Working on a London show is a real treat for me for many reasons - one being I can live at home! Our work as actors is so often on the road, in strange hotels, in digs, living out of a suitcase and someone else’s fridge (usually Pret’s.) So to daily wake up in my own bed?! It’s a novelty and a joy. The Scarecrow’s Wedding is a family show so the schedule is very different to what I’m used to. We perform two shows a day at 11am and 1.30pm. This is not very normal for performers. We are children of the night! What is this ‘morning’ lark about? Coffee is what it’s about. Sweet black nectar. No but seriously, you people on your daily rush hour commute are bonkers!! The 9-5 has to be one of the most successful social constructs of all time. And the journey to get there is very stressful and unnecessarily sweaty. I started cycling in - lovely when it’s sunny. Hell in rain. So now I’m on the tube with Bon Iver blasting into my ears to keep me calm, sane and suitably aloof, like a proper ‘don’t you dare talk to me’ game face Londoner.

Philippa Hogg / Photo credit: Rich Rusk

Philippa Hogg / Photo credit: Rich Rusk

When I get to the theatre, we start on the show’s set up. We’re a small company, with only 3 of us in the cast and one excellent Stage Manager. The venue staff are incredibly helpful and it’s all hands-on deck in that first half an hour. We set the floor piece, bolt the platform into place, set all the props and soundcheck our mics and instruments. It’s a nice time to check in with everyone first thing. With a small team, I think it’s especially important to know where everyone’s at in the morning. If someone’s had a tough evening, it’s good to know so we can give them some extra care throughout the day. We all then start warming up and getting ready. Although it’s only a 50 minute show, it’s very physically and vocally demanding. I like to warm up gradually and gently, making sure I’ve checked in with each part of my body (especially my spine, neck and knees!) before warming my voice. I’m not one for vocal acrobatics in a warm up, I try and relax everything and make my voice as open, clear and supported as possible before launching into the energy and pace of the show. Oh and the morning wouldn’t be complete without a little knock on my dressing room door from fellow performer Matt, ‘Hoggy, will you walk on my back?’ It’s a new skill of mine.

Just before the show fully starts, we come out and have a little chat with the audience. We have the chance to go into the rows of seats and say a little hello which is really lovely. When there’s very young ones in, it’s good to let them know 1: we’re real. 2: we aren’t scary. It also gives us, as actors, a chance to gauge the crowd. Theatre for young audiences is so nuanced in lots of ways. It may look like just a big barrel of laughs, but if you go in too full on, they’ll cry, too subtle, they’ll get bored and start throwing their raisins at each other. For the whole performance we are adjusting and tweaking; how loud, how daft, how heartfelt, how gentle or sassy we play each moment. How to best tell this story to this particular group of little humans. After all, for many of them it’s their first time ever being in a theatre. And for that, they deserve something unique. Between shows, we reset the stage ready to start again, then have about an hour before the next performance. We eat, chat, chill, get some air, then do it all again!

After packing away the set at the end of the second show, we are finished at the theatre mid-afternoon, which again is bonkers! We have a whole evening to fill. I have to be careful not to start my day all over again and burn the candle at both ends... Rest, chill, time with friends, if I’m feeling fancy - a glass of wine in the bath, where I can measure just how much scarecrow straw decided to stay in my hair today…

The Scarecrow's Wedding

  • Based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
  • Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BX
  • Saturday 21st July – Sunday 2nd September 2018

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