Five star holiday
March 21, 2013
I toured a show to Singapore once. They put us up in a five star hotel and we were treated like royalty.
I happened to be there on my 24th birthday and when I came down to hand in my keys at the front desk they wished me a Happy Birthday, as did the doorman and the porter. None of them checked a computer or notebook before doing it. I came back to my room at the end of the day to find a birthday cake on a trolley.
I remember thinking, 'Wow, now I know what five stars truly means.' It has very little to do with the quality of the 'stuff. Nice sheets, fancy mirrors, gourmet food etc. All of that can be found in places of varying quality. What makes something truly elite in quality is the attention paid to you and the effort that goes in to create your experience.
Well we're now into show calls only now. We have our days back to ourselves as exhaustion slowly gives way to satisfaction. The fog has cleared and winter is on its way out. The birds chirp longer during the day and there's more light now than we've had previously. This is the sweet stuff.
I talk a lot about the team of people involved in making the shows happen but I rarely get the chance to praise the team of people we don't get to see.
What makes working here so amazing is that you're welcomed and supported by every element of the theatre. The guys at security and at stage door, the ushers, the bar staff, the front of house staff and everyone in admin. You walk around the theatre and people you've never met say hello to you by name.
The front of house staff who sit and watch the shows every night and usher the audience around continuously engage with the audience about the shows. I overhear them all the time comparing plays, discussing plot lines, praising the company of actors. It's truly humbling stuff.
None of them are career ushers. Many are young actors about to head to drama school. But that kind of attention to detail is unmistakable. It's infectious and rubs off on the audience.
The plays put on by the RSC will not be universally liked and won't appeal to everyone. But to be able to say you had a great time at the theatre, even if you didn't like the show, now that's an achievement.
Talking to Tony Boyd-Williams who is a tour guide at the theatre reminded me of how lucky we actors are to find ourselves with such support. He sees every play numerous times, as well as the understudy performances and speaks very knowledgably about theatre, especially the theatrical history of the RSC.
With my days free again and the sun starting to come out it's very very easy to view this as another five star holiday. I remind myself that I'm getting paid to do a job and that I'm meant to be at work. The thought just makes me happier.
by Youssef Kerkour
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