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Northampton UK
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Profile of KerryJK
I thought you all might get a kick out of this;

I've a show booked on the 3rd of June that will be a showreel taping for the lounge/acoustic side of my act with live grand piano accompaniment. Rehearsals for the gig are going great, but as expectation builds at the venue, which is only a small room, I'm worried there might not be enough space for my original choice of final escape (100 foot rope), so it was back to good old fashioned SJ. The thing is, I usually do the SJ escape to an industrial rock version of "I Want To Break Free" and didn't know if that would carry well with piano accompaniment. Then it hit me; why not segue said song from a melodramatic old-style poetic monologue, allowing for the volunteer who straps me in to be a part of something theatrical rather than just doing the donkey work.
So here I present for you the second draft of the Ballad of Mary Jones, minus the piano accompaniment (which you'll have to imagine), presenting numerous self explanatory cues for my audience volunteer, who will take the role of Mary's villainous Father with myself of course in the title role. I only offer mild apologies for rhyming "aplomb" with "strong". Oh, and in case you're wondering, my Posey is dyed violet with green trim, hence the references to those colours.

Mary Jones was a simple lass, but fair as fair can be
Promised to a rich man, yet her heart could not agree
Long she yearned to wander free, her true love to pursue
But her Father would have none of this, and this is what he’d do

He bought for her a coat, of violet and of green
With sleeves of finest canvas, buckles of brightest sheen
“No more shall you defy my will”, he bellowed with aplomb
And tugged hard on the canvas straps to show that they were strong

“Nay, nay, you brute!” decried the lass, “I shan’t bow to your whim!”
Her Father just responded with a laugh cold, dark and grim
“Enough of your temerity, I’ll have no cheek from you!
Into the jacket you shall go, and held fast by it too!”

He fastened up the buckles on the back from high to low
Seeing that each buckle was fastened tight as he did go
This done, from twixt her legs he grabbed the strap there dangling free
Pulled it hard across her rear and buckled it firmly

Finally he took her arms, thus far free, but alack!
He pulled them tight across her chest and round towards the back
He yanked them hard with all his might, secured them tight and neat
And to wild applause from all who watch, he bowed, and took his seat.

Alas, so wronged, poor Mary Jones was left to cry alone
Her heart’s desire frustrated by her Father’s heart of stone
But not for long her tears would shed, for Mary’s soul was strong
And as she started forth to mend her lot, she began to sing this song;

I want to break free (etc..)
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Profile of Kondini
Now I have seen it all!!!
A Poet EA!!!
What can I say,
What a Gay Day,
Hip Hip Hooray,
Can I come out to play?

Well it sure is different,,,,love to know how it`s received (Audience type,age,etc would be interesting).

You could be on to something big,,,,well look at what a frog can do for mobile phones.

Best of luck,,,you sure have some bottle,,,,,respect.
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Profile of Roslyn
You creative little soul Smile
I really hope it works out. I would especially love to see the video footage of you doing this.
You certainly have more balls than most..... and your names Helen?!?!?!?!

The Magic Cafe account of The Conwy Jester, Erwyd le Fol formerly known as Roslyn Walker.
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Profile of x-treem
Glad to see a fellow poet out there. It has been my "closet secret" for years. I have a pen name and have been published in several books and magazines.

Anyway, this is NOT about me, it is about Helen, way to go, what great creativity, I've never had the gall to work any of my stuff into a routine but have thought about it. Again wonderful stuff.
A direct from text adaptation : The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Starring Mickey Rooney in his final role.
Mind Freak
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I love poetry in motion Smile

Harry Murphy
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You go girl! Er…guy…OK, you rock Helen! I liked it and was reciting it to some old tunes I had going. It played well. Have fun; I know your audience will!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
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Haha.. sounds great Helen Smile
David Victor - The artist formally (and still occasionally) known as David Straitjacket.

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Allan Given
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That is awesome! Way to go Helen! I can't wait to hear how it goes!

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Northampton UK
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Profile of KerryJK
Thanks all! Smile

The audience for this is educated (dare I say middle class) adults, of whom Leeds has many, who will love the amateur dramatics aspect of this. I wouldn't do it to an audience of bikers, but then that's the point of having the two different shows.

