As I write this, the date on my laptop turns to Wednesday. So, I’m technically cheating with my date of entry. But, pah! Who’s watching over me? The Blog Lords? Poo to you all. I’ll write what I want to write and you can’t stop me!
After nearly getting mugged in the streets of Sheffield tonight, it’s safe to say that the students have returned and are now embarking on the most important week of their academic year: ‘freshers week’. To segue into any relevance of Hamlet whatsoever, tomorrow is our press night, and tonight was our last preview! So yes, up yours Sheffield boys who attempted to steal my money, this is an important week for me too!
On my last entry I wrote about the feeling after a performance. Recently, we as a cast have felt that certain nights have gone well. Funnily enough, those nights Paul has felt hasn’t gone so well. Errr, eh?
Then on the other side of the coin, the nights where we feel are not so good, Paul has been welcoming us with open arms, saying how wonderful the show was. Hmmm. As you can gather, if something feels right on stage, that you yourself or others around you are doing well, it might not read like that for the punters paying their money, sat in the theatre. It’s a conundrum that one.
I feel as a whole, we have had some great previews. All of which have been lessons taught and learnt from us. We are growing with each performance but that doesn’t mean we get it perfect every night. No no no. As far as I’m aware, there have been no duds. I think because it’s such a great play. You can do no wrong, really. But as each performance passes us by, we are as a collective of people trying out something new. We’re testing each other on stage and with this comes some things that work and some things that don’t. That’s the joy of previews I guess. Testing the water and seeing if you float or sink.
Personally, I’m only now (I told you, I’m not a rehearsal man, I’m a audience man!) getting it. Like really getting it. We’ve been talking recently about when not on stage, how to judge your entrance, how to keep the ball in the air so to speak. How to bring on a different energy so that the play stays alive. Now, and only now do I get this. And feel that I’m beginning to participate in this exercise. Others are masters at this. John Simm is taking the show by the balls (again, excuse my language, tut tut tut…) as he quite rightly has to! He is Hamlet, and the show rests on his shoulders. If he’s tired then the scenes begin to be tired, if he’s on it then we can come in and join in with his 'on it'ness. Bad grammar, apologies. But you get the idea.
We have some pros at moving the play along steadily. ‘Keeping the ball in the air’ is the term used at drama school. I think it comes from understanding how a play works. And experience. But in our cast; Joe, Rod, Colin, Barbara, Adam & Dylan are truly great at this, I think. Not saying the others aren’t but their roles are vital in the piece and keep the play moving along at a steady pace.
Tonight, as previews go, it wasn’t the best. You personally can have a great one (which I did, I loved tonight) but across the board, it wasn’t. The audience was… umm… how do I put this? Loud. Yes loud. As in coughing loud. Bless them, I know how hard it is to keep a cough in, but I think tonight was an exception of the rule, they just battered the coughs out left, right and centre. So we as performers think they’re not listening. So we try harder. But actually, it’s the furthest from the truth.
Tonight they were listening. And the reception we received at the curtain call was ridiculous to say the least. Nice, wonderful and lovely, but ridiculous. It was like being back in the 60’s and we were the Beatles. Lots and lots of screaming girls. Now I may be generalizing here, so slap my wrists if I am, there may have been a few blokes screaming too, but it was a bit weird.
And that’s the point I’m trying to make. It’s a difficult thing, to get an audience. If they are understanding and following the play. We should never try and second guess them. So as press night is only hours away, (again another thing I’d most happily tick off the list) we must do ourselves justice on stage. Connect, enjoy and play. These things I have mentioned time and time again, I know, but they are important. But when the auditorium is full with lots of pen scribbling reviewers, backstage tomorrow we must take it into our stride and go out there and be wonderful.
Because that’s what we are. All 14 of us are wonderful, no matter what the papers will say, no matter how many stars we get or good write ups are received. We are wonderful and I want to take this opportunity to say to my fellow cast members, that it’s been a pleasure, and I can’t wait to see this journey through with you all, to the end.
We are a fascinating bunch of mammals, why do we put ourselves through this? Press night is upon us. I hope they like it, but if they don’t, poo poo to them, I’m enjoying myself and that, in the end, is all that matters.