Friday, August 25, 2006

"You have but slumber'd here/ While these visions did appear"

"You have but slumber'd here/ While these visions did appear"

I spent last August in a portacabin, over-heating and using a porta-loo which quite regularly leaked. Conversely this August has been spent in a portacabin, getting rained on and cleaning a portaloo which quite regularly leaked. The major difference [other than the quantity of bruises I've accumulated] between these two Augusts however has been that this year's portacabins have been in honour of theatre and thus entirely forgiveable. That I even managed to forgive ending up sitting on the floor of a van nestled next to the rubbish [for, yes, my time came] probably speaks volumes about the extent to which I will forgive if the word 'theatre' is somehow involved. Throw in 'Shakespeare', the odd free bottle of wine and some kit kats and BAM! You've got me. I'm clearly a girl of simple tastes. Especially when they come in period dress.

Windswept Romeo and Juliet Boys

But what the last four weeks of sunburn, bruises, set shifting, rubbish clearing and being attacked by the dog who's 'Lucky' in the adverts has shown me is how much I've missed theatre. Not seeing it, or even working in it (I get more than enough of that through the WYP) but being part of it. Of the hotch-potch, shit-this-could-all-go-wrong-any-second momentum of a production. Going to bed at 1:00am, getting up at 9:00am and then going for three hour lunches before the whole process started again. Laughing so much over everything and nothing, of shared jokes and impressions and names. Being part of an extended, crotchety, ill-fitting family that is as all consuming and intimate as any relationship can be. Because this way of life, this thing about theatre, it's either in your blood or it isn't. And if it is you can't fight it.

There have been moments during the experience when I've counted the hours to it ending. Bar stocked, tickets collected, interval finished, audience leaving - day over. Not long now. A week. Three days. One day. Over.

On Saturday night during the last performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream, C sat outside with me and asked what I was going to do when Monday came.

"Get my life back".

We both laughed, acknowledging the truth and the evasion in that sentence. But the question and all its possible answers, that's what underscored everything of the next 48 hours. The wrap party, with its promises of meet-ups, of clubbing, of future days that for the most part will have been swept away with the pizza boxes and ciggerette ends - they're the words that try to prolong the experience so Monday morning, 12:00 o'clock trains and real life won't quite intrude, the half held belief that none of us will have to answer the question. The same question that neither C or I asked each other as we stood in the harsh light of the hotel reception on Monday morning.

Theatre's transitory, never quite the same, always somehow out of your grasp. That's maybe the reason I find it so compelling, and maybe why the experience itself is so intense. And this summer, with all the times I've moaned and all the times I've pondered the fact that if this was my permenant lifestyle I'd be an alcoholic, above everything else it's cemented in my head how much I love theatre. Not just the spectacle and the gloss, but the messy, hands dirty, joyously anarchic side which I can't believe I've been without for so long.

Some time after 3:00am on Monday morning - just after I'd finished dancing to 'Tragedy' - I ended up sitting on one of the bar's sofas with D, each of us professing our undying love for the other and boldly proclaiming : "We were great!".

And y'know what? We were. And, most importantly, so was this summer.

2 comments:

billygean.co.uk said...

And that is what I call great writing. It's a wrap.

BG

Val said...

That's lovely, Corinne. And that's the thing about theatre, it gets into your blood and once it's there, you can't shake it. Which is why I need to do it again! Not just watching, but being part of it - I think the last week has reminded me of that.