The hardest part is over. Now a day of rest beckons. Then four more days of overlap and that’s the end of the commute of doom.
Two shows today. You should’ve seen us before the matinee. Oh I don’t much like matinées. Who does apart from families with children and old folks? We were all at low ebb energywise beforehand, slouching around the dressing room together in our pants, occasionally swearing. It was a classic example of actors before matinee. Casual undressing. Creative ways of expressing exhaustion. Making even the fact that we are knackered into a joke. And then it started raining, just before we got Front of House Clearance.
Cut to shortly before my first entrance and we are all standing outside the door to the auditorium. A large part of my professional life has involved waiting at doors. It’s the sort of thing they should do workshops about at drama schools. How to stand at the door so you can hear your cue and not be seen. Where to stand so when they page the thing they don’t hit you in the face. When I die if I get a statistic about time spent standing at doors, mine will be an unusual spike.
It smells amazing in the venue. There are 700 Nepalese people having a conference and they are cooking Nepalese food. We all hope there’ll be leftovers. (There are no leftovers).
Chris has been wondering if he can Skype his part from the pub. I was thinking of just writing a laminated instruction manual for my audience and going to sleep next to it. “Now read this bit out loud.” All of us are at low ebb. We hug each other almost by reflex. There’s a lot of love in this company. But we don’t want to do this matinée. Kids kids kids. You gotta work hard in immersive theatre with kids. If you lose them you lose the scene.
But Maddy’s dad is in. Annabelle’s boyfriend is in with his parents. We can’t phone it today. We wouldn’t anyway. “King Alonso of Naples” says Giles, and very deliberately, with a wink to my colleagues slouching by the door, I burst round the corner and spam even more energy then usual, almost as if I wasn’t pretty much completely spent. That’s the truth of this acting game. Going from slouch to king in half a second.
And then I’m on the job, and so are we all, and the nature of time changes. We go from moment to moment, connecting with so many different humans, rolling and playing with their strange behaviours. Playing with adults like children, playing with children like adults. Rolling on the text with the text, moment to moment, as sharp as possible. Making the immersive bits truthful and satisfying for audience and actors alike. I had hilarious interactions with people today, but it’s making sure that the scene is honoured around the chaos.
My energy was low, but it was enough. I like to give everything I’ve got when I’ve got it but the cupboard was pretty much bare. My voice is ragged. It grounds my king though having just the bass, as he’s connected to the earth by necessity. He growls and he barks. He can’t shriek. I have to do the final scene rooted. But I’m not going to talk at all tomorrow if I can help it. I need to give it time to recover. Steam, not too much beer, and total vocal rest.
“How was your show today,” I ask Annabelle. Her head is on my shoulder as I write. Her response comes out of her tiredness.
It was the show. It’s a great show. Far from deadly. Living theatre. And even though we were all exhausted, we kicked this week in the dick.
I’ve learnt that I’m capable of more than I thought I was. And I’ve got some amazing new friends. It’s the most incredible company. Massive hearts. Infinite kindness. It’s almost impossible. I’m sad we’ve only got 4 shows left.