Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The following is being circulated around technical theater sites. Those with some professional theater experience--Mr. Vant, Mr. Schmactor and Citywolf, if he reads DesignerBlog--will understand immediately. I've highlighted the backstage terms in this version (having made one or three additions) and will be happy to provide a follow-up explanation for the uninitiated, or just plain curious:

In is down, down is front
Out is up, up is back
Off is out, on is in
And of course:
Left is right and right is left [this line is dedicated to my beloved]
A drop shouldn’t and
A block and fall does neither
A prop doesn’t and
A cove has no water
A teaser rarely does
but a tormentor just might
and a traveller never goes far
Tripping is just fine
A running crew doesn’t get anywhere fast
A purchase line buys you nothing
A trap won’t catch anything
A gridiron has nothing to do with football
Strike is work (a lot of work, in fact)
And a green room usually isn’t
Now that you’re fully versed in Theatrical Terms, Break a leg (but not really!)


I wrote to the Doc Martens Customer Service people the other day because I thought you could send your Docs with worn out soles to them if the tops were still good, and could have them resoled. They wrote back very nicely that such is not the case--in fact, they claim that the way Docs are constructed, they can never be resoled.
Then I remembered that I had indeed sent in a pair, but it was to be replaced under their guarantee because a sole had failed and split. So I began to surf through the site looking for some new Docs and stumbled across the Originals section. Great designs, and they lead one to wonder if the Doc Martens factory just might have been the model for the one in the film "Kinky Boots."

Trailblazing gay actor John Inman dies

Actor John Inman, popular for his memorably camp role as Mr. Humphries in the '70s sitcom Are You Being Served?, died Thursday in London. He was 71. Inman died in St Mary's Hospital in Paddington after suffering a hepatitis A infection.

His character's catchphrase, "I'm free," and suggestive sexual humor made Inman a star, and he starred in more than 40 pantos, traditional Yuletide family entertainments that include double entendres and male and female drag as well as lots of jokes for the kiddies.

Named BBC Personality of the Year and "Funniest Man on Television" by TV Times in 1976, Inman remained popular long after the show ended in 1985. He went on to star in an Australian version of the show in the early 1980s and also appeared on BBC's 2004 series Revolver. Are You Being Served?, about a stuffy department store staffed by lovable eccentrics, reached the United States in the late 1980s, where it became a cult hit.

When publicly questioned about his sexuality, Inman remained coy for many years, but admitted that he could be bisexual. However, in late 2005, Inman made his sexual orientation public when he entered into a civil partnership with his partner of 33 years, Ron Lynch. Lynch is said to be "devastated" by Inman's death.

Although Mr. Humphries was widely criticized as a gay stereotype, actress Rula Lenska, who worked with Inman, defended the gay undertones of the character. "It was suggestive, but never in-your-face or aggressive. It had an innocent quality that you rarely find today," she told the BBC. Inman "was a joy to work with, and even after an exhausting day in pantomime he would have time for the fans who crowded round the stage door," Lenska said.

Wendy Richard, who played shop assistant Miss Brahms in the series, told BBC Radio 4's Today program: "John was one of the wittiest and most inventive actors I've ever worked with. He was a brilliant, brilliant pantomime dame, and he was a very good all-round actor, really. He was a true professional."

Inman's manager, Phil Dale, said, "John was known and loved throughout the world. He was one of the best and finest pantomime dames working to capacity audiences throughout Britain. John was known for his comedy plays and farces, which were enjoyed from London's West End throughout the country and as far as Australia, Canada, and the USA."

George Broadhead, secretary of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, told that at the time of the show, "Inman became a bit of a bête noire for the gay community for promoting stereotypes of gay men as effeminate." However, he said, "The gay community has grown up since then and has come to appreciate its trailblazers. Inman fits into the same mold as Larry Grayson and Frankie Howard. We can actually see reruns of Are You Being Served? and appreciate their zaniness now rather than cringing at stereotypes."

(Hassan Mirza,

I still get a laugh from AYBS. It is always good when one is taking life too seriously.
I had to read that backstage lingo twice. And even then, I was still confused. And, *love* those Doc Martins.
When I first saw Inman had died, I had the usual twinge of sadness I get when someone who I always thought of fondly (even though just on the tube) passes on. Sort of like I felt when Tony Randall passed away. Like a special friendly soul has gone.
Oh, what a shame. He was always my favorite character on that show.

Ad, Doc Martens. I remember my first pair. And I remember their 90's ad campaign where a photo showed a cop chasing a criminal down the street. The caption asked which one was wearing the Doc Martens and it was actually the cop (a British cop, not a US cop).

OMG! Now, I have to find my old Docs. I'm totally reminiscing now :D
How many pair of the pink-butterfly docs did you order?
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