Today Jaq Bessell’s Performance Research Group performed Macbeth in The Orangery at Blenheim Palace as part of the 2012 Literary Festival. This was only our second performance, and quite possibly our last. If I had to choose a word to describe how I felt from the time we met to carpool at 6:30am (Yeah. ANTE MERIDIEM, folks. Rough one.) to the 5-minute call, I would pick ‘trepidatious’.
The room is about twice as long as our rehearsal/original performance space. Huge windows let you look into the gorgeous Italian garden while bouncing sound right back to your face, off the marble floors, dissipating in the vaulting ceilings. And festival goings on were going on in the hallway. Instead of an audience of 50 we had something closer to 130, and instead of a narrow thrust space, we had a full block of audience at the end of stage usually reserved for, well, good views of my bum and nothing else. Oh yeah, and I’m jet lagged.
But here’s the thing about theatre – it will happen. And so it did happen. We said our lines in the order we rehearsed. We made sound cues and exits and I didn’t brain myself on the marble floor. (That last was the only real marker of success I needed.) Sir Roger Bannister was in the house. So were 40+ teens. So was a lady who walked out in the middle muttering that the whole thing was rubbish. So were many more biddies who stayed and were very kind, complimentary, and encouraging to us after the show. I imagine there’s a long discussion to have about many things inspired by this experience, like
1 – the fear/challenge/thrill of touring a show,
2 – the fear/challenge/thrill of touring a site-specific show to a site-unseen space,
3 – the motivation for audience reviews to performers (during or after, spewing or gushing) and the interpretation of sincerity,
4 – the difficulties of self-producing theatre, especially when potential demand is impossible to gauge, or
5 – the things I’ve noticed about plays only after listening to them umpteenmillion times.
But I’m sleepy, so today isn’t the day.
After the show we wandered around Sir Winston Churchill’s ancestral home. Though I was disappointed we couldn’t explore the buildings without a day pass (despite being ‘featured’ in the festival), I snapped a few photos and just feel like sharing them here. In place of real analysis. So stop looking for content and start looking at the Cotswold stone: