Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow..
Tomorrow marks the end of previews and the odd event that is press night. I can’t remember who said this but, apparently, to look at the record of theatre history is really just to view one long list of press nights with the actual run and life of a play completely forgotten about. So in that vein, I’m just thinking about tomorrow as just another night in a run of many. But the one good thing about press night is that it marks the end of significant changes to the show, no longer altering from night to night (or minute to minute as in technical rehearsals). During the previews, you have to be constantly thinking about your entrance that has just been changed or that cue that has altered or that scene has been cut; so I’m definitely looking forward to some stability.
The last ten days has been pretty manic to be honest. You rehearse and rehearse a show in the rehearsal space and then for some reason as soon as you get onto the stage all that preparation seems to fall by the wayside – well, in my case anyway. I’m pretty sure for the first couple days of tech I dithered around the stage like I’d had a few too many and screwing my face up in deep confusion trying to reconcile my dyslexic tendencies to invert my carefully drawn stage-plan of entrances and exits with the real-life 3D version.
The tech also brought up a few other points of difficulty, in particular for some of the slightly older members of the company. In order to get to the downstage entrances, you are required to type a number into a key-pad – an act of precision and dexterity that is not at all conducive to panic and mania that was the backstage of Dunsinane at that time. I can assure you 24 people covered in mud, in full medieval garb with swords, axes and branches using an electronic keypad to pass through a hallway is a seriously disconcerting image. In fact, it’s caused certain members of the cast (not to name any names) so much trouble that their entrances and exits are now on the whole limited to upstage. The key-pad corridor is almost like our own Narnia as you’ll lose actors down there for a good ten minutes with nobody knowing where they’ve got to but when they return it’s with a face of sheer horror, sweaty brows and usually the line: “Um, Roxana, could I just enter from up there?” Things I’ve learnt this week: technology and actors – not a great combination (myself included).
As Hauk mentioned in the last post, the costumes and make-up in Dunsinane are pretty extreme (I won’t spoil my own particular bodily deformity but all of my intervals are spent with an always bubbly lady called Sandra in a broom cupboard pouring hot wax-like gel on my back – not quite as sexy as it sounds..). And at one particular giddy moment of tech on Tuesday night last week (that’s what 13hr days will do to you) the fire alarm went off in the middle of our fight call with all 24 of us in our extreme costumes and make-up, bloodied and armed to the nines, having to evacuate the building. At first we thought it was just a false alarm but as we heard the fire engines (extremely promptly) approaching Hampstead Theatre we thought it best to get out as quickly as possible. And as we- looking like a bedraggled group of leftovers from a particularly creative Stag party- approached Swiss Cottage tube station (the fire alarm meeting-point), Tony McGeever in an inspired moment, shouted: “See! I told you the time-machine would work!” Honestly, it could have been a scene straight out of Extras: us lot surrounded by rush-hour Finchley Road with a gaggle of people in the crowded sushi restaurant next to us looking genuinely worried that we were preparing for an 11th Century ambush to smuggle out hoards of shrimp tempura. You’ll be happy to know that we all survived unscathed and live to tell the tale and, apparently, blog it too.
But so far there have been no major hiccups, and we’ve been extremely fortunate that our previews have been pretty much sold out. So I’m going to suggest you book before it’s too late. You’ll be able to recognise me as I’ll be the only 11th century character with a laptop – blogging to you direct from the action itself. Oh, wait, actually a sword is currently approaching me at full speed as we speak - best run… How I love these new computer-come-shields.