Allie, who plays Trinculo has a phobia about balloons, which, until we realised how the very sight of one could make her pathologically violent, had been a source of some amusement for the company.
Today she met a fellow traveller in Elisabeth, one of the house's volunteers assigned to us today on stewarding duty. The two balloon-phobics greeted each other as if twins, separated at birth and were quickly into a discussion as to the root of their problem.
Elisabeth, was a war baby and thinks she learnt in the womb (her mother was caught up in a huge London bombing raid when heavily pregnant and she has been petrified of sudden bangs - or things that can cause sudden bangs- all her life.)The fear is apparently genuine and leads to trauma, angst, fainting and screming fits.
Allie sat nodding her head, looking round with a 'I told you all I wasn't mad' smile of content on her face.
As balloons play a significant part in the production I advised Elisabeth to try and get a transfer to another part of the house, maybe swapping her responsibilities with a different steward. She thanked me and went off to find Sarah, who was co-ordinating the volunteer army. She was back within minutes, white and shaking. We gave her a glass of water and eventually she told us what had happened.
'Sarah,' she'd said 'I wonder if I could not do The Tempest this afternoon?'
'Sure,' Sarah replied 'ummm any reason?'
'Ahhh... I'd rather not say. It would just be for the best if I could do another room!'
'Well, ok' said Sarah, 'Diana who's setting up in the scullery needs a hand. Could you do that'
'Oh thank you...of course, thank you so much.'
And so Elisabeth went off, relieved, to the scullery, where she found Diana struggling to lug in a big, heavy, suitcase.
'Diana? I'm Sarah. I'm a house volunteer, here to help you out, anything you need, just ask me.'
'Oh that's great' said Diana, heading for the corridor 'I could do with an assistant, I do tend to get overrun by the children, sometimes I even run out of resources. I'll get the other bag from the car, but could you open up the case and start setting up'
'Sure,' said Elisabeth, unlocking the case 'by the way... what do you do?'
'Oh' shouted Diana, as Elisabeth lifted the lid and realised her worst nightmare, 'I'm a balloon modeller!!!!'
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.