Vive la Douzaine!

Nov 12 2016 | By More

Life on stage for the #TwoCitiesDozen

With the touring production of A Tale of Two Cities drawing its Edinburgh dates to a close, Æ reader Suzanne Senior is almost at the end of her stint as one of the  Two Cities Dozen – the 12 community performers taking part in the show.

Previously on Life inside the #TwoCitiesDozen, Suzanne reported on her “rocky journey” towards performing in the production (Two Cities Twelve) and then on the days of rehearsal and fittings that led up to first night (Girding the Dozen). Here, she lets us in on her view of the production from the inside.

Edinburgh's Two Cities Twelve. Photo: The Touring Constortium

Edinburgh’s Two Cities Twelve. Photo: The Touring Consortium

A View from The Stage

One of the downsides of being in this production is that it is so intensive, (including two performances on Wednesday and Saturday), that I haven’t had time to write a blog!

However, it is the last day today so I will summarise the highlights of the past few days. On Tuesday I hadn’t slept well due to loud techno music being played by the neighbours for half the night, and was tired from having to go to work before the dress rehearsal, so I arrived with a headache, wondering how I was going to get through the demanding schedule of a dress rehearsal and first night performance.

Thankfully we were eased into it gradually with a “meet and greet” session with the principal actors, whom we were meeting for the first time – they all seemed friendly and down-to-earth.

Next came a rehearsal of the chorus parts with the principals and although I was feeling sleepy from painkillers, I was able to appreciate the way in which we fitted into the storyline and how we complimented their performance by creating an atmosphere, as only mobs can do.

simplicity and beauty

The time arrived for curtain up, and I felt a wave of excitement as I walked down from the dressing-room and crossed the stage to take my starting position, glad that the headache had gone. There was a 10-minute pre-show set of songs, presumably to set the scene, and I was immediately moved by the simplicity and beauty of the melodies and purity of the voices.

Getting in to character to play the mob. Photo Suzanne Senior

Getting in to character to play the mob. Photo Suzanne Senior

Onto the first scene: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” the cue for us to enter our theatre boxes as jurors, with two in each box. We were to sit still for 20 minutes whilst the barristers put their case for convicting or acquitting Darnay. I felt as if I had made a trip to the theatre in the 18th Century, sitting bolt upright against my bum roll, fettered by my bodice.

Being involved in full scenes for the first time meant I was genuinely horrified and upset by the carriage crash, fearful of the Marquis, and full of revolutionary zeal when it came to the ransacking of the chateau and toppling of the statue. However, in my eagerness to remove the cutlery from the table, I managed to trail my lace sleeves in the remnants of fish sauce on the murdered Marquis’ plate!

Watching from the wings and seeing the cast go about their business was fascinating. They were completely focused, and I loved watching them preparing for their entrances, whether it be stretching or stirring up anger before storming the chateau. They seemed to be masters of their craft.

Throughout the run, I’ve also been aware how easy it is to get in the way and clutter up the wings as I endeavoured to watch as much of the play as possible. Trying to predict which way they exit the stage has become a bit of an art and sometimes I’ve not always succeeded!

Solo flag duty

On Wednesday we were told that one of our number had to drop out, due to illness, so I was put on solo flag duty, instead of sharing the responsibility. I was quite excited by this, my task being to charge forward, brandishing a large French flag on a big wooden stick. Unfortunately, afterwards I was told that I nearly took out the actor who played the Marquis, who has poor eyesight. Last night, in my enthusiasm, I managed to fling the flag in the face of the actor playing Sidney Carton!

Onstage, the principals have been helpful with acting tips – one of the actors in the trial scene told me I was nodding my head too much, but was quick to point out the following day that I had improved! Another told me about the way he imagined how a situation must feel as he hadn’t actually experienced it himself. Hearing about how they approach the acting process is also fascinating – I feel as if I’ve been building up a picture of how a professional actor constructs his part – it seems to involve a lot more rigorous detail and thought than I had previously imagined.

Two performances today and then we’re finished.
© Suzanne Senior November 2017

We are promised that there is more to come from Suzanne… Including, we hope, the story behind the two cats, who have been spotted backstage: the tale of the two kitties.

Listing & links

A Tale of Two Cities
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ.
Tuesday 8 – Saturday 12 November 2016
Daily: 7.30pm; Matinee Wed and Sat: 2.30pm.
Details and tickets from:

Touring Consortium website:
Theatre Cloud resource site:


A Tale of Two Cities on tour:
Tue 8 – Sat 12 November Edinburgh
King’s Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
Tue 15 – Sat 19 November Cheltenham
Everyman Theatre
01242 572573 Book online
Tue 22 -Sat 26 November Nottingham
Theatre Royal
0115 989 555 Book online


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