Yesterday was, at least theoretically a 'rest day', the only day this week when I won't be treading the boards. Tonight is dress rehearsal and then we have four performances, from Wednesday through to Saturday.
I like the last minute preparations for a show, pottering around checking that I've got everything I need, making final adjustments to my costumes. I've sewn the missing button onto my gruesomely blood-stained apron and removed the pocket from a blazer to make it look slightly less grammar school, slightly more gutting shed. I've even tried softening the sleeve protectors we have to wear while hacking the meat, but they're made of harsh rough sack straight from a local farm and they remain far tougher than me. Although it might be in character, I won't be wiping my nose on my sleeve tonight.
We'll be doing our own make-up for the show. I don't usually wear much more than a lick of eyeliner and a brush or two of mascara, so assembling the jars, pots, tubes and brushes I'll need for tonight really feels like getting ready to play dressing-up. I'll probably need to practice a few times before I get it right and it's easier to do that here than in the confined space back-stage, so I'll do my make-up at home before I go down to the hall. Surely strolling through the village as a painted lady will only enhance my reputation with the locals?
I'm starting to feel just a touch nervous; not that gut-wrenching panic when your mind goes blank and you can't remember what scene you're in, let alone what you're supposed to say, but a tingle of anticipation; that sense you get when you've spent ages looking forward to a day out and you're half-excited, half-worried it will disappoint. Half of me thinks we're hideously under-rehearsed, the other half thinks that's ok as it means we'll be on our toes, still trying hard and keen to get it right - it's a difficult balance.
I think I might walk down to the village shop in a while. The shop doubles up as our box-office, tickets for each night stored in plastic boxes under the counter. A separate seating plan for each show is stuck onto a large piece of cardboard and each time a seat is sold, the corresponding box on the seating plan gets a large cross through it, so it's easy to see how well sales are going. Saturday night is likely to be a sell-out and, last time I checked opening night was going well too. The only downside to that is that the cheaper seat prices for our first performance usually attract the slightly more mature members of village society. I'm not entirely convinced they're yet quite ready for the coarse reality of a Deptford gutting shed at the end of the nineteenth century, but hopefully some of them might forget to turn on their hearing aids.