Saturday, January 07, 2012

Pillow Talk!

Last month I had the privilege of playing a part in my first flash mob.

It was an event organised by the RSC and the production company Dusthouse, to help in the making of a trailer to promote the Royal Shakespeare Theatre's forthcoming production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.

The basic idea of the trailer would be to illustrate the central theme of the battle of the sexes by way of allowing volunteers to indulge in a pillow fight. I caught wind of the details via the Internet during a Friday lunch hour and with very little time to organise myself, I ran off to BHS, purchased my weapon of choice (a fairly plump and sturdy pillow), and after work had finished, made my way to the "battlefield", or as it is more commonly known... The Royal Shakespeare Theatre".
The Gathering

When you are doing something that seems a little nuts, there is always a gut wrenching fear that you will be the only person who shows up... and that even if you do, you will be the only person above a certain age with the audacity and level of shamelessness required to make a very public fool of yourself. I needn't have worried, as I turned the corner from Bridge Street into Waterside I observed a whole host of people starting to gather outside the theatre as the allotted time drew nigh. 

Apparently even the carefree and playful tradition of the pillow fight is not immune to the banal, frustrating red tape and bureaucratic spectre of health and safety; names were taken and pledges not to hurt anyone (much), were made. We also signed our lives away... if someone took our head or arm off in mortal combat, the RSC would not be legally accountable. Having said that, the bureaucracy did enable us to tally the number of combatants... which apparently exceeded 100.

The Face Off
It wasn't just a free-for-all and obviously we needed to be organised in such a fashion as to create a narrative for the trailer. We all arranged ourselves in a semicircle and looked on with several of the supporting cast as the fog of war descended and the two lead actors - David Caves and Lisa Dillon, scowled at each other menacingly one on one in a high noon fashion.

Once the main shoot concluded, we were promised several minutes of man versus woman unbridled chaos... but in true Monty Python fashion... not until the director blew his whistle. We seized the opportunity with both hands as the raw footage in the video below more than adequately demonstrates. At one point I found myself fending off four girls at once... something I never thought I'd say in life (heh heh). The feathers flew as blow after blow were traded and the mist blew in across the field of battle... well, dry ice anyway! Once the whistle sounded everybody jubilantly threw their pillows in the air in celebration... and then strolled off in unison to grab a well earned beverage.

The event received coverage in several major media outlets including BBC News and The Spectator. One photo in particular had the image of a very familiar figure clumsily throwing his weight around whilst berserking with his pillow. Yes if you glance over to the left, that is indeed me looking like a London rioter and locked in mortal combat.

So why am I blogging about this now? Well, The Taming of the Shrew is due for release at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on January 19th; the trailer has been uploaded and you can now see our handiwork and polished fighting skills in glorious technicolour. The finished article is available to watch below:

If you are interested in booking tickets to see the play, you can do so by following this link. If you are interested in knowing more about the production,  member of the cast has taken to blogging her own experiences behind the scenes and you can read her thoughts here. I should add that I am not an employee or in any way affiliated with the RSC... I just wanted to give back a little in the way of recognition, following an event that gave me a ridiculous amount of fun... and a great way to offload the stress of the working week on a Friday night. Personally I think we should do these kind of things in life more often.

So, when was the last time you took part in a pillow fight?

What would it take to get you involved in one?

What crazy unexpected promotional  things have you found yourselves involved in?

If you have an answer to any of the above, or if you want to pass a comment on the gratuitous violence... do share it with me and send me a comment.

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