met with strained smiles of approval and gritted bleached teeth, sparkling in acknowledgement that you have a photographic memory and lamenting they will all be judged by the director for still being on the page.
In fact, I took great joy on the first day when arriving at the rehearsal room in Cradley Heath – I say rehearsal room, it was in fact a prefab shed in the middle of a park and whenever walking to it, as there was no path, you played Russian Roulette with your shoes. Doo Poo Minefield is not a game I enjoyed playing on a daily basis…. Anyway I digress, so there I was in mid-rehearsal starring alongside a minor reality celeb whose face is currently endorsing a wet bottom wipe on TV.
“Well it’s quite frustrating when you are Off The Page and yet your co-star is on the Wrong Page! “
You’d think after having a script of Dick Whittington and his Cat (I was playing the cat) for nigh on three months you’d be able to learn at least the title! But no, my dears, this imbecile thought he was in a show called “Dick Whiteingtom and his Cap!”
So two weeks into the rehearsal and after hearing the word “Line” for the millionth time I thought it wouldn’t matter if I spiced things up a bit and threw in a bit of improvisation, after all the z-lister wouldn’t have had a bloody clue – he couldn’t learn his own lines so there was no chance he’d learn a cue. He just waited and if there was a pause he’d fill it with a paraphrased line of his.
And this is where the legal dispute starts…
Apparently slapping your thigh and improvising the line “10 miles to London and still no sight of Dick!” was inappropriate for children and made the Z-lister feel as if I was making lewd comments and sexual advances to him! Moi?! My dear the only advance I would have made would have been a retreat!
Well, in order to calm matters down, I requested a cast change and that we get a better Dick. Apparently “Z-list” was on a massive advance and they couldn’t afford to pay him off so would I be able to oblige and release a statement to say due to illness Marcus D’Lite has had to withdraw from playing the Cat… Indignant and filled with rage I donned my best Albert Finney impression and storming out of the rehearsal room boomed “The only statement I’ll be making is Your Dick will never see a finer Pussy!”. Next day I received an e-mail from the producers saying they might be pressing charges of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour!
As a star you become used to these legal wrangling’s and so you surround yourself with top lawyers and fortunately for me “Dave’s Deal – No Win No Fee” solicitors represent me with a 70/30 success rate. I win 30% of the time.
Dave did well this time and I only had to relinquish the salary for the work I didn’t do so I can keep the 2.5 weeks wage. It would have been a very tight Christmas otherwise.
So is there a moral to this story – yes, be careful as the Power of Improvisation can get you into many a sticky spot, use it wisely.