Rehearsals are now under way at a secret London location. I spent many happy hours this week watching Queen Bee and Barnabee (her son) rehearse, using the Honey Acting Technique, under the genius direction of Gemma Fairlie.
strictly come waggle dancing
Honey bees communicate the location of nectar sources (flowers) to each other by waggle dancing. It’s like sat nav, but more disco. As a scout bee, dancing is an important part of my character in the show.
While my co bees enjoyed an afternoon off, on Friday, Gemma put me through waggle dance boot camp. My character (Sophie Bee) is “the best waggle dancer in the world”. And Oh My Beez do I have a lot of dance practise to do! The dance is very nize howev, and one that all the human children can join in with during the show.
Kat the designer popped in with our bee arms so we could try them out. No pics yet but I will post some when they are finished. The Queen Bee and I also tried on our beehive wigs. THEY ARE AMAZZING. The Queen looked stunning, and everyone had tears in their eyes and spontaneously applauded when she put it on.
Her majesty’s wig is taller than mine, with precious jewels, but mine is platinum blond, with dark stripes. I can’t wait to make an entrance on stage! As you probably know, blond striped beehive wigs are an essential accessory for top bee detectives.
Big thanks to the Guardian newspaper for the beeeautiful plug this week. I love the way they dub the show a ‘bee extravaganza’.
Right back to my Strictly Come Waggle dance practice.
The director says we must have a ball pool in the show to represent the Queen Bee’s eggs. Gemma wants some bee ‘eggs’ to light up. Bob the AV chap suggested ‘throwies’. These look like massive fun.
No idea if these things will make it into the final set, but I’m crossing my wings.
Talking of wings, Kat, the designer has commissioned wings of steel for Queen Bee, Barnabee and me. They have to be sturdy and robust to withstand three shows per day during the tour, so the frames will be made of steel.
James Merry’s bee animations will be projected onto hexagon shapes during the show.Director Gemma Fairlie said, “The whole design is bee-d up to the max (all the props are going to be “bimped” – bee pimped) and it will be a fun game to spot how many objects in the show have the hexagon shape. The set is being built soon – and appropriate wallpaper and curtains sourced from Homebuzz and Bee and Q.”
Gemma later apologised for the bee puns, but it was too late.
Today’s top tip from our projection expert Bob Jaroc: “You never project black; you project an empty vortex of time.” Troo say.
On a lighter note, Will, our lighting chap is buying me some disco lights for my waggle dance disco stage. Ah, ha, ha, ha, Staying Alive/ Got the wings of heaven on my shoes. I’m a dancin’ bee and I just can’t lose. (Stolen Bee Gees lyrics, and not my actual lines).
The nize weather we’ve been having is annoying. The hosepipe ban means we might have to use concrete ballasts to pitch our tent if the ground is too hard. I’ve offered to do a rain waggle dance, which will sort the problem out.
I hope that gives you some idea of some of the complex and magic elements that are going in to making this show THE MOST AMAZZING BEE DETECTIVE SHOW in the world.
Huzzah! We are very happy to announce the cast for Bee Detective. There are three main characters in this thrilling murder mystery.
Sophie Bee (Sophie Woolley)
Brave, intrepid, adventurous scout bee, thrill seeker Likes: Waggle dancing and flying outside looking for nectar Hates: Lies and wasps.
Queen Bee (Chris Morgan)
A vain, workaholic egg layer of few words, mother to 40,000 (including Sophie and Barnabee). Likes: Her birthday Hates: Children
Barnabee (Daniel Alun)
Playful, lazy, jealous of his big sisters, especially Sophie Bee. Likes: BeeBook, marching and honey. Hates: Bears and worker bee waggle dancing
We start rehearsals in April, directed by Gemma Fairlie with Bee Sign Language monitoring from Daryl Jackson. Watch our amazing animated trailer!
As we countdown to rehearsals, the production team are in a huddle of deeply technical discussion about set design, including our beehive honeycomb cells.
Three of these hexagon-shaped cells will screen the animation and subtitles (to help bring the hive alive, and tell some visual jokes, but also to make it accessible to deaf kids and deaf mums and dads)
The team have discussed whether to paint the hexagon surface with “goo”, a specially made reflective paint for projecting onto. But of all the surface options, Bob, the Audio Visual Builder reckons, “matt white ply seems to be the production manager’s weapon of choice.”
