Monday, 16 July 2012

Never Late Is Better

The term ‘fashionably late’ has always bothered me. Since turning up in the world two weeks early way back in 1983, I’ve always been overly punctual for everything. If you ask to meet me at 3pm, you can guarantee I’ve been wandering around since 2.30pm desperately trying to not look like an over-eager date. Being on time is as instinctive to me as a cup of tea first thing in the morning and blogging as soon as someone mentions the words ‘unpaid’ and ‘nudity.’ Being late is a concept that I’ll never truly understand and one that means I’ll always have to accept a few less minutes in bed because of it.

So I was very pleased to read today that EastEnders have suspended and fined the actress Shona McGarty for constantly being late. Much like how Daily Mail readers like to read about the persecution of immigrants, I love to see the punishment of those who consistently insist on being late. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been late for things in the past. However, I can honestly say that these incidences have only happened due to inadequacies with public transport, snow or once for work when I was still clearly drunk from the night before. I would even turn up early to my office job which I hated so much I’d spend most of my time there wondering just how many days off I could have if I threw myself down the stairs. And there would be days when I’d desperately try and be late. Once I’d got past the fury of watching people wandering in two or even three minutes late, I’d eye them up with jealousy and try to copy their behaviour in an effort to shave off a few precious seconds from my tedious day. But those endeavours would usually end up in me making a mad dash at the last minute as I started to panic and I’d end up arriving even earlier than usual. 

So it’s very pleasing to see someone being punished for lateness, especially in the world of acting. Chances are you’ve been affected by someone being late before. If not, it’s probably you that’s the problem. When people are late, it holds up everything. Rehearsals are often on a tight enough schedule as it is so if you’ve got some fool who constantly wanders in 30 minutes late, mumbling some vague excuse about their alarm not going off, it makes putting a show together a bit bloody difficult.  It’s an incredibly rude gesture to everyone else involved. It shows a lack of respect to those that have cast you in the role and are, hopefully, paying you and a big ol’ bitchslap in the face to the other actors who could’ve played the role equally well and would’ve turned up on time. And it’s a hugely offensive gesture towards your fellow actors who are relying on you actually turning up so they too can do their job. I was in a play a few years ago and my main scene was opposite an actor who was consistently late. The director’s way of dealing with this would be to either reschedule the rehearsals for the scene for the end of the day (meaning that we rarely ever got to them as a particularly spotlight-seeking actor would demand so much time on their scenes throughout the day) or to rehearse my scenes opposite someone else standing in. This was mightily unhelpful as it achieved very little apart from wasted time and an annoyed actor who, of course, just wanted to be working on his own scenes. 

I’ve seen very little action taken against those who insist on turning up hours after everyone else. At drama school we had the most appalling repeat offender who was so bad that he ended being taken out of his final show (although he has probably turned out to be one of the most successful  graduates so it clearly didn’t do him any harm.) The problem is that once you’ve got to the rehearsal stage, the hassle of getting someone else in is so brain-stretchingly tedious that everyone would rather just put up with it so the problem is never resolved. The cretin keeps getting away with their few extra minutes in bed just because casting is such a ball-ache it’s why you don’t see ball pools putting on shows (probably.) While training, if you turned up late then you were suspended for the rest of the day but once you escape its cushioned cocoon, that kind of punishment just isn’t practical.

And don't even get me started on people who turn up late to the theatre. I've been late for a show once and that's because there had been a multi-car pile-up which despite my poor driving skills, was clearly not my fault. However, I have trouble believing that everyone who turns up late and irritatingly apologises as the creep along their row has genuinely been held up. No, instead they casually make their way to the theatre, decide to get drinks after the final call has been made, then decide to have a quick wee and then finally noisily tiptoe in just so they can deliberately spoil my evening. 

I realise that I may be alone on this one. I realise that not everyone gets quite as worked up as I do over running a bit late. And I realise that my desire to put everyone on timed strings so that they’re always punctual is unethical and would bugger up Sliding Doors. But hey, maybe when we’ve rid the world of poverty, famine, disease and sexist castings we could possibly start enforcing punctuality as a legal necessity and I can find something else to harp on about…

1 comment:

  1. I have exactly the same issue. I'd rather be 10 minutes early than one minute late, and latecomers get on my tits.