Went with the first years on the National Theatre tour this afternoon. I've done it before, but not for many years and I found it really fascinating.
The building works like a factory with near on a thousand employees scuttling around doing everything selling tickets, devising pyrotechnics, painting sets, rehearsing etc etc - there's even a counselling and welfare office. It's intriguing to be amongst the normality of a working morning in the daily build up to welcoming the 2,400 visitors who attend the theatre in the evening, and to see in action the professionalism and efficiency of the workforce. The energy seems to mirror the dynamism of artistic director Nick Hytner -jobs are done quickly, focused, with direct and good humour. Nobody gossiped in corners, dawdled or sulked. Self confidence and curiosity abounds.
Coming out of the Cottesloe into a corridor I was stopped by a young actor rehearsing Terry Pratchett's Nation, which opens in a couple of weeks. He was on a quick break, but asked me all about the College and the students. I didn't catch his name and had to hurry to stay up with the tour, but he did tell me it's his first job with the theatre and he said he was loving every minute.
Afterwards I wondered whether there was anything that we could learn from the NT. We're a very different department, of course with 13 members of staff and almost 300 students - but I'm taken with the culture of the place, the lack of doubt and the sheer joy of being part of an organism so creative and constantly re invented. These are things that are well worth aspiring to.