First thing in the morning somebody asked me to be a cat for an hour.
This is at Central School of Speech and Drama. I’m a guinea pig for training movement directors. They are practicing their craft on us. We are just having to respond honestly.
Wendy made me a tiger for hours back at Guildhall for the animal project. My body remembers it. But this body is so much older and heavier than the peak fitness body I had in my early twenties. Even then it was exhausting. Now, after two years of corona, with less oxygen because I have a fucking mask on my face… A hard start to the day, but at the same time a happy thing to know that this old body can still sustain it. I’m just one six month run of a good physical play away from peak fitness… Hester would always give me the running-around parts in Sprite shows up in Yorkshire, knowing that I greatly prefer the accidental fitness to the gym. This is just one day of my life. By ten o’clock in the morning I’m pooped.
I have a break though. Coffee in the market outside the school, and a moment of nostalgia. Ben is here as well and we share parallel lines. We have been running alongside one another for decades, occasionally holding hands, occasionally looking away. He trained at this exact institution though, unlike me. I’m just examining the difference between my tiger-body then and my tiger-body now. He is treading corridors that were full of possibility back when we were younger. He’s back at the old school. For a moment we share the time we’ve walked through this world as we stand being friendly in the square outside Hampstead Theatre. Both of us have kept at it. Both of us have had huge wins and huge gaps. Both of us are still there, still there, still there.
Various stints at Wyrd sisters happen until suddenly I’m Macbeth in Act 5 Scene 3 with the armour. Exploring weight and groundedness and the surrender of being dressed. Then more sisters and movement codes and elements. It’s interesting stuff to explore – crucial stuff to explore. It’s much of what makes live theatre live. My body was less of a precision instrument than I wanted it to be. I’m dead tired now. Happy tired. A tiredness I remember from the first few weeks of rehearsal when there’s a movement director who is pulling louder than the call of the table. These are good practitioners being well trained. I hope they go on to be involved in interesting and powerful work in an industry with new life from somewhere.
Driving home the news put all this theatre stuff into sharp relief. Tight voiced experts trying not to crack their voices as they coldly agree that yes, Tsar Putin might be crazy enough to push the button. If we survive this newest hideousness, there’ll be so much material to make work with. It was an hour and a half to drive home from Swiss Cottage, and parking my car up there cost me £30 for the working day, in which time I had to move it thrice. I’ll still see a profit from all my writhing around but parking is fucked in his city. Not that money will mean anything when we all live in a radioactive wasteland. I’ll be better off with a good tight body and the ability to fight the cats on their own terms.
My cat this morning probably looked like a pig.