May 15, 2012
Wednesday we tech the whole show. Greg is unavailable, as he is directing his African Julius Caesar.
Tom King, our Assistant Director, takes over and handles the tech very well. Jamie Ballard playing the young Launcelot Andrewes is rehearsing Antigone at the National and misses most of the day. His understudy Sam Marks fills in for him effortlessly.
At 6pm, Jamie dashes across Waterloo Bridge to us and we go straight into a dress rehearsal. Must be disconcerting to work on Greek tragedy all day and then leap forward to the reign of King James I.
Tom King has to call out the boy prince Charles' lines from the stalls in the final scene, as he has had to be released. Strict time rules apply for child actors in the theatre. We have three new young princes to rehearse and they will alternate performances.
Thursday we do another dress rehearsal and then our first preview. Very good performance to a very good and sizable audience. Strong applause at the end.
We are adapting to the space, although we all now 'play out front'. Surprisingly the play seems to work better in the pros arch stage. Perhaps because in a play of such rich language, exciting ideas, torrid argument and word play the fact that every word is now going in one direction seems to impact more effectively on the watchers.
Backstage, all are making the dressing rooms more cosy. Actors bring in pictures, lamps, cards etc. Bill Kenwright has sent us each some exotic, beautifully presented orchids. Much appreciated.
Joe Kloska in our dressing room fixes a Vietnamese propaganda poster attacking Richard Nixon to the wall. Paul Chahidi unpacks a cafetiere and some coffee. I bring some chocolate fingers. Fruit appears. We purchase wine and beer for after the show. Things are looking up. Dammit, the place is looking miles better.
Saturday, both shows are very well received. Afterwards, tired but uplifted we all retire to the pub. The 'Nell of Old Drury' just up the road opposite Drury Lane Theatre where 'Shrek' is playing is a fine pub and much frequented by actors and staff from four nearby theatres. Lots of laughs. Monday we face the press - again.
by James Hayes
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