Back from my lightning – as in foreshortened – trip to Spain (Alhambra no less) to make my way to London for our final Holiday Inn rehearsal. So much so uneventful, apart from the train ride from Wycombe to Wembley, which was the most crowded train I have ever travelled on in this country, The doors opened to reveal a solid mass of bodies, but I had to be at Wembley, so I somehow squeezed on (as did, miraculously, two or three more.)
While I had been away, they had organised an additional rehearsal on their own, which had apparently gone very well, but I was not at all surprised that our first stagger-through was a bit shabby. Necessary to buck them up a bit, I’d say. We were without Sherwan, of course, and did have to deal with the cramped nature of our space, but they were too quiet (as expected), and the entrances + exits were all haphazard (likewise.) But they got through it, and we managed without Naomi, who seems to have disappeared. I was not surprised that she had withdrawn, as it was always a tall ask to enter a production so late, but mildly disappointed that she had not told us.
After some notes, we prepared for another performance/rehearsal, with the possibility of a small audience to make it seem more like the real thing. A very small audience; when we began, there was no-one, but three people turned up a bit late, and through the wrong door – all part of the magic of theatre. But the performance this time was a lot sharper, and our small audience was most appreciative.
We concluded with admin; topping up their Oyster cards, making sure everyone knew what time we were meeting tomorrow. It was when I was on my way home that I noticed two emails, from the Beck Theatre tech team and from Leah at Compass, telling me that we were expected at the theatre at 9, with our tech and run-through starting at 9.30. I let them know of our problems with this – me coming from Oxford, having to get across London, etc, and then tried to get in touch with my guys via email. Which I managed, almost, with everyone agreeing to meet at 8. And then heard from Beck that our rehearsal was put back to 10.30. But just as well, really, that we were leaving earlier, as it would take a little of the stress out of the day. Even if I would have to leave at 6.20.
And so we have reached our first real performance, something I have been hoping would happen when I started working with the group. Are we ready? Well, both yes and no. They are as ready as they could be, given their total inexperience, their varied ability with English, the uncertainty of any performance and what it might throw at people. And I do think there is a good chance the audience will like it. It’s short (25 mins), punchy and has the potential to produce some good moments.
Fingers crossed (which I have explained to them is the secular version of Inshallah.)