Thursday, 30 May 2013

The PAW Awards, 2013.

Performing Arts Winchester, or PAW, is a society at the University of Winchester set up a few years ago for those dramatically or musically inclined to put on shows, meet new people and generally let loose with their creativity. I'm not really a PAW person, per se; my brief stint in the Let's Glee! sub-society was uneventful and I wasn't really interested in venturing into Let's Act! or making a complete fool of myself by auditioning for the many annual musicals. My experience of PAW in my first year was purely as an outside observer. I watched and reviewed the (rather excellent and incredible) musical Spring Awakening, and heard stories from friends about Let's Glee!, but I never got actively involved. Much like Ultimate, I was eager to join in somehow, but not brave enough just yet.

Similarly, my experience of the PAW Awards was as a friend of those involved. I heard about the upcoming event, I gave my opinion on friends' outfit choices, and I sat in my bedroom and saw the statuses/tweets on the actual night. Then, I received a text after the Awards had ended, saying "So, I'm in West Downs in a suit." I ran out into Main Street, and met three friends returning after their eventful wonderful evening, in suits and ties. One was crying; he'd been given the award for Glee member of the year and was especially sad to see the third years go. I chatted to them all, then danced a pseudo-waltz, barefoot and in my pyjamas with my suited-up friend, down West Downs Main Street. My mum came to visit the next day, and tactfully kept quiet when she saw the suited-up boy in my bedroom first thing in the morning, and that we both had wet hair.

This year, however, I was not a passive outside observer. I auditioned for this really cool play called 'When It Rains Gasoline' in late September/early October-time. Having missed the first round of auditions without realising, I was annoyed. A play, not a musical, was being put on, and I'd missed my chance to act? Stupid girl. Then a friend told me that there were more auditions happening the following night, and as this was second year it was "the best time to audition and do everything!" So I walked to the Performing Arts building in the rain that evening, met a few friends who were also auditioning, picked a monologue and just tried my best. I maintain to this day that my being cast in the play was purely down to the monologue I chose; bitchy, popular girl with over 3,000 followers on Twitter, making fun of the 'faggot dorks' in her class at school. I don't know why I chose that one; maybe because everyone else was going for the emotional pieces, or the difficult duologues, and I thought this would set me apart. Maybe because I can do a really good bitchy face. Whatever it was, it worked. I spent the next two months working with some amazing actors, dancers and creative crew, and the end result was pretty damn good. I had the time of my life. My confidence was sky-high, and I relished the feeling of being onstage again for the first time in forever. I couldn't thank the director and team enough, for giving me the best start to my new year.

I was invited to the PAW Awards. Imagine my excitement. Seriously, imagine. Then multiply that by a hundred. You're still nowhere near.

I got a pretty dress, I spent over an hour doing my hair and makeup (bear in mind it usually takes me twenty minutes to get ready in the mornings, and that's including breakfast), and I even wore a pair of high heels. I sat at a table with my Gasoline friends, and we spent the evening eating all the free snacks, ordering three drinks per visit to the bar, and mocking everyone else. We performed a little something, as all the shows and sub-societies do, which consisted of lines from the play being shouted out as we stood in neutral onstage. We said a lot of each others' lines; my exclamation of "I have a girlfriend!" and Sam's "my doctor told me that I was pregnant" got most of the laughs. As little and silly as it was, this performance reminded me of all the fun we had, how well we all got on within the cast, and how happy I was while we were working on this play. That happy nostalgic feeling was all I could have asked for; I didn't care that I personally didn't win an award, I could quite happily have spent the rest of the night giggling at Let's Act! and drinking double whiskey mixers until I couldn't remember where I was... Then we won Best Show. The biggest accolade of the night. We somehow surpassed the musicals (which was ridiculous, because Sweeney Todd and Hair were phenomenal) and our little show won the big title. It was honestly one of those moments when the countdown to the reveal had begun, and I was saying "Hair, Sweeney, Hair, Sweeney" in my head, not even considering for a moment... Oh wow.
Whatever people say, like how the first show of the year always wins, or the musicals are the obvious choice and so they never win, it doesn't matter. The fact is, we won. And I went home happy.

Obviously, I'd love to be involved in PAW next year in some capacity, but I'm not sure how. I auditioned for one of the musicals this year "for the giggles", and I don't think I'll ever actually see the day when I'm singing onstage to packed stalls. I could always audition for whatever play is happening, because acting is more my thing. I could join a sub-society. Why not? We'll see. Until then, the memories of this year, in my pretty dress surrounded by friends, last year dancing in my pyjamas... They will do just fine, thank you.

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