I'll be selecting some video footage to put on the site as well as on the showreel, if this goes as I'm hoping I'll include it.

As for the balls aspect; coming up with weird gimmicks is more or less what I do, the reaction I fear most is no reaction. I'd rather die on my arse but cause comment than have people go, "meh, it was OK".
Performing as a character goes a long way to alieviating stage fright because the character can do things you'd never dare do yourself. Also, when performing as yourself, when audiences crap on you it's hard not to take it personally, having a character to take the fall instead eases a lot of that pressure.
Ms. Morgan
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Helen, that's a blast! You have a wicked wit, sir!

Do you plan to do it live or will you do a pre-recorded voiceover? You must be doing it live otherwise you'd lose a lot of the "theatre" of it. Wondering?

World Magic Award's "Escape Artist of the Year"
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Northampton UK
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Profile of KerryJK
Yes, it's all live - it's a totally acoustic lounge-type gig I wrote it for (just myself and the venue's resident pianist with no pre-recorded content), so old school melodrama seemed the way to go. Part of it will be read by the audience volunteer I get up to strap me in (who plays the villainous father), so it will be quite stoppy-starty with verbal cues and dialogue in between, not to mention allowing time for the volunteer to actually do up all the straps; for this reason I dropped out the piano accompaniment for the main verse, cueing the piano to come in at the end for the song.
Harley Newman
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It's just beautiful!

Have one person read it, and another strap it. That way, there are two people with their hands full.

Or have two people read it, with the lines done in different colors so they don't get confused. Have each read one part. It would also leave you free to do the nice kinds of acting that go along with being strapped in.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain
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Northampton UK
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Profile of KerryJK
Harley, that's a great idea, thanks! Smile I could have someone as narrator, someone as villain, and myself of course as damsel.

The only problem there is that I'll need to work a bit harder to co-ordinate and play off two people instead of one with lines ping ponging back and forth (though this could actually be quite fun if I set them up as trying to upstage each other). I'll also need to adapt the line that cues them to take a bow and return to their seats, so I can finish the routine alone.
Tony S
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Helen - this is very creative. I love to hear of people testing the boundaries and trying new things. I'm sure this will go over very well with your audience. It may even be worth trying in front of bikers. They might get a kick out of it! Good luck and let us know how it goes.
We are all about as successful as we choose to be.
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Northampton UK
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Profile of KerryJK
I did a test run of this routine at an open mike night last night, apart from a few bits of pacing that I can now fix in time for tomorrow night's show it went well. The audience got into the pantomime audience participation aspect and volunteer I chose was great in his role, although he was >really< loose in tightening the arm straps so I had to work hard to sell that part of the escape. I'm wondering if I hurried him a bit too much in getting them done up within three lines of poetry, or it could also be that he was just sympathetic and thought he was helping me out. Simple to fix.. I'll space it out a lot more at that point with particular attention to the key words of "tight and neat", "with all his might" and so forth.
Houdini man
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Good Luck Helen, I'm sure it will go great!


The only thing that spererates genius from insanity is success.
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Northampton UK
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Profile of KerryJK
Good news and bad news;

Good news, the routine went pretty much to perfection this evening. The pacing went well, the volunteer did a fantastic job of both getting into the role and actually strapping me in and the audience response was terrific. This routine is definitely going to be a staple of my future shows.

Bad news; the lighting in the venue wasn't too good, affecting camera footage, and during this routine the camera slipped out of focus just as the straightjacket was strapped into place, so while I have footage of the routine the bits involving the actual straightjacket escape are only visible as a vague blur. Looks like I'll have to be shooting this routine again if I want it for my showreel. Smile

I've posted a WMV file of the routine, but it's quite a large file (it's about 6 minutes long so weighs in at just under 5mb) and involves watching a blurred shape doing something that is apparently a SJ escape. In truth the best I can promise is that it'll let you hear the routine and the audience's reaction to it. If all this is understood and you still want to see it, the url is
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Profile of pastorclyde

Even the portion that was out of focus was still very enjoyable! Great fun! Thanks for sharing it!

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