I do love theatre, it's what I grew up doing and is something I am by now, very familiar with. The thrill of rehearsing and performing a play has never diminished for me. However, I know of several actors, especially more recent graduates, who perhaps don't have the same passion for theatre as some of us older hands. For them, getting into television and building a career there is the thing to do and for all I know, such an approach might be actively promoted in drama schools these days; television is often a much more lucrative pursuit and from an agent's point of view, a much better way to quickly establish a client's profile.
All this preamble is building up to me saying that, once again as May has rolled around, I think I might have bitten off more than I can possibly chew. Last year, I had to 'cold learn' two Maeterlinck plays and go on after three afternoon rehearsals. That certainly got my attention and having achieved the task in hand, I felt super confident that 'the old magic' was still there, that I could do anything and I really was a 'master of the universe' etc etc... Such confidence is a very precious commodity and it left me about an hour after the final curtain on that production. Since then, a whole year of self doubt has crept back in and my task this year, makes last year's look like a couple of weeks sipping cocktails on a private beach, with a warm, gentle breeze and the sound of the ocean for company.
It's now May 18th; by June 28th, my Mission Impossible is to have learned, rehearsed and performed three full-length plays. This kind of work is usually referred to as 'weekly rep' and in late 19th - mid 20th Century Britain, became the established method of putting on a variety of shows in quick succession, at a time when most towns and cities would have had their own Repertory Theatre with it's own resident company of actors. The idea is to rehearse the first play and as soon as it opens, start rehearsing the second and so on; rehearsing during the day and performing at night. When I started out, most of the older actors I worked with had begun their careers in weekly rep and considered it a right of passage, a badge of honour almost. Apart from my final two years at university, when I was rehearsing and performing at least a couple of productions at any given moment, I've never experienced such 'full on' theatre and in a bizarre way, I'm really looking forward to the immense challenge of it. Good job I love theatre!
I leave for Nottingham next Tuesday to start rehearsals, but before then, I also have four days in the recording studio, for which I need to be fully prepared of course. Not complaining, but - aaaaaaagh!
I shall spend the rest of this sunny Sunday trying to assimilate the first play we're due to rehearse and I reckon I'm about half way there. The goal I set myself was to have cracked the first play by tonight and so far, I'm roughly on schedule. My days in the recording studio are semi-prepared, but tomorrow's I haven't yet seen the script for and will probably have to rely on instinct when it comes to performing it. The next two projects are just about ready although the final three stories I have yet to read.
So, there we have it. I will of course update here when possible and let you know how things are going...
In the meantime, here's a poster for the shows at Windsor; I'm in The Ghost Train, The Shadow of The Ghost and Fatal Encounter.
As a quick PS, I should also mention that Nick Briggs is directing the first two plays and Karen Henson is directing Fatal Encounter.