The first proper day of rehearsals today, with nearly all the cast (and me standing in for the absent actor) and all the production and publicity folks gathering to read the 85 minute long script out. I got up at 6am in the hope that I could fill in the gaps in the script (I didn't manage it) and had foolishly agreed to print up all the scripts myself at home. I left 45 minutes to do this, figuring that 18 scripts would print in that time. But the script is 90 pages long and my printer became overwhelmed with the pressure, printing 5 pages at at time and then needing a rest for a minute before whirring back to life. So I managed to do about 9 scripts before running down to Hammersmith to get to the meet and greet 20 minutes late.
It's lucky I am reasonably fit at the moment, but evenso I am putting myself under quite a lot of strain. Though there is still much to do the script wasn't in such bad shape and some of my new jokes hit quite well. I will have to pretty much nail it down by Monday, but suspect that I will keep working at this thing to try and improve it in case we do it again in the future. In four days time I think it will already be quite a different beast. Some of it is a bit stodgy and clanky, but when it flows it's feeling like a lot of fun and the people who hadn't seen it before (and didn't know anything about the story) were engaged with it all. And the cast and crew are all great and full of ideas. This might not be the disaster that it has been in my fevered dreams.
In the middle of the night, slightly manic with the writing I had put a little joke into the directions of the play. The ghost of Rasputin is continually attacking the aged Yusupov who has to dispatch him in amusing ways. On one of these I had put that Rasputin rushes at Yusupov who hits him with his stick and Rasputin shatters into a million butterflies and disappears. It was fun when the director got to reading that bit out (having not seen it before). Justin Edwards who is playing Rasputin said that if it was in the script he would obviously have to do it and if he was a good enough actor then he should manage that without a problem (with enough rehearsal). We considered ways we could make it happen, perhaps training a million butterflies to gather themselves together in the exact shape of Rasputin and then at a signal scatter. It might cost us our entire budget and much more and mean that nothing else happens in the play, but it would be pretty spectacular. I think we'd get 5 star reviews.
Once rehearsals were over there was more dashing round, first to get home for my dinner and then to go out for a preview at the Udderbelly on the South Bank. Foolishly I convinced myself that I could carry 300 programmes with me on the tube -perhaps I think I am a superman now, but this was never realistic. I was running a bit late and I was getting sweaty (who needs personal training?), but fortunately a cab passed and I made it to the venue in time. I remember last year my preview at this venue (at about the same time in the month) was mainly still at the stage where I was reading it and I felt a bit embarrassed. But tonight I suprised even myself with how much I knew. It's not quite there yet, but is in excellent shape with a month to go. Encouraging to get 300 people as well.
I wasn't going to pull another all-nighter though. The script changes will have to wait. And once this weekend is done, hopefully I can return to a schedule which gives me a few minutes to myself.
I am kind of loving it. But will be loving it more when it's over and I can just lie in my hammock for a month.