Morning broke and I threw aside all my grrrrs about how I pathetic I'd been the day before (well maybe not all of them), and decided, that was past and this was now.
After breakfast the first difficult choice of the day was whether I should go to Acting Burlesque (Persona) with Tigger! or Being Present for Newbies with Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey (other classes on at the same time were Caring For Your Costumes with Miss Mina and Pick Up The Stripper Droppings with Darlinda Just Darlinda).
I couldn't choose between the two, both subjects were ones I needed to know more about - but Being Present won on the coin toss (and I really hope I can do Tigger's class next year).
I'm not going to spoil for you what happened in this class, because I think you need to experience it as it happens, not feel the temptation to prepare for it (not that it's anything threatening at all, it's a wonderfully supportive environment) and I left the class with a whole basket of activities and ideas that I want to work on and put into my acts.
One of the things said several times during the peer reviews the night before was that certain actions could be made even stronger if performers have the courage to pause, to own the stage and not feel the need to cram movement into every second...so yes, as well as feeling calm and a bit zen leaving the class, I felt incredibly inspired too.
Then it was off to the top floor of the hotel to Performing Obscenity with Elsa Sjunneson. Again this was up against stiff competition - Shimmy Up The Burlesque Ladder with Darlinda Just Darlinda, More Than Just A Pretty Face with Kristina Nekyia, Part B of Tigger's Acting Burlesque (Persona) and Perfecting Your Performance with Pyra Sutra.
But there were two reasons Elsa's class won out - firstly because she was one of the few people at BurlyCon I'd already made online friends with and secondly because although I know quite a bit about British law concerning burlesque especially with the SEELs coming in, I know absolutely nothing about US law....other than frequently hearing about the 'danger of under boobage' ;)
Elsa was fantastic and not only gave us quite a lot to think about, in particular about the need to consider whether what we do has 'artistic merit' but also where we can go to research more about the laws applying to our art within each State.
One of the things I'm thinking about now is whether I move from being a 'burlesque performer' to a 'burlesque artist' (or 'artiste', as burlesque artist sounds like I draw burlesquers, which of course I do at Dr Sketchy's classes, but you know what I mean). I don't think this would be too far a stretch especially with my Russian Dolls act but also my plans to use my dusty old broadcast journalism skills to make burlesque short films.....so this is something on my 'things to ponder' list.
Next it was the Keynote Address by the fantastic Dee Milo (who I'll tell you more about on Thursday) accompanied by a really yummy sandwich that I seriously needed. Dee is pretty amazing, an absolutely gorgeous person inside and out and it was lovely to hear her talk about what performing was like in the 50s and 60s.
In the afternoon I packed in 2 more classes, each one presented by absolutely top notch teachers who you could see totally adore what they do and their passion for their subjects was just infectious.
Commedia Dell Arte: The Great Grandmother of Burlesque with Ol' Scratch was not only a absolutely fascinating theatre history lesson (what can I say I'm a burlesque nerd) but also provided tons of practical advice and activities to use the form in our burlesque routines. This was possibly one of the best classes I went to all weekend, and that's saying something as I don't think I went to one class that wasn't spot on. Without a doubt I'm going to be experimenting with everything I learnt and trying to put it into practice to try and improve my communication with the audience.
On a side note I'm going to have to find out more about something called Gilligan Island which kept getting mentioned - I'm told it's a 60s American tv show, but apparently it's pretty influential. Oh and I need to find out who Mr Rogers is, who was mentioned in the next class I went to...
I'm always interested in anything I can learn about putting the funny into my acts and love studying the greats like Chaplin, Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Will Hay, The Marx Brothers, Morecambe and Wise, Norman Wisdom, Lucille Ball, Monty Python, Carry On, The Young Ones, Rowan Atkinson, and thousands of others....yes, you can see I'm a great fan of physical humour, so it was fab to get a reminder and some new points to consider in this class.
(And if you're at all interested on what makes things funny, you should watch Rowan Atkinson's Laughing Matters which sadly isn't available on video anymore, but you can find it in several part on youtube - here's part 1).
Then with a million and one ideas flying around my head I popped back to my hotel room for a couple of hours to prepare for the peer reviews session.
Would an American audience would get my dalek act, or if they didn't know the reference would they still find enough within the act to find it funny?
Well you know that's going to have to be a story for tomorrow don't you? ;)
By the way, if you're interested the other classes I didn't get to during the afternoon were Stage Combat with Clayton Hibbert and Twisted Monk (which sounded like a scream from all those who attended it), Theatre Staging Techniques for Burlesque with Waxie Moon, Leg Show with Michelle L'amour, Performance Art Burlesque with Darlinda Just Darlinda, Living My Life with Dee Milo, Creating a Show Budget with Ol' Scratch, Walks and Rhythm with Sydni Deveraux, Make-up with Ben De La Creme (a totally 'sold-out' class I want to do next year), Producing 101 with Burgundy Brixx, Basic BQ Contracts with Elizabeth Ricks, Turns and Transitions with Pyra Sutra, Beginning Fans with Michelle L'amour, The Three Foot Balloon with Rand the Vampire, Pin Up Hair for Burly Girls with Miss Kitty Baby and 'End Stave' Held Boa Fans and Isis Wings with Rand the Vampire.....I tell you, there is so much stuff that you HAVE to come to BurlyCon 2011 if you've even the slightest desire to up your game as a burlesque performer!
To be continued...