After living the dream the inevitable has happened. I am now a spear carrier at the RSC. 

I have had juicier parts than I could have expected to have in my first season here but my sensitive actor's ego is currently taking a bit of a bruising. Instead of doing a feminist speech in a fit wig and singing a power ballad in Don Quixote or having a drumroll entrance as Lucifer, Prince of the East in Doctor Faustus, I am now playing 'Neighbour no. 2' in The Alchemist. I have a thick, ankle length Puritan dress, a bonnet, six lines and five minutes of stage time. 

Myself and Neighbours 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 have a lot of waiting around time from 6.55pm at the half, until 9.55pm when we make our first entrance. We all have understudy duties so we often hang out by the little monitor on the third floor saying the lines along with the principles. Or chat. Or read. Or sunbathe on the balcony. Or scroll down Facebook. Or play the guitar. I have bought my first guitar here and am teaching myself to play with the help of Neighbour no 3. and YouTube. 

A group of Neighbours from The Alchemist making faces at the camera, wearing Elizabethan peasant hats and costumes
The Neighbours in The Alchemist
Eleanor Wyld © The Artist Browse and license our images

I share a dressing room with Neighbour no.4 and I am sure she is bored of hearing the same four chords of 'Me and Bobby McGee' over and over again. But these simple chord patterns are keeping me distracted from the fact that I am very bad at being newly single. I am someone who has jumped from relationship to relationship so learning to be single in Stratford is a blessing and a curse. IT IS SUCH A SMALL TOWN. I signed up to the dating app 'Happn' a couple of weeks ago, it works by telling you which single men you have 'crossed paths with' and then you can message each other if you both so wish. It is slim pickings. I have crossed paths with someone here FIFTY EIGHT TIMES. Others I have crossed paths with twenty, thirty, forty odd times. I am not messaging any of them. They are either not great catches or are Neighbour no.7. I'm staying away from my colleagues. It doesn't end well. 

As the sun sets over the Shakespeare Disneyland and the tourists take their last poses of the day with their selfie sticks, it's time to get off the balcony, put the guitars away and get into my Puritan garms. My achy heart has been warmed by the sun and the strumming and the chats. 

Before I know it I'll be back in Dalston dancing to mediocre house music, hopefully surrounded by sweaty, gurning, eligible hipsters. I need to relish this glorious summer in Stratford sans romance. Right now I can strum and sing 'Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose!' badly across the Avon. Right now It's 9.50 and the neighbours are about to be unleashed from their holding pens to fill the Swan with five minutes of over-keen, unsubtle, upstaging acting brilliance. 

Who knew spear carrying could be so great for personal development? 

Eleanor Wyld

Eleanor Wyld

Eleanor Wyld is an actor who grew up in Hackney, London. She writes and has four part time jobs when she's resting. She is an associate at the Big House Theatre Company based in Dalston, a theatre charity helping to empower young people in care. Follow Eleanor on Twitter @EleanorWyld

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