And that’s the week.
Today I’ve been taking up floors and dropping ceilings. The building that I walked into to see the Wolf show a few weeks ago looks almost like an empty brick warehouse once more. There’s much left to do in the mushroom basement, but above ground level we are looking shipshape now.
Thinking about it, the build quality was very high for the show, despite the threaded screws and the enthusiastic glue.
They couldn’t drill into the walls, so most of the rooms were free-standing timber frames decked with ply and occasionally anchored in either the floor or the ceiling. Once we had a handle on them, we could laser on the anchor points and then bring the whole wall down to deconstruct, frequently exposing a blacked out window behind it which we could use for light and ventilation. Yes they would have felt fragile, but given the constraints there was no other option.
Outside of the basement and the endless stairs it’s not a bad place to work. There aren’t many of us on an average day, and I’ve been paired with Tristan so frequently it’s just the two of us for hours on end communicating by grunt and working through long repetitive physical tasks. Yesterday we were joined by Jo though, and today by Mitch.
Yesterday was tiles. Between three of us we must have prised up a couple of thousand individual bile green vinyl tiles, all the while cursing the name of whoever thought that was a good way of dressing a temporary space. Today was more varied but just as mundane.
We are spent. We were laughing about our lack of strength in the morning. In situations where we normally would’ve been able to rely on a combination of hand and core strength to pull up bits of hard-glued lino we were pitiful. Useless. Children.
We had to resort to tools and cunning, cutting the floor into strips along the adhesive underlay and then using body weight and the remains of our tattered grip to tear it up. My fingertips are gouged and wrenched and bloodied as I work in fingerless gloves. The padding on the gloves has done a lot of work, but there are still tiny blisters.
So I’m home, alone, listening to Beethoven and decompressing and I’m glad of it – an honest fortnight’s work. I have a feeling I’ll be in next week for a few days, back in mushroom land for the last push. I’ll need to gear up to that, as they’ve left the worst till last. That basement is a disintegrating, humid, pox-ridden hellhole. Even the mice don’t go there.
I’m definitely getting fitter. I’ll need to keep this up, as even my shoulder is easing with the constant movement, strain and hard use followed by self care, good food and relatively early bed. I’ve rarely had to take painkillers this week for it. Time is playing its part, but I think it’s a lesson that I need to carry. Accidental exercise in the course of my work might not be adequate anymore. I need to make sure I’m fit enough to sustain another four decades in theatre. I know a fair few actors still bounding around near eighty. Let’s aim for that…