Hayley Atwell has written an exclusive three-part diary for Harpers Bazaar about the build-up to the opening of her new play, ‘The Pride’, which examines the changing attitudes towards homosexuality between 1958 and the present day. Hayley’s diary will run from now until the opening night on August 13th. This first extract covers the first week of Hayley at rehearsals which I’ve added under the cut!
Day 1: I didn’t sleep the night before the first day of rehearsals. I never do. Beginning any project is often the hardest part for me, I’m buzzing with nerves and expectations.
The first day involves a meet and greet with the cast and the director, in this case Jamie Lloyd. Jamie starts by showing us a perfect miniature model of the set and talking us through how the scenes will work on stage. The Pride won an Olivier five years ago and its writer, Alexi Kaye Campbell, is also with us on the first day to hear us read his words aloud for the first time.
I already know one actor, Al Weaver, from drama school. The director, Jamie, also directed me two years ago in the Royal Court’s The Faith Machine. But other than that, it’s all new. This initial read-through offers a chance to get to know everyone and to ask questions about the meaning, the subtext or, in my case today, words that I don’t understand, such as ‘felching.’ The definition is not fit for repetition here but Mat Horne (The Catherine Tate Show, Gavin & Stacey) is happy to fill me in with the details.
What’s clear on day one is A) everyone wants this to be a good production B) the play is timely and moving and C) Mat Horne is very, very funny. Mat doesn’t yet know I’ve watched the Gavin & Stacey outtakes about ten times.
At the end of the first day I decide to walk back home from the rehearsal studio. It’s such a beautiful day! It gives me a chance to think about the day, and get some air before heading to the Novak Djokovic fundraising dinner.