For ten minutes I can just sit here with my whack-a-weasel and enjoy the gentle curve of the river. There are wood pigeons and other less familiar birds calling out in the early evening. Nobody in the river right now, but often there are swimmers and boats. In fact somebody just leaped in as I wrote that last sentence and made a noise like a dying cow. But mostly there’s a peace here, marred by the distant whoosh of the road, if you don’t tune it out. Relative peace, marred by the occasional airplane. And mostly it’ll be marred by my voice barking orders and shouting “left right left right” in a half conscious imitation of the teachers who used to get a bunch of 8-12 year olds to march on the spot every morning whatever the weather at my first boarding school. I thought it was normal at the time. I think the Badger marching stuff I’m doing is closer to fun and further from trauma than it was out on that driveway in all weathers in my shorts. Mostly my audience is smiling, which we weren’t back then. From time to time there’s somebody crying a bit because they’re terrified of weasels but what can you do? Weasels are scary! Mostly this is a glorious fun experience for us and them simultaneously.
And we’re off. There’s the message. It begins. The first audience is go. WhatsApp makes it so much easier to run shows like this, but no more rest for the Badger. Not until tomorrow anyway, and tomorrow I just get to be in Oxford to relax and regather before the next weeklong willows push. Hurrah.
Well, as ever that was lovely. It’s a step in the right direction, being able to work with a small audience outside. Most of us are on our own with the audience, not doing scenes. There’s a lot of thought about bubbles and so forth. Sanitiser. We are all trying to keep as safe as possible, and if one of us tests positive they might be able to marshal a swift last minute replacement. We’ve all been filmed for that purpose. And brilliantly they’ve just added an actor to the company! Somebody to come on at the end of the audience’s journey and give them closure. I see that need. It’s easy in these experiential things to have so much fun in the middle that you forget to put a button on it. We have a song that we all share, but it’s logistically impossible to bring us together to sing it while we are still in world so it can’t be a button. People need to know it’s over.
It’s joyful to sing the song. We sing it while we walk across the playing field to return to our tiring house – all of us with our insecurities. There’s a certain romance in it – the actors scattered but bound by sound, walking home both in and out of character, sharing a breath and a set of notes. We stop at the climbing frame and wave to some of the young’uns – they who have brought us the element of random we so crave. “Will octopus ink work on weasels,” asked one fellow today clutching his fluffy octopus. “The thing I don’t like is weevils,” tried another. “Yes And.”
I’m having fun. And I’m working. That’s what I signed up for. Tick. So lovely to be back at Creation and with only one project on. It feels that everybody has a bit more time these days, myself included…