Friday, 17 February 2012

Doctor Theatre

When I worked in an office, I bloody loved sick days. For the price of a cough and sneeze, I would be paid to stay at home and keep my duvet company. Apart from the monthly wages that would be keep me in a steady supply of dresses, sick pay was the best thing about being at work. To be fair, I took very few in the two years I was there but the ones I did have I embraced with the same kind of joy I usually only get from free bars, romping around in my onesie and short plays.

But it’s all very different when you’re self-employed. When your immune system decides its time it took itself off on a mini-break, there’s no one whose going to slip a few twenties in your bank account while you sniff and sneeze and create a used tissue barricade around your bed. Thankfully, my body used this week, where I had absolutely nothing planned, to shut itself down and turn me into a red-nosed, hacking misery so very little was lost and for once, I didn’t have to feel bad that I was lying in bed on a Tuesday afternoon watching Nighty Night. 

I’ve been very lucky when it comes to illness getting in the way of acting. I loathe the term ‘Doctor Theatre’ which appears to be everyone’s answer when you say you’re feeling ill but you’ve still got to perform that evening. Why isn’t this used in any other profession? ‘Doctor Office?’ ‘Doctor Hospital?’ ‘Doctor Primary School?’ No. When anyone else is ill then they just get told to stay at home and rest up until they’re feeling better but work in this stupid business and the show very much has to go on. 

However, it’s hard to argue with the term ‘Doctor Theatre’ when it really appears to work. How else would I have been able to get through a four hour dance rehearsal with chronic food poisoning? If this weird GP who refuses to cure anyone but performers doesn’t exist then practicing dance routines to Kanye West and Kelis when last night’s dodgy curry was playing havoc with my insides would’ve been almost impossible. And how many times have we found ourselves disastrously hungover just moments before we have to be on stage? During a Shakespeare festival a few years back, most of us, due to being desperately depressed about being kept out of London for three months with practically no money, drank ourselves stupid on cheap gin until 7am pretty much every night. We’d then get an hour’s sleep before having to get up so we were ready for rehearsals at 9am. Just the thought of this now makes me feel physically sick but back then, when you’ve got adrenaline and gin still coursing through your veins, you feel like you can achieve anything. 

I’d like to say that now I’m feeling better I’m being proactive again and making up for the few days where I achieved nothing. Yes. I’d like to say that. I can’t but I’d definitely like to. Instead I’m off to find another excuse for being a little bit lazy. Anyone got any dodgy looking meat that needs eating up?

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