RSC Diaries 2

In the second of our new blog series following two young actors performing in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s summer season, AYT’s Becky Brewis asks Rosie Hilal, currently in production week for Hamlet, what she’s most excited about…

Being in a theatre with 1,500 people or whatever it is. I think that’s pretty exciting. On the first day of rehearsals I was so nervous I couldn’t eat, which for me means a lot. I was hyper for two days, I couldn’t believe where I was.

Quite a lot of people knew each other from before but they are all really nice and it feels very inclusive. How many times they’ve been the RSC and how much acting they’ve done makes a difference, but everyone here is more experienced than me so to me they all seem like old hands. They are used to knowing that everything can be sorted out, so if there’s a problem or something is dangerous, or a bit of costume doesn’t work they just ask to have it changed and it is. That’s how it’s supposed to be in an ideal world but of course most plays I’ve been in haven’t had that luxury and I’m used to just making do.

I have small parts in each play – which are obviously important – but then I also have two big understudies: Rosalind in As you Like It and Helena in All’s Well that Ends Well. I haven’t started Helena yet, but Rosalind I’ve got to know by the preview which is 12 April. I know sort of two thirds of it. I think I’ll be fine but it’s quite scary because you don’t get a lot of understudy rehearsal until the show is up and running, so if you do have to go on in previews, you’ve only had, say, a week’s rehearsal in total, and all spread out. But being able to watch the actors in rehearsals means you do pick up stuff, and it gets less scary. You feel like you know the show. At the beginning it was terrifying because I thought, I’m not going to get any rehearsal, I’m not going to know what to do. But you pick it up. You just have to know the lines and then, if you have to go on, just act your heart out!

We went into tech on Monday. Everyone is working together, and sound and lighting are coming together. There are loads of people helping on costume, it’s amazing. I still haven’t  completely understood who does what – it’s like a huge machine. It’s such a privilege to be here. Four of us share a dressing room and it’s got a little balcony and you can see the river and everyone is always asking if you’ve got everything.

Wardrobe mistresses and stuff – because they hear all that – say it gets claustrophobic and in six months time you’ll want to get out, so just make sure you go on day trips and stuff like that. But being just out of drama school, it’s been really hectic, so at the moment it’s lovely to be out of London, even if the next few months are going to be manic.

The RSC runs a £5 ticket scheme for 16 – 25 year olds. Find out more here.

Image: Keith Pattison