I went to the Tiny Theatre yesterday, for rehearsals.
Not a terribly peculiar occurrence in itself, I’ll admit: we are opening a new play next week, and the plague has wrought havoc on my cast, so it’s been a carousel of understudies, and Nina is away, so I’m also rehearsing things for her, and, starting tomorrow, we have a one-week reprise of an old play… So it’s not so much that I‘m living at the TT, as that we all are.
Which is why yesterday I had to take my borrowed Molière people (Nina’s, actually) in the makeshift rehearsal room upstairs, while this week’s play was undergoing tech on the stage. Upstairs we had the noisy company of Duccio and Felicita in the wardrobe, getting people to try on costumes for four different things at once, and of the seamstress fitting young Dado’s Russian uniform…
“Won’t they keep quiet?” complained my Valère at one time.”
“Hardly,” I said. “But put it like this: if you can work through this din, nothing is ever going to break your concentration again.”
And actually, we did work though it all – with people coming and going, and Felicita peeking in to borrow Maitre Jacques for more costume work, and our stage manager and lights man passing through with armfuls of props and a thirst for tea, and the yelling from downstairs at one point… We did work, and rather effectively, too. And when Molière was done, Merluche – also one of my own recently promoted understudies – begged for an impromptu rehearsal of his scene as Verseuil in my play.
“Since you are here, and I am here… or do you have to be elsewhere?”
I didn’t, so we went through the scene twice and a half – and a good thing it was, too, and as we went downstairs, I was surprised to find several pupils of the School… I’d entirely forgotten it was class day.
And the Great Felicita was down in the green room, full of news about the bit of backstage drama that had caused the yelling earlier, and so was the sound man who cornered me on my way out – all of it in whispers, because on the stage they were still doggedly rehearsing…
One huge whorl of chaos – or, if you like, a few whorls of chaos overlapping – and anyone who saw us last night might have legitimately wondered how on earth we manage to accomplish anything at all. The fact being that we do, of course – and you know what? I loved yesterday.
I loved the deranged anthill atmosphere, the breathlessness, the noise, the laughter, the mounds of costumes, the focused work through it all, the bits and pieces and worries of four different plays, all in the air like a juggler’s flying oranges, the stories, the people, Renata with the chair (“I’m leaving this here, because it’s underfoot backstage…”), the Russian uniform, the buzzing, rushing, sparkling aliveness of it.
I do love it all. Why, I even used to play make-believes remarkably like this as a child… and now that I have it in truth, I love it to bits.
Which is, considering, a good thing, because I’m going to have ten solid days of it – and that’s just for now.