This weekend is London Open House and @polyg managed to get us booked onto the Almeida Theatre tour.
I love backstage tours, going to all those parts of the theatre you never normally get to see. Finding out a few tricks of the trade and just getting a sense of what it must be like backstage while you are sat out front enjoying the fruits of all the labour.
My favourite bits are always the green room and the dressing rooms of which there are four at the Almeida. There are always loads of personal items, good luck cards, family photo's and the like, it's when I feel at my most voyeuristic on these tours spying on a world and a side to the actors I'm not supposed to know about.
It's also where you get a bit of an insight into life backstage before, during and after a performance - the futon bed in the corning for naps between the matinee and evening performances and the fridge stocked with favourite items in the green room.
The Almeida's wardrobe department was also interesting. Stacks of boxes all neatly labelled so items for any last-minute repairs can be quickly found. Wigs sitting on stands - the wig drying box in the corner, washing machines, tumble dryers and an industrial-strength steam iron.
The play that is currently being staged is House of Games and only requires one costume for each character and remarkably they only have one actual costume for each actor with the wardrobe department washing, drying and ironing each item between every performance. I don't know why I find such things fascinating but I do.
Incidentally, the play got an aggregated review rating of 3.3 out of five over on UpTheWestEnd.com I haven't seen it myself.
I've done the National Theatre backstage tour which is excellent but obviously everything there is on a grander scale. At the Almeida everyone works cheek by jowl creating a camaraderie that has transferred with the production to larger theatres where the cast including the big names like Kevin Spacey (when in The Iceman Cometh) have requested to continue sharing dressing rooms to retain that bond.