So this has been an utterly unexpected joy, definitely not on the list of #55Joys!
A few months ago my friend Jen Toksvig asked me to do the Christmas show at The Globe. Now, I’ve been trying to say no. I’ve been practicing saying no. And one of the ways I’ve got better at doing so is by choosing to wait 24 hours until I respond. I asked Jen for 24 hours before I said yes or no.
I’ve known Jen for years and worked with her on various things and love working with her. Jen and her sister Sandi (who I’ve known for more years, Sandi introduced me to Jen) were making a Christmas show in the actual outdoor Globe – cold, open to the rain and the wind, funny, lovely, music-y, Christmassy. But still, I asked for 24 hours. I told Shelley (who often says how much she wishes I’d say no more) and her response was “Of course you have to say yes, it’s The Globe!” I said yes.
I thought I was saying yes to being part of a show with some mates and some strangers who would become mates and having a lovely time and doing our best with just one week’s rehearsal and creating something gorgeous for people to enjoy at Christmas.
And we have, we are. What I didn’t expect was that I’d find a whole lot else. I expected just to play and stumble through and have a great time. Instead, all my old actor insecurities reared their head – along with something new and painful. I haven’t done a ‘proper’ show (lines and cues & all that) since before my last lot of surgeries for my second breast cancer. My body is changed, different, chunks of me have been cut out and others shifted around. I’m emotionally and psychologically changed too. I know even more definitely that I am mortal, I know with even more certainty that the line between health and dis-ease is so very fine. Just as my yoga practice needs and wants a grounded and elementally-aware body, so does theatre – and that space, the stunning Globe space, especially. We have been working with voice magician Tess Dignan and I just kept wanting to cry. My breath, my heart, deep parts of me stirred by singing and feeling and sharing – and breathing. (And of course it’s all connected to the yoga philosophy we’re learning too.) This old-new-changed body of mine felt different, I felt different. Different and scared and unsure. And then, after a bit of a struggle, I chose to let that be. To let me be. And then it was ok. More than ok, it was – is – great.
Making any piece of work is always more about process than product and while I LOVE the product we have created together and am enormously proud to be a part of it (a small part, with a full choir and an astonishing crew behind scenes – and sometimes on stage! – we are a massive team) it’s the process that has, again, reminded me why I (sometimes) love theatre. Connecting with others, connecting with myself and, because it’s The Globe, REALLY connecting with the audience – and the river and the sky and the rain and the clouds and the moon. Fully part of it all.
I’m not quite sure what’s happened just yet. We still have 6 shows to do. But this work has shifted something for me, it’s been a healing. I have no doubt more will grow from it.
We’ve made a lovely thing. It’s as inclusive as we can make it – The Globe seems to work harder at this than any space I know – and the show and its reach is bigger than I expected, by far. Yes it’s very silly and really funny and it looks good and it sounds great, but it also has heart. Deep, real, sometimes raw, heart.
If you’re in London and you have time, come along. You can be part of the heart. Christmas at the Snow Globe.
A joy of Christmas, a joy of reaching out to others, a joy of letting be.