It is still so hot in the evening at this time of year. Late Summer. Hot.
February in the Western Plains of New South Wales. Temperature in the forties during the day, with high fierce waterless skies and a merciless kind of white-gold sun. Resounding light, booming heat flinging mirages off the roads and across the lawns flick-flicking with sprinklers and glistening.
Oh how we go to ground in these days – languishing under air conditioning, seeking shade, slaking in the swimming pool. And then… the sun swings across the sky, eventually pooling against the western horizon, slowly capitulating, relinquishing its endless, merciless summer victory, yielding, huge molten rivers of red gold light pouring out from the edge of the world over all the paddocks and trees and streets and homes, and then, the shift, to a cooler watery green evening, sunset afire with blood and honey. Ah, February. Your nights are thick with restless hopes and dreams, heavy with portent, the last halcyon days of this endless Summer, the air like warm felt, the dark falling. And so what else can we do, but reach back into the past and lose ourselves in Shakespeare, in the language of green and cool, in the language of ancient Kings and Princes, to grapple with the deep internal questions of what it means to be human, to get lost in the poetry – and come like pilgrims to the old school hall and to the precipice of ourselves – actors all, and all the world a stage?
So we all come like pilgrims, like children, drawn by the lights of the old school auditorium – rehearsals, rehearsals, rehearsals, answering the call!
Watching everyone arrive, see the carefulness, the coyness, the playfulness, the nervous energy and the sheer excitement and trepidation.
From the team. From the cast. From the catering team, a different energy – tried and true, their food preparation and caring skills, their grounded presence, the matriarchs of the town, feeding us all once again. But from the team, and the cast – that sense of sparkling, nervous joy – like a first date… full of questions and hopes and shyness and boldness. Testing the waters. Testing the mettle of themselves. Boys and girls, young and old. Into the rehearsal space – into the world of theatre, of Shakespeare, of history.
The young Director steps forward – into his own power. An exercise to shake the cobwebs out. And then round the table – the words spill out – to read the whole play aloud from first line to last. The magic begins.