Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Two: Sinbad’s Arabian Nights


I didn’t really want to be a housewife when I grew up (or a homemaker or a stay-at-home-parent, which are nicer words).  I didn’t want to do the cooking or the cleaning and I don’t think I particularly wanted kids either.  The Understanding of having children leapt straight from getting married to being a grandparent, because I had parents and grandparents and they were the only adults I knew about so I thought you just graduated from child to spouse to grandparent simply by aging.  I was so little that I didn’t go to school yet, and because The Mother was a housewife at that time I didn’t have any other frame of reference.  I wanted to be a housewife because I didn’t want anything to change.  I couldn’t handle change—I was heartbroken when Dot on Playbus changed to a different woman.  I hated it when I started school.  I hated it when I had to stay at school for lunch.  I stayed at home and I always wanted to.  In the same home.  Forever.  So when people first started to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had no answer, I knew no options, because I was already what I wanted to be.

Which is exactly WHY I needed to go to school.

So, the magic of theatre…  The most literal of the magic moments I was telling you about yesterday was the first.  The first that I can remember, anyway. 

Sinbad’s Arabian Nights

This was The First Trip to the theatre alone, by which I mean ‘sans parents’.  This presumably means I had been to the theatre with them previously but I guess I was too young to appreciate it. 

This was a Brownie trip, so I was somewhere between the ages of 7 and 10, probably nearer the younger end of that spectrum.  It was probably at the Nuffield Theatre, and it was probably a Christmas show, facts I am assuming because the Brownies used to go to the Nuffield to see a Christmas show

In fact by typing some of these words into Google I have discovered there was a pantomime at the Nuffield called Sinbad’s Arabian Nights in 1992.  I’m guessing that’s the show.  Thanks IMDb.

So I’d have been about eight, I guess.

I don’t know how much the show actually had to do with Arabian Nights, but I’ve always felt fondly towards that story of stories ever since.  Sinbad was the main character.  I don’t remember much about him except that he wore a turban and I was completely in love with him. 
He may or may not have looked anything like this vague splodge of colours.
All I can remember nearly twenty-two years later is that the plot was something to do with Sinbad and his two brothers/friends (one of whom I’m pretty sure was Aladdin) who were all morons being conned into buying some rubbish (a la the magic beans, except in these cases it was a magic healing apple (possibly), a flying carpet and an orb of being able to see people who are far away (or in need of help, or something)) from some con artists but later on these things actually becoming real so they used them to save a princess (or some woman anyway). 

I remember vividly that when the orb was fake, the con artist used a sock puppet inside it (which was hilarious) and when it became real, a FACE calling for help appeared inside it which I can only assume was done by MAGIC.

I was young and easily impressed, I can remember the noise of other children in the audience, their gasps of delight, as the magic carpet took off even if it quickly became clear it was a raised platform surrounded by dry ice.

I can also remember later seeing Sinbad without his turban and being disappointed.  The First Taste of the difference between character and actor (and the continuing saga of how I can’t recognise people if they change their hair).

I still don’t know how they did that magic orb thing.  If it was TV, they’d add that kind of effect in later, so how the hell did they do it live in front of me?  Some kind of projection, of some sort, that was totally convincing in the early nineties.  It must have been magic after all.

And even if Sinbad did look vastly different with curly hair rather than a turban, and I don’t remember anything else about him at all, I’d still marry him today.

What was your first theatrical experience?

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