With Jeffrey away, Wednesday was a day off for the cast and crew of To Begin With, although I am sure that everyone was still working hard on the project in their own ways.
A free day gave me the opportunity to do plenty of work on the script, and during the first part morning I went through scenes one to three with a fine-tooth comb. This wasn’t line learning, this was line perfecting. During my run through I had the script close at hand and whenever I was slightly in doubt I would check.
For example: in scene one I say ‘Charitably, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps my neighbour’s spawn had been taking a brisk morning immersion.’ I made a note of that line because I wanted to check that the word was ‘perhaps’ and not ‘maybe’. In this case I have been getting it right, but there were a few others where inaccuracies have crept in, often in the order of words: ‘educated and intelligent’ should be ‘intelligent and educated’; ‘longing, frustration and bitterness’ should be ‘frustration, longing and bitterness’, and so on. Essentially it makes no difference to the progress of the plot which way round I say these lines, but I want it to be perfect. So it was two hours well spent.
To escape from my little apartment/rehearsal room, I decided to walk to the Minnesota Institute of Art, which is an amazing gallery and museum. The collection contains ancient items from before Christ, right up to a fabulous collection of modern art and photography. There are urns, coffins, jade carvings, Native American headdresses and robes. There are works by Manet and Monet; Picasso and Pissaro; Singer Sargent and….oh, I’ve rather backed myself into an alliterative cul-de-sac there! Anyway, it is a fine collection.
As is often the way in modern galleries (and although MIA is housed in an old Palladian-style building, the interior is very modern), the interior can be just as astounding as the works it holds. At one point I walked down a staircase, and looking back up saw a view of angles and shade which was a piece of art in its own right.
My delight at the various works of art was tempered though by the awful news coming from London.
Terrorism has moved on since 9-11 and London’s co-ordinated bomb attack of 7-7 in 2005. These days all that is needed is an individual and a vehicle. We have seen such attacks in Niece, Dijon and Berlin and now in London. If a single madman wants to create havoc and has a car at his disposal, there is nothing to stop him – no online chat, no planning, no terrorist cells, just a madman.
As the news came in to my phone, so the stories of bravery and heroism began to surface. Of course the London police force, who lost one of the number, were professional and instant in their response. The scene was cleared and Parliament was locked down immediately, presumably in accordance to a carefully planned emergency protocol, while the attacker was taken before he could cause more carnage.
Soon photographs began to appear on the web and we saw bloodied Member of Parliament Tobias Ellwood performing first aid on the fallen officer.
A woman was reported to be in the Thames, presumably having jumped from Westminster Bridge as the car ploughed through pedestrians, later it was confirmed that she had been pulled alive from the water.
A horrible, horrible day, and one that made me feel very alone here.
However, life goes on and I very much approved of Theresa May’s response, after denouncing the ‘sick and depraved’ attack, and praising the security and police forces, she went onto say:
‘But let me make it clear today, as I have had cause to do before: any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure.
‘Tomorrow morning, Parliament will meet as normal. We will come together as normal.
‘And Londoners – and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great city – will get up and go about their day as normal.
‘They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives.
‘And we will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror. And never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.’
From the museum I walked back into the City and then home, where I spent a further two and half hours working my way through scene four: Essential work for me, and although it felt difficult and meaningless, it was vital to do for, as Mrs May said, if we don’t go on as normal they have won.
On Thursday we will begin the final push towards opening night: the furniture will arrive, the props will arrive, the costumes will arrive and I will have my wig fitted!
So, let me close with a quote from the show:
‘Faith and life. Not so dark after all. Though darkness must be part of the story, the darkness shall not overwhelm. But if the dark is not truthfully dark, the light cannot be truthfully light.’
In the few minutes since I first published this post, the following picture appeared on Facebook, which sums it all up!