A day to remember

posted in: Hotel Lessons | 0

It was a very long day, made longer by the fact that I couldn’t sleep last night, being so on edge, and knowing that I had to be up at 6 to get to Wembley.  And arriving early at the Holiday Inn meant I had an interesting time with the Security team; as it was a different time to normal, there was a different shift on, and none of them knew me, wanted to know what I was doing hanging around the place.  All amicable in the end, however.

My team were, more or less, on time, and we walked to Wembley Park, then the train to Uxbridge and a bus to the theatre in Hayes.  And then, since we were all there but the Compass performers were not all there yet, we switched again and had our tech and dress run first.  Which meant I was rather more on edge than I wanted to be, far more so than my cast, who were remarkably lacking in obvious nerves, and did not seem at all overawed by being in a real theatre, with everything that that entails – a proper foyer, a proper auditorium, a real stage, lights, wings everything.

The run went pretty well, but I was concerned (as ever) about audibility, and that was my main message to them during notes afterwards.  And actually, I was glad that we had got our run done first, as I was able to go through all the stuff that I wanted to put across to them, without feeling under pressure that we were about to go on stage.

And so to the performance.  Compass went first – a play devised in four intensive days with a large cast of young asylum-seekers and refugees.  There was masses of energy, a great dance sequence, and some excellent comic moments.  We watched from the auditorium, and I think it was good that my cast could see and hear how important it was to be heard… just to re-inforce the message.  There was a short intervening piece – an incredible monologue from one of the Compass cast, about his experiences in England – and then it was us.

And they were terrific.  The whole show ran smooth and slick, flowing almost seamlessly (I am always critical about such things) from scene to scene, with no mistakes to cover up.  I know I am focusing on lack of things going wrong rather than things going right, but I am naturally too involved in it to bring a fresh judgment and appreciation.  But others told me how much they had enjoyed it (I know – they would scarcely seek me out to tell me it was rubbish) and then today, the next day, we received a glowing email from the theatre.

Time after for lots of photos, and then a difficult but joyous return to Wembley, enduring train cancellations, running for a train about to depart, walking to another bus, a hailstorm along the way, and none of it mattering.

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