The first day –  By Jim English

I’m late! I’m late! First day! Of all the days! The train broke down, I’ve ran from Halifax station to Dean Clough and I’m sweating like I’m in a spelling test!

I walk in to the rehearsal room. The newly built very suave rehearsal room. He’s happy to see me,

Barrie: English!

And shakes my hand.

Why was I worried Rutter would bollock me?

If you’re late or your phone goes off in rehearsals you put a pound in the pot. All the money gathered goes towards the do we have last week of the tour. Richard III was mainly funded by Roy North. I’ve been here a minute and I’ve already had to put something in!

We gather round the table for our first read-through. I look round the table. Never met Blake, quiet collected and cool is my first impression. He’s sat next to Barrie. Some familiar faces and some new. I’m sat next to Conrad Nelson. Conrad doesn’t stop working. He’s always doing ten projects at once. Back and forth over the Pennines.

Then we read the play.

Barrie tells us to look at muscularity of the words.
West Riding of Yorkshire accents please.
Don’t change direction on comma’s. Cut them out, if you’re doing that.
Stop stressing Pronouns

And then the context
1920’s just before the economic crash.
The play has barely no props.
We talk about the different venues. Stoke and Scarborough in the round.
Barrie: We won’t be doing Saturday rehearsal this week. I’m going to Wembley to watch Hull FC play in the final. (West Hull Rugby team)

A Hull KR Supporter (East Hull Rugby Team) this has been the first time I can remember Hull FC being of any use to me.

Barrie: We might do the Saturday after. Actually, you won’t be able to book in advance your train tickets. Scrap Saturdays. We’ll work late evenings in the week if we have too.

Conrad’s dashed off to another meeting.

Sarah Jane and Jackie have been chosen to host the awards.

We’re all sharing stories.

Barrie and Conrad, we’re in a play in Austria. They we’re on stage with a real-life lion and a bear. Conrad being pushed on a trolley by a bear. The bear escaping while Barrie is on stage. Couldn’t make it up!

Great first day of rehearsals very exciting.

And not a mention from Barrie of any of shenanigans with the arts council. No fuss. That’s just how the man is. Business as usual.