Perhaps I shouldn't have written about the broken leg. Maybe that's another theatre superstition - don't mention the mishaps...
I went for lunch with a good friend yesterday; so much better to be eating, drinking and chatting than sitting indoors worrying about the dress rehearsal. Even when she rang early in the day to say she'd been sick in the night, I wasn't worried. Yesterday was all about staying calm, taking time to enjoy myself, then getting ready slowly and carefully for our final rehearsal.
I probably shouldn't have gone for the afternoon nap, not after an enormous plate of fish and chips. Maybe I should have packed my bag before I went to sleep, practised my make-up as I'd promised myself I would, set some time aside to re-read the script one last time. I most definitely should have set my alarm to go off a little earlier.
Yesterday was all about staying calm, taking time to enjoy myself, getting ready slowly and carefully for our final rehearsal. And all of that should have been possible. Instead, I slept in too long and when I woke I felt sick. The griping pains in my stomach gnawed away at my good mood, my sense of calm evaporated. I was caught with a wave of nausea each time I bent down to put something in my bag. Ill-will towards my erstwhile good friend emanated from every pore as I diagnosed myself with food poisoning at best, Norovirus at worst. 'Indigestion' sighed the supportive other half. 'You're probably just nervous' snapped the sympathetic daughter. 'Shut up or I'll throw up on you' replied the wannabe actress.
So I arrived for the rehearsal late, flustered, grumpy and not quite on the planet. I thought I had it bad. As I walked into the hall and towards the stage I noticed Lonnie doing something with the curtains. I was so obsessed with annoyance at myself that I barely noticed she was standing on a chair. I certainly didn't even register that the chair was neither robust nor safely positioned on the stage. It was only when I heard the bang that I finally came to. And that's when I saw our director, sitting down, shaking her head and quietly moaning 'I've broken my wrist'. And indeed she had.
I've found out over the last few weeks that the Shoreham Players are nothing if not versatile. They really do step up to a crisis and live out the old adage that 'the show must go on'. Chris, our costume lady, became the ambulance driver for the night and whipped Lonnie off to the hospital; Kate our stage manager stepped in as director. The rest of us promised to tread very carefully and on we went.
The lighting wasn't always quite there, some of the costumes were missing and several of the lines went astray, but we got through it. Gradually I saw the tension back-stage dissipate as scene by scene we began to realise that it was starting to come together.
Of course there is still room for improvement in the pace of some scenes, our positioning and movement, the interaction between characters. Of course I know now that my skirt is see-through and needs a petticoat, that we've got a really quick costume change between two scenes and that my style of wrist-watch definitely wasn't worn in Victorian England. But as I listened to the director's notes at the end of the evening, I realised that my nausea had disappeared, that we'd made it through without any more casualties, and that there's nothing we still can't get right.
So with just half an hour to go until I set off for our first night, I'm feeling ok. We've got a great cast, a fabulous crew and a cracking play, and I hope everyone who comes along tonight has a thoroughly splendid time.