Whispers from the Wings


November 12, 2012

The last time I was in Cardiff a slightly (read 'extremely') drunken reveller who I had just met, propositioned me with one of the most bare faced, filthy chat up lines I think I have ever heard. I was outraged. I was disgusted. I was apalled. I have never forgotten her.

Even though she stormed off in a huff when I had to decline her invitation, the lilt of her voice and her delightfully slurred intonation made me ever since extrememly partial to the Welsh accent. My only other memory is of a bouncer being carried out of his nightclub as he sang (beautifully) 'New York, New York'.

But Cardiff is more than late night solicitations and drunken singing. I know it sounds like I have loved every place we have been (not true). But I really love Cardiff. I like the shopping. I loved the digs I had (Kathryn Goding) and I loved the theatre. A beautiful space where the audience comes right back at you and kisses you on the nose.

It was freezing when we were there. Arctic. And I have to confess that there seemed to be more places to go out in Norwich. That was until the last night where we were invited to the Holy Grail of nights out: The House Party.

It started off terribly and ended up being one of the most brilliant nights out I have had in a while. I met a nurse who was just absolutely lovely and planning to leave this country because the health service in this country was too difficult and stressful and poorly paid. And if that isn't depressing enough she was funny, kind (she looked after her grandfather in her spare time), intelligent and pretty. Sigh.

There was also at the same party an Aussie who had moved to this country to further his acting career. Hmm. We lose nurses and gain actors. Maybe Cardiff is on to something. They don't care about sick people, they want to die quoting Shakespeare from their death beds! I jest.

Or do I? There was a demonstration on my way to work. White students protesting restrictions to immigration. How novel. I am not going to drift into some political point. Theatre is politics. Whether we like it or not. Pretending to be other people has been deemed suficiently dangerous to be banned or censored since the first actor got to their feet and performed a 10-minute routine in front of Sabre-tooth tigers and Pterodactyls.

It seems to me that we all ahve something to learn from other cultures. And nowhere on this tour has this been more deeply demonstrated than in Cardiff. Students from different cultures forcing the city to change whether it wants to or not. Passionate people who want to learn and teach.

The show has been a struggle. Not much, just a little bit. People are getting sick and complaining of tiredness just a little bit more now. The end is nigh. I don't want it to end but have already started to leave. I speak only for myself. I don't know why but I think all shows stretch to fit their space. If the tour had been a month, then it would have been after three weeks that I would have felt I had had enough.

I also know I will miss the words and the people desperately the minute we all part ways making pie-crust promises to stay in touch. I had a friend once (truly!) and he said he could not do what I did. I imagined he was talking about learning lines or standing up in front of hundreds of people. But he merely said he could not bear to make and lose so many friends so deeply and so quickly. He had a point. I will miss the RSC. So deeply I cannot speak of it. It is a private thing.

The Brunette will not be coming to Russia. I had visions of her and little Theo in fur (fake?) lined hats, crunching their way through the snow. Red square twinkling with remembered menace. But it is too cold and we are still too timid to put him in harm's way if we can help it. The Brunette is much better than I (in all sorts of ways) but even she too finds the idea of Theo on a plane or in the snow in a foreign country hard to countenance just yet. So she will bravely, beautifully, boldly stay and clean and cook and feed whilst I charm and perform and dance. Doesn't seem fair. But then, so little is.

We will be in Russia soon. I will try and sign off my blog by writing every day (that was always the plan but life, as is it's habit, got in the way). If I fail, don't hate me. I hope that I will be able to tell you about fur lined hats and traipsing through the snow past red square. But it will probably be more about hotel rooms and the cost of alcohol (high, apparently) Any tips will be greatly recieved.

Until next: think no ill of me.

Andrew French

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