Whispers from the Wings

Touring and phones

September 11, 2012

Before you start complaining about my poor upkeep of this blog; I would just like to highlight two salient points:

1. There has been no internet at the theatre for the last two weeks.

2. I have a three month old son who, although he is now over colic, (thanks very much for asking) is keen on reminding me that he has a very healthy pair of lungs and that he actually is the one in charge. (I will happily continue to use Theo as an excuse for the next 21 years so you may as well get used to it now.)

Now, onwards. Am writing this on the tube on a matinee. How cool of me. There is an advert for match.com opposite me and it has me thinking as to the changing role of communication in the modern world.

Backstage, there are many people staying in character and doing vocal warm ups and stretches and pretending to be trees. Just as all actors should. But I have to tell you, there are a few who are on their phones. All the time. Playing games, answering emails, looking at photos, taking photos.

No actor would take their phone on stage with them. I can only imagine the effect on Antony's oration speech if a phone rang just after he asks the mob to 'lend me your ears'! Though I was seriously considering it before Theo was born. The idea of being out of contact for 20 minutes. Gives me shivers just thinking about it.

But I could do it once. I was on tour the first time I had a mobile phone. I called my sister first (a tradition we still keep to this day with each new phone) my agent and my mum. I used to leave it in my bag. It helped to know I could be contacted in case of emergency.

But now, it seems we all expect an emergency all the time. Backstage, nothing causes more consternation than a member of the crew saying 'I can't find my phone'. What could be worse? Losing your camera, address book, computer and phone all at once. Another shiver. Touring without one would be unthinkable.

But I think about the conversations we miss out on as we email or Facebook our friends in Papua New Guinea (I don't have a friend in Papua New Guinea, but I'd like to.) When I see someone backstage texting I wonder what nugget of information about them I am missing out on. What joke have I now not been told? I'm voracious.

On tour, in Newcastle I was able to receive daily pictures of Theo. We intend to take a pic of him every day for the first year so that he will have 365 pics of himself to chronicle why his parents have grey hair and stooped backs in their forties!

Have just realised that is the third time I have mentioned my son. He is away this week (which negates my excuse at the start of this blog). And I miss him. There is an empty cot in the bedroom and a discarded, lonely playmat in the living room and as I play my PlayStation and eat my favourite takeaways and drink my ice cold beer served to me by my personal bikini clad waitresses, I stop to consider how empty my life now feels when he is absent.

Truthfully, I wonder how I will cope when he goes to university. Or school. Or nursery. How the hell do people cope when their loved ones go on tour? It's hard to leave. But it can be harder to stay. They fight too who stay at home. Luckily, I will have my phone.

I challenge anyone reading to leave their phone at home for a day. Those over 30 must remember what it was like. See how you do and then email me back. I'll be able to pick it up on my phone!

Until soon,

Andrew F

by Andrew French  |  1 comment

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Sep 12, 1:27pm

andrew - much truth in your words. reflected in the words of the beautiful michael stipe: "it's easier to leave than to be left behind."
yours, mick (a fellow gooner!)

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Teaching Shakespeare