Whispers from the Wings

Shawshanking Shakespeare

August 23, 2012

With our first couple of shows out the way, our second week in Stratford kicked off with the arrival of the guru. The greatest voice coach of 'em all. The legend that is, Cicely Berry. What an honour. I bought all her books whilst at Webber Douglas over a decade ago, so it was humbling to finally put a face to the name...(!) She's nearly 90 years of age, so we're lucky to have her here. What a trooper.

Cicely Berry int he Courtyard auditoriumI didn't know whether to bow, shake her hand or kiss her feet. I think, in the end, I just dribbled in awe. Slightly embarrassing. She was incredibly incisive and said that she thought our production of Much Ado was 'a very joyous one'. She then (naturally) told us that we had a little bit of voice-work-polishing to do.

'But you can do it'. She said. 'You can. Well. You've f***ing GOTTA do it, haven't you?!'.

Cue hysteric laughter from everyone.

Cis then proceeded to put us through our paces with some exercises and sharpened us up. We're still in previews and – inevitably – our work isn't finished yet.

dressing room sign with names of male actorsIt's press night this week and it's probably worth pointing out that nerves are sky-high and people are sweating bucket loads. Not least because of the mini-heatwave we're experiencing in Blighty at the moment! In our dressing room, there are seven men. Count 'em. Seven fully-grown(ish), adult men. I've never shared a dressing room with so many blokes before. And, I'm quite ashamed to admit that, it definitely STINKS!

I'm gonna be holed up in a room with six other men for a very long time, with a stench twice as bad as THAT Tim Robbins sewage pipe moment in The Shawshank Redemption. Tim was lucky. He only had to endure the smell for an hour or two on a stormy night in Ohio. We're gonna have to endure 'boy smells' in a confined environment for the next two months. Not even Raquel Welch can save us now...

Garlanded Tuk tuk outside the Courtyard TheatreAs we continued to turn Stratford-upon-Avon into a miniature India, the gang in the marketing team added this little beauty into the mix.

Oh yes. Our very own Much Ado About Nothing tuk-tuk. Pretty damn cool. It got paraded in front of The Courtyard (where else?) throughout the week. But it's purpose isn't just for show. Oh no. If you're coming to watch the play then you, the public, get a FREE tuk-tuk ride from Bancroft Gardens to right outside the theatre. I can't tell you how much I'd love to go on one. But I can't as I'll be doing the show.

Actually. Hang on. Don't I have an understudy?...

by Muzz Khan  |  2 comments

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Aug 23, 4:44pm
Maria Robertson

Cicely Berry, wow. I aspire to be like her. Production sounds amazing and can't wait to see it when it gets to London.

Aug 27, 11:01pm
Amy Smith

You're in for a treat Maria, it's a great show!

And I LOVE Cicely's comment to the cast - brilliant!

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Teaching Shakespeare