Sitting in my childhood bedroom, at the desk that brings back traumatic memories of GCSE revision, I reminisce how my days have changed. First there was school, then university and now I’m a few months into my internship here at Interactive Theatre International.
How life has changed. Every day is different at ITI, however, last Monday was a different day entirely.
“Is 8.30am at Kingsway ok?”
It wasn’t. I have never been a morning person, and the thought of having to get to Covent Garden from my home in North London during rush hour immediately filled me with dread. Despite my best efforts, I didn’t fully understand the itinerary, but I did know that The Wedding Reception cast would be there along with a professional photographer. We were doing a photoshoot.
Arriving at Kingsway Hall Hotel having grabbed a coffee on the way, I was feeling much more alive than I had anticipated. The 4* hotel is stunning, and there was something about my walking straight into the marbled lobby, with my Café Nero in hand, that made me feel strangely important. That feeling vanished when I realised I wasn’t actually sure where I needed to go.
Enter cast member Katie Cooper: beautiful, talented, and permanently twice as energetic as me on my best day.
Katie plays the bride, Kate, in The Wedding Reception, which is performed weekly at Kingsway Hall Hotel. Suffice to say, she knew exactly where she was going.
Leading me up the modern spiral staircase in the centre of the lobby, we reach the floor above and start turning corners in a labyrinth of corridors, straight towards a room filled with lights, backdrops and technical equipment so complicated, I dared not even breathe near it. And there was Stevie.
Stevie was fiddling with the lights and was pressing random buttons on his MacBook, with such ease and precision, I figured that he was the photographer. Call Scotland Yard, my deductive talents cannot be wasted!
Katie was one step ahead of me and immediately introduced herself with a big smile, and received an equally big one in return, as well as a hug. Aw, it must be a showbiz thing.
Stevie moved his gaze to me, hovering in the doorway. I shook off my haze of sleep to give him a big smile and said “Hi, I’m Megan”. This was returned, along with… a hug! Wow, I thought, I’m show biz too now!
From then on, various cast members filtered in, along with my manager Becky. Clearly more accustomed to the lights and cameras than I was, she casually volunteered to act as a stand in for Stevie prior to the cast photoshoot. I didn’t know that was the protocol. Note to self – always attend photoshoots with a manager so they end up I front of the camera rather than me.
So there I was, with my trusty laptop, in a room full of actors, thinking about how confident they were, changing into costumes whilst holding conversations, utterly comfortable because they had all performed together, travelled together and in some cases, even lived together. I was the only stranger there.
Yet that was fine – My being at Edinburgh Fringe had given me a crash course in putting my awkwardness aside when it came to chatting to ITI actors, who all earned their roles in this company by being effervescent with confidence and thinking on their feet – skills I do not possess, but they try and make things easy for me.
As various combinations of characters disappeared into the well-lit cave of showbiz to have their moment in the lime light, the remainder of the actors and I brainstormed set up scenes that we could use on social media.
The ideas kept flying, although none from me, putting me well in awe of these performers who all knew their characters and the show like the back of their hands. One would suggest a scenario, the next would fine-tune it, and a third would think of the perfect location in the hotel. Then off we went to turn the ideas into reality, myself serving as camera(wo)man, each actor both improvising and directing on the spot.
The morning flew by, and before anyone noticed it was 1pm. This photoshoot was over and the next of the day was swiftly upon us. The myth that everyone knows everyone in showbiz, darling, is absolutely true. Low and behold, the second our second photographer met Stevie, it was evident they were buddies. Of course they were. The next shoot was for In and Around Covent Garden, and Stevie stuck around to help direct the shoot.
This time we were out and about the streets of london, using the tourist rickshaws to help us set the scene. Atop their noble Wedding Reception rickshaw, the cast pouted and posed to perfection, looking so good that we made the front cover of the magazine! Ok, that was already planned but it’s still pretty cool.
Then, into the wind they flew! Kind of. Into the traffic, the bride and groom rode upon the rickshaws, with me and my lovely team – Jono Saunders, Dani Briers, Stacey Evans, and Jack Kelly, all in character walking beside taking snaps and promoting this fantastic show, as they head down to Holborn Station. Then back to Covent Garden for more of the same.
I’ve not seen that many confused tourists in a long time.
Despite the 8:30 start, it was a great day – it was entertaining, a bit manic, and seriously different from sitting at my desk. I feel as though I have finally made it into show biz!
Watch this space for details about our Edinburgh Fringe 2017 earlybird tickets – coming soon!