Force yourself until you like it
November 13, 2012
It's cold. Waking up this morning, I had to fight off a thousand urges to stay wrapped up in bed. Instead, I peel the warm duvet off me and roll out of bed onto the cold carpet and into the shower. I promise myself that I'll forget all about my safe linen cocoon once I've splashed the water on. I feel great now.
Yes. Press night for The Orphan of Zhao was last night. The evening we were hurtling towards has finally been and gone. And it was worth it. What a beautiful evening. A perfect audience and a perfect response.
Now without a moment to breathe we are swiftly on to the next one.
Boris Godunov rehearsals have ratcheted up a gear themselves and as we toasted one another last night, we noted with dazed expressions and exhausted eyelids that 'We open Boris in one week!'
I keep reminding myself of my morning 'force yourself until you like it' doctrine. It's a cold cold floor to walk on when you realise that you can't relax even though press night has happened.
The run-up to a tech week is right up there with divorce and moving house when it comes to stress. And we are most definitely running upwards at the moment. But it will all feel better the minute we get stuck in and splash the water on.
Boris is a complicated play technically. We have four days of gruelling work ahead of us in order to get it ready for our first preview. It's quite physically demanding and involves a lot of quick changes of costume (which is possibly the most exhausting element).
We have 13 previews to get it right before press night on 28 November, then the understudy performance two days later on the 30th, then The Orphan of Zhao understudy performance one week after that on the 7th of December! When will we rehearse for the understudy shows you ask? Very astute of you…
The understudy line learning for Boris has had to play second fiddle to my understudy work for Tuang Gu in Orphan, so I'm quite behind. I have a day off on Sunday and I shall be spending it learning lines. Not quite the day of rest I would have liked.
I find myself thinking back to other jobs over the years to see if I have ever experienced the kind of all-consuming stress one can tend to experience this side of the river Avon. I haven't.
I find myself wondering if I'd have it any other way. I wouldn't.
I decided to become an actor here at the RSC; at the age of 16. I was in the third row of the RST stalls watching Ian Glenn play Henry V, in 1994. His 'Once more unto the breach dear friends…' sealed the deal for me. Working for the RSC today doesn't simply feel good. The memories I have of this place also make it feel right.
You can be overworked breaking rocks, or you can be overworked doing something you deeply deeply love.
by Youssef Kerkour
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