This is Siobhan's final blog post. This week she discusses her preparation for the show, the past week of performances and avoiding reading reviews.
Transcript of Podcast
Interview during the show …
I’m taking off Titania’s glitter makeup so Hippolyta doesn’t have a glittering face. I’m glittering and de-glittering all through the show. Titania’s dress is an explosion of pink. I think they definitely missed a trick by not selling them in the shop – every little girl’s dream. There are quite a lot of children in the audience I’ve noticed.
Preparing for the show
I never seem to get time to prepare for this show. We have a jig call one hour before the show starts, but somehow it seems to take about 15 minutes for the whole cast to assemble, so that takes time. I have a wig call before the jig call, so I usually turn up in a bit of a state, with the front of my hair curled.
Because I’m asthmatic I use a steamer every day and I do a mini warm up then, or when I’m in the shower or in the bath. I never have time to do it while I’m here, either because of the change round and the stage isn’t ready for us, or we have we have the jig call and the 15 minute hiatus while we all remember we have the jig call. Then I put on more make up than they have on the counter at John Lewis, so I don’t have time. It is my ambition, one day, to be in a play where I have time to do a warm up, but in this one I don’t, so I do a little bit at home. It is a question of feeling your way into things, rather than thinking particularly. Today for instance, my life outside this is so agitating, mainly because I haven’t really been home to clean the house. It is appalling. That is really getting to me now. Things like the pile of unopened post that needs to be dealt with. It’s a bit oppressive. So I’m actually glad to be here, not having to confront the reality of the rest of my life. We did seven shows last week, eight this week, it is quite a lot. But then of course, we’ll have the other problem – we won’t have done the show for a couple of days so I will assume that I have forgotten absolutely everything. Swings and roundabouts.
A week of performances
I’m very happy doing this show – I really enjoy it. I think this play is always going to be like juggling with confetti, you have to do everything you can to make sure that everything you do is absolutely heartfelt, otherwise it won’t work properly, more so than many other plays that I have been in. But it is an absolute delight for me. It is joyful to go out there and see the donkey for the first time and hear members of the audience who clearly have no idea that that is going to happen, react to it. It is extraordinary. And I think: ‘if you think this is funny, wait until you see the death of Pyramus!’
It is nice to be getting a feel for the place in all weathers. It is quite difficult to be a convincing fairy in glaring daylight with a helicopter above your head. It is even more difficult in the pouring rain. But I am astonished and heartened by how audiences just seem to go with the whole experience. They stay. I’m not sure that I would. But they do.
I don’t think the show has changed any more. Obviously I’m not aware of what goes on all the time. I’m trying to refine what I do. I have to be careful to not become over elaborate. Having got past the first horrid load of nerves, now that I’m a bit more familiar with it, I have to be careful that I don’t become too baroque. It is interesting this place, it is very actor centric, it requires more than any other theatre I’ve played in, that you are absolutely specific about what you do, because the audience has very little else to hang on to. So, as always, they have a right to assume that everything an actor does is intentional, but here you have to be absolutely rigorous, about what you want them to interpret from what you do. Flapping acting won’t work here at all, and that is quite a good discipline.
I haven’t read any of the reviews except the horrible one in the Guardian, and I only read that because, as I was on my way home last Saturday, I got on my train, put my bag down, and when I picked my bag up, underneath it was the copy of the Guardian open at that page, so I felt I had to read it, and I really wish I hadn’t. I don’t see the point – after a lifetime of professional theatre going you have a suspicion that some parts of this play might not work so well in daylight – so come to the press night, don’t give us a hard time because it is the afternoon.
I feel quite liberated by not having read any of the reviews – I will have to avoid the Sunday papers this weekend – but that is OK, I can cope with that, I’ve got a backlog of papers I haven’t read for the last month. We have two shows today, a matinee tomorrow, and then we are not on again until Wednesday, so we have Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off. I quite need it. I think it will be useful to have just a bit of a breather, and to catch up on sleep as much as anything else. It is difficult to sleep when you are in the theatre, because you have so much adrenalin, I’m not able to go to sleep when I get in. My specialty at the moment is waking up at four in the morning with the cat sitting on my chest – every time I think I’m having a heart attack, then I realize, Oh no, it is the cat.
It will be interesting to have a couple of days off, and see if I’ve lost my ear for how much you need in this space. When it rains, because we have a little bit of the stage that projects out, we have the Niagara effect, the wind and the rain belting down onto our wooden stage, and hammering, it is so loud you can hardly hear the other actors on the stage.
These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as she goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.