Unexpected Siward

Another quiet weekend day. Definitely nothing to do in the evening. Just a nice day of gradually listing things on eBay and possibly attempting to put the VR headset on again. (I managed about 39 minutes and I literally spent the bulk of that time in the configuration trying to make it behave in a way that didn’t make me almost instantly sick.)

I suddenly got an email from eBay telling me that today is a special listing day, but it came after I’d written this weekend off for eBay so I had to click into gear. I had a few beers over the course of the day whilst listing things, which is fine considering I definitely had nothing to do in the evening. No shows to be in. Definitely not. Drinky drinky, listy listy.

At shortly after 5pm I opened my unused gmail account to see if that woman Sophie from Bonham’s had bothered getting back to me. She hadn’t. But I had another email from Scott at The Factory. “Just checking you got your casting on Sunday?” Sunday? Wait that’s today… Oh fuck. Hang on, yes I remember…

I’m three beers down. It’s 5.45pm in Chelsea and I have a show starting in Soho, at Gerry’s Club, in 45 minutes. I am playing Murderer 2 and Siward. Thank God it’s small parts. I’ve never played Siward before though. I must’ve told someone I knew it, knowing it’s small and knowing my brain.

Now I’ve got 45 minutes to learn the fucker and get there as well. Better than Malcolm I guess. I shell out for an Uber. As I arrive I tell Jack – who is playing Banquo tonight – that I kind of wish I had his job as I can wear Banquo like a glove. But The Factory isn’t The Factory without actors stylishly managing fear, with or without three pints of beer. Better for me to break comfort zone than to trot something out unthinking. “What wood is this before us?” “The wood of Burn’em.”

We are performing tonight in a little club in Soho. It’s the place you normally end up in at midnight when whichever old boozer you’ve been having a knees up in decides it has to stop, and an unusual person volunteers “I’ve got a place!” It’s downstairs, in the heart of Soho, very much not Groucho in that it’s a glass of wine, not a mortgage payment. It’s an old school actor’s bar – there are fewer every year. Signed photographs all over the walls with people you’ve never heard of unless you care in which case you’re probably too drunk to notice.

I get there in time, but normally I’d put my phone away in my coat and trust to memory. Not tonight. I am constantly having to check the script, as I know all the parts in the scene. Which bit do I actually say out loud though? It’s really hard to calibrate the small parts.

My phone is in my hand just before I go on. Fuck it. I switch it to camera and make it part of the scene. Naughty? Maybe. I can never do it again. But it worked. This evening, Siward was very good at social media, and Malcolm’s distaste for being filmed made it into something familiar and apposite.

I utterly love The Factory, and my work with them and my growth through that work. They are a powerful community in this industry that I’m thrilled to be part of. My work with them has changed everything in terms of my outlook, and it continues to challenge. Tonight I broke my lifelong rule, never to have alcohol before I go on stage. It’s fine. I forgot…

In what other company can an actor forget they have a show that night, and for it to be completely ok when he rocks up half cut just before the start not knowing his lines, and still get there before the guy playing Lady Macduff and Fleance? Literally everybody trusted that the company would pull together if we were short. Literally everyone was chilled, forward, and ready. Apart from me, but we are all expendable and by showing up I committed to try and bring the thunder. We do our utmost if we’re there. And we all did. And so did I. Phew. Thunder. Joy.

Now bed. Here’s a friend doing his thing. I suspect he won’t object. It’s the only photo I took today. The rest was video, taken in show. I promised I wouldn’t publish it.

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Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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