I’m currently sat at my dressing room table, and every time I write a sentence another person enters the room, sparking conversation. We chat about Brexit, they leave, and I’m left even more creatively frail than before.
Another person enters. We chat about 50:50 in the industry. Male and Female 50:50 – are we making progress? What needs to change? What part do we play in that story? They leave, and, inspired, I write.
I begin to make progress. There are words on the page at last. I’m on fire: 3 sentences, woohoo!
“Can I just have a moan for a second? Nothing in particular, I just need a moan.” And away goes the pen and paper once more.
As annoying as it is when trying to write a blog, this is what I love about touring. One minute we’re having deep, philosophical conversations about love, life and death, the next we’re moaning that the biscuit box is empty. The one constant is that we are surrounded by people who are prepared to stop what they’re doing, and listen.
Touring life can be hard. You’re away from home, family and friends, everything is changing – including the staging because we’re no longer in the round – but, every step of the way there is a wonderful company of 18 other people right alongside you. As the great Troy Bolton once said, “we’re all in this together”.
I love it. There will be people in this company who have a completely different experience of life to me, a completely different view on how life should be, yet I know undoubtably that they have my back, and I their’s.
Much Ado About Nothing is both my first touring experience, and my first job with Northern Broadsides. There are people in this cast who have been doing it for years.They could easily give me a hard time if they wanted to, reminding me daily that I am but a youngling with a lot more to learn, and leave me to it. Thankfully, this is not the case. It’s a company full of support and discovery. I am learning more about my craft every day through being surrounded by those who’ve been there done that, and I hope, in return, there are things that I am able to pass on to them (Troy Bolton is a character from my childhood classic High School Musical…you’re welcome) however small.
I’m sure there are moments when we rub each other up the wrong way, like any group of people forced to share a small dressing room for 6-plus hours a day would, I’d be worried if we didn’t. However, the bottom line is that when on tour we really only have each other; our ensemble of players and creatives.
A good ensemble is knowing that whatever happens on stage, someone will always have your back. It’s feeling safe in the knowledge that if you drop a bucket of slop all over someone’s foot, they’ll see the funny side; if you do the complete wrong move, they’ll help you style it out; and if you (God forbid) break wind on stage, they’ll still respect you…to an extent. But a really good ensemble is proven in those moments off stage too. When all 5 women (plus hair, makeup and costumes) are crammed into a 3 person dressing room, you’re having a bad hair day, feeling homesick, and tired, so someone takes over the comb; when Tony asks if anyone wants a cuppa and the whole room say yes, all with different milk requirements; when Jay is willing to check for bogies during that last minute panic in the wings. It’s a joyful group of human beings thrown into the deep end together, all in the name of theatre, and each night we get to share 3 hours of that journey with you.
By Rachel Hammond (Ursula in Much Ado About Nothing)