"...And all the men and women merely players." If old Will's claim is true, then I have been in rehearsal for Katie's London Adventures since middle school. It all started with a summer of binge-watching the 2005 movie adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. My best friend and I watched that movie at least once a week, dreaming of the day when we would stroll through the streets of Brighton or cascade down the steps of Pemberly (brooding Mr. Darcy's mansion). Next came an obsession with Doctor Who, and a deep desire to see a blue police box in real life. When we went to Disney's Epcot my freshman year of high school, you better believe I wore the England-themed mouse ears. For my sixteenth birthday, I was given a bedspread featuring the London skyline. In college, I fell head over heels for Sir Gawain and his quest for the Green Knight in my British Literature course. And this summer I became well acquainted with curtsies and RP British accents through my work on Hope Summer Repertory Theatre's production of Shakespeare in Love. But now rehearsals are over. I have one week until I leave for my dream destination which can only mean one thing (standby suspenseful music): Tech Week.
Tech Week starts in the days before dress rehearsals, when all of the designers come together to bring the world of the play to life. Lighting fixtures are hung sky-high in the catwalks, music is tweaked to the perfect frequencies, and costumes are critiqued under the harsh glow of colored light. Weeks of the designers' preparation are put to the test, with very little room for error. Typically some mistakes are made, and tensions can surpass the ceiling, but all of the long, tiring, coffee-filled hours of hard work and dedication to "The Craft" consolidate to produce the play. Like the designers, my preparation started months in advance when I decided to study abroad in London. At first, it all felt extremely surreal. I had just started my junior year at Hope, and my senior year was 11 months away. Signing the paperwork and writing scholarship essays were like checking off boxes on my to-do list: Do laundry? Check. Do homework? Check. Agree to spend the first half of my senior year 4,000 miles away from everything I've ever known? Check. It was all mundane busywork that showed up every once in a while in my email's inbox. But now the paperwork is safely filed away, I have purchased my plane tickets, my roommate has been assigned, and the heart-stopping tuition bills have arrived. It's time to get real: I'm going. The plane is going to depart from the tarmac. There's a bed in London with my name on the headboard. Those tuition checks have been signed, sealed, delivered. Tech has begun and is steadily moving toward Opening Night (GO suspenseful music).
These last few days are all about ironing out the details. I have planned my route from the airport to my housing at King's Cross and have found the closest restaurant with a full-English breakfast. I've triple-checked my passport and my suitcase weighs-in at just under 50 pounds. We've come to the part in the process where there is no going back, and whatever we've planned better work! If not, this actor is going to have to improv her way over the pond. Opening Night is almost here, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. Opening Night jitters are normal. Most performers have at least an ounce of stage fright: after all everyone IS watching you. But someone once told me, "If you aren't nervous, you don't love what you're doing." They say that nervousness and excitement are the same feeling; the former is focusing on everything that could go wrong, and the latter is lasered in on everything that could go right. Opening Night is a leap of faith: you have to let go and trust your instincts. And you're not in it alone: there's the other actors, the deck crew, the stage manager, the board operators, the spotlight operators, the wardrobers, the audience...We're all in this together, and if something does go wrong, we'll make it work. When I get off the plane on Tuesday, I'm going to feel like a fish out of water--but so are the other 50 people in my program. I'm sure as we make our way through our jet-lagged first week we'll take the wrong line on the Tube, misunderstand someone with a thick London accent, and stick out like a big American sore thumb. But the show must go on. After all, if "all the world's a stage," we have to keep this play interesting! So as we begin to set for the top of Katie's London Adventures Act I, scene i, I wish everyone some age-old-theatrical good luck: Break a leg!
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<p>Katie Joachim is a senior at Hope College, where she is studying Theatre and Creative Writing. She has been a part of the theatre community since she was eight-years-old: 13 years in total! Most recently, Katie was the director of the Bay View Youth Theatre and she just finished up an acting internship with Hope Summer Repertory Theatre. When she isn't in rehearsal, Katie can be found knitting and watching the Grey's Anatomy, all while munching on a slice of freshly-baked cake.</p>