I felt like I had jet lag, except I hadn’t actually been anywhere. Barry had warned me the previous day that I might experience a downturn in energy on the Friday of performance week – not because there was so much going on but, perhaps a little strangely, the reverse. Having the matinee the previous day had told my brain that meant the day was Saturday and that, therefore, Friday was Sunday – except it wasn’t. With all other normal patterns disrupted I was feeling generally disoriented and as though things were starting to unravel. Writing this blog proved a boon at this point as it gave a point of focus- especially remembering the ecstatic reception the show had received the previous day.
Our call time was relatively late – not until 4.30 pm in fact when it was time to run in our third and final set of fairies – pupils from Beam Primary School. Catherine, their teacher, was sitting in the auditorium looking tired but beaming with pride at what her youngsters were now experiencing; hats off to all the teachers across the nation who have devoted so much time and energy to this project. The Tower Dreamteam joined them and the pros onstage to run the Bergomask and it was great to nail this section first time – children included.
The next hour or so was divided between our by now customary warm up sessions with Laura (big pumpkin/tiny prune) Harding and Tarek (Many men) Merchant, getting some food in the Barbican green room, presenting some beautiful hand made angora scarves to our wonderful RSC directors and running the Twitter “take over” which Adam and I had volunteered for. This latter meant coming up with regular tweets from backstage to interest and edify the Twitterati and give a glimpse into backstage life for those unfortunate enough not to be able to get to the show itself. To see the takeover in full please click here.
Some of our Twitter take over pics
There was a lot of extra activity on the RSC Twitter account this particular day for it was to be this evening that the “Best Bottoms In The Land” TV programmes were scheduled to be transmitted. These were the regionally based documentaries made by the BBC which followed the process from inception to completion. Our programme had only finished filming on Tuesday (first night) so Andy and his team had had to finish the edit pretty quickly. I can’t say too much more about the programme at this point because I have yet to see it and don’t intend to view it until our run of shows has finished. I hope the rest of the teams around the country enjoyed their versions and that it provided a suitable souvenir of the project. As the start time of the show and the TV programme was the same I reflected at curtain up that there can’t be many people I know who can say they appeared on stage at the Barbican with the RSC and on primetime BBC1 television at the same time. Phenomenal.
Stage and TV
If I’m being strictly honest, and I think I should be, I felt my own performance was a little sluggish. Timing wasn’t quite right, focus wasn’t always as tight as it might have been and I generally felt somewhat off centre. At one stage I took myself into a corner and gave myself a good pep talk but perhaps I was fooling myself to think I might scale the heights of the previous day. Dresser Jen did more than she perhaps realised in bolstering confidence and I was particularly grateful for Tom’s calm and Adam’s ever cheerful demeanour and words of encouragement. The worst moment was when my brain started to tell me that I’d begun the wrong speech; I hadn’t (fortunately) but at times like this – and they do occur to most actors at some point – you just hope the stage floor will open up and swallow you. Now I don’t want to overdo the angst and these were, of course, tiny moments, in an otherwise sound evening. Fortunately, my immediate colleagues were holding things together very well so there was still plenty to enjoy and savour and, what’s most important, the audience were having a great time.
As there has been at every performance there were friends old (in both senses) and new and even complete strangers waiting to offer their congratulations at the stage door. The evening ended with a chat with a lady and three young boys who had come to see the show because the lads were appearing in their school’s version of the Dream soon. They had clearly enjoyed every minute of what they had seen and taken inspiration from what we had done; that’s what it’s really all about! So to Puck, Hermia and Starveling (sorry, didn’t get your real names) best wishes with your performance and if you get even ten percent of the joy we’ve had out of doing this play you’ll be very fortunate indeed.
This week the production is at the Barbican in London– click on the image below to reveal full details.
Evenings at 7.30 Tuesday 17th – Saturday 21st May
Matinées at 1.00 Thursday May 19th & Saturday May 21st