"A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud." (1841)
And relax.... a sigh of relief as the first day is over and done with. Not relief because it's been a difficult or stressful day, just relief that "the first day" is done and dusted. It's the same with any job or gathering of people; there's faces you'll know well, ones you recognise (maybe?) and others you've never set eyes on before. Nervousness and excitement are usually bedfellows under these circumstances as everybody wants to get involved, but also feel they need to keep themselves a little guarded to start with and not be too forward. Despite the job we do, actors can be very shy. I personally, although relishing friendships, socialising and (hopefully) entertaining chums, can be quite shy and reserved when I first meet someone. I tend to take a step back and listen to their conversation with the person introducing us. The joy about today was there's more people I know than not and within seconds I felt at home.
Going back into the rehearsal room gave a great sense of Dejavu of 2008, but it's a nice feeling. Greeted with teas, coffees and the glorious Krispe Kremes I keep mentioning, people are soon put at ease as they try and introduce themselves and shake hands, with a mug in the right hand, half a doughnut in the left and the remaining half of the doughnut smothered across your cheeks or dripping down your chin. It's the best way to do introductions, because people just forget themselves, relax and hopefully enjoy themselves.
As always the Arnaud team have done a great job of putting the cast together. Everyone seems so friendly and warm; it may sound a bit cliche but feeling comfortable in the rehearsal space is key if the director is to get the best out of people. Again, if you're relaxed you'll be more willing to try new things and make a fool of yourself. Feel like people are judging you and you tend to close yourself off and become very wooden - thankfully that's not something the Guildford audiences will be experiencing.
On the first day and after the meet and greet, where everyone introduces themselves and their job/role (think of it as a theatrical AA meeting, without the addictions) everyone will sit down for the read through. This is where the script will come to life for most people - hearing the different voices and types of delivery, make it all very real. I always enjoy the read through, but todays was made extra special by the wonderful Royce Mills.. how he makes me laugh. He's a walking pantomime which is fantastic, but he's a lovely man to boot. My favourite of all the Royceisms today was "My name is Euphemia Twankey and I'm a window...WIDOW!"
The read through is also the 'performance' that gets the most genuine laughs from the cast and crew. This is the first time we've all read it together, so everything is fresh and new.... once you've gone over something 40 times it's difficult to express genuine laughter as you're expecting everything - thankfully we've got Director Gerry, Choreographer Jill and our stage management team of Davin, Vicky & Laura to keep the enthusiasm up.
After a quick sing-a-long around the old Joanna, it was lunch and a new experience for me... Yo Sushi. Joe (Wishee Washee) and Lucy (Princess) fancied some sushi and I tagged along for the ride on the "seaweed role conveyor belt!" Nice.... but I was starving when we left, I'd need 12 of those little plates. i will however be going back with Sandy... I'm not overly fishy normally but I really enjoyed it... despite the borrower portions.
Back at Panto HQ, we hit the road running and started with Act 1 Scene 1, which contains a lot of shouting for me! Now, with it being day one, wanting to impress people and being high on the adrenaline of it all, I went full pelt all afternoon. My poor throat is feeling a tad raw after it all, but that's not too much of a worry... a day or two of rehearsing and the vocal chords will right themselves and get used to the extra usage. At least I hope so! Thankfully when you're into show time you only have to do each scene once, so the voice and body isn't taken to such extremes - unless you have no technique at all of course... then you're destined for hoarseness and a multi-packet of locket losengers.
The Juveniles were introduced today as well and we spent the early evening working them and the ensemble into the scene. Oh Pongo's a bossy, righteous little man - but I love him! I've got a lovely bit of business with the gang and one of the babes in particular.... but of course this blog isn't here to give the show away before you've seen it, so you'll have to wait and see!
So after the first day of fun and with a pair of screaming vocal folds it was off for a quick port, a spot of tea and a catch up with Jane our (me, Joe and Emma - Aladdin's agent). It's been a great day and I'm certainly going to sleep well tonight after a little steam :-)