The animation projection talk is VERY technical. Here’s an example (look away now if you are allergic to maths):
“The 2 hexagons need to be combined into a 2048 x 768 file (see hexagons 2s up) as that is what is played out of the show mac then split to the 2 projectors. I have tested pro-res (LT) @80 with 5 uncompressed audio channels @ 44.1 and it runs smooth of the show mac so 2048 x 768 pro res LT @80 are your magic numbers.”
Ok you can look again now. Woohoo! Easy peasy pal, no problemo. I’ve got my pencil in my mouth and my finger on the calculator. I’ll have that sorted for you in a jiffy.
This deeply technical collaboration and set design chatter reminds me of the way bees build a new hive. They form a “living chain” that looks a bit like a dangling daisy chain. It’s like a web of bees all standing on each other’s shoulders, holding hands, and doing a circus trick, whilst building a honeycomb live-work complex. Some are like engineers, and some are like gymnasts.
The start of this ace bee documentary shows how bees construct a hive.
The YouTube subtitles are pretty good on it. Don’t forget to check out our animated trailer and share the buzz far and wide!
This honey bee enemy (a varroa destructor mite) is so vile and evil I can hardly bring myself to blog about him. It was really hard to cast this character. We auditioned thousands of talented baddies for the role but one mite stood out in particular. I am “delighted” to announce the baddy in Bee Detective will be played by General Destructor.
Portrait by James Merry. We cannot publish a photo for legal reasons.
Sorry…give me a minute…no sorry I have to stop now, I feel zick. Bzzzluuuurarghh 🙁
Bee Detective designer Kat Heath measured me for my costume yezterday. The sketches look amazzing. Here is a sneak preview!
Now Kat has the actor’s measurements she is buying material to sew the costumes together. The Queen will have sequins on her dress, and I’m a bit jel. But we both have beehive hair, and I’m the only bee in the world with a magnifying glass.
Here is Kat’s model for the set. She has to make precise calculations to make sure the honeycomb screens are the right height for the projector. The subtitles and animations will be projected onto three of the honeycomb screens across the stage.
I am beelighted to announce that Bee Detective is coming to the Unity Festival in Wales! The show is sited in our beeautiful tent, right outside the Wales Millennium Centre. Here are the datez for your diareez. Bee ready!
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, WALES. 23 & 24 June performances at 11am, 1.30pm and 4pm.
I can’t wait. Someone buzzed me that there is nize heather in Wales which makes awezome tasting honeyz.
Yes! It is spring at last! Smell those flowers. I’m coming out of hibernation and foraging for more nectar and pollen. And tickets are now on sale for our run at Brighton Festival.
Don’t miss your chance to bee the first to see our amazing show on our first tour date!
The Bee Detective team is very buzzy getting the show ready. Top London bee keepers are reading the script to check we haven’t accidentally insulted any important honeybees or flowers. When the final script is ready, the director will send it to our animator, costume and set designer. Then I will do four weeks of rehearsals with the two other bee actors. It’s all very, very exciting.
Watch this space for the new animated trailer. I will post it next week. It’s amazzing! Bzzz.
Bee ready for our tour launch at Brighton Festival! Here’s the bzlurb about our show from the festival brochure.
“Sophie Bee’s busy life is a happy buzz of pollen seeking, dancing with her fellow bees and making yummy honey. But when the worker bees begin to disappear, can Sophie use all her deductive powers to solve the mystery and save the hive? Staged in a bee-autiful tent, this interactive, multisensory theatre experience invites you to join the investigation and help the intrepid Sophie with her enquiries. Combining performance, projected animations and waggle dancing, Bee Detective is accessible to deaf people through innovative projected captioning and sign language and essential viewing for all.”
Meanwhile I am very exzited to report that our first week playing with the actors in a Sarf London rehearsal room was amazzing. We played with a bubble machine, a million billion ball pool balls and some suspicious looking toys.
Can you buzzlieve it? It was bee-slave labour! The Bee Detective director forced the actors and writer to work very hard on playing with the toyz and we had to learn new, experimental ways to buzz and waggle dance. It was exhausting and we had to eat extra honey to survive. Fortunately no one died so we will definitely bee able to tell the amazzing story of the Bee Detective to you this summer.
We are confident we will all end up winning all the Buzzybee Theatre Awards for best bee impersonator, best bee detective actress, best baddy, best queen, best bee animation, best play about a bee detective and buzziest director.