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 A freaky spear carrier - Sounds - January 16, 1971

 A freaky

I SUPPOSE everyone has a mental image of what a TV or film studio is going to be like - cameras lumbering around like baby elephants, thick cables lying all over the floor, lights, and hundreds of people dashing around importantly giving orders and counter-orders — but I didn't expect my exaggerated images of the principal characters in the charade to be so close to the Real thing.

Spending a day at a BBC TV rehearsal can be extremely tiresome, and much of Wednesday last week was, but the tedium was somewhat enlivened by the mould-cast studio characters — not so much the actors, but the people who make up the studio cast.

The director was just as I'd imagined him to be: playing his part to perfection he stormed around the set going into paroxisms of "super, well-done, just right" "when something was good, and screaming at the extras, the floor manager, his assistant, or the lighting man when somebody missed a cue. Even, his costume was perfect — hippie shirt, baggy trousers tucked into suede boots, and a little beard.

The floor manager scurried around with his book and his ear plug, looking more than slightly harassed, calling out "Come on everybody, quiet now, sshhhh, come on, right, applause now, that's it, lovely" and things like that at every available moment, and echoing the director's every whim:

"Where's Julian?"
"Come on everybody, where's Julian?"
(A voice) "He's gone to put his beard on."
"He's gone to... who said Julian could go and put his beard on?"
"Oh yes, it's all right. I said Julian could go and put his beard on."

Other people were leaping about playing their parts to perfection as well, and if they televised the scenes in the studio rather than the play - the first episode of a new "Take Three Girls" series — they were making, I'm sure it would be immensely popular.

In the midst of it all, Robert Wyatt who plays a freaky avant garde drummer, was looking bemused and rather lost. Very roughly, the story of the play concerns a new one of the 'Three Girls" who is a journalist, goes to interview an avant garde composer (played by Robert's brother, Julian Glover), pans him in, an article, and he loses his arts council grant.

He gets his revenge and makes a fool of her in public by distorting her image as she distorted his, and in the end we are all supposed to think "poor girl, nasty freaky composer." In fact, it seems rather a silly play, another uncomprehending piece of TV trivia.

Robert, who describes his part as "one of the spear carriers in the avant garde army" as opposed to the trendy straight army, is supposed to sit around playing spontaneous music on cue.

"The whole thing depends on the audience identifying with the girl who starts off ambitious therefore bitchy, and ends up vulnerable, therefore romantic — or that's how they see it,", he said during a break in rehearsals.

"By the end, you realise that the guy who wrote the play just doesn't care about the composer, all he's interested in is the three dumb chicks. I suppose it is stupid to get so serious about it but underneath all the superficial layers I can't help feeling that there is something serious at stake."

There is indeed something serious at stake, and the confrontation portrayed superficially in the play happens all the time between artists and the public, but I suppose it would be asking a bit too much of a series like "Take Three Girls" to go veru deeply into it.

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