Honour Bayes: Oliviers 2012 Blog - View from a newbie newsie
But hey, I'm only human and the thought of being able to don the glamour next to the glitterati was just too good to miss. So when Whatsonstage.com offered me the golden ticket, I grabbed it with both hands.
And what a genuinely starry occasion it was. From the first flutter of my heart at the sight of the red carpet to the last flutter of my eyelashes as Bertie Carvel and I chatted about power plays in a press room, the Oliviers is undoubtedly an experience not to be missed.
Indeed being at the Royal Opera House is in itself an experience everyone should be part of if they can. This astonishing building is not only impressive from the auditorium view, but backstage an entire city of rooms and corridors unpacks like a rabbit warren. Luckily we were escorted to the media room and whilst I have to confess to initially finding this quite funny, half way through our journey I became terribly relieved my guide was there.
Stepping into a press room is quite intimidating, Carvel later admitted to me, and whilst I was surprised the vivacious 'talent' (as they are rather prosaically called on this side of the stage) should feel such nerves, I sympathise because I was quite nervous too.
What began very sedately, with chairs lined up in a very British fashion soon began to disintegrate as the inherent flaws in such best laid plans became clear. Photographers blocked any chance of an interview whilst their battles for pole position drowned out the television coverage of the auditorium itself.
Needless to say people with louder voices than mine weren't happy. But the Olivier staff soon took matters into hand, shifting away the chairs (much too genteel for a rabble such as us) and making a separate space for interviews to happen. A truce was found and so the steady flow of presenters and winners began.
There's a rhythm and undercurrent to a press room and you either need to swim in that direction or drown. Whilst it took me a second to realise this I was soon bobbing along happily with the rest of them, finding the best places to position myself to get the juiciest snippets of chat.
It's an exhilarating thing to get to see the winners after they've been up on stage, after they've had a chance to settle into their win and think about what it means. I'm sure it's because it's my first year, but I don't think it's hyperbole to say that it felt like a privilege.
This is especially true when speaking to Theatre Royal Stratford East about Roadkill, which won for Outstanding achievement in an affiliate theatre. Their achievement feels particularly worthy of note because of the play's uncompromising bleakness. As a piece it feels a million miles away from the head to toe red sequins of Zoe Wanamaker and for Roadkill to be given such a main stream acknowledgment is fantastic.
Still it's all a bit quiet until Ruth Wilson bounds in bringing with her a whirlwind of merry enthusiasm (and the most gorgeous dress of the evening which can't have hurt) and from then on the room is buzzing. Jonny Lee Miller speaks sense about how such awards promote theatre to a much wider audience, Singin' In The Rain has these hardened hacks and paps with their toes tapping and when the Matildas win there's an audible sigh of pleasure; even the press have their favourites it seems.
Its Matilda the MusicalP's night as Tim Minchin, Dennis Kelly, Bertie Carvel and the four Matildas themselves swarm into the room creating a continuous hum that doesn't die out until the end of the evening.
Out of apparent chaos come the seeds of future articles and you realise what can be communicated within two minute interviews. So whilst the red carpet and souvenir brochure look lovely, give me the hustle and bustle of the press room any day. A corner where if you're bold enough, you can discover more than just who they'd like to thank for that small black statue they clutch on to so dearly.
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