Our return to Don Quixote began with a speed line run the morning after the Doctor Faustus press night. There was nothing speedy about it. It ran longer than the actual play will and it's not a short play. Our bodies were in a state of catatonic fatigue in that rehearsal room after a night of a free bar, never ending honey and mustard sausages and pulling shapes under multicoloured disco lights to top UK garage tunes. The speed line run the day after was therefore, not a success.
I think it is safe to say we had forgotten La Mancha over the last three weeks. Peasant tangos and puppet sheep seemed very unfamiliar. The world of Doctor Faustus has been all-consuming, but there is no rest for the wicked (sorry). We are now rediscovering La Mancha and it's windmills and jousts and wandering knights in the day whilst making trips to Faustus' sordid, pulsating hell at night.
We are basically doing two musicals. Neither production would like to be called a musical. They are plays with songs. And dance numbers. One has beautiful melodies and a joyous theatricality in its Anglo-Spanish charm, whilst the other has sexy, clashing harmonies and discordant Tom Waits gravel. In one we dance and smile at the audience, in the other we dance and look like we want to eat the audience. Both are driven by plot and poetry and great acting, there's nothing conventionally 'musical theatre' about either of them. However, let me tell you, the Swan summer ensemble company of 2016 are doing two musicals.
I keep on getting flashbacks to being a Miss Saigon obsessed 13-year-old on a musical theatre residential summer school. I think the me then, in my buffalo trainers and gelled back hair would be very pleased with how life has turned out. Right now my life is like a high octane, big budget 'Stagecoach' course that NEVER ENDS. It is now my job. From 10am to 10pm.
I was warned about this part of an RSC season. The trench warfare part, when it becomes 'The Battle of the Tea Break' and Dunkirk spirit is required by all involved to allow a second play to be rehearsed whilst the first is performed. Luckily Doctor Faustus is short, running at 1 hour 45 without an interval so we can be home (or in the Dirty Duck) by 9.30pm. Then it's up again at 9am to roll into rehearsals at 10am with a Nutribullet in hand, ready to re-work huge song and dance numbers and sword fights and six part harmonies. We finish at 5pm sharp for an hour dinner break, where I tend to lie flat on my back in front of mindless television. We then start wig calls and warm ups and fight calls at 6pm, ready for a 7.30pm show.
It's brilliant. It's what I've always wanted. It's inhumane. I'm trapped, I'm owned, I love it, I'M AT THE RSC! I'm free to perform and shine like the stage school kid I always wanted to be. I make these contradictory statements to myself, sometimes all within the same hour of a working day. However, once we get onto stage as filthy, clockwork-orange inspired scholars, all individual frustrations are forgotten. We are united and high off each other and the audience, and hour of cardio on the Swan flies by.
We have been here for three and a half weeks. It feels like months. I haven't seen Zeus in three and a half weeks. It feels like forever. My mum sends me heart wrenchingly sweet photographs and videos of him. In my current state of delirium I am prone to showing every member of the girls' dressing room a picture of him lying sleepily on the sofa or in his new collar because he has grown too big for the old one. Pathetic.
I don't know when I'm going to get back to London to see him. The last train back to London seems to be rigged by the RSC mafia to leave before the show finishes on the Saturday night. (Not actually. I hope.) We start tech on Monday for Don Quixote and I have already expressed on this blog how much I love techs. And how good I am at driving. I'm not sure driving to London and back, after a week of performing two musicals, just before starting tech (with around ten costume changes this time) is the healthiest thing for me to do on Sunday. No matter how much I miss Zuessy woosey.
I'll stop complaining. I'm not waitressing in the day and doing a fringe play for no money at night as is often the case. That is far more draining. My eyes may be bloodshot but I'm happier and more fulfilled and a better actor than I have ever been. It's Thursday morning and I've just made myself a Nutribullet with frozen berries, banana, almond milk and oats. Almost every member of the company has a Nutribullet. They help. Laughter and camaraderie also helps. There's a vast amount of that going on and it's going to get us through the next few weeks. We have a band call this morning for Don Quixote when we will sing the 15 or so numbers in the show with a full band. Exciting. I don't have any Buffalo trainers to get myself in the mood but I have just brushed my teeth whilst secretly listening to the Wicked soundtrack. I love Musicals. I'm in two of them. I'll drink down that bullet, pin on that smile I learnt at Stagecoach and get step-ball-changing.