We stayed in Prague for 9 days and had 6 performances. It was really good fun. We met some amazing people, including two American dancers/performers who devised a fantastic show about letters and pillowboxes.
We got repeateadly drenched in the rain.
We argued with a reviewer who wrote ageist comments about Polly.
We talked about men, hunsbands, relationships, family, children, because that’s what women do (men becoming close friends usually talk about football, the most intimate part of their life, quite clearly). Sometimes it felt like a group therapy, sometimes like a neverending party….
What’s clear to be about cating, especially about touring, is that it’s easy to be totally away from reality, from what’s happening in the world, from your daily problems. Especially when you’re touring your life is your show, day after day, from morning to evening. You have no home to go back to, no bills in the post, no family problems… You perform, you go out and talk about your performance, you meet other preformers who have the same weird schedule as you do, you talk about their performances, then you go to bed and the following day you start talking about how to improve your preformance…. Sometimes you talk about playwrights, directors, actors, festivals…. Occasionally you read papers to find out what happens in the world. It’s exciting, it’s interesting, there’s always somebody who at some point has worked with a celebrity and has great gossips…
Your world is your play, your life is your character. Yes, there are mobile phones, and emails and skype so you’re not really isolated. But in fact you are. Because you live such an intense life and the people at home can’t really get it. The joke and anecdotes you report to them never make them laugh the way you laughed, because anectodes are good especially for the people who witnessed them. The exctiment of an audience clapping at a certain line, is hard to explain. It’s not that strange that so many actors find it hard to sustain relationships. It takes lots of work on both sides. It’s hard for partners at home to feel left out and it’s easy for actors to feel like they partners don’t understand…
Of course I’m not saying it’s impossible for touring actors to have happy long lasting love lives. But the job doesnt help.
The last show of a run is always a bit of a downer. You’ve rehearsed, you’ve prepared, you’ve performed night after night, perfecting what you’d been rehearsing, changing, adding, exploring … You’ve been living with your characters, with their stories, and the people around you have done the same. You’ve lived in a group, like at school, suffering, rejoycing, swearing, sweating, eating and drinking together, sharing pieces of your life, gossiping, laughing, crying, creating effectively a little world apart… And now it’s all gone, and all of a sudden you’re walking home on your home, carrying your props in a bag because you won’t need them at the theatre anymore (and because you’re doing fringe so there’s no prop and costume department handling them…) and you feel so empty. It might last a second, it might last a day, sometimes, if you don’t have family, or friends, or lovers around you, and I’ve been there many times in the past, it can last for weeks. Because we actors live for our performances. They give us purpose, direction, satisfaction. Most people are happy when they finish work and they can do what they like. For actors our work is what we like the most, what defines us. Acting is better than holidays, nothing beats the satisfaction of being in a good show. The moment you’re home and free you panic. When am I going to work again? What do I do. I think I’m lucky that I have other creative outlets, my writing, my voice work. But some people don’t have that. And they miss the show, they miss the company, because we’re such gregarious animals, because acting is never just the achievement of a single person, it always require a group. And the tightest and strongest the group, the better the show.
So our last performance has gone by, and I’ve finally caught the cold that has been affecting Becka and Lee for four days so I decide to avoid the smoke of the Rubin Bar and come home. I pack my bag for tomorrow (Jirka is taking me to the airport at 6.30am) and leave the theatre. Prague is cold and it’s pouring with rain. Goodbye Fringe Festival. See you some other time xxx