[personal profile] wanda1969
Title: "Back Stage- Enter Stage Left, Act I"
Rating: Varies between chapters- all warnings posted with each chapter.
Spoilers/Disclaimers : Torchwood, belongs to the BBC and RTD, I’m just borrowing the characters- I own nothing here, nor do I make any money! So please don't prosecute! It’s an AU story, so I’m pretty sure that it shouldn’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment of Torchwood itself. Any typos are my own.
Summary: Torchwood characters in a story set in the contemporary world of UK theatre/entertainment.
A/N: Another AU, I’m afraid! Fun, friendship, and perhaps romance and behind the scenes shenanigens… focussing (pun intended) on Ianto Jones (a lighting engineer) and Jack Harkness (an upcoming jobbing actor/’turn’). I was going to call this series ‘Curtain Up’ (thank you iolo1234/pooky1234 and everyone for all of your support!), but for some odd reason (5 minutes ago), I went for ‘Back Stage’. No idea why!
Chapter 1

***

“Bloody typical!” Ianto groaned to himself as he looked down to the stage from the gantry far above. It was the beginning of the pantomime season, and he was putting the finishing touches to the generic background lighting for this year’s production of ‘Aladdin’. The cast had arrived early and below him the stage had suddenly filled with members of the Production Company for this year’s show. He plugged in the last of the Fresnel lights which would be used for the simple, four colour wash.

He was glad that he was out of the way as he assessed the rag-tag band from Hartmann Productions as they either stood on stage and looked into the auditorium beyond, or perched on the flight cases of lanterns, cloths and props which still littered the stage, having only arrived the day before.

He’d been in the business for over five years now, and he knew the drill- it was the same every time a new company arrived. There was the usual mix of nervous young wannabes starting out, seaside show acts and  holiday camp has-beens, and a small handful of ‘stars’ from Soaps and Stage.

This year didn’t look like it would be any different. From his vantage point, Ianto could see one of the male ‘turns’, dressed in a ridiculously outdated and pretentious military great coat, standing plumb centre stage, arms outstretched as if greeting an appreciative audience. The dark haired man in question burst into an impromptu chorus of ‘Night and Day’. At least, Ianto thought, this one was in tune- shouldn’t be any problem for Tosh and her mics- if, indeed, the man needed a microphone at all. The man’s voice was perfectly clear, loud and (importantly) in tune, somewhere between a tenor and a baritone.

He scanned his eyes around the auditorium and, indeed, could just about make out his Sound Engineering equivalent, Toshiko Sato sitting in the centre of the auditorium seats smiling appreciatively, as she tried to gauge the capabilities of the company.

Knowing he couldn’t stay up there all day, Ianto stood from his crouching position and made his way to the ladder which led back to stage level. No doubt he would find out more about his new ‘workmates’ at the Production and Introduction Meeting later that afternoon.

***

“Brilliant acoustics- I really think we can do something with this. This could be our best show ever sound wise,” a confident American accent intoned as Ianto stepped off the ladder Stage Left.

From the wings, the Welshman could see more clearly the people he would be working with for the next two months, and suddenly recognised the man in the military coat from the promotional Aladdin posters and the occasional promotional daytime TV appearance- Jack Harkness. He was well known as a stage musical performer and was fast becoming a household name after his recent appearances as Captain James Harper in the newly revitalised television science fiction series ‘Doctor Who’.
Harkness had even been filming in Cardiff recently for a new spin off of ‘Doctor Who’; when Ianto had heard this on the Capital’s entertainment grapevine, he’d made a mental note to catch up with both series whenever he could- working mainly at weekends and in the evenings severely curtailed his TV viewing, even though he loved sci-fi.

Further inspection of Jack Harkness proved that the man had a confidence which came with just knowing he had a voice to die for, and good looks to match- tall, with chiselled, masculine features, dark hair and bright blue, twinkling eyes which were visible even from Ianto’s vantage point in the Wings.

***

Along with Toshiko and Owen Harper, the Cardiff Grand’s in-house Stage Manager, Ianto made his way to the Production Meeting which was scheduled to start at 2 o’clock in one of the theatre’s anciliary rooms which were used for meetings and rehearsals. They’d even used it as an impromptu Green Room when large number of performers needed an overflow space. Gwen Cooper, the House Manager, caught them up as they reached the door.

“Thought I was going to be late,” she said breathlessly. “I was just on the ‘phone to Rhys sorting out dinner tonight.”

The Technical crew was used to Gwen. She’d joined them about six months ago, having originally worked for the Heddlu, but had decided on a radical career change. Despite her lack of experience she had shocked them all by landing the House Manager’s job when it was advertised. She had valiantly struggled to understand Theatre terminology and procedures, and was doing a pretty good job for someone with no knowledge of entertainment or shows. She was devoted to her long suffering fiancé, Rhys, and they all thought that she had perhaps underestimated the fact that working in theatres gave her just about the same amount of free evening and weekend time as being on call or on shifts as a Copper.

***

The three Technicians and Gwen took their seats in the room, whose only other occupant was Adam, the Company Stage Manager, who gave a cautious “Hi” from his spot perched on the table at the far end of a circle of chairs. 

Moments later the creaking of the door opening again heralded the arrival of a man, maybe in his fifties, with an Einstein-style shock of grey hair. It was Archie Murchieson, the Grand’s Technical Manager, and the only one of the Technical Team that the Production Company had been liaising with directly before their arrival. He was a strange, rather eccentric character, who, although he could have a wicked and dry sense of humour, seemed to suffer from a melancholic yearning for his native Scotland which led to him seeking solace in a bottle of single malt whenever the opportunity presented itself. It also led to him having a lackadaisical attitude to punctuality and work in general. He gave a cheery and slightly inebriated “Hello” and took his place with his team.

