Copyright© 2011 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
“Are you sure you’re going to be alright?” I asked Jenny.
“Yeah, course I am, the girls an’ Danny’ll help me sort out the littlies.”
“Okay,” I turned to leave with Julie who had managed to persuade me to let her dye my hair auburn and add two extensions to the plaits she’d given me. It looked as if I had hair right down to my bum—which is much longer than the just below shoulder length it is naturally. “You’ve got my mobile number, if you need me.”
“I won’t, Tom and Simon are about somewhere—we’ll manage between us.”
“Well don’t let them get away with doing nothing, because they will if they can.”
“Don’t worry—now go; you’ll be late.”
We waved and drove off towards the school hall—this was the full dress rehearsal, today and tomorrow plus checking the lighting and acoustics. I’ve spoken in the hall before but that was with a microphone—now we’d just have to project—okay, I’m a teacher, so I can project my voice, but in a soft Scottish accent—I suppose I’ll just have to see.
Jenny wanted to see the play, and we’d got her tickets for Friday night—it had been extended to Saturday because of demand—it was pretty well a sell out when they heard Matt was doing it, since they heard Iain was replacing him, we even had several serious critics demanding tickets as well as the clamour of new customers.
Julie and I arrived at the school having hardly swapped a word, she was worrying about her limited hairdressing skills and I was worrying about everything, not least fluffing my lines or generally screwing up. I know professionals do, so what chance an amateur like me? We entered the hall and I needed to rush to the loo—although I’d only had a slice of toast and a cuppa.
“Okay?” Iain met me returning from the loo.
“Yeah, just a bit of nerves.”
“Look, young lady, I’ve heard increasingly about your exploits—you’re a regular wonder woman—compared to what you’ve done, this should be a doddle. Remember it’s only a rehearsal—you’re allowed to make mistakes—and some more tomorrow—it’s not until Monday we go live.”
“Oh don’t remind me,” I shot back into the loos and this time ejected my breakfast. I tried to calm myself by remembering Yul Brynner was sick practically every time he appeared on stage—I’ll rephrase that—he was sick before he went on stage, not actually on stage—oh look out here I go again.
“Mummy, are you in there?” Julie was calling through the door, I was kneeling in front of the toilet pan having been calling huey for the last minute or two. My eyes were running and my mouth tasted foul.
“I’ll be out in a moment,” I said back using some toilet paper to wipe my face. I stood on wobbly legs and managed to open the cubicle door.
“You alright?” she asked.
“I think so, why?”
“You look awful.”
“Thanks, you sure know how to make someone feel better,” I gently rebuffed her.
“Sorry, but you do—d’you want some water?”
“Please,” I took the bottle she offered me.
I took her arm and we walked out to the hall and sat quietly in the chairs of the front row. The day after tomorrow, these same chairs will be occupied by the bums of schoolgirls as they have assembly.
I gazed up on to the stage, the scenery was really clever and the lighting made it look quite realistic. We had a proper scenery painter with us and he was showing the girls who were helping him how to do it properly.
The blasted heath looked quite eerie and with the carbon dioxide machine it produced swirls of mist which swirled across the stage. The fire and cauldron of the witches looked quite menacing—although it was all electric flames flickering in small bulbs on the sides of the cauldron, with a red flickering one underneath.
The three girls who were the witches used latex masks which were truly horrible to look at and they all cackled like stereotypical witches.
“Feel better?” asked a male voice.
“Yes thank you.”
“Good—it’s all part of the theatre experience—just think, on Monday you’ll be flying on the buzz you get from the live audience—real adrenalin trip.”
“Thanks, Gordon, that just what I needed to hear.”
He laughed, “You’ll be okay—just remember what it was like that day when it all clicked into place—remember how powerful you felt—wowing an audience? That’s what it’s all about—never mind the high art, leave that to critics—just land the thing and walk away safely—that’s all you have to do.”
I liked his landing an aircraft analogy, yes, I’d walk away from this head held high and probably fall over the first thing I encountered because I didn’t see it.
“Right people,” called Gordon, “We start in three minutes, cast on stage or the wings, stage crew, lighting to your positions if you please.”
“C’mon, Mummy, break a leg,” Julie helped me up.
“I feel as if I’ve broken them already as well as swallowed cyanide.”
“C’mon drama queen,” she teased.
“Hark who’s talking,” I riposted.
In the wings, or actually, a small room behind the stage, my makeup was done by another professional and it was far thicker than anything I’d have done-I looked gross in the mirror, but I expected from the floor, I’d look as I was supposed to. Looking in the mirror, only a lack of false eyelashes prevented me looking like drag queen—it was ’orrible.
Everything went quiet and we knew the rehearsal had begun.
Julie became my dresser as well as hairdresser, I had two changes, the normal robes of a twelfth century noblewoman and the nightclothes for the sleepwalking scene.
Somehow, we all got through it and felt emboldened by the experience—or at least I did, however, I was still very pleased to remove the costume and the stage makeup and get back into my normal clothing and persona.
“You did alright, darling,” said Gordon, winking at me, “a couple of things to work on, but we’ll do that tomorrow.”
I was exhausted and Julie looked quite tired too. “I think I’m looking forward to a nice soak in the bath with a glass of decent wine,” I suggested.
“Hmm, that sounds rather nice, Mummy, I might try it too—just make sure you don’t get your plaits wet.”
“Oh bugger, can’t you undo them?”
“Course—they looked really good and the others were muttering how authentic they made you look.”
“I hope that doesn’t mean I looked ancient?” I accused, pretending to be terribly hurt.
“No, of course not, Mummy, people thought you were my sister.”
“What you, Cinderella, me ugly sister?” I teased again.
“Don’t be silly,” she smirked, “You’re nearly as beautiful as me.”
“Ha, that’s some recommendation—talk about back handed compliment.”
Julie just sat there laughing.
“Self approbation is no recommendation.” I quoted one of my mother’s sayings.
“Huh, if you gorrit, flaunt it,” she said and laughed loudly again.
We got home and after making a fuss of everyone, I’d just run my bath and taken the wine up to drink while soaking and the phone rang. I sipped the wine and ignored the ringing.
I’d literally just sat in the warm water and swooshed it up over my shoulders before lying back in the bath, when the door was knocked. “Babes?”
“Oh Si, I’m trying to have a quick bath—I told you.” I’d actually asked him to keep the children from disturbing me for half an hour—then I’d cook us all a decent meal.
“Yeah I know, Babes, but this is kind of important.”
I felt like screaming—what could be so important? I refrained, however, and he came in. “It’s Stella.”
“What about her?” I asked although I had a horrible feeling I knew the answer already.
“She’s gone into labour and she’s asking for you.”
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