Staff spotlight: Lila’s Shakespearean adventure

By 23 August 2016News
Lila's Shakespearean adventure collage

We meet Lila, our reception and marketing gal who’s recently been working with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

What have you been up to recently?

“I’ve just returned from performing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Royal Shakespeare Company; I’m an actor as well as FGB employee!

We toured 11 venues in the UK, as well as performing at the legendary RST in Stratford Upon Avon and Barbican in London. It was a real bucket list job – the RSC is a company I’ve always wanted to work with and the experience definitely lived up to its expectations. I even managed to get a Blue Peter badge along the way!”

How did you find yoga on tour?

“To be honest, it was tricky to find a studio that offered the variety and quality at FG and teamed with the fact that our rehearsal/ performing schedule was pretty demanding; “A Play for the Nation” meant we had a band new set of actors playing the rude mechanicals and 30 children playing Titania’s fairy train every week in each new city. In fact the total number of people involved in the production came to 682 – which is pretty incredible when you think about it!”

What are your tips for maintaining yoga while travelling?

“We travelled 3,882 miles over 6 months, so becoming portable is pretty up there! I’d do yoga backstage while another scene was going through its technical rehearsal or sometimes in the quiet room in the attic of the RST. A towel can easily double as a yoga mat if your suitcase (like mine) was majorly limited for space.

Most cities have gyms as standard, where I’d sneak off to the mats and do some yoga. Some of the best studios I found were: a Hot Yoga studio in Norwich, then a beautiful converted warehouse studio in Belfast and a pint size warm studio in Truro, Cornwall where I learned that I hyper-extend my knees and should focus on lifting the kneecap in balancing postures.

There were others where I didn’t feel very welcome as I wasn’t a ‘regular’ on a block booking, these classes weren’t great and I really missed the freedom and frequency of Fierce Grace.”

How did yoga help you maintain performance stamina?

“Doing 8 shows, 1 full day technical rehearsal, 3 technical rehearsals with different fairy children and often extra rehearsal for special performances such as British Sign Language (BSL) or for an understudy role – every week, was pretty challenging and I needed to eat a lot and stretch out before/ after a performance. There was also the occasional back stage plank-off with other members of the cast… which I can now confirm is difficult in a corset!

Many of the theatres we performed in were on a rake, where the stage is on a slope, upstage being higher than downstage, so we had to take extra special care of our knees and hamstrings. I’d always incorporate extended side angle, wide-legged forward bend, tree, deep squats and wheel into my warm ups to protect myself from any rake-damage…and I finally mastered crow pose!”

Any other elements of class that help you with performance?

“The mindfulness side of Yoga is incredibly helpful as a performer: from dealing with nerves to finding peace with rejection when you don’t get the job.

Early in the run, during the physical warm-up – I was told that I was going on as an Understudy for a role I’d hadn’t finished rehearsing. Panic! The show was a bit of an out of body experience, but I made sure I did a little meditation in my dressing room before going onstage and thanks to the support of everyone around – it all went well!”