Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Happy Firstday

If you're lucky, you're making your way to somewhere suitable. However, more often than not, you're heading to someone's house, someone's office or, as I genuinely have, an abandoned roof top. If it's sunny, maybe you're heading to the park, your pollen-filled eyes raging and wondering why you're putting yourself through this. But wherever you're going, you're probably a bit nervous. As you check GoogleMaps on your phone for the millionth time, convinced that no one would hold a first rehearsal down this road, you become convinced that you're going to hate everyone and whether you'd be better just to turn back.

I arrive at things so early that even Doctor Who is jealous of me. So, I normally arrive in time to walk around the block a few times to then arrive at the venue 15 minutes before the director turns up. The director, thinking they've arrived a good 15 minutes early will give me a quizzical look and wonder just how keen I am. However, I believe the experience for most people is to arrive when the room is actually open.

So, you get there. Maybe some other members of the cast are there too. You recognise someone from your audition.

"Hey, we you at-"

"Yeah, we were in the same group. Wonder if that guy got in to?"

You laugh. You don't which guy they're talking about. You soon realise that they don't recognise you and think you're someone else. As more cast members arrive, two will be surprised to see each other. They worked together on a previous show or they trained together. However it is that they know each other, they'll make sure that's everyone's aware of this incredible coincidence within seconds. It's around this time that someone starts getting changed in the middle of the room.

Once you've all arrived, you're asked to sit in a circle. Scripts, pencils and bottles of water are gathered and everyone sits on the floor. You think you're still fine sitting on the floor. 30 minutes later you realise you're not but someone's already been told off for lying down on your front so you put up with the pins, needles, daggers and fire in your bum cheeks. You all get to know each other. If you're lucky then you'll just go around the circle and everything will say a bit about themselves. Someone will insist on talking about the AMAZING show they've just finished in and you'll realise you have nothing interesting to say about yourself but it will all be fairly painless. If you're unlucky then you'll be made to play a game. A game involving names where everyone's just a little bit too eager to prove they're willing to throw themselves into anything.

Maybe you'll then read through the script. It's usually around this point that someone will ask if you've got a spare pen or pencil. Everyone takes a huge gulp of their drink. You learn who everyone's playing because they cough before their first line. You start hearing other people's lines and start wishing you had their roles instead. Everyone else seems to have the funny lines or dramatic scenes. You start to realise that your part is a lot smaller than you originally realised. As you realise this, the director tells you that you're going to be the non-speaking village person in this scene, the talking owl with one line in this other scene and the tree in the final scene.

Once you've stumbled through the play, you might be shown a stage plan. Or, if you're really lucky, you'll be shown costume designs. Everyone else seems to have had elaborate drawings done of them with lots of thoughts and theories behind what they're wearing. When it comes to your character, you're little more than a stick character in a Primark scarf. You try to look enthusiastic while wondering whether you can kill someone with a highlighter.

You start packing up your things, delighted to be working but looking forward to going home. They all seem like nice enough people but are they people you want to spend the next two months working with? Just when you think you're not that keen you hear the words:

"Anyone fancy going for a quick drink?"

Ah yes. It's going to be fine after all.

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