The flat is a rabbit warren. Nestled in a basement, beneath one of the multitude of Edinburgh University buildings along Buccleuch Place, there is little privacy. People share beds and mugs for coffee. I’m not sure how many bedrooms there are and I’ve lost count of the doors. The main hall is strewn with costumes and flyers, posters and props. And, oddly, a pile of A4 black and white portraits of myself. There is a staircase, painted black, that leads up to a solid wall.
The kitchen is miniscule and in a constant clutter. Empty beer bottles stand next to cups of old tea bags along with crumbs, wrappers, take away coffee cups and the odd dirty plate. No one lingers in the kitchen but does their business and escapes as fast as they can. Some of the girls cook breakfast, quite often eggs. The communal loaf of bread was eaten some time ago and has yet to be replaced. We drink each other's beer and pilfer each other's snacks.
Inevitably, the thespians spill out into the garden, our saving grace. We smoke or we don’t, we rehearse and recite, we banter and gossip, we stress and rant, we sip a beer or a whisky, we grab a bite or we simply lie there on the grass, exhausted and staring skywards.
Our call is at 530. We collate from all corners of Edinburgh. Those in other shows – most of us – report on the day’s performance. Some of us grab food and eat it quickly before changing into costume. The girls don their corsets, the boys their cravats. The show is, ostensibly, steam punk and the costumes reflect the style. Except for mine. I play a ghost. Ghosts are not steam punk. Well, they’re certainly less so.
Tea mugs drained, quick nips to the loo, costumes and props double-checked, and then out onto the cobbled streets towards the venue. It's a quick march.