[To recap so far. A 32-year-old self-conscious and slightly socially awkward guy wants to do something new in his life. He looks back at childhood hobbies and decides on drama due to an early introduction to Shakespeare. However he is haunted by the ghosts of his G.C.S.E drama exam and wants to put these ghosts to rest. He finds a theatre group that does Shakespeare and is told about upcoming auditions. He goes to the auditions and is in awe of the talent around him. He leaves the audition with low expectations only to find a week later he has a part.] I will refer to people by their character name.

A few weeks after the news of getting the role it was the first rehearsal. Actually it turned out to be read through but it would be chance for everyone to see each other. I arrive at the venue early again but I’m not the first.  I was feeling the same way I do on a first date nervous but wanting to look keen and interested but hoping not to make a fool of myself and just hope I get on ok with them.  More people arrive and we move to the room upstairs.   One of these arrivals is the person playing Helena. I don’t recognise her from the audition so I’m guessing she went to the Sunday performance. Despite not knowing me she made feel very welcome and put me at ease straight away Then I met Hermia my daughter in the show. Then the rest of the cast arrived. We all took our seats around the table and were given our scripts. The version we were doing was a shortened version of the play designed for schools but we were putting some of the speeches back in so I had a few more lines than I expected.

My prediction from the audition seemed to be right the 2 guys who stood out by a mile at my audition had got the roles of Demetrius and Oberon and the girl who I thought was perfect for the role of Puck had got that part. I was going to be working with some really talented people (I know I keep saying this but it’s true) and I was a bit in awe of some of them. Lysander wasn’t there at the read through but the rest of Team Mortals (as I called our group) were. The read through went well and we passed our contact details on to our directors who said they would be in touch about rehearsals.

Two weeks had passed since the read through and I hadn’t heard anything and paranoia set in. Did I leave too soon at the read through? Had I given the wrong number or worse had they changed their mind. I didn’t know what to do maybe this is normal and there is still plenty of time isn’t there. I was now definitely feeling the way I do after a first date. I don’t want to be the one the one to get in touch, I don’t want to come across as too keen or desperate that is not something people want. I spoke to some friends and they said to get in touch so I send a message to them. I hear back from then and a few days later I get a date for the rehearsal.

I turn up for this rehearsal really nervous. This is because I fear I had annoyed them by asking about the rehearsal and that they already hated me. My confidence was low. I get to the rehearsal and I’m met by the director who explains why there has been a bit of a delay with rehearsals. I am now feeling even worse about myself. I say it’s all ok. He then says there have been some changes to our group. My heart sinks I say to myself he has changed his mind I’m not in it. But no it turns out that some people have dropped out and some people have changed role. Hermia and Helena are still the same but the guy playing Demetrius is now Lysander and the person playing Theseus is now Lysander and the producer is now Theseus there is all so someone new playing Hippolyta. All a bit confusing I know but it’s all good and I am still involved so I breathe a sigh of relief. The rest of the cast turn up and we do another read through just Team Mortals. I am still quite nervous and end up interrupting Lysander during one of his lines. I apologise and hope he isn’t too frustrated or annoyed with me.

One of my problems is that I sometimes feel awkward socially when meeting new people so this experience was a big deal for me. At the heart of it all is wanting to be accepted and in the past I haven’t always gone about this in the right way. So I am more cautious in these situations. This makes me seem quiet and shy as I become a wallflower almost and just watch others. It’s not that I don’t want to relax and join in it’s just I am trying to make sense of the situation. Once I am relaxed with people then I can be me which isn’t always the shy quiet guy.

The second rehearsal is indoors again and we go through blocking for the roles. It is the first time we have done this and it went ok although a little cramped inside. That won’t be a  problem soon as we are due to have rehearsals outdoors next. I once again interrupt Lysander. I must be a real pain but he is being good about it which I am grateful for. At this stage the focus is about learning the lines and confidence. I have been practising my lines at home so hopefully they will come and hopefully so will the confidence.

After a few weeks of indoor rehearsals it was finally time to have our first rehearsal outside in the park. It was just Team Mortals. This was the first time that I had seen the venue since joining the group. It soon became apparent the issues performers would face in the venue  with it being outdoors. They are being heard, you have to project your voice more. The other is the local wildlife – the geese are really noisy at this time of night. There is also a major issue with midges. There are swarms of them that jus follow us all around and we are getting covered in bites. Did expect some hassle from local youths but nothing tonight (this does change over the coming weeks).

The next rehearsal is to be the first full cast rehearsal and outdoors but its raining so we have to move to indoors. It’s quite odd seeing everybody else here. We haven’t really done this. I sense a few others feel the same. Just like the first day of school we seem to stay with our groups not wanting to venture out to meet the others, or maybe that’s just the shy guy in me that thinks that. The rehearsal goes well and I get a real buzz from the experience. It feels like it actually is happening now.

From now on though all the rehearsals are outdoors and are generally going well. It’s odd I usually forget there are people passing by some ignore whats going on other just stop for a few minutes and watch then move on. Then of course there are the local youths. We have had moments where an odd thing I said but usually it passes. With just a few weeks to go one of our Friday rehearsals coincided with the last day of exams. This meant a lot of drunk teenagers causing havoc in the park and had to try to ignore the comments they were saying and trying and be heard over the noise of the police helicopter. We carry on though and only miss out the very final scene as by now we can no longer ignore them. This was the worst that we had experienced and we didn’t experience it again.

The first show was getting closer and rehearsal were going ok. There were some scenes which needed more work but we were getting there and I know I was looking forward to that first performance and wondering how I would feel once it arrived. How would I react? It was a nerve-wracking thought. I was also worried about how the moustache was going to go. I was asked to grow a moustache for the role and had been putting it off until as late as possible. I realised I needed at least a week to have something reasonable to show. This was a brand new experience as I don’t do facial hair but a fake one would have left me worried in case it fell off.

While rehearsals had been going on other stuff had been happening in the background, there had been publicity, ticket sales and then we all had costume fittings. As we were going for the 1940’s style I was to be in army uniform. Which I was quite looking forward to as all guys look good in a uniform don’t they? As well as all the play things going on I had things going on in the rest of my life such as an application for a promotion at work and then interview to prepare for so it was new experience to have so much going on in my life in one go. I was still loving the whole experience though.

So it was all coming together and a few days before the first performance we had the first dress rehearsal. However despite the weather generally being ok it poured down so we just had to try on costumes and then did a read through indoors. This was quite an intimate experience as we were all just sat in a circle and delivered our lines. It was the first time that I had really felt that we were all one team. I also discovered at the end of this that I couldn’t wear my glasses and it was now too late to sort out contact lenses. I knew I could manage but I was concerned it would make me feel a bit vulnerable . The next day was the next planned dress rehearsal and this went ahead. It was the first time we had all been there and had that finished feel. I remember changing out of my costume and then saying bye to some others thinking the next time I’m here it will be the show and I hope I don’t let any of them down.Eek…

[lights dim…..show starts next]