In the room next door to me, 12 Chinese dignitaries are eating cheese. I was supposed to be done an hour ago but they are late and slow. I’m happy to wait though. I’m not doing this for free.
I’m going to take them into the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. I’m going to tell them about the history of the space, fire up their interest in potential donations, and do a bit of Shakespeare for them. Me and 12 Chinese people. I’ll be alone on stage. I reckon I’ll do a short tasteful bit of Hamlet. Important for me to preserve dignity and do something clean. Hard though considering how much wine I’ve been offered. Thankfully I drove in. I’m getting better at this. The perfect excuse to go easy. “I don’t want to lose my license, mate.”
I went down to scout the space earlier and prevented a potential situation when J, who was at the box office, almost exploded with apoplexy at my existence. I’ve known him for all of two minutes but he strikes me as the sort of fellow who temples his fingers and starts sentences with “actually”. He brings down thunder and wrath to prevent this upstart crow from doing anything out of the ordinary in his domain. The next five minutes involves two security guards and the front of house manager with J visibly shaking with adrenaline. It’s in his voice. He instantly doesn’t like me because I’m not usual and I’m calm while he’s highly strung. I’m glad I met him before I tried to come down calm and charming with the richest people in China. He’s not a front facer. He’s the man you want hunched over a computer in a dark room enforcing rules.
When I do come down, he’s still there, stooped over his laptop in the café. I like to imagine he’s emailing whoever he considers to be important saying “down with this sort of thing.” I leave him to his misery and take them into the space.
Ten minutes of me joyfully channeling my own passion for this theatre into a description of all the circumstances that led to it finally opening in 2014. The indoor stage at The Globe. Based on plans found at Worcester College thought to have been by Inigo Jones but later attributed to a less glamorous technician and thus rededicated to Sam, who deserves the recognition anyway and wouldn’t have done it for himself. Great man. Vast legacy. Glad to share it with Chinese dignitaries. I get to be fabulous for a little while too. Maybe there’ll be some Chinese money making its way to The Globe now. I talked about how they ran out during construction. I made them see the names on the seats. “This building was essentially crowdfunded before crowdfunding was a thing, by these people. I like to read the names and thank the people. It was a huge undertaking, and as you can see a beautiful result.”
My dad asked me what I wanted for my 18th birthday. I said a paving stone at The Globe. He almost did it. But then they decided it would only encourage me to be an actor, and they were trying to dissuade me from this path the bloody fools.
What a lovely evening. And they gave me a bag as I was leaving. Containing a Swarovski Zirconium fountain pen… “Sorry it’s only a little thing.” It’s beautiful and I will use it.
I bid them farewell. Another lovely event. Let’s see what damage J can do. He’ll try. I can smell it. I wave to him familiarly as I leave. “Bye J.” Might as well kick the hornets nest.
That said I just edited his name out. Why excite the wrath of the petty? They can be persistent little beasts.