I was awoken this morning by the grotesque hammering of a fire alarm. It was so loud and so inappropriate that it made me yell. I actually woke up screaming like a small child awaking from a nightmare. It was, of course, a special test alarm to welcome us all into institutionalised living. And when we got outside, a rather pleased-looking janitor type was smirking as all our names were read out. Fortunately we were all out of the building within the allotted time period, so we were, as you can imagine, thrilled beyond words to have passed. I live my life for these sorts of challenges. Knowing that I wouldn't have burned to death in an imaginary fire makes three Grierson nominations and four RTS Awards pale into insignificance!
And how dignified did I feel to be standing in a pair of boxer shorts in front of a field of 17 year old girls?
The sound, though. I can still hear it screaming through my head. It made me want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon and then force-feed them with a sprig of rosemary to whichever inanely-grinning sadist pressed the sodding button.
In an attempt to purge my body of violent thoughts, I spent five minutes after breakfast dancing the Charleston with our choreographer, Matt. In times of great stress, there's little better than a quick Charleston.
We worked our way through the epic prologue this morning. I like to call it the prolapse cus it's given everyone so much shit since we started rehearsing it. With a combination of great patience and a lot of hard work we managed to get through it and I'm pretty sure we're all taller and prouder as a result!
At 1pm, we stopped the rehearsal to mark the 100th anniversary of Britain declaring war on Germany. We had a minutes' silence, lit a candle, and then Sara, in her inimitable deep voice read a poem. At the end of our ritual I felt obliged to make the cast promise to keep the memory of the First World War alive. I think some of them were quite surprised that I'd actually exchanged letters with First World War veterans when I was a teenager. The First World War is to me what the Second World War is to them.
When I was their age I directed a university production of Oh What A Lovely War. Perhaps when one of them is 40, they might direct the 20th anniversary production of Brass, and pass on the knowledge they've accumulated in the last six months.
This evening's session was largely spent on one of the other mega-numbers, Letters, which was another deeply exhausting experience. Sara, was heard to utter the w-bomb at one stage, which caused much hilarity. Why is an older woman swearing so deeply enjoyable? Actually, I don't know if these young people are just better brought up than me, but I'm quite surprised by how politically correct they all feel. They seem genuinely quite appalled by some of the terms I use. Suddenly I feel like my Grandad. All inappropriate and wee-stained. I'm just not sure he was being ironic. And I'm not yet wee-stained.
Anyway, Letters opened up a right can of worms which meant I was forced to spend 3 hours after rehearsals re-scoring all the underscore passages from the song, and then reformatting all the individual parts. By the time I'd finished, I wanted to gouge out my eyes with a spoon again. Back to the beginning of the cycle!
I can't believe I'm 40 on Friday. If you ever want to feel old, turn forty in the presence of 28 people who are exactly half your age!