Lucky me. I’m in rehearsal, somehow. We open on Saturday. I will be performing in my own living room, on my laptop, alongside some absolutely brilliant and completely bonkers human beings.
Last summer, before I went to America, I was in The Tempest in Oxford. It was a few calm funny weeks before everything exploded spectacularly for me and I ended up having to commute to Oxford by train every evening and back after the show to get stuck into full on rehearsals for the lovely Twelfth Night that was to follow. I loved the guys I was working with in Oxford though, which was a problem as I wanted to stay with them and celebrate after the shows but I couldn’t because back in London the cast was changing and insecurity was rampant to the extent that I ended up getting politicked out of going to the wedding of one of my best friends.
I am so thrilled to be back in the room with them, even if “the room” is all of our own individual living rooms. We were running tech. “It’s like running 9 different techs simultaneously,” says Zoe, the director. We were all in costume trying to work out what’s possible. And today I started to see it. To sense what it might be – what it can be… Time at the coalface, and we are learning the medium, such as it is. Sinead is basically liveauthoring the audience’s eye and we are all telling a crazy living room Tempest with whatever we can get our hands on in the places where we live. And it is shaping up into something interesting and worthwhile. I’m so proud to see the company evolve into the medium. To see how Zoe the director is learning how to direct this form as she goes. How all of us are upskilling ourselves technically in this process. There’s a huge amount left to chance here. But today through all the disruptions and mistakes as people left themselves on mute or “oh shit it’s my parents home with the shopping can we wait a bit before doing our scene while they take their boots and gloves and stuff off?” – through all the madness and the chance and the things forgotten and the things remembered I saw suddenly what this is and why it is like it is, because this is LIVE on screen and that’s what it’s trying to be. We can’t just be the millions of actors who are delivering “home Shakespeare”. That’s done, done quickly and done well. We are playing, and we are playing live, and God it’s funny to watch at times and lovely to be part of.
I have so much love and respect for Creation Theatre in Oxford, this team of shitkicking women making different work for playful joyful reasons, and making it with community and care at the fore. Even if I didn’t get to hang out properly in Oxford for the time I was there last summer, doing the commute of death, I get to celebrate the bond we made now instead over the internet, trying new mediums.