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An interview with myself about ‘The Sound of a Social Climbing Nun’

Were you happy with ticket sales?

Overall yes. Despite two days of bizarre winter weather, on average we were 85% full. Small independent shows like mine don’t normally do as well as that at Fringe World in Perth. I’ve seen some very good shows from talented artists with mostly empty seats.

Although my target audience was the over 30s, younger people also came and seemed to enjoy it.

Were you pleased with your performance?

I don’t know if any artist is ever 100% pleased with their performance. There are always ways in which to improve. I’m still learning things like when to milk a laugh and when to move on.

What did people think of your singing?

Whenever I was asked whether I’d be singing, I’d say not really, but rather that music would be playing, I’d be opening my mouth and sounds were going to come out. I thought that if I made people laugh, my singing wouldn’t have to be that good. So I was a little surprised to get some compliments about my voice. Though one friend might have damned it with faint praise when she told me: ‘You only sang two flat notes.’

What parts of the show went down the best?

The comment about Rizzo in Grease being the most deluded person in musicals always got big laughs, even before I explained why. My description of my actual meeting with Julie generally got even more. Then there was ‘Edelweiss’, which the 550-odd people who saw the show may never take seriously again.

Were there bits you’d remove if you did it again?

Don’t you mean – when I do it again?

I’d cut a few lines here and there, particularly in the section about what Julie did to get over The Sound of Music.

I’d think carefully about the dark explanation of why Maria suddenly left the manor house. I like comedy to have an edge, but maybe it didn’t quite gel with the much lighter tone of the rest of the piece.

On the other hand, the theory of Maria being murdered and eaten by cannibals was fine because it was so over-the-top to be taken seriously. I doubt that there were too many victims of cannibalism in the audience.

How well could you see the audience?

Pretty clearly, which was great. It was better to see smiling faces than blinding lights. With some of the longer gags, I liked to see the penny gradually dropping with different people.

Audiences really liked the performing space (configured differently here).

People said you looked very natural up there on stage. How did you do it?

It takes a lot of practice to look that natural! It wasn’t just the written words. I had to remember the order of 363 slides. The key was learning my material well enough, and then some, so I could have fun with it. In her memoirs, Julie Andrews said that an amateur practices until he gets it right, but a professional practices it until he can’t get it wrong. I’ve tried to take that extra step, though no amount of rehearsal ever seems to be enough.

Did you enjoy handing out flyers to strangers in Northbridge?

Absolutely not! I felt like an ageing streetwalker. It was so demoralising when people knocked them back, or didn’t look at all interested. Another performer made me feel better when he said that he never flyered in Perth because we’re just not really into it here. An ice cream from Cold Rock, with cookie dough and a Cadbury flake mashed in, also helped.

The one time I found it OK to flyer was when Sharon from Canada introduced me at the end of her street shows. I had her approval, so people were happy to take stuff from me then.

How important was it to lose weight for the show?

Perhaps not as important as last year, when I took off my shirt! My body is never going to sell a performance, but I knew that the audience would be spending an hour looking at me, and I thought I should appear as good as I reasonably could. That involved more gym and walking and less chocolates, though I think I stressed a lot of it away.

I don’t think I’m quite as low as that now!

What did you do after a performance?

I always stayed back and talked to people who’d seen it. I could do that because I was at a bar, with no other shows on that night. Most other Fringe performers have to get out of the venue as soon as possible, to make way for the next show that may be starting in as early as 20 minutes.

And after that?

I normally uploaded photos for my blog and Facebook, and did some posts. I was usually too exhausted to do anything exciting. One night I did my laundry. Sometimes I watched a few episodes of Sex and the City.

What were the most affirming things for you?

Hard to say.

Some friends arranged for groups of people I didn’t know to take a chance on my show.

Five different friends flew to Perth from over east, because it was on and they wanted to see it.

Chris from Sydney saw it twice!

There was also a friend from England, though much as I’d like to think she specially visited Perth for it, I think she was already coming!

So what’s next?

Stay tuned! There are many ideas in my head at the moment! I want to repeat my 2016 show My Argentina: Learning Spanish and Loving Thatcher. It could do with a couple of songs. At some stage, I’d like to perform both shows out of WA. And create a new one. And work on my blog. Then there’s my board game. I’m overdue a visit to Argentina …

2 thoughts on “An interview with myself about ‘The Sound of a Social Climbing Nun’

  • Louise Mortiss February 19, 2017 at 3:46 pm Reply

    I loved it! Definitely worth the flight from “Over East”.


  • Jan March 19, 2017 at 2:31 pm Reply

    Just loved it…and if it was pretentious…then so be it…I like pretentious …it was all you, Michael…just fabulous.
    All is well here. Still working from home to fund my overseas trips…next one is London in September…then Wales to see my ageing rellies, (not that I am ageing)…then New York…then cruise to Quebec (bucket list)…then Mexico …then Hawaii (to rest up…who is ageing?)…then a week in Sydney to visit friends and Matt before home…hope you are well..(you certainly look it)…see you will be off to Argentina again, soon ???
    Love you muchly.. Jan xx

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Michael from Perth

A unique view of the strange and spectacular world through the eyes of Michael from Perth