I am in bed. Today was long. I forgot about the blog until just now, as I was about to switch off the bedroom light and crash. That’s unfamiliar. I usually get an alarm bell in my head. But maybe it’s because today has been full of those alarm bells, inevitably, as we have been working stuff out. Still. Just as the light went off it was Big Ben. BLOGGGG.
Early this morning we arrived at Mansion House. If I think about it I can’t quite believe that we walked in there less than 24 hours ago. I started by rigging the sound system, and taping cables to the underside of tables. That’s a really good stomach workout. If I’m ever peddling “Theatre Fitness” as a desperate money-spinner, I’ll include “Gaffering Wires to the Underside of Tables Fitness Fun” – AKA CableTables. It forces you to stay in the sweet spot where the best stomach work is done. And it means that nobody will kick the wires and unplug the speakers mid show. I knew it from last year, managed to outsource it to Dan in Sheffield, and it’s gone back home to me now.
We still have a tiny bit of tech to cling onto as Jack and I play this low-fi beautiful room in York. I hesitate to say it – because we will find out tomorrow whether we can leave the room in show-state – but if they are as reasonable as they have been tonight then we might have a glorious run ahead of us. We left things loosely dressed…
We had a great house tonight. Teething problems around the speed of the dinner. But all of that is secondary. We have worked out the show in this room. And it’s the show we love, minus tricks, plus fluff. Now we start to refine it here, where it takes time and effort to even adjust the lighting state. Sam Jack and I just work together to improve and develop. This immersive work is often much broader in terms of skillset. Yes, you can portion yourself off, and insist that it’s beyond your remit as an actor to work out how you can make the moment right for you. You can show up at the half, warm up, and then complain about the set or the marketing or whatever. I’ve done similar. Most actors have. But we are making theatre here. Theatre is about community. If you accept the fee, you become part of the team. I learnt the hard way – while working in a pub theatre over a decade ago on a show I actively didn’t believe in – that you directly get out what you put in. And I want a lovely week, so I’ll put the work in to make it one, knowing that Sam and Jack will do the same. We could both just pitch up at the half and do the show. It would survive. We would look comparatively crap but acceptable because the show works.
But Sam, Jack and I are away from home, in a new room. We could show up at the half and ask her what she’s built for us. But all three of us would prefer to build it together, and our self-identities as makers trump any self-esteem hangovers about how actors always have to show up late, test the doorhandles and say “uh … excuse me…” We both went to top drama schools darling. We know what it means to be an actor. In fact, we get to help define it, as werew still going decades later. With that in mind, my advice is “climb down, darlings, and look at the people you’re not looking at. Not yourself in the mirror again.”