So I'm currently touring the country performing the one woman play Spine, which makes writing a day-in-the-life-of article somewhat tricky; there's very little consistency to my days at the moment. Mornings could involve an early train from my home in North London to the next tour location, a long drive in the company van, set and suitcases in tow, with my wonderful stage manager from one venue to the next or a nice cooked breakfast with a lovely landlady in whichever digs we happened to have laid our heads in the night before - like lovely Cherry who hosted us in her gorgeous B&B home in Ludlow last week and cooked me up a scrambled egg storm and catered for Anna's vegan needs - homemade biscuits and all!
If it's our first day in a new venue I'll be needed in the theatre fairly early to run through some technical cues once Anna and the local venue tech have got our set in place. So far we've visited Plymouth, Newcastle, Ludlow, Bangor and we're currently in Oxford. And it has to be said that each and every theatre - The Drum, Live Theatre, Assembly Rooms, Pontio and the Burton Taylor Studio - have been so welcoming, helpful and a pleasure to work at.
If that all goes smoothly or if it's a second or third day at a venue then I love to spend my afternoons having an explore. It's such a huge privilege of this job that I get to visit so many wonderful towns and cities all over this country. I've got Liverpool, Folkestone, Canterbury, Sheffield, Manchester, Aberystwyth and Cardiff still to come and I can't wait. So far I've got a ferry to Cremyll, Cornwall and explored Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, plundered charity shops for bargain goodies, learned why Newcastle Cathedral has a Danish Seafarers memorial, sat in the shade of Ludlow Castle peacefully reading my book whilst occasionally being greeted by every little dog that trotted by and sat and listened to a beautiful Evensong in Bangor Cathedral. Tonight I'm performing in Oxford, just down the road from my hometown so I'm staying at my parents' house, being fed obscenely well and catching up with my many siblings. I also find myself, ludicrously, training for a half marathon at the moment, my first in fact. So today I also took the opportunity to get out in the sunshine and the beautiful green fields of the countryside and ran a solid 10 kilometres… Fingers crossed I'm not going to regret that later when it's showtime; especially seeing as it's the home crowd and I've got a big old mob of family and friends watching tonight.
So on to the main event. Spine. Spine is a one woman play written by CLara Brenann that charts the explosive friendship between a ferocious wise-cracking teenager Amy and a mischievous activist pensioner. Glenda is hell-bent on leaving a political legacy for her community, and saving Amy because 'there's nothing more terrifying than a teenager with something to say'.
It's a privilege and pleasure to return to this play. After two years away from it what has struck me, in these first few weeks of the tour, is that the nerves will never go. This play and its message mean so much to me, the responsibility of carrying over an hour of beautifully written story-telling and dialogue, the joy of creating two beautiful female characters whom I have grown to know inside out and love like they're real - it's an intense daily experience. One that demands a lot of energy, focus and commitment. I love to connect with the audience. They're the other person in this performance. I feed off their responses and so really, genuinely every night is different.
I feel so lucky to have had such lovely generous audiences so far on this tour and it's been really great to have post show Q&A sessions in most of the venues too. To get direct feedback on just how the audiences are engaging with what you are doing is so satisfying, especially when you're in a cast of one. It really creates a sense of community and communion about the evening which is something that feels really important to the heart of this particular play.
And then, if I'm really lucky, I'm somewhere in the country with a loved one near enough by that they've come to see the play and we head out for a post show drink. The minute I step out on the stage each night my adrenalin surges and it take a good few hours to chill out again or even to feel sleepy, so even if there isn't a local pub to frequent I'll head back to my digs and catch up on that evening's Great British Menu before drifting off with a book in my hand and sleeping well before getting ready to do it all again the next day.
So it's not a rock and roll lifestyle but its one I really love and feel so lucky to be living right now. Our work as actors is so intermittent and hard to come by and I want to enjoy every second of this job whilst it lasts. It's too easy to already begin to worry about what comes next and miss the experiences that are in front of you today. Next week we're back at the Soho Theatre for a week and can't wait to share this play with the fantastic audiences that I know that wonderful theatre always brings. Do come along and do say hello to me if you see me floating around the bar afterwards; it'll really put a smile on my face.