Get In And Set Up

Sunday was a busy day for the production. A 0930 (!) start saw us all hanging around in the drizzle outside in the car park of the All-New Wimbledon Studio, figuring out where to sign in. The New Studio looks unnervingly similar to the Old one, apart from one small detail.

When we trooped in to the familiar dressing room, we found it almost bare! No filing cabinet full of shit, no shelves heaped with scraps of gel, no rusting lamps with out-of-date electrical safety stickers, and most importantly, no chairs. But the fridge and kettle were all present and correct. The ‘ladies’ area now has more mirrors and light bulbs than a night at the fair, but bless ’em, they need it.

The first tea of the day tasted like nectar, as did the first muffin, the first doughnut and the first bag of Hula-Hoops. Meanwhile, upstairs, the crew (i.e. the Director, and her cronies production team) were sorting out what lights point where.

Focusing the lights can be a long process, and it involves forcing actors to stand in lights for long periods of time, doing nothing, while people on ladders call out to each other.

“Bring up 12 again”

“That was 12”

“Well bring up 13 then. You knew what I meant. Jesus.”

I believe this is a form of primitive mating call. Lord knows what else they do all day.

Making actors stand in lights is a cruel thing to do, they really don’t like being in the limelight with everyone looking at them. This causes them to display a strange form of defence mechanism, known in the trade as ‘Showing Off Like An Idiot’. This may involve gurning, bizarre twitching, contortions, using the light to make amusing shadow shapes, and other embarrassing behaviour.

The morning in general consisted of hanging around the auditorium (read: ‘rows of plastic seats’ – remember this is the Studio after all) while some poor sod has to repeat their entrance a billion times, and never get to say more than ½ their first line.

Highlight! I must hide behind a curtain, worrying myself away to a stick, in the dark, for the first two scenes, before lunging out at whichever female is in the correct position. Sunday’s victim , the theatre tech, didn’t know where to look.

Lunch was at the pub, with the usual squeals, cackles and spillages. This is the only time I ever enter W*therspoons pubs. That said, the microwaved Spag Bol hit the spot.

Back in the dressing room, the subtle maneuvering for nice spaces and corners was taking place. At the risk of being antisocial, I managed to nab a nifty little corner, with a wooden step to sit on, where I can hide away and read, or make notes to write up here.

It had to happen sometime. Jayne took me aside, and without the help of the actual music, we managed to cobble together some steps for my dance routine. Actually that’s a bit disingenuous. 1. Jayne didn’t ‘cobble’ anything together – it’s real class, and 2. ‘Routine’ makes it sound like my execution of it is consistent. It ain’t.

It was only then that I realized the full horror of what was expected of me. Most amateur actors have enough trouble moving and talking at the same time. Here I was, having to perform choreographed steps to music, and remembering my lines, and remembering to say the said lines, and managing to do all this before the end of the first chorus of Kiss by Art of Noise feat. Tom Jones. A mighty task, but one which I think we’ve managed.

Tomorrows dress rehearsal will be the test.