Sunday, July 12, 2015

We audition the trunk. It fails....

Today’s rehearsal is about auditioning the trunk.

I slightly resent this. I’d rather spend the time rehearsing the script. But trunk and script have become tangled up together; and unless we can solve the problem of how Jesus enters with her luggage, and decide the luggage she enters with, then we seem to be stuck.

in the meantime we’re stuck anyway: with this large pink trunk.

Next door to the Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre, where we’re performing, is a big storeroom with a huge fridge. There’s a ramp leading down from the fridge, down which I imagine you were supposed to push the corpses of animals to be dissected. You did it on a gurney with a rather sinister drain, for the blood and other substances, which I guess connected with a drain in the centre of the lecture theatre. 

The drain has been covered with lino that disagrees with the trunk. Its wheels flow easily over the lino in the storeroom but stick in the lino in the theatre.

Which makes pushing it across the stage a hazardous and exhausting business that requires every inch of concentration and which, because of the height of it, makes me “look like a trolley dolly”.

Not a good look for Jesus.

And even if we got better wheels, the trunk would still look too big.

Fill it with Jesus' necessities, and it still has all this empty space in it.

Perhaps we could fill it with a sleeping bag. Or earth. Or stones. Or a glamourous assistant, gender immaterial, double jointed and prepared to wear spangles.

But Archangel Annabel, our producer (currently absent playing football in Antwerp) would almost certainly veto it. Not enough money in the prop budget.

And the very fact we are having to think such ridiculous thoughts means the thing is surplus to requirements.

Don’t call us, trunk. We’ll call you.

We call St Claire of the props and light switches and she’s off on the hunt for a replacement.

Which she finds by lunchtime. A shop close by, she says, and we set off to find it.

She leads the way, glowing and Amazonian, with Director Susan looking both wise and gorgeous and me hobbling along behind with my stick like an old crone, swearing.

The shop is stuffed to the ceiling with junk of every description, presided over by a slightly sinister genius.

We squeeze along a narrow aisle to the back where the cases are, and there, next to a rather distracting faux leopard skin number, is the case. It has a label from the Royal Hotel in Woburn Place and we all contemplate it thoughtfully.

Do the catches work. Is it the right size. Would Jesus carry it.

We think yes. St Claire goes to haggle with the shop keeper while I contemplate a diaphanous pink dress from the seventies that once upon a long time ago I would have been so happy to have been wearing.

We take the case back to the theatre in moderate triumph and once St Claire has gone I find myself weeping.

It’s maybe the frustration of spending two precious days thinking about luggage. It’s maybe I’m reproaching myself for being carried away and charmed by a large pink useless trunk. 

Or maybe it’s the diaphanous pink dress and its memories of the misery of being in the closet.

I think it is that. The process of making this piece seems to be opening up so many old wounds.

As often, the solution is creative work. I pick up the suitcase and we rough out the opening scene. And the suitcase is not a roadblock, like the trunk, but a help.

And it looks so lovely against the wood of the theatre space.

And afterwards as we talk about it I’m so very tired all of a sudden and half way through a sentence when I find myself drifting off to this lovely place.

And then I open my eyes, and director Susan is looking at me rather strangely.

“Were you asleep?”

And I was. And no, I can’t remember what it was I was going to say.

“Time to go home”, she says.

And it is.

And we do….

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