It was 15:45 on Thursday the 15th of September.
Miranda took the helm. Since all of us were pretending very hard not to be stressed, she took the time to very calmly tell us what she wanted with the piece, and how she wanted it. Basically, we were going to work through it musically at first, seeing how far we’d get. She’d made a rough idea of the staging, so that we could immediately implement that, and if there was time we’d work further into detail.
The piece itself is really rather fabulous. The story follows a relationship: two people meet in a bar, and it goes from there – for better and worse.
The interesting bit, of course, is that there are actually four people on the stage.
Essentially, Lila and I are both The Girl (Ana), and Vasil and James are both The Boy (Hanu). This of course creates an entire arsenal of possibilities – and it explains why Lila was looking for a pianist who “wouldn’t mind acting a bit funny on stage”…
Our first rehearsal brought us all the way to the end of act three. The music started to come together, the nifty ballet bit was even more fabulous with actual ballet involved, and the county bits turned out to be actually easier with three other musicians playing – a rare feat, for which all credit goes to Theo.
So when we wrapped up, around 10 PM, we decided to crash the after-party of the first Roman River Concert. This largely because we’d been told there were cocktails.
Only one cocktail, it turned out, but it was one created especially for the festival. It involved rum, orange juice, potentially mango, definitely lime and also more rum.
Orlando, the fabulous Commander In Chief of the Festival, welcomed us with open arms and a bottle.
After we’d been generously libated, the four musicians trundled back to The House of Laurel, where we’d be staying the next few nights. When we arrived – around half eleven, mind – we found that she’d actually left us supper on the stove, up to and including home-made bread.
I have never felt more like a hobbit than at midnight at her kitchen table, happily munching on toast-with-honey and arguing with Vasil about who’d bought the better bottle of wine.
Friday evening, 10 PM, after twelve straight hours of rehearsal, we managed a full run-through.
Including the Absolutely Evil Argument Scene.
I didn’t believe we could, and honestly, I still don’t believe we did.
I’d had a mild panic attack about the Absolutely Evil Argument Scene earlier in the day, whereupon Lila gently calmed me down and told me to “breathe” – something I had told her that morning when we were doing the Gloriously Beautiful Aria.
Honestly, it’s really mean when someone uses your own words to get you to relax – because there’s no way you can rationalize your hysterics after that.
Anyway, I calmed down, we soldiered on, and on that Friday night I actually believed for the first time that we might genuinely make it work.
Another late-night-supper at Laurel’s followed (pumpkin soup this time), we found some opened bottles of red wine that needed drinking (we sacrificed ourselves with glee), and on Saturday, Performance Day dawned.
To be concluded in Part Three!