Events season is starting to kick off. I’m at The Globe again. Tonight I’m Demetrius in some vignettes from Dream, which is lovely. He’s an uncompromising bugger. “I’d rather give his carcass to my hounds.”
It’s an award event for the power industry. The UK Power Networks “Living our Values” Dinner to be precise. Hundreds of waiters are buzzing around in Prangsta costumes. Upstairs a string quartet is playing, flanked by human statues dressed as Shakespeare. Guests are guzzling free champagne and talking about the power industry, surrounded by Shakespeareana.
Downstairs is filled with flowers and dry ice and glass baubles and light.
In the wings there’s a sixteen piece choir in black tie, and some solo singing acts in ridiculously beautiful dresses. Magicians and makeup artists and silhouette artists and even a graphologist wait quietly in the rooms at the sides, with empty wine crates and musical instrument cases strewn around. People with clipboards and earpieces keep coming up to talk to us about timings. Chad the sound man has just sorted us all out with radio mics which means I’m terrified to sneeze unless it’s accidentally live. One of my wine waiters from Ascot is working the bar. “Yeah mate. This is what I normally do. I was only moonlighting.” He was pleased to see me, and I him.
The event is taking place in The UnderGlobe, which is a huge basement space with a fake tree in it. It’s directly under The Globe stage, hence the name. In the daytime it hosts a museum. At night they change it round and fill it with colour and music. I’ve spent many evenings here now, over the years, doing many different scenes in many different styles.
Usually they don’t give us mics so that’ll be an interesting stricture. Working on mic allows much greater vocal detail in this space. Without one you have to work hard to project in here. It’s a cavernous acoustic. Mics also necessitates precision, physically and vocally, to minimise scratching and feedback. Especially as we’ll be jumping on each other a bit. You lose some attack, and it becomes harder for the people watching to know it’s you that’s speaking. But it’s a lot less tiring. I’m looking forward. Best do some line runs though, and stop writing this.
These event jobs have been bread and butter to me for ages now and I love them. They aren’t a process, of course, and I always feel the lack of that. But they’re an opportunity to throw something around with people you trust. Shortcutting to performance is a lovely way to open your understanding of a piece of text. Invariably afterwards you want to revisit it – it becomes painfully clear how little time you’ve spent examining detail. But also it’s joyful painting it quickly and seeing what’s to find.
As ever, I had a brilliant time shortcutting a great piece of text with 3 wonderful actors who are also good friends. The bigwigs in the power industry were happy with our work. The client even secretly covered a round of drinks for us after the event. And in a month or so they’ll pay us, and I’ll use the dosh to pay them my quarterly bill before the doorbell rings.