Life in the Green Room of a theatre.
THE GREEN ROOM.
“THEATRE IS NOT JUST
SOMETHING I DO IT IS WHO I AM.”
If I was unable to have access to a theatre in my life I believe I would feel truly lost. Having a place to nurture or witness a playwright’s
words and ideas from page to stage, for me, is a necessary and magical
experience. “The Green Room” and stage of a theatre on a first night will
always be a place that holds both a fascination and affection for me. The first night of a production and electrical anticipation permeates the air. In the Green Room everyone is busy with a deadline to reach. Seven-thirty pm and the curtain goes up. The Stage Manager is efficiently co-ordinating all the backstage action. Actors are dressing and applying their makeup. There is a chemically aromatic mist drifting through the air as hair is carefully arranged and glued into place with excessive
amounts of hairspray. There is always the last minute panic as a missing button
is discovered and the distraught actor is rescued with a needle and thread. An array of cards from well-wishers is precariously balanced on the shelf above the brightly lit mirrors. A voice of authority rises above the chatter announcing the minutes till curtain up.
With each announcement the butterflies in my stomach churn. The week of performance we have all worked so hard towards is finally upon us. Each actor has their own way of dealing with stage fright. Some prattle continuously, others prefer quiet contemplation and there is always someone in the bathroom whose bladder is running amok. In my quiet place I can hear the buzz of the audience arriving, the drone of their excited chatter and the dull clunk of seats flipping as they take their seats. Their presence is strangely comforting and I can finally concentrate.
Nerves reach a peak for all of us as the two minute call is announced. Hugs and kisses are exchanged, words of encouragement are hastily whispered, as we take our places. The curtain rises and as the first lines and moves are executed the fear dissipates as we move through the lives of the people we have become. The audience become one with us as their eagerness for us to succeed is psychically transported to the stage. We make them laugh; we move them, we make them think a little. The final curtain falls as the audience applauds enthusiastically.
On our return to the Green Room we are euphoric and emotionally drained. We did it!
“One down, five more to go.” Someone will inevitably say.
Relieved we can now laugh about missed cues and the forgotten lines. Gradually The Green Room closes down. The debris of the earlier panic lies neglected on the dressing tables, knocked over cans of hairspray, makeup scattered haphazardly which will be searched for frantically tomorrow. Costumes are again neatly hung on the rails with the names of their characters reattached. The Green Room waits
patiently for our return. The stage becomes an eerie place as the ghosts of the evening linger. It is dressed and ready for the next performance. The ever
present smell of a dusty and musty unused space returns.
On leaving the theatre I often feel a little sad as I have left a little part of myself in the building and within the memories of an unknown audience. What
memories of productions past and people are contained within the walls of this
theatre? A truly magical and mystical place, a place where for a short time a small group of people are united in a common cause to entertain and to be entertained. The experience of being in this building teaches me so much about myself and taking part in a production makes me feel as if I am contributing something special to an audience and my team-mates in a place and atmosphere in which I feel I truly belong.