A week of technical rehearsals, then previews, an exciting opening night and more performances, brings us to now – the second week of The Tempest at The Little Angel Theatre.
Our time in London has been very exciting. I think we’ve found our feet on this very small stage and now are really enjoying the experience of playing to such a close and intimate audience. The confines of the stage continue to heighten our characters tense relationships and the grandeur of The Swan, in Stratford-upon-Avon, is beginning to feel like a distant memory.
I continue to be struck by how the younger members of our audiences respond to the play – and by young I mean the seven and eight year olds. Watching them as Caliban makes his first entrance and seeing the amazement on their faces is incredible.
If only they could see what was happening offstage too. There’s hardly a moment when one of us (more often than not, most of us) isn’t hurriedly changing into our next character’s costume, putting on a wig, playing an instrument and then dashing through the foyer (making sure we don’t crash into an unsuspecting patron who has popped in to book a ticket) to enter as if no madness had taken place. In The Swan we had countless people helping us backstage – dressers, stage management, ladies from the wigs department – but now it’s just us and our amazing stage manager Catherine, who brilliantly runs the tight ship that is ‘backstage’.
Acting with puppets for the first has been such an interesting journey. When I’m onstage I no longer see either of the Jonny’s who operate Ariel or Caliban but instead I see the faces and bodies of these handmade puppets living and breathing. Sometimes it takes me by surprise and I think, “Did that just happen? His lips don’t move – but I’m sure they just did!” I have to say; I’ve become a convert to the magic of the inanimate made animate.
The Tempest is playing at the Little Angel until 15th May. For tickets and information see the website here.