On Tour

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My title is wardrobe mistress, which in an ordinary theatre means you look after all the costumes and make sure the actors are properly provided for. Wardrobe mistress on a regional tour is very different. You have to do all the rigging and technical work, you still do all the costume maintenance and the facilities are pretty basic. For the RSC's Julius Caesar I have 90 costumes and 54 changes of footwear to look after. They all get dry-cleaned every four weeks but socks, for example, get washed every day. In leisure centres that's usually in a twin-tub in the broom cupboard or the toilets. I've seen sinks that look like an old grill pan.

I travel with my ironing board, irons, huge skips and different lenghts of pipe to go on taps. Sometimes I feel like the parent of 17 children who all have PE followed by domestic science on the same day. The amount of washing generated by each show is eight loads, twice that on matinee days. Four tablespoons of stage-blood goes a long way. It takes eight hours every day to do the washing, ironing, folding and pairing of socks. We left Stratford with 50 pairs of socks and now we scarcely have enough to get us through a show.

I love touring - you meet wonderful people. To stay sane though you have to pamper yourself. My pick-me-ups are Guinness and Hagen Dasz ice-cream. It keeps you fit too - I lost about a stone and a half on Richard III last year. When I go home I never iron my own clothes, I leave everything at a service wash. But I don't think you ever go back to normal life. Touring is like being in captivity - you go home and you feel great for a few days, then you find you are dying to get back on the road.

Kay Fox is wardrobe mistress on the RSC's production of 'Julius Caesar', currently at Strood Sports Centre, Rochester (0634 403868).

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