Behind the Scenes - Episode 2
✨ ELLIE ROSS
Last week we did a special performance for a very intimate party of 7 people, with APTV invited along to film. Let one of our Associate Artists, Ellie Ross, take you behind the scenes on the event and show you just what the lead-up to a Revels performance looks like from an actor's point of view.
🌟 The Call Up
It’s a Tuesday morning and my phone pings. I glimpse the word ‘urgent’. This can only mean one of two things: either my local Dominos is running a special offer tonight, or Revels in Hand have a gig and I’m getting the call up. Sure enough, its Founding Member Lucy Eaton: ‘Are you free next week?’ Oh boy! The large stuffed crust will have to wait...
This is the beauty of Revels in Hand. Once you've rehearsed and performed a show with them, when or where you’ll do that show again is anybody’s guess. A drawing room in a private members’ club? Sure! A pool-side garden in the country as the sun sets? Absolutely! On a super yacht that is spontaneously gifted to you afterwards because your performance was so moving? Actually no, not yet, but surely it’s only a matter of time...
In this instance, Lucy is getting in touch about a comedy we did last summer, which has been requested by some repeat clients and is going to be filmed for video news agency APTV. Time to dust off the ol’ script.
🌟 The Day Before
The course of true love never did run smooth. Neither, I’m sure Bill would agree, did the course of good theatre. It's the day before the performance and unfortunately a member of the cast has fallen ill. With 24 hours to go, the decision is made to go ahead with 5 people, instead of 6. For my character, it means I’ve lost a husband (something I said?) so I begin re-learning a tweaked script. There is nothing quite like looking at a bunch of unfamiliar words on paper, knowing that in a matter of hours you’ll be saying them aloud in a room full of strangers.
It’s actually extremely invigorating.
Like, mint-and-tea-tree-shower-gel invigorating.
🌟 Show Time
I wake up on show day and the sun is shining. I hope this is pathetic fallacy. We have arranged to meet at 3:45pm, so at 3:30pm I hop off the bus and walk through the leafy streets of Chelsea. I run lines in my head and ask myself the question I so often do in SW3: is that ALL one house?
A nearby patron of the company has given us use of a spare room, so we do a quick rehearsal there before scooping up scripts and props and heading the venue: another house around the corner. We arrive and it’s gorgeous.
It’s also, of course, a different venue from the last time we performed; it has a different layout, difference entrances, different furniture. This means we spend time walking through the lines, working out what might need reconfiguring. Lucy, Freddie and Mel work with lightning speed on adapting a performance for its immediate surroundings. For example, if the play being performed is about a man who is in love with a desk (go with it) and the venue has no desk, you better believe that the play is still going ahead, but the man is now hopelessly, utterly devoted to a chair. Or a lamp. Or any other suitable, available object. David Attenborough would have a field day observing their skills of adaptation.
On this particular occasion, the room already has the few ingredients we need – a sofa, an entrance and an exit – so it takes no time at all. It also has several extras that really add a certain je ne sais phwoar. Hanging from the high ceiling is a chandelier of tiny, twinkling bulbs encased in glass ‘bubbles’. In front of the sofa is a vase bursting with white flowers on a chic marble coffee table. Behind us is a floor-to-ceiling wall of illuminated alcoves filled with statues and masks. For a play set in a living room, you can’t ask for a better backdrop than an actual living room - particularly one like this. It’s like the world’s greatest set designer has sent a pop-up stage for the evening.
At around 6.30pm, the doorbell rings and people start arriving, so we head downstairs to our ‘dressing room’. We get changed (hello costume, old friend!) and are soon given the nod that the audience are ready, as are the APTV journalist and cameraman. Ties are straightened, hair is given a final spray, and up we go…
We did it! 30 minutes of the theatre to an audience so close you could smell them (they smelled lovely). Another associate artist, Mark Donald, and I get changed out of costume while Freddie, Mel and Lucy are interviewed by APTV. I actually forgot it was being filmed – discretion, thy name is cameraman - until the end when they wanted to shoot the bow from a couple of different angles.
We then decide it’s time to swap the adrenaline in our veins for wine and head out for post-show pizza.
Incidentally we went for one with chips on top, but that's a whole other story…
If you're interested in having Revels in Hand perform in your home, please get in touch! Christmas is coming, and we're ready with the perfect menu of plays for your festive family parties and corporate doos.
And if you'd like to catch a bit more of Ellie Ross' work, she forms half of the comedy duo Bread & Geller. Their upcoming appearances can be found on their website here.