GREETINGS FROM SOUTH AFRICA!
Hello there to all our friends around the world!
Firstly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for all the messages of support and encouragement which arrive in our in-box and on facebook every day. Your wishes have been really welcome during this busy time. I am acutely aware that my blogging activities are one-sided at the moment. Please accept my apologies. I am simply posting up our news - as time allows.
As many of you know (but for the sake of new readers), we are in the midst of the production week for Toby's stage debute, in the musical
Five performances are currently being staged at the UJ Theatre in Johannesburg. If you have missed my blogposts in the past week, please scroll down to previous posts to see some stunning pictures and read their stories.
It's a really special time for me - months of hard work finally paying off - and I am so wanting my friends in cyberspace to share this experience with me.
Please bear with me. I will try to catch up on your blogs when this is all over.
(Above: Toby in his dressing room back stage, between scenes)
Toby appears in four scenes in this production.
The first scene is the most difficult of them all. In this scene - the "Tomorrow" scene, Toby is on stage for approximately 4 minutes.
As with all live performances, every night is different. For a dog, this means that things are constantly changing and he is having to adapt and rely heavily on his security factors - namely Shannon and me in the wings. Actors vary their positions each time they go on stage, using different hand gestures too. Moods/Ambience is changing constantly. The audience's responses vary and their participation and contribution to a dog's paradigm may create immense stress for the dog.
Toby, however, absolutely LOVES the stage!
Maybe he loves it too much?
At this point - past the half-way mark for production week - he has realised that his trainers will never be accompanying him onstage. In his mind, this is starting to indicate 'freedom', so now he relies heavily on the actor's ownership of him and the muted efforts from his handlers in the wings.
Basically, he is...
on his own!
I would imagine that many dogs would react differently to this knowledge.
Toby, however, is thriving in the limelight. He is so comfortable and happy on stage. He has taken to breaking his down-stays, but only at the places that he doesn't have Annie's focussed attention. He's obviously decided to exercise his own flair in his ad-libbed walkabouts.
Thankfully, it looks innocent and part of the scene...usually!
Last night too, he became accutely aware of his food bowl which is being handled by the stage hands in the wings. His food bowl is enticingly adorned with peanut butter - to be used during the scene which follows the 'tomorrow' scene. i.e. The next scene.
"Do I check out where my bowl is, or don't I?", he might ask.
Well, to a dog, the answer lies in the reward which is offered for his choice.
After a few inappropriate barks, he finally decided to leave the stage in my direction and not his food bowl's.
From an audience perspective, the scene went well. From a training perspective, we would have scored it at 50%.
His second scene - his 'FOOD' scene - obviously went marvellously...90%
(Well done, Toby!)
His third scene - the 'Send-away' - by himself, on stage?....95%
(Well done, Toby!)
The fourth and final scene - in the hectic finale was his absolute best and had me laughing in relief...
Well over 100%!
(Excellent work, Toby!)
Toby produced the most stunning stage bow imaginable!
With Annie in command, he trotted down the isle of singing and dancing cast members. His tail was wagging, his head held high and then, after a brief pause, he rose up slightly on his hind legs and took a
onto the floor.
It was highly amusing - to say the least - and, most certainly, eliminated our temptations to strangle him after the first scene, earlier in the performance.
Only two performances remain - tonight and Saturday evening's Gala performance.
What an amazing experience this has been!
I've put together a short video of Toby in one of the rehearsals for the 'Tomorrow' scene...
If, for some reason, you cannot view this video, please click:
Sending lotsaluv from me and lotsalicks from Toby,