Wind in the Willows – Day 3

Only three days… Ha. We open on Saturday. Tomorrow is a day off. I love this sort of thing though…

It’s so hot. I’m not allowed to complain when it’s hot – my own rule – but man, it doesn’t get much hotter in this country. Today I tried on my costume, which involves woollen mittens and a plastic mac and a big hat with ears. It’s a sweatfest. The mac is, thankfully, optional. English weather doesn’t like you to feel relaxed, so it’s perfectly possible that it’ll shit it down with rain for every show, and the temperature will plummet. Right now though it feels it’ll never be anything other than boiling. We all know how quickly that changes on some level, and yet we can never think past the immediate.

Today I spent a lot of the day in a riverside meadow, thinking about how to manage a simple bit of storytelling when swarmed by children. It’s all very well for me to geek out about Pan, but this is a children’s show and the major thrust of the work will be making sure they don’t run headlong into the river or start punching ducks. I’ll have to try to find a way to get the tale told and deal with the logistics at the same time. It’s the old balance in immersive shows – to what extent do I just become a shepherd? How can I give them the sense that their actions affect the world? Is it really necessary to do so? It’s probably not necessary with kids, but when does it start to just be on tracks and steal all agency from the audience?

Frankly I just have to be Badger and get the troops whipped into shape somehow. The audience will have some form of an experience and more agency than the adults in large scale shows I’ve witnessed with the word “immersive” on the ticket. We’ve got a team looking after all the bigger things with Willows. There’s the joy of just being an actor for me. I can just think about physicality and seek to be clear about my choices and organised on my beats, and the overarching narrative and all that category anxiety – that will look after itself.

It’s hot though. Man it’s hot. We had a photoshoot while I was swimming inside my full costume. “Where do you think Badger wants to be to have his photo taken?” “As near to here as is humanly possible.” I stood and pointed in a little hedge. Maybe there was a shot they can use for publicity. Sweating in a hedge in my woolly gloves I felt more like Grandpa Steptoe on an unwanted holiday in Spain than a denizen of the wild wood with wisdom to impart. I’m going to have to wear that costume for hours most days. Then I’ll have to put it on again, the inner layer still soaking from the previous show’s sweat. I’ll bring my own towel…

And this evening I’m back in London. Day off tomorrow and we need to let things settle, and I’ve had a bunch of meetings come through all at once. God love my agent. This is how it goes. The world is switching back on. I’ve been round at Emma’s, nailing down the first two of three which have just been sent to my agent. I’ll need to be online tomorrow morning to make sure they went through ok. Self-Taping made it more possible than it would have been if I’d had to come into a room. These short videos of me are off to America. Fly, little pelicans. Bring me the work. That’s all I want.

That and sleep. Which is where I’m off to now. To dream of badgers and all the things I’ve been pretending to be while under NDA…

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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