Monday, 31 July 2017

Notes on a dream show

I recently had the good fortune to be part of a fantastic outdoor production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' at the Roman Theatre of Verulamium with Ovo. It was a big cast involving quite a number of children (many from Best) and a lot of music. This meant the usual rehearsal process for such a venture was extended almost threefold - to cope with music rehearsals (for mostly non-musical types) and to rehearse in the kids.

Big cast number before the interval
Mine was a strange position to be in. With so many Best students in the cast I was conscious of being on my best behaviour throughout - not chatting during rehearsal, watching while not actively involved, taking notes and delivering on them. That wasn't too much of strain as I've always been quite good at the discipline side of theatre, but nevertheless I was being watched...

And this was my first time actually on stage acting in about 21 years!

What was pleasing was how well behaved the children were. Yes of course they got a bit hyper from time to time but overall they were cheerful, co-operative and focused. And of course I was especially proud of the standards achieved by our Best cohort, including one simply outstanding performance in a role in which she was never really offstage. At age 14 in an adult cast (and sometimes in terrible weather) that was some achievement from Tanya S!

Another nice surprise was the strength and attitude of the whole team - cast, creatives, management and crew. I'm trying to remember a cross word in the whole process and I just can't (not even from my Hippolyta, Jill, when I got the swordfight wrong. Again.). Even when the skies opened the smiles stayed resolutely glued to faces. It was a wonderfully happy, challenging and exciting experience which made me so pleased I decided to take that big step back onto the boards.

Jill politely points out where I went wrong.
The whole thing reminded me of why we spend so much time at Best and in the theatre world in general 'playing'. It builds friendship, trust, openness, honesty and a sense of belonging.

It also reminded me that there genuinely are 'no small parts, only small actors'. There were some brilliant cameos - a drunken Moonshine, crazy Lion and a mad Cobweb spring immediately to mind - and my role was but fleeting. But I don't think any of us for one second felt that we weren't an absolutely integral part of the whole machine.

But mostly it brought back to me why I fell in love with the stage in the first place. There is simply nothing like being on stage - it's terrifying, exhilarating, you are totally reliant on others and they are totally reliant on you.

Bring on The Crucible...

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