Adam looked exasperatedly at his watch. “Hello, Archie. Looks like the actors are arriving fashionably late…”

Ianto thought that Adam looked very young, with his sandy hair and youthful looks- not long out of Drama School or some kind of Drama degree, perhaps. It wouldn’t be long before he stopped expecting things to run to a timetable, or using the more reverential term ‘actor’.

“We wouldn’t have expected anything less- it’s a turn’s prerogative to miss their cues,” Archie said sarcastically.

Adam snorted at the comment and smiled. “Let’s hope we don’t have too much trouble with that on this show.” He nodded towards Ianto and his colleagues. “Adam Smith, Company Stage Manager for my sins…”

Quick introductions took place and then the door opened again, and the cast appeared en masse and filed into the room, filling the empty seats.

As soon as the cast were settled the young Company Manager cleared his throat, “Right guys, this is just an informal introduction session and then we’ll finish off with few changes to the rehearsal schedules that Archie and me have come up with to co-incide with the rigging…”

Adam launched into the introductions for the cast and Ianto and his fellow Techies nodded and smiled their greetings in all the right places. As the actors and acts were introduced in some arcane, ascending hierarchical order, Ianto spotted Rose Tyler, recently departed from EastEnders, after a supposedly dramatic crash at Walford Tube station, and Angharad Davies. She was a stalwart of Pobol Y Cwm- the Welsh soap; she was only in her mid twenties, but had been in the show since her early teens. He didn’t really follow any of the soap operas other than accidentally seeing the odd episode after he got in from work, but he did remember their pictures from the brightly coloured show posters and flyers.

The final actor to be introduced was Jack Harkness, grinning like a Cheshire Cat- and clearly the biggest draw in the show since his success in the nation’s favourite sci-fi programme. Since the days when women always played the Principal Boy, it had become common for men to take the lead role. Ianto missed the days of short skirts, fishnets, thigh length boots and the associated ‘thigh slapping’- as a kid, the shapely woman playing the male lead had been one of the major draws of any Pantomime. He was sure that his dad had felt the same, too, when he’d enthusiatically volunteered to take him to the local Christmas shows instead of Saturday matinees at the Electro Cinema. These days, political correctness often dictated that a female lead, playing a man, was too confusing for young audiences and now men usually played the role. So it was that Jack Harkness was to play the lead role of ‘Aladdin’. Ianto wondered how long it would take ‘political correctness’ to declare that ‘dames’ were equally confusing…

Next it was the turn of The Grand’s Technicians.

“Right guys. These are your Technicians, the ones whose monumental task it is to make you all look and sound good,” Adam said to the cast members, giving a particularly pointed look towards Rose Tyler, who would be playing the part of Princess Jasmine.

“First of all, here’s Archie Murchison, Technical Manager, and next we have Toshiko Sato, your sound engineer, piss her off at your peril- she knows where the mute buttons for your mics are. Next to Tosh we have Owen Harper. He’s The Grand’s Stage Manager, we’ll both be working the stage for this production, Owen on Prompt Side as DSM, giving the cues, and I’ll be Stage Right and Back Stage, away from the Book, where I can keep an eye on you all.” He paused for a moment as the cast took in the information and everyone and then gestured towards Ianto. “And this is Ianto Jones, Head Lighting Engineer, and in charge of making you lot look as good as you think you do.”

The last comment was greeted with a laugh from Jack Harkness and Ianto found himself greeted with a dazzling smile from the man himself, and fixed with twinkling sapphire eyes. If the rest of the cast were looking at him, he failed to notice. What he did notice, irritatingly, was that, close to, Harkness was even more attractive than his television appearances and promo shots gave him credit for. He pondered just exactly where that thought had come from and swiftly put it down to simple envy, but he still felt his cheeks warm under the scrutiny. He was relieved when Adam continued with the final introduction.

“Gwen Cooper here is the House Manager, in charge of everything Front of House, from the small army of ushers and usherettes, to giving us the all clear for the show,” Adam said with a hand wave towards the Welshwoman. Regardless of the fact that Ianto had a soft spot for her, she was never one to shy away from attention and he watched as she positively glowed under the gaze of the cast. “You can meet the rest of the on-stage crew tomorrow, when they’ll be back in to start rigging the cloths and getting stage ready for the Tech.”

He quickly handed out the timetable for the next week and a half, pointing out that it was subject to change, as he continued to brief them on the schedule.

***

To Be Continued…
A/N: Just in case, here’s a link to a Theatre glossary which could be useful:
http://www.britishtheatreguide.info/otherresources/glossary/glossac.htm
Many shows are run a wee bit haphazardly, and some of the strict rules of Theatre in this glossary are disregarded completely.
DSM= Deputy Stage Manager.

Date: 2012-02-04 08:52 pm (UTC)
badly_knitted: (I'll Take This One)
From: [personal profile] badly_knitted
Intriguing start! Pantomime season could be very interesting with this bunch. I wonder how long it will take for the leading man to fall for the charms of a certain lighting engineer...

Date: 2012-02-04 09:50 pm (UTC)
reddevilpoes: he cheats (Default)
From: [personal profile] reddevilpoes
Wonderful start! I love reading about theatre and such..

Date: 2012-02-05 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] janiemc
Like the start, an interesting panto season ahead methinks...

Date: 2012-03-20 02:51 pm (UTC)
missthingsplace: (Default)
From: [personal profile] missthingsplace
I am loving this already :D

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wanda1969

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