Saturday 19th April saw the first showing of some of the new act is the 2008 line up in the Second Life traveling variety show “The Show Must Go On” and it was not only a great success, but a whole lot of fun for audience and performers alike!
Opening to the stand-up of Alonso the Robot, the audience were treated to SL’s first ever ventriloquist act before being entertained the beautiful desert dance of Alazi; the comedy of Lucy; Cooking with Margaux and her hapless assistant, Raoul; the death-defying cycling of the Synchronised Knitters Precision Unicycle Drill Team; Caitlin’s stunning roller-skating fan dance; Madam Crème Caramel’s Amazing Trained Humans; and the unique talents of the Cellophane Dance Troupe – all interwoven with the high-energy antics of Alba the acrobat!
Behind the scenes, yours truly was plunged into a new and exciting world of stage cues, curtain calls and quick costume changes. It is staggering how much work goes into putting on a live show in Second Life. Not only must artists be recruited, acts developed, rehearsals organised and, finally, shows booked. And then the nerves kick in as the real hard work of putting on a show begins.
My part in The Show Must Go On started as a small one. I was to be a non-speaking stunt bottom in a cheeky (warning, all puns intended) skit on a cooking show where I played the largely naked dumb-but-pretty toyboy with a lecherous TV cook. In no time at all, I found myself roped into dancing with the Cellophane Troupe, acting as the dummy in the ventriloquist act and even standing in as Murph the shocked boyfriend in a comedy sketch. Suddenly I was in up to my neck and feeling very much out of my depth!
Thankfully the other performers were both patient and experienced so helped me through my initial rehearsals, still it was one hell of a learning curve, I can tell you! The sheer amount of planning and organisation that goes behind a show is staggering. The actors must get to the theatre early (but not too early to avoid crashing mid-show due to memory leak issues SL has) and run through all their ‘costume’ changes – this pre-loads all the textures of the various clothes and skins into cache and makes subsequent changes quicker. All animations and gestures must be activated and tested as this help them respond on cue later on when anything that can improve speed is a life-saver because lag quickly builds up as the audience arrive. Talking out loud is not allowed once the show starts as to do so would fill the audience’s chat window with confusing stage directions, rather like going to a real life theatre only to hear the stage manager shouting over the actors throughout. Instead everything is handled in group IM, and let me tell you it’s a seat-of-the-pants way to communicate as SL often causes them to fail indiscriminately.
Given all this as well as various crashes and logging issues and sim-strain, it’s a nail-biting affair throughout. To a casual observer, the back stage world of The Show Must Go On must seem like a strange, silent ballet of ever changing avatars and moving scenery, seemingly without plan or purpose, but to the performers it a dizzying fandango of very well organised chaos that rattles the nerves thrills to the very core.
The audience loved our first show so it’s with great joy that I can confirm that the show’s organisers will be announcing more dates later on this year – I will, of course, let you know when you too can watch this amazing and truly unique spectacle.
1) The Show Must Go On website.
2) The Show Must Go On on my blog.
3) The Show Must Go On on Osprey Therian’s blog.
4 ) The Show Must Go On on Enjah Mysterio’s blog.
5) The Show Must Go On on Janey Bracken’s blog.
6) The Show Must Go On on Molly Montale’s flickr.