MICHAEL FENTON STEVENS

MICHAEL FENTON STEVENS
Ready to go on

Monday, 28 March 2011

Monday - Leicester

A gorgeous Sunday of allotment digging and planting and then a very late lunch with my family has, sadly, come and gone. Now we are on the road again.

This week it's Leicester. I have booked in at my charming and very comfortable digs (large bedroom overlooking a sweet garden in an old Victorian house) and have walked to the theatre across the park. The theatre!! We are performing at the brand new Curve theatre in Leicester, a 62 million pound, purpose built space; what particular purpose it serves we are yet to find out? It's a massive place with several theatres inside it and it lives up to it's name as nearly everything is curved.

Strangely, there is no stage door and virtually no real 'backstage'. You have to walk across the public space to get from your dressing room to the theatre. Most of this walking will be happening when the public are actually in the auditorium, but it's a novel approach to theatre design. Plus, for most of the time, a large wall raises up so that anyone visiting the building can see back stage. This is usually such a private space and is only ever seen by those involved in the production, actors and crew, so it seems odd to have members of the audience peering in to your territory. I can see why they have done it, but I haven't decided yet whether it's a good thing or not? Perhaps I'm just being old fashioned?

The Curve, being a new building, does have dressing rooms that are pristine, with shower and toilet facilities, a bit of a treat after all the old theatres we have been playing. Of course, there aren't enough dressing rooms, so several of us are sharing. I don't mind. It's nice to have someone to chat to. I don't know if Jonathan agrees with me? He hasn't had a chance to get a word in edgewise yet!

I reserve judgement on the Curve. I have a feeling that my final view may well be determined by how well the show goes down; it often is.

Away from the tour and the theatre and constantly being away from home, life is weird. My younger brother is in hospital. He says he's fine but you still worry. It certainly brings home the passage of time. From the time he was born to the time I went to college, in fact even after that, my brother was the one that I had the job of looking after. I wasn't so much looking after him once I went to college, more getting him along as a friend. We had spent so much time together as youngsters that it seemed natural to have him along and he was always fun. Despite the age difference (6 years) he fitted in with my friends. In many respects he was better at it than me. I was very slow to hit my stride as a teenager. My brother had always been good at it; pop concerts, girlfriends, football matches. I was still reading Enid Blyton and bird watching at sixteen. He came up and stayed with me quite often and even came to Edinburgh with me for the festival as a follow spot operator.

He was still my 'little brother' though and I imagine I made him aware of it? I'm sure I've continued to be a bit of a pain with the little brother thing. It's taken me ages to stop talking to him as if it were my job to inform him of the facts of life. I should imagine I still do, sometimes? He now does a far more difficult and more important job than me and is very senior in his 'trade' - but he still has to suffer the 'little brother' syndrome.

Having said that, this does give me the rare opportunity to put the record straight. I didn't trick him in to running in to the local pond. If he wants to dispute that then he'd better start his own blog and write his own version of life. But as this is mine, this is my world. However, I will give you the chance to judge for yourself.

I was about eleven at the time and had, as usual during the holidays, been asked to look after my brother for the day. He would have been five or six. I can tell that you are already on my side. How many eleven year old boys have to spend the day babysitting during the school holidays? Alright, historically, children had been made to work twelve hour days in factories and to go up chimneys, but this was the start of the 70's. I was supposed to be roaming the streets with long hair, headbanging, or wearing a tartan scarf - not Baycity Rollers style, but the earlier, much cooler, Rod Stewart and the Faces look. Instead I had to take a small child to the park to feed the ducks.

Our park, the Priory, had a large lake in it and on this particular sunny day most of the edge was covered in a thick layer of duck weed. The grassed banks ran down to the edge of the pond and then the lawn seemed to continue for several yards on the flat of the water. It was quite a convincing illusion.



Naturally, when we got home, it was me that got in to trouble for nearly letting my young charge drown and for allowing him to ruin his clothes and cover the newly polished hall floor (it was always newly polished) in stinking, black pond mud and duck weed. And, whenever the story comes up between us, my brother still claims that I tricked him and told him it was grass because I thought it would be funny to see him run in to the pond.

So who do you think is telling the truth? Poor innocent me? Or a deluded, small child, barely old enough to even remember the incident, let alone have a proper grasp of the details, who was so shocked by the dunking and keen not to look foolish that he blamed his distraught guardian?

You bastards! I knew you'd say that!!



Get well soon. xx

1 comment:

  1. Actually, it's a nice sunny day. I'm feeling generous. Might just give you the benefit of the doubt.

    Hold on. Is that a roguish glint in your eye...?!

    Hope your brother is better soon.

    Sophie xx

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