How do you get to Carnegie Hall Spirit of Folk…

And so it begins –  Wednesday July 25th 2012

We arrive to our base in the Gaiety School of Acting to some unseasonal Irish Summer weather – by which I mean it’s actually warm outside – somewhere in the late teens, not bad for a July evening in Dublin!  Excitement laces the air as we’re greeted by a sea of familiar smiling faces.  We have to be reminded more than once that there are classes in progress in Studio 1 so can we please sssssh!!!  Eventually, after all the warm reunion hugs, we make our way down to our old haunt, Studio 3.

It’s been mere weeks since we graduated from our Advanced Performance class –  is it too soon to feel nostalgia?! We’ve come back home although, this time, not under the watchful eye of our darling tutor, Donal.  Despite our ages ranging from twenties upward there’s an air of childlike mischief about us, the kind you encounter as a school kid when you’ve sneaked back into a class room after hours or during the lunch hour when you should be outside playing tip-the-can.  It takes a moment to get past the truant-esque giggles but it’s not long before we’re back in the full swing of things.  Without so much as a word of co-ordination, all at once we’re working in unision to drag chairs and black boxes to the centre of the room to make a sort of makeshift board room meeting table.  Time to get down to business.

Due to a mini-crisis of the printing kind, we have just three scripts between the gang of us today so we gather close, as though round a campfire – the spirit of folk is already starting to glimmer in each of us as we take our first look at the script.  Knowing that a few of our crew are running late, those of us present bite nails, cross and uncross legs, play with our hair, check the time repeatedly…willing patience on ourselves and willing them to get here sooner so we can start reading this golden text that’s been bestowed upon us.  It’s a challenge – and one that proves impossible for the excited children in us – we leaf through the first three pages, together is silence.  The first laugh goes up from one side of the table – then a gasp from the other – then, on looking up, I see that every one of us around our makeshift table is grinning ear to ear.  Best.  Start.  Ever.

It’s not long before the others arrive and we form even tighter huddles around our three scripts.  Again, there’s silence but this time, those of us who’ve already read a bit are watching the late-comers faces with anticipation for a reaction.  Before you can say Spirit of Folk, we commence our first official read-through with relish.  There isn’t a dull moment, not once is our attention waning – without a doubt, this is a page-turner.  By the time we’ve reached the end, we’re all smiling maniacally at one another, struggling to articulate anything more than “Class!” or “That’s DEADLY!”

Between the read and some housekeeping and rehearsal timetabling, unbelievably our two hour studio slot is already up. There is a real buzz in the air:  excitement at what this project holds for us over the next few months – quiet confidence in this fab new script – anticipation at the idea of this wonderful thing we’ve just become a part of – and an extra helping of excitement, just for good measure!  We move out of the school, once again, like a gang of school kids – one large unit gravitating towards the door, as opposed to individuals trickling through.  When we reach the street, we linger for a minute or two; so many things to think about, so many things to look forward to – rehearsals, costumes, props, staging, music…there’s a heck of a lot of work ahead of us – but never before has “work” been so exciting!  One by one we meander off through town, making our own ways home, our minds racing, our heads full of ideas and possibilities.

If the looks on each of our faces hadn’t  been evidence enough of how happy we were to embark on this journey, then what happened next would prove it for sure:  One by one we take to Facebook, one’s modern day confidante, and post gleefully about the evening’s events and what’s to come.  And let’s face it – if it’s being talked about on Facebook – it’s kind of a big deal!

Next week, the real work starts – we dive head first into getting this production off the ground.  Three words come to mind.  BRING.  IT.  ON.

Until next time… =)

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Amanda Darling for GSA & Spirit of Folk 2012

Note: The Spirit of Folk festival, a three day camping festival in Co. Meath, is hosting its very first theatre production in partnership with The Gaiety School of Acting. For more information visit http://www.spiritoffolk.com