August 24, 2012
So, after a week off, we are back to the world of the play. Lovely to see the Caesar family again. It is a little like a family. There are tensions and laughter. And love.
We are at the theatre that used to be called The Albery and is now called The Noel Coward.
I wonder if it is in The Director's mind to find the RSC a permanent home in London as in days of yore? I used to get lost at The Barbican and I suspect I wasn't alone. But I loved the feeling of going to a place that had Shakespeare by the RSC happening everywhere. You never knew who you might bump into in the pub. I once was on the fringes of a group of men who were all in thrall to the many charms of Frances Barber. She wasn't even in a show that night but had just popped in to see what might be on! Marvellous.
Write to Gregory Doran now! The revolution starts here! We demand a London home for the RSC! We demand more Shakespeare! We demand Andrew French in permanent residency! Oh... sorry, maybe that last point might not get universal approval. But I'll vote for it.
Anyway, back together again. The sun has been out and one can enjoy my favourite pastime: people watching during breaks in the Tech (The Tech, for those few who don't know, is a period of time before a show goes into a theatre where the technical aspects of the show are adjusted according to the needs of the new space and the desires of the Director).
Realise how nice it is to be working in London. To be working full stop. Shops and crowds and fashion magic as well as fashion disasters make London an extraordinary city. I wonder if Scofield felt the same when he worked in this beautiful Grade II building. Or Olivier. Or Ashcroft. Maybe. They might have got a drink from round the corner, like I did on my first morning. They may have picked up a paper, said hello to the lovely staff at stage door and climbed up the steep stairs to their dressing rooms (actually, they would not have climbed ANYWHERE. In general, the bigger star, the closer to the stage. And in these old theatres some of the rooms are very very close to the stage indeed).
Tech goes marvellously and The Director has this wonderful knack of moving very quickly, not sweating the small stuff. I am still hearing lines that I never heard before and this is after nearly 60 performances! I have rarely worked with a cast that laughs so much so loud and so hard. Truly. Every day there are guffaws echoing down the corridors or from the stage. Nice work if you can get it.
The tension rises again as we realise that there is a London press night. I think the London press isn't as pressurised as the Stratford one as I am not sure all the press can be bothered to review a show twice. Which is a shame, as it is a significantly different show. Which do I prefer? I'm not telling, but I will say that I understand my character more now.
Being in London means that we don't spend as much time together as a group as most of us are based here and rush home to our beds (or in my case, nappies and wet wipes and overwhelming love). I do miss the slightly siege mentality that comes over a company when one is on tour. But that will all return soon. And with a vengeance.
In the meantime there are restaurants and in particular, the superlative J Sheekey's and their wonderful staff. There is the cacophony of accents and the pleasure of paying as much for a bottle of water as one would for a small car. Fashion magic and fashion mistakes. The thrill of trying not to spend an actor's wage in the sales (by the way, I firmly believe it is impossible to save money in London on an actor's wage, unless you are the male/female lead or rich already!) and failing miserably.
Ah, London! He who is tired of London...? Not yet. Not yet.
by Andrew French
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