Making Stratford special
May 16, 2013
The Titus/Mad World company finally arrived in Stratford during a glorious spell of bank holiday sunshine. In fact, the weather was so gorgeous towards the beginning of the past week, and the atmosphere in the town so pleasant, that I had to constantly remind myself that this wasn't some sort of Shakespearean holiday camp.
When work on Titus Andronicus did resume on Monday afternoon, the stunning views of the river Avon and Holy Trinity Church afforded by the terrace outside the Ashcroft room were a distraction to be overcome. It's certainly the most beautiful rehearsal room I've ever been in, though admittedly that might not be saying much.
Over the course of those first few days in Stratford, our Deputy Stage Manager, Gabs, became very adept at retrieving half-naked, prone, sunbathing actors from the terrace just as their rehearsal calls were approaching.
Having said all that, it's a mark of how focused the work remained, and how much the weather changed, that when the fire alarm was set off on Saturday by the gale-force winds and torrential rain, it interrupted a phenomenally exciting run of the play.
We filed outside to the designated fire assembly point on the grass outside the Swan. There, we were joined by the audience from the matinee of As You Like It, and indeed, the cast, in full costume (oddly appropriate, given the Glastonbury aesthetic).
This is obviously not what's meant to happen – but the sight of two acting companies and a crowd of theatre-goers all huddling together in the rain and laughing seems as good an illustration as I can offer of what makes Stratford special.
by Ben Deery
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