When I was growing up I wanted more than anything to go on the stage. The bug bit me at about 7 years old with my first ever line (in our nativity version of Macbeth?!) “When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning or in rain? When the hurlyburly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won! That will be ere the set of sun”
I’m sure the irony of being cast as a witch won’t be lost on my friends!!!
From there followed choir group, singing lessons, drama exams, roles in various school productions, a short stint at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, auditions at Saddlers Wells for the National Youth Music Theatre (a dodgy rendition of ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ – I went first), culminating in my ‘Am Dram’ highlight – playing Adelaide in Guys & Dolls at the Oxford Playhouse. Woo hoo!!
Obviously I loved the singing and dancing and the humoring adoration of my family (bless ’em), but it was the adrenalin of auditioning and the ensuing rehearsals that lent an addictive excitement to my everyday schedule, the hum drum of school/work/socialising/sleeping, disrupted by an extra dimension. Life wasn’t 9 to 5, it was punctuated with practice sessions, dress rehearsals, vocal training, dry runs, sound checks, costume fittings, hair and make-up, and then… waiting in the wings with a belly full of butterflies, a throat tight with terror, and eyes wide with anticipation ready to step out there into the abyss!
Over time this all somehow became swept aside, and following several years of drifting; travelling, waitressing, sailing, cooking and enjoying the freedom of an aimless existence, I finally fell into a career in event catering and since then the closest I’ve got to the bright lights is a little moonlighting in a mates band. The fact that this takes place in the Virgin Islands make those wonderfully nostalgic jamming sessions few and far between.
The funny thing is though, somehow the similarities between stage performing and event catering are actually quite acute!
For starters, the hours are certainly not conducive to a routine lifestyle; a bit of a pain the older you get but you certainly never take for granted a weekend off. Secondly you’ve got the build up, the anticipation, the butterflies – some events take months or even years of preparation, planning, checking, yes – even ‘dry-runs’!
Just like auditions, script readings and rehearsals, an event begins with winning the bid and being awarded the contract followed by months of hard work. The team to put together; the menus to plan and present; the logistics to arrange; the crockery and linen to be chosen and sourced; the trucks to be loaded; the site kitchens to be installed; the hotels to be booked; the uniforms to be sorted; the food to be prepped…
And then there’s the mighty camaraderie that builds between a team thrown together on an event, exhaustion can be hugely bonding (it can also be utterly destructive, but let’s focus on the positive elements!) – the excitement of your own particular challenge, your workload, your achievement, is often dwarfed by the even bigger thrill of the event itself of which you are just a small part…
The Wimbledon Championships!
The British Open Golf!
My God, next year… The OLYMPICS!
The sense of excitement and anticipation once on site is akin to arriving at the theatre for the final dress rehearsal – no-one leaves til every last thing has been done, cross checked, ticked off, and you won’t sleep for nerves, dread and excitement, and then…
The Day Has Come!!!
It’s too late, all those months of preparation are over – it’s here – what will be will be – there’s nothing more you can do but take a deep breath and FACE THE MUSIC! Step out onto the stage!! Open the doors and let the punters in!!!
I must admit I miss event catering. It’s got a lot to answer for, but I’ve so much to show for it and have learned more than I ever would have guessed in the beginning. And we’ve had such a load of fun.
Where else would you get a breakfast like this……………