Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Arrested Develpoment

Adopt a low-pitch Bronx accent, and a hard ‘Mitchell brothers’ stare.
“You’re a little late, but business is business.
You’re a little late, but business is business.
You’re a little late, but business is business.”
These lines are taken from a musical in which I was involved at ‘workshop’ stage. Each time the sentence was spoken, the rest of us were directed to dive underneath the tables we were sitting at/perched on/hanging close to. Each time. Which meant we had to scramble back up again immediately, twice in succession, until the final time when we remained crushed and entangled beneath the tables. No-one in the cast understood what dramatic purpose was being served as we hurled ourselves to the floor for the third time, blood rushing to our heads, and knees ricocheting off table legs/the floor/other people (delete where appropriate) as we admired the chewing gum art on the undersides of the tables and tried not to giggle at the way Ben’s hair had got stuck in Simon’s shirt buttons in the melee. We’ve all heard of the ‘rule of three’ but this show was far too earnest for any comedy to have even sneaked in accidentally, however hard we may have tried (quite hard). Think textbook New York turf war juxtaposed with clichéd gay issues, crank up the angst and you are left with an ensemble piece of, well, wank. All infused with such an air of martyrdom that the audience was left rolling their eyes rather than actually giving a shit. Perhaps I’m being harsh, there were some redeeming features…like…um…one or two tuneful melodies. So write an album! Put on a concert! But don’t ask an audience to invest in some half-arsed underworld story you’ve inexpertly concocted to join the dots of the songs. Please. I mean, you only need to look at We Will Rock You to see how that doesn’t work. Oh. Oh right.

Another notable workshop I was involved in was performed in the Midlands due to the piece’s connection with the area. The reason for its notoriety in my back catalogue of workshops is rather different to the last. The company numbers were boosted by an ensemble choir of Am Drams who, with typical Am Dram arrogance, (we’re basically semi-pro, you know) didn’t even try to hide their pique at not being given lead roles, (we always get glorious write-ups in the Herald) resentment seeping toxically from their pores. In a bold display of professionalism and example-setting, one of the pro actors decided to play the common actor’s game of bringing an object on stage and passing it amongst the cast unbeknownst to the audience. The loser of the game is the actor who ends the show in possession of the object. On this occasion, the object used was a glow in the dark vibrating cock-ring. Purchased the previous evening from a pub vending machine along with a wind-up hopping willy, it had been the source of much amusement on our night out. We certainly got our money’s worth as the hilarity continued throughout the show, each of us in turn subtly passing the cock-ring to the next unsuspecting actor, and like the professionals that we were, without so much as a flicker of our frolic visible on our faces. Well, maybe just a flicker. I wonder what the Herald would have had to say about that.

My workshop involvement has not been quite as extensive as I may have led you to believe but there is nothing more exciting than being part of the development process of something good, and there is equally nothing more frustrating than the opposite. When any criticism, constructive or otherwise, is dismissed with a mere sweep of the writer’s artistic hand and the assertion that their critics have failed to see their vision or some other such nonsense you wonder what the purpose of the workshop actually was. A bitchy tirade against anyone who has the gall to suggest improvements to your beloved creation ain’t gonna do anything for its long term prospects. Obvs.

I saw a workshop for a Peter Pan musical recently, and I mean, really. Do we need another one of those? There are already 17 stage adaptations of Peter Pan (I just googled it), and approximately 16 of those are musicals. There is clearly no gap in the market for musical versions of Peter Pan. Write something else. Go on. For two examples of shows currently in development that in my humble opinion are Getting It Right, look no further than The Mill on the Floss and The MonsterBride. And let it not be said that I am not a champion of the musical workshop, despite compelling evidence to the contrary in this post. 

Now go out there and write a hit. And then cast me in it. Pretty please?

