The difference dirt makes

This morning the programmes arrived. Cheers! One less thing to fret about. Am I fretting? No more. Not now that I feel fellow writer Oliver and I have done all we can to achieve publicity for our plays.

Last Friday two local papers carried good spreads on the double bill, Borders Banter. Informative articles plus large photographs. And the same day, to coincide with the publication of the papers, my husband delivered flyers to the houses in our village where the last of the five performances will be staged. Turnouts for events here tend to be good, always amazing me as I wonder, when the village is so small, where the audience sprouts from.

Sunday was the dress rehearsal. It’s amazing the difference dirt makes. With unshaven chins (what dedication to their parts) my characters now sport streaks of makeup-inspired dirt on cheeks and foreheads, grimed hands and dirt rimmed nails, and clothes usually worn for painting or double digging in the winter garden. But it was the dirt that fascinated me. Along with everything else it added another layer to the characters. David, Tom and Andy have become three homeless guys. Elsie is right to be wary of this odd bunch, yet with wariness giving way to engagement, the feistiness of the character she plays becomes evident. Great fun to see Elsie’s petite almost five feet energetically laying in to six feet plus Andy.

Music, singing, bangs, banter, tussles, quite a few jokes and some ribbing. The rehearsal progresses. Kath is animated, like the conductor of an orchestra, waving arms, pointing, encouraging, alerting to cues, keeping the beat for the players while sipping another cup of tea made by Helen who keeps us all sweet with her wonderful cakes. Still clutching notebook and pen, Kath scribbles last minute reminders, lobs advice. Cast gathers round, a faint air of disbelief that after months of rehearsing the spotlights are in sight, a mere four days distant.

Costumes and props are packed up. Despite the minimalism of sets there still seems a vast amount of stuff to be transported to venues. Anthony takes his compact sound gear and the bed, and helps James dismantle lighting equipment that soars like shipyard cranes. Someone else has taken chairs. Kath takes charge of the trunk and fills it with other bits and pieces. We leave with a rusty biscuit tin filled with assorted bits of metal, a bulging bag and bedding. Bedding! Don’t ask…just come and see. Hope we all remember to take our precious cargoes on Friday.

The next time we’re together we’ll be arranging our bootload of goods on stage. And my first play will be about to go public. Wish me luck.

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