BLENHEIM PALACE, 1 NOVEMBER 1997

The Performance
I managed, an hour before the show, to block out the action with Anna and the girls on the set, so they were as ready as they would be as the audience filed in, but I had to do the show without a walk-through.  When the Waifs and Queen of the Sidh exited, I was left alone to perform the entire epic narrative rhyme from memory, playing every role, bringing each individuated character to life through changes in my voice and mannerisms.  I performed without teleprompter or any other memory aid save the rhyme itself, but somewhere, in the darkness, my daughter, Lisa, was following along in the script.  She would decide when to stop the show if I dropped a quatrain or flubbed a line, for unless corrections were made on the spot, continuity would be lost.  The lighting and camera crews had to guess which way I would turn next, for even as I performed, I was plotting my next action and inventing business on the fly.  No one knew where my next step would take me, not even me.

I anticipated having to make technical adjustments along the way, but no sooner did the show begin, than unexpected volleys of rockets began exploding outside!  In America, we have no such noisy celebration on November 1st.  The production went forward in stops and starts and between segments, I bantered with the audience or planned bits with Lisa and floor manager Doug Urquhart, but as soon as sound, lighting and camera adjustments were made, the show resumed, for the set, lighting and theater itself existed for the one night alone, and we only had a total of three hours to capture the entire 99 minute show which is considerably less time than is scheduled for your average half hour TV sitcom.


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