BARNUM: Life In The Circus!
So, another week has passed in Circus-Land. The sun is still shining gloriously here in Chichester. The tent is still standing. And our big show, strong as ever is still packing 'em in. The response thus far has been amazing. People stumble out of the tent completely in awe. It's so thrilling to see people's faces light up at what goes on in front of them. There is NO greater pleasure. However, I stress heavily, Barnum is only in Chichester until Aug 31st. This is the only opportunity to see the show about the origin of the circus in a traditional circus setting.
Cheesy yet forceful plug out of the way, A LOT goes on to get the show up and running every night. Operation Barnum is a well-oiled machine in which everyone plays a part. 'Controlled chaos' is the only way to describe it. Here's a lil' insight into what a standard show day entails.
Currently we're in the midst of understudy rehearsals. So, every day before the show, rehearsals happen on stage in order to re-stage the show with our understudies. For those of you who might have guessed, Barnum is a BIG physical piece, with a lot riding on every member of the cast at any given moment. With the risk of injury high, the company has to be on call to confidently step up to the plate to ensure that the show can continue, whatever the line up. Luckily, the swings are top notch. They are literally like a bunch of all-singing/dancing 'Rainmen'.
Once rehearsals are finished for the day, the stage management team along with wardrobe and wigs go about pre-setting the show for the evening's performance. Circus rigging to be checked, sound/mic checks, prop maintenance and prop pre-setting, wig/costume pre-setting: things that play such a vital part in allowing the show to get on, which sadly are sometimes the things that often go unnoticed.
Warm-up at 6pm is led by our amazing dance captain, Jacquie. The cast assemble in order to defrost our bodies for the night's show. We then have vocal warm-up, led by our lovely musical maestro, Adam Rowe. Preparation for us aside, it's lovely just to check in with everyone before things get wild come 7.30pm. In some companies, there have been cast members that I literally have no contact with at all, so it's great to get together and act like fools for half an hour to get the blood flowing, I love it.
Now is the time in the show day where we'll usually get notes and work specific things out before the performance. Given that our piece is generally high risk, this may involve working someone else into various sections of the show that they have never done before on stage with the company: flipping, spinning, juggling, standing on peoples' shoulders, all of which could be sprung on you at a moment's notice. Hopefully, if all has gone well, everyone then goes about the process of getting ready. I'm VERY slow at getting myself into costume and make-up, so I usually give myself an extra half an hour. Then it's pretty much all guns blazing from then on, and by George do we give 'em a show!
Do have a look out for the next instalment, when I promise to relay Sir Cameron's involvement in all of this (still a bit overwhelming that I was in the same room as the man, let alone working with him.).
Oh, and above, there's a cheeky pic courtesy of Scott Pask, our set designer, of me with some animal that tries its best to upstage me every night.
Barnum is playing Chichester Festival Theatre.