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Class Act

I am not a good teacher. Fact. My experience of the vocation is limited, I grant you, but I was put off for good after teaching a handful of drama classes at my college’s Saturday school. I say ‘classes’, but the sessions were more crèche-like than class-like, uninterested parents palming off their equally uninterested offspring for a few hours’ relief. The fear of commanding the respect and attention of a room full of hyperactive children took me to a stress level far higher than any I reached due to official drama school activities. Five year old boys ran circles around me, smashing studio mirrors and threatening to go into anaphylactic shock upon contact with the slightest morsel of nut dust. OK, that was just the one child, but the very one I could have done without. As well as causing me the greatest concern (his mother would push his Epi-Pen kit into my shaking palm before leaving her son’s life in my incompetent hands) he was also, to put it mildly, the most ill-mannered little boy I have ever met. The 8-10 year olds were an improvement. My classes for this group were based on devising scenes around a given word or action. Never was I more entertained than by three sisters (confusingly named Tina, Nina and Mila) who although of differing ages, refused to be split up into separate classes. One ‘piece’ of theirs culminated in them (with the self-given monikers Phoebe, Rachel and, er, Monica) each simultaneously giving birth whilst up a tree. Constructive feedback not peppered with guffaws was a challenge, to say the least. Almost as challenging as the home-schooled boy who didn’t have a television, understood no topical references and couldn’t bear the noise made by other children.

Less stressful but also significantly less lucrative was manning the Saturday school’s dance clothing stall. This job required very little forethought but did demand that I converse with pushy showbiz mothers. One particular mother was either trying to break down gender stereotypes one bit at a time (unlikely), or had not yet come to terms with the fact that she had given birth to a son and not the daughter she had always wanted (probable). She dressed this son, not in boys’ dancewear but head to toe in pink - leotard, ballet shoes, cardigan, and even - wait for it - a tutu. “He likes to look like all the little girls” she assured me as she handed over her cash and shifted her son from one hip to the other. It didn’t look to me like he was old enough to be able to express such an opinion, but who knows? Perhaps she was just an admirably forward-thinking mother. Perhaps.

My experience of small children had, up until this point, been limited, and it wasn’t just at work that they had been thrust upon me. I was, for my first year at college, living in digs with a young family, and my low rent was to be supplemented with babysitting duties. The two little boys terrorised me from their next door bedroom, calling my name and running away, pushing rubbish under my door and if I so much as left my room for two minutes while they were in a mischievous mood, they would steal my clothes. Or books. Or everything. Aged only five and six, they somehow managed to carry armfuls of my belongings out of my room and into theirs in very small time frames, leaving me to drip bemusedly on my return from the shower as I discovered I had nothing to put on.

I made a bit of extra money in ways not involving children too. There was the standard bar job, where I spent three evenings a week pulling pints and using the dance floor to practice routines, and I was a regular in my Dad’s office over the holidays, but my favourite money-making effort allowed me to ‘work from home’. Occasionally at drama school we had to write an essay. These were pass or fail, so the only real requirement was the minimum word count, but some people just couldn’t seem to bring themselves to put pen to paper. So they paid me to do it. This was before young people had laptops, so I would stretch out in the back garden with notebook and pen, charging a very reasonable £20 per essay. Thankfully I was also very good at disguising my handwriting.

So sadly, I cannot join the droves of actors who supplement their earnings teaching, and I won’t be willing able to cover your class in Berkhamsted next Saturday, but for any essay writing needs, look no further. Although what with inflation and all, l will have to reconsider my rates…

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A-level Playing Field

There was a woman, Amelia, who bore an unfortunate resemblance to Sloth from The Goonies and told us all we had black hearts; a man, Pierre, twenty years our senior, who unknowingly had a habit of miming along to everyone else’s lines on stage; there was Carl, a sleazeball who thought far more of himself than anyone else ever would; Nicola, who had slept with over twenty men before she turned 16 and ‘only got pregnant once’; Colin, an Aikido practitioner and self-taught hypnotist, given to fainting at inopportune moments. There was a supercilious acting coach who clearly felt his ‘talents’ would have been put to better use at RADA, and a bucket load of contemporary dance. There was also a dropout rate of around 60%. So where was I? On a BTEC Performing Arts course at an F.E. college, of course.

So F.E. colleges don’t have the greatest rep. Neither do BTECs.  Particularly Performing Arts BTECs. Their equivalence to two A-levels is snorted at by academics, and anyone with a smattering of GCSE’s is strongly advised by their school to stay on for Sixth Form and take some theory-based A-levels instead. I couldn’t have been less inspired by the prospect of English Literature or Theatre Studies – I was thirsty for practical, vocational experience. I didn’t want to sit around writing essays on Dancing In Lughnasa or the plays of bloody Lorca, I wanted to act in them. OK, so, the Performing Arts BTEC and Drama A-level I took at Oxford College (the only connection to the esteemed university being the student bars they shared) certainly attracted a motley crew, but if nothing else, there was a lesson in character study right there.

