A whole hell of a lot of actors. Most people went in a minibus to Wales, but I came in Bergman. I need to be self-determined. We are all sitting downstairs in a beautiful vast stone home into which we have been welcomed. Last year, in Covid crazytime, we camped. This year we are welcome here in the house once more and it truly is a wonderful thing. The lush wet pasture around here. The river flowing by. The hills. This old old ground. Deep and unchanged for generations. For ever. This land has never been owned by the Ikea-fools. No new lamps for old here. Old lamps. And old friends.
My old friends. My new friends too, and newer friends who are now long standing…
Scott. It was a different millennium when we both met one another. Back then we had at least a full head of hair between us. We have held friends for so long. I adore the depth and time of it. We still challenge each other and piss each other off. The work is getting better the more time that passes. Then more recent friends, with equal complicated depth. So many different odd humans whose lives have touched each others, and we are all gathered here together under these eaves and bound in this stone but deep deep deep in the heart of the Welsh hills. And Lou is here. She’s far too smart to miss a chance like this. I’m glad to share it with her. I wanted for so long to be able to share my adventures.
Right now we are in a circle just … talking lines to each other, sitting in a beautifully well appointed room. The moon is just off full, bright through the leaded windows, forceful and clear. We will sleep upstairs in a huge room in the eaves, where the wallpaper matches one my grandparents had in their bedroom when I was a tiny tiny child. Tomorrow morning we will wake, earlier than I’m happy to, and go by minivan to The Willow Globe, and there we will do two versions of that beautiful strange sad romantic comedy Twelfth Night. I know it better than many. Post zombie apocalypse, you’d get a better quarto from my memory of Twelfth Night than most of the rest of the canon. You’d get a decent maccers, a heavily cut Hamlet, a decent shift through some of the histories and the Romans, the best bits of measure for measure, most of Dream, and the crown of my post apocalyptic memory would be a detailed Twelfth Night including academic variations and notes and a very bad recall of only the Orsino and Feste lines. Many of the rest of the plays would come in patches. And then at the end of my attempted preservation volume you’d have Cardenio Prince of Athens which I guess I could make up out of the ones I really don’t know anything about. I would perform them for the zombies and it would feel exactly the same at touring through Eastbourne on a Saturday matinee. The zombies wouldn’t mind my atrocious paraphrasing.
Tomorrow though, they’ll be a lively audience and there’ll be the Shakespeare experts there, as they always are. Still, this audience – they know we care, they know we work and drill and they know we then go from rigour to mischief. We’ve been coming here annually for eleven years doing such last minute half cocked joy. They will be looking for our mischief, and despite all the hard work we are trying to do to connect up the words and our energy and bind together, in the end we are doing all this work so we can jump into the show holding hands with each other, keep it live alive oh and have a lovely time with the people who are watching. Let’s make something fun!
First though, it might be time to clamber up to my room in the eaves with Lou and sleep in peace and darkness and silence, warm in stone and humanity and material and good air. The willows are waiting.
Earlier today I didn’t clamber back up into the tree that broke my rib. I went a little way up, to put my hand on the new growth where three years ago in high summer that big branch shed with my weight and sent me plummeting. I thanked it for teaching me a lesson. Then I probably would have pulled myself up into it anyway had Lou not been there to help me remember the lesson. We are not immortal. But we can have a lot of fun while we have this big life chance. And then eternity.