Whispers from the Wings

Over 'n' out

November 2, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing red setFirst of all, I'm gonna kick off this blog by saying 'sorry'. Sorry that I've neglected you all for the last two months. The show has been all-consuming and (stupidly) once I missed a glut of blogs – I soon found it difficult to catch up.

The Much Ado journey is finished (for now) but I didn't want to leave you all hanging. I felt like we needed closure! One final goodbye before the door closes for the World Shakespeare Festival!

In the coming paragraphs, I'm gonna be quite frank with you about the whole journey and also excavate and re-live the amazing memories we've experienced. There WILL be anecdotes....

The journey
It's been an emotional journey – and I don't use that word lightly – for all of us. There's been some real highs and lows. There's been falling outs, squabbles, tension and drama. You get that with ANY job. But, especially, actors. We're an emotional, neurotic, disillusional, paranoid, anxious and manipulating bunch of people. What other breed of human can be best friends one minute and sworn enemies the next?!

Noel Coward Theatre signSwitches of allegiances have been rollercoaster-like. But at the heart of it all - it was 'much ado about nothing'. The Stratford experience was beautiful and breathtaking. I feel we had our best shows there.

The Courtyard Theatre really brought out the best of the show and it was a pity that certain moments of the play had to change for London – due to the restrictions of the space. We couldn't bring the audience onto the stage at the Noel Coward Theatre. Gutted.

I guess the reason why Stratford felt so emotional was because of the size of the town. It's tiny. There isn't a lot to do, boredom soon settles in and when you're in each other's back pockets for a lengthy duration, things are going to go haywire. And they did. You all say and do things that you wouldn't do in 'a normal context'. People change and do strange things. It's only when you look back and think: Really? Did that really happen? It shouldn't have done.

Paul and Meera under the spotlight on the Much Ado setWhile we all felt a little bit lost in ourselves and where we were, one thing that CAN'T be denied is the strength of the show itself.

Wow. I mean you've probably all seen it now and read the reviews. But it went rather well. Garnering a plethora of 5 star and 4 star reviews. On many an occasion we were told by critics and audience-goers alike that our 'wedding scene' was one of the best interpretations they'd ever seen. High praise indeed. And it's true.

They are moments in the play that will live with me and some of you all, for life. Moments like the rain falling in the funeral, the crushing termination of the wedding, Anjana's sparky maid and Raj – our sing and dance sensation! Both are not long out of drama school yet shone so majestically. Raj's performance (Balthasar) even prompted Sir Michael Boyd to give him a mention in his farewell bash.

RSC cake

It went a bit like this, Sir Michael reeled off a list of lasting images from plays during his tenure here and Raj 'n' our Much Ado made it onto that list. In fact, let's stop there. I'm going on a bit – so I think I'D better conclude this final blog in the same vein as Sir Michael with images and anecdotes from OUR journey. Are you sitting comfortably....?

I'll never forget...
When a massive hornet flew into our dressing room one night in Stratford. I've never seen 7 grown man (including myself) scream like girls before. Our arms even flailed. 'GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT! NOOOO! DON'T TURN OFF THE LIGHT!'. In the end, the hornet somehow made its way down to the bar and stung one of the bar staff, Isadora. She was in quite some agony. Ouch!

Or the times when I'd walk past Meera/Amara/Chetna's dressing room and hear almost a mini-party before the show each night. One night when I walked past, the sounds of Mark Morrison's 'Return of The Mack' were seeping from their room. Don't know who the culprit was. I think I cringed.

Or the times I DJ'ed in Stratford and London for the RSC. Twice headlining at Stratford's Maison nightclub and once for our press night party in London. All were memorable in their own special way and it was a real honour to bring the worlds of clubbing and theatre closer together.

I'll never forget the all-hands-on-deck moments when a principal actor was off.

Inevitably, it happened on a number of occasions. The first time was when Sagar (Claudio) was off in Stratford and Darren stepped in. Or in London when Amara (Hero) was off and Anjana stepped in. Or when Rudi (Watchman) was off and yours truly stepped in.

But the most dramatic understudy moment was when Chetna (Margaret) came off MID-SHOW. Yep, she fell ill halfway through and Bharti had to step in and frantically go through hair, make-up (and lines!) in the interval and transform herself into someone else. Halfway through a show. That was pretty hairy.

Muzz with understudy signsfor Much AdoAnd so there you have it. The end of a journey. An unbelievable job where dreams (and nightmares) have both been realised. Where hopes have been fulfilled and dashed. Where magic has been conjured up every night and each night markedly different.

It's a funny old world, acting. It has the ability to empower you and destroy you. And yet we put ourselves through this emotional treadmill week on week, year on year. But would we have it any different? Not on your nelly.....

Lotsa love and thank you all. Over 'n' out. Muzz xx

by Muzz Khan  |  No comments yet

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