Nicholas Asbury's Guardian Blog: Laughter saves the Day

Read Nicholas Asbury's blogs as Propeller tour the UