Opening night nerves

Two days before our first performance of Quartet I forgot to go to choir. One day before, I forgot it was my sister’s birthday. It’s safe to say that I was a bundle of nerves. Scratch that, I was a sack, a trailer load of nerves! Ridiculous, I know. We have been rehearsing three times a week for weeks now and I, in the safety of my own space, am word perfect. The words might not all be in the right places, but they are there, in my head, embedded in my long-term memory.

I arrived at the theatre in Ste-Dode and admired the set, which is very pretty actually. Very feminine. I was allowed to redecorate. When I arrived, the walls were hung with still life portraits of dead fish, dead birds, artichokes — too depressing! (These are actually some my lines from the play!) Seriously, it looked lovely. I plumped up the leopard print cushions, gazed out at the bustling auditorium, which was a tangle of wires and open tech cases, stacks of chairs and the like. . . and felt sick.
I tried talking to people, eating a sandwich, reading my script but I only felt worse. In the end, the only thing that helped was to find some music on my phone, put on my head phones and go out the back and dance a little. I could finally feel myself relax. And then, suddenly, we were all in position, the bell had been rung for the audience to take their seats. No running away from this moment!!! On cue my hands felt sweaty, my throat contracted, fear distorted my vision and then there I was, in my pink fluffy mules, walking out on stage like I owned the place and it was alright!

I was nowhere else I wanted to be!

Rebecca Shields
(aka Cissy Robson in Quartet)