This character study was further advanced when the supercilious acting teacher, fancying himself as a bit of a Lee Strasberg, had us all recalling difficult memories from our past. Never in Sixth Form would the stories recounted have included someone presenting the kitchen skewer which she’d got embedded in her throat when using it as a vomit-inducing bulimia aid. Neither I’m sure, would we have heard about someone’s Dad going to prison for an arson attack on a fire station. But then we’d have been too busy comparing and contrasting Hedda Gabler and Three Sisters to have even touched on any practical (if a little dubious) acting techniques.

I did spend a lot of time frustrated with some of my contemporaries, as many had neither aptitude nor inclination for any kind of performance, and were given to disruption, but some of them have become life-long friends, and I wasn’t the only one to eventually make performing my career. As well as the practical acting experience, I also learned some pretty useful stuff. How to use edit suites, make music videos and rig lighting; to use a sound desk and recording studio and, less usefully, to choreograph contemporary dance routines. Only contemporary ones, mind - despite having four dance teachers, we were only ever taught contemporary.  A spot of jazz really wouldn’t have gone amiss.

We did get to tour Italy - well, a small area of Tuscany - with a God-awful Italian play. This should have been the time of our lives, but not only were we staying separately with Italian families with whom we could not converse (and who in my case stole my face creams), we were also sharing the play with an Italian drama class, taking alternating scenes which created a nonsensical mish-mash of English and Italian, our black clothes helping in no way to differentiate the characters, all of whom had about six actors portraying them. The crowning embarrassment was performing in one venue to the esteemed actor Richard Wilson who was persuaded (forcibly I’m sure) to give us some ‘feedback’. Trying to be constructive about the heinous hour and a half we had subjected him to must have been a challenge in itself and I wished nothing more than for the ground to swallow me up. Then again, we did get paid £7.50 each for that show and I am a ‘glass half full’ kind of girl.

The good times resolutely out-weighed the bad, and I got to play, as well as a requisite sister in The House of Bernarda Alba, a wolf, a house (physical theatre, darling) and a vicar. I also fell in love for the first time with a contemporary dancing skateboarder, and pints were only 95p at the Purple Turtle with a (fake) NUS card. So I simply won’t agree with the academia-pushers who crow about the uselessness of F.E. colleges and Performing Arts BTECs, if only for our favourite teacher’s concise lifestyle aphorism which has remained with me ever since, “A good shit is better than bad sex”. Well, quite.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Every Dog Has It's Day

‘Never work with children or animals’ is a well-known showbiz adage, and one with which I can sadly relate. Being the seasoned pantomime performer that I undoubtedly am, I have had the displeasure of working with many children. Most have been charming, a few have been gifted, but some have been a pain in the bottom. The girls (and it is always the girls) will invite themselves into your dressing room when you’re semi-clothed, want cuddles at every opportunity, and even leave messages on your website when you fail to accept their Facebook friend requests. Any young male cast member will feel particularly nervous in these situations as he will be well aware that the girls have his name scrawled all over their school pencil cases. I must admit though, I remember all too well being just as much of a pest myself. I may not have besieged dressing rooms of professional pantos, but I did make a nuisance of myself with a certain sixth former when I was a naïve year 7 and we were both appearing in the school production of Treasure Island. A sucker for a talented man, I was besotted with Andy James, who was a very impressive Billy Bones. I memorised his timetable, plagued him at the swimming pool where he was a lifeguard, painted a shoe box with the words ‘I love Andy’ (in which I kept my ‘Andy’ memorabilia), and no doubt if Facebook had existed back then, I would have sent him a friend request. Or ten. So I can’t roll my eyes at the juvenile chorus in Dick Whittington this year too much.

