As it was, I got to enjoy a fight between two South Station workers this morning which led to one of the guys actually leaping over the Customer Help kiosk desk and chasing the other into the back. I'm pretty sure both worked there. At least one did. The desk-jumper looked like he had a blue uniform on.
This weekend was very enjoyable. "Havoc over Holowood", the second RED SHIFT appearance at Arisia, went over pretty well. We had about the same crowd numbers as last year and the same appreciative audience type as last year. The laughs ranged from warm to outright applause, especially regarding a certain Portal joke which snuck in there at the last minute. It is always so good to hear reactions from anywhere within that spectrum. Neil surprised me with his soundscape for the entire episode, creating amazing composites and inserting exciting chase scene music when I least expected it (at least he sprung that surprise on us during our last rehearsal, so we could all just lose it and regroup.) The centerpiece was a particularly lovely effect he created on the basis of one effects cue that, barring spoilers, went something like this:
/SFX/ BOTH EXPLODE (VERY MESSY)He got the "very messy" down, all right. And prolonged. But just right. And the following line capped it all. It was a lovely moment, and I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to work with one hell of a talented tech director.
My cast was wonderful and, as I knew, were able to quickly adapt to the material and capably bring forth characters that were just right for what was needed. Granted, RS is broad parody, as broad as the broad side of Mae West broad, so the characters are easy enough caricatures to bring forth. But half the fun, as we all know, lies in the delivery. The burlesque-within-a-show was an absolute hoot and every bit over-the-top melodramatic as it needed to be. The good news for those from Points Beyond is that there will be recordings of the show available Very Soon Now. Neil recorded the show and this year the material came out just fine, so watch this spot for a link or two at some point this week. Maybe tonight, I dunno. I hafta listen to them first.
Following RED SHIFT was, like last year, SECOND SHIFT (no relation) and while the two styles of shows could not be any more dissimilar, I found it interesting we both focused our presentations on storytelling. As I may have mentioned last year, Second Shift does a wonderful job of bringing compelling characters without resorting to stereotypes: the football jock in the story is also a big D&D fan, for one, but what I really like is the fact that the three humans in the story, while trapped in a strange land with strange customs, logic and actual magic, do not spend all their time actively questioning or trying to deny the existence of such. Sure, they want to get home, that's the first goal, but from what I've heard so far, once the initial culture shock subsides, never do the three stubbornly cling to their universe's rules or make assumptions that their new world works just the old. (Compare that to the wretched DINOTOPIA miniseries, where one character, faced with a crowd of exotically-dressed peasant-types, rudimentary technology and CGI dinosaurs, goes "HAY ANYBODY GOT A CELLPHONE?" or "FOOD? YAY! I'LL HAVE A CHEESEBURGER!" This only serves as a chance for their native guide/friend to say "We have no such things as cheez-borgors here..." and provide extra exposition.)
Where Red Shift enjoys trotting out the cliches, strapping them to the rack and stretching them to extremes, Second Shift neatly sidesteps around them. I mean, their episode for Arisia 2008 could very well have been termed a "flashback episode", a handy cop-out that's usually used in television when you've got 23 minutes to fill and footage from the past three seasons just begging to be shown again (a broken elevator or closed bank vault also helps to give the characters reason to reminisce while they wait for rescue.)
But Second Shift's flashbacks were different and entertaining in that they actually harkened back to events that had never happened in the series which provided retroactive character development and backstory for quite a few of the characters, especially showing how certain relationships, for good or slightly atagonistic, began or were nurtured. By the end of it, you had a great sense of the characters involved even if you had never heard 'em before, and you didn't have to listen to the origin story again (which they performed last year.) The cast also seamlessly shifted back and forth from "present day" to flashback simply by stepping far back enough from the mics to isolate those involved. Heck, some segues happened in the middle of lines. Good stuff.
I enjoy working up to a production like this and I even enjoy the rush on the Day Of, even if it meant hollering at the cat at 10 in the morning for "being in the way." (Well, he was. He just dint knowed it.) If you're good you can ride the high all the way past presentation and out until dinner -- and, once again, I was up on the radio drama producers' panel and I managed to completely babble out some kind of answer to one of the questions regarding imagination and listeners and oh god I can't remember it is all a blank. I still have to learn how not to babble and instead how to actually finish a thought once I'm a minute and a half into it.
But we seem to have gone done good, so I can't wait to share the good stuff with everybody. There just won't be any panel discussions afterwards.