Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Grassroots ethos in action

At the end of our penultimate rehearsal, mere days away from opening night, we were gathered into a huddle to hear some news and make a decision. There were a couple faces looking worried and stressed, and it seemed like there must be something really bad about to happen. Did the park revoke our permission to perform? Did somebody’s relative die, and they have to be at the funeral? 
Turns out that one of our own, the fabulously talented Holly Davies (who has created perhaps the sexiest Puck in the history of the world) has been offered the most tremendous opportunity. She’s been given a role in a BBC pilot without even auditioning! (yep, she’s just that good.) There’s just one problem:
Filming goes late into the night on both Monday and Tuesday, our scheduled opening night and second performance.  She hasn’t told them yes, because she wanted to talk to all of us first. She didn’t want to let us down. 
We all looked at Holly. There were tears in her eyes as one of her cast mates held her shoulders and we all cried out how marvelous! How amazing! Congratulations! Eve spoke perhaps for all of us when she said, “It never even occurred to me that you wouldn’t TAKE it! Of course you should do it! We’re all behind you.”

That’s Grassroots. That’s the magic of a group of people working for free at what they love, with people they respect, with this as the highest aim: to make great theatre from scratch with nothing but the script, the company and the passion we all share, and bring it to the people of London because it’s what we love to do.

We’re all behind Holly 100%, with pride far outweighing any envy or sadness because we’ve also decided we’re not canceling. Oh no, not Grassroots. We’re going on! We’re putting off opening until Weds, and performing Monday and Tuesday as open dress rehearsals with our friend Adam Elliot standing in as Puck. At the end of these previews there will be a chance to get feedback from the audience and a Q & A about Grassroots and “original practices”. In losing Holly for those two performances, we’ve all gained a deeper sense of community and support, a serious pride in our cast mate’s brilliant gig, and the chance to “perform” for an audience while still rehearsing! 

How did that happen? We ALL won! 

And this, perhaps, is what I love most about Grassroots. When 12 gorgeous and talented people have your back, you go out feeling like a champion and knowing that your world will be rocked by the people you’re playing with. You go out expecting surprises and gifts, spontaneity and wonder and damn fine work from all your fellows. When 12 generous and creative performers have your back, you’re safe to open your heart or even fall on your ass. You’re even safe to leave, knowing it won’t be the same without you but that you’re also not letting us down.

I call that magical. I call that one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of.

Thank you, Grassroots Original London Cast, for being who you are. Congratulations Holly, we love you and will miss you and will do our best to rock those shows in your honor. Thank you in advance to the audiences who watch us wrangle with an unexpected situation and still come out punching!

And while we’re at it, thank you Mr. Shakespeare. You wrote a damn fun play.

-Ponder Goddard