It was a regional production of Oliver! in which our Bill Sikes was left cursing both children and animals. There were three angelic little Olivers in the production, only one of them wasn’t so little. In fact, he was actually rather podgy (clearly too much gruel had passed his lips). Bill Sikes, when kidnapping Oliver, was required to carry him, and on Chunky Oliver’s nights, Bill would exit the scene red in the face and puffing, sweat glistening on his brow. He took to limbering up in his dressing room prior to Chunky’s shows, and dredging up long-forgotten memories of the manual handling course he had once taken. But this was nothing compared to the trauma inflicted by the nervous Bullseye. The director was overjoyed when, after a long hunt for a suitable hound, a white English Bull Terrier, complete with the black eye patch that Bullseye is so famous for, was tracked down in the nearby area. The fact that the poor pooch had the least stagey temperament imaginable, and would probably have been more at home in a library than on stage, went ignored. When it came to opening night, Bullseye’s eyes were wild with terror and his whole body quaking with stage fright. So afraid was the poor dog, that as Bill dragged him onstage for his first entrance, he promptly lost control of his bowels. Seemingly endless streams of stinking brown fluid ran slowly down the raked stage, heading ominously for the orchestra pit and the horrified musicians within. A hasty entrance by a crew member with a mop was badly disguised as a Dickens-era street cleaner, to the MD’s palpable relief.

Poor old ‘Bill’, it would seem, has been beset with problems involving children, animals and, I’m afraid, excrement, as he also had the misfortune to appear in a production where a member of the ensemble, tickled by some onstage antic, quite literally ‘pissed herself laughing’, leaving an ammonia-scented puddle upstage. The errant cast-member swiftly absenting herself, ‘Bill’ was the sucker left wiping it up. My friend Melissa had a similar tale to tell. Act 2 of the period drama she was performing in began with the arrival of a high status socialite. As the socialite elegantly made her entrance, the rest of the cast gradually parted to let her pass. On this particular night, as the actress took her third step, there was a twitching about her hemline, and out from beneath the folds of her underskirts rolled a small but perfectly formed poo. It stopped rolling only when it had reached centre stage, where the entire cast stared at it, aghast. The humiliated actress informed Melissa afterwards that she had answered a call of nature in the interval, and can only think that her underskirts must have got caught up underneath her, meaning that instead of finding its way into the toilet bowl, her deposit was effectively caught in a kind of crinoline hammock, where it had remained until the worst possible moment.
In light of the above evidence, I assert that working with children and animals does indeed have its challenges, but as these challenges are ‘trumped’ by those caused by grown-up humans, who can really blame them?

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Bedtime Stories

Come with me, if you will, back to the 1920’s. It is late on a Sunday night and raining heavily. You are part of a touring theatre company and have in your hand a small suitcase and a digs list. You’ve been turned away from every residence on the list and have just one left. You take a deep breath, push through the front gate of the small terraced house, and ring the doorbell. The door is answered by a weathered looking middle-aged lady. You launch into your spiel, flash your most charming smile, and after a long appraisal she instructs you to ‘wait there’ and shuts the door, leaving you standing bemusedly (but hopefully) on the front step. She returns a few minutes later and ushers you inside. She has moved out of her bedroom and made herself a bed on the sofa so that you can have hers. Money is tight, you see, she explains. Half an hour later you are in bed and falling into a deep sleep, dreams of tomorrow’s return to Pygmalion dancing around your subconscious. Until, that is, you awake with the need to use what in those days passed for en suite facilities. Switching on your bedside light and reaching beneath the bed, you get the shock of your life when instead of the expected chamber pot, your eyes alight on a ‘real-life’ dead body.

Walter, the afflicted actor, who incidentally was the grandfather of an actress I recently toured with, decided against running from the house screaming or any sort of moonlight flit, as freaked-out or not, he had nowhere else to go. Morning came and he anxiously informed his hostess that he was no longer prepared to stay for the week as he hadn’t bargained on sharing his room with a dead person. The apologetic landlady, rather than coming after him with a kitchen knife, explained that the body was that of her recently deceased husband, who was awaiting collection by the undertaker. When Walter had come to the door, so keen was she for some extra cash, that she had quickly pulled her husband (God rest his soul) off his death bed and hidden him beneath it.

I was treated to many touring tales by my elders and betters in that company, one dating back to the mid 60’s, when George, then in his early twenties, was staying in digs somewhere in rural England. He arrived back one evening to find the lady of the house draped against her bedroom doorframe in a negligee. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, George wasted no time on questions and went in for the kill. Their clinch was interrupted however, by the flinging open of the bedroom door by the furious pyjama-clad man of the house. A mortified George fled to his room and began packing his case but was halted in his actions by a knock on the door. There stood the man of the house (let’s call him Roland), brandishing two glasses and a bottle of cider. Inviting himself in, he made himself comfortable on George’s bed and slowly poured two drinks. George nervously went into profuse apology mode, insisting that he’d pay for the week and leave immediately. Roland silenced him and proceeded to inform him that he’d be taking the dogs for a long walk the following afternoon meaning he’d be out of the house for at least three hours. If George wanted to ‘see to’ his wife during those three hours, he was quite welcome to. Stunned, George drained his cider and unpacked. The following afternoon when Roland, as promised, left the building, George did what any red-blooded male would have done and took full advantage of the hospitality afforded to him. Well, it’d have been rude not to, really.

Another more senior member of the cast had a similar story from his younger days. He was awoken on his first night in new digs by the landlady’s daughter climbing into his bed. Much to his delight this was repeated every night of his stay. It was only when Doug went to settle up with the landlady that he discovered he was being charged an extra two shillings and sixpence for ‘night-time extras’.

Thankfully, no such attempts at digs-seduction have ever been made on me. My friend Colette, on the other hand, was recently propositioned by an unusually hairy (seriously - he shaved his forehead) actor with whom she was working and on this occasion sharing digs with. The sight of this beastly fellow draped across his bed with Marvin Gaye on the stereo and his shirt buttons undone to reveal the rug underneath is something Colette has been trying to forget ever since. 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

House of Usher

“Rocky Horror condoms are £1.50!” I called to the Stalls as I strutted down the aisle in corset, stockings and suspenders. I was 16 and working front of house at my local receiving theatre. Being the huge Rocky Horror fan (and apparent exhibitionist) that I was at the time, I had gone to town when the front of house manager told us we could ditch our maroon waistcoats and bow-ties in favour of dressing in accordance with the theme of the show that was gracing our stage. I needed no further encouragement and had promptly set about creating my outfit, complete with handcuffs and studded dog collar. As winner of the FOH ‘best costume’ competition (but, of course!), it was me who was selected to take a stroll around the theatre with a box of branded condoms and a float. It was a good sales ploy judging by the number of pseudo-macho men that sidled up to me, shifty eyes avoiding mine while they thrust a fiver into my hand as though we were doing some sort of dodgy drug deal, “Gis a Johnny then” the only words to pass their lips.

I loved my job (apart from when on my hands and knees picking up individual popcorn kernels after a matinee) and never more so than when a touring musical was in town and although I had a great time watching Annie about 25 times over Christmas one year, it was West Side Story that really wooed me. And not just the show either - one of the swings did too. But that’s another story and one that has little to no bearing on my assertion that West Side Story is the best musical ever written. I mean, that’s not an opinion, it’s a fact, right? Certainly better than the following Christmas’s offering of Dr. Doolittle, which would have bored us to tears had it not been for Phillip Schofield’s cheeky witticisms that had us rolling in the aisles when we least expected it. Figuratively, of course.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that working as an usher in a provincial theatre was quite a safe, unthreatening job. It was. Mostly. But every job comes with its own set of risks. Falling from the Upper Circle into the Circle being the main one in this case. No really, it happened. Marnie, a slightly strange full-time usher somehow managed it. It remains a mystery to this day quite how the accident occurred - she claimed that she was pushed by the theatre ghost, but as she also told the paramedics who were attending her that she had two hearts, no-one gave much credence to her claims. That and the fact that there’s no such thing as ghosts, of course. Marnie escaped the incident with miraculously few injuries and remained a stalwart member of the front of house team for years after. For all I know she’s still there now.

The more threatening aspect of the job generally came from inebriated attendees of comedy shows. I was treated to the beery whispering in my ear from one such gentleman of, “You hold that torch like you’d hold my dick”. Not exactly a highlight, but I did get to give him my best disdainful glower, and it was better than getting ‘started on’ for refusing to admit latecomers. More of a nuisance than a threat was a colleague who became known to me and my friends as Robert The Stalker. Robert was an Oxford University student, odd and leery, with beady eyes hidden behind lenses so thick that you never knew quite where he was looking. He caught me off-guard one evening when he asked for my phone number and in haste I supplied him with the number of my parents’ landline, rather than that of my recently acquired mobile. My parents were then tasked with telling anyone sounding like they could be called Robert that I was out. When I had the misfortune of answering the phone to him I took on the identity of my (fabricated) sister, informing Robert The Stalker that Anna was away for at least a week in Swindon (?). The Swindon based interrogation he thrust upon me the next time I saw him, tells me that perhaps I was less convincing with my voice-disguise than I thought.

Weirdo stalkers aside, there were definitely more pros than cons to this job, and it was certainly an improvement on my previous one, which consisted of dishing up baked beans for coal-covered steam train engineers for £2.80 per hour. 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Tales of the Unexpected

I stumbled on stage, long hair protruding from my mop cap, one slipper on and my dressing gown cord trailing loosely behind me. Needless to say, my quick change had not gone quite to plan. No sooner did I make my under-dressed entrance, than I drew more attention to myself by sneezing. Twice.

Quick changes are a nerve-racking thing. There is no time for sudden zip breakages, for your wig to get stuck in railings whilst still attached to your head, or for your dresser to forget you, leaving you running around the wings in your underwear desperately trying to locate your costume. All these things have happened to me at least once, but I had a unique recurring problem with the quick change out of the aforementioned dressing gown. Having sprinted into the quick change room, my dresser, Poppy, would tear the gown from my shoulders, flinging it to one side. However, the next time we touched (as she attempted to envelop me in a corset) we would leap violently apart having both received a painful electric shock. This was repeated so often that we became scared to touch, feinting around each other as though partaking in a fencing match rather than a quick change. Something had to be done. A few days later Poppy turned up with a small square of old carpet, which, earthing me at the crucial moment of undressing, allowed us to continue our working relationship shock-free.

My boyfriend Sam got a different sort of shock when, whilst appearing in the musical The Full Monty, he arrived at the quick change area and removed all his clothes only to discover that the costume laid out for him wasn’t his. It is worth noting at this point, that the panic that sets in at moments like these is equatable to a jet liner going down with you in it. Such a comparably trivial thing feels to you like the end of the world. And so it was with Sam. At the time, he was on the large side and being unable to pull the costume over his knees, had no choice but to go on for the final strip scene in his un-strippable costume. The one he should have been wearing was held together at the seams by poppers, making for an easy choreographed de-robing, this one, however, was not. As soon as Sam entered the scene the whereabouts of his costume was revealed. Another cast member was currently drowning in it. As realisation dawned, the two quickly ad-libbed an exit line, leaving the others holding the fort whilst they hastily swapped costumes, making it back on stage just as the opening bars of the big strip began to play.

It was the same show in which a prank was played affecting not Sam but the actor playing a ‘Chippendale’ type stripper. The scene took place in a locker room and whilst changing out of one costume and into another, the stripper extolled to Sam’s character the benefits of his profession.  Upon opening his locker, where would normally be hung a cowboy outfit, was instead a stretchy latex nurse’s ‘uniform’. While Sam did his best to keep his snorting to a minimum, the stripper, without so much as a flicker of alarm, proceeded to squeeze his muscle-bound body into the outfit, seamlessly swapping his usual exit line of ‘Tonight, I am John Wayne’ to ‘Florence Nightingale’. The audience, of course, were gloriously none the wiser.

I have thankfully never been the victim of such an elaborate prank, finding my bra hidden in onstage tills/bags/cupboards the worst of it, but I did bring the house down in one show when I made a bold entrance only for my skirt to fall to the ground as soon as I reached centre stage, exposing my knee high pop socks and show pants to the shocked people of Llandudno. This production was followed by a rather more serious one, where audience laughter was not encouraged. This went out the window however, when the automated truck that brought half the cast on for the opening of Act 2 did so at double the usual speed, pitching me off the front of it when it came to a juddering standstill. Then there was the show where one performance brought with it a swarm of flies, who, seemingly attracted by our sweaty faces, followed us around the stage wherever we went, hovering threateningly mere centimetres from our heads. 

It is these moments that keep a tired show alive, and halfway through the run during a dingy midweek matinee in Stevenage you may find yourself wishing for one. Especially when your audience barely numbers 50, and 13 of them are currently enjoying their afternoon nap. But be careful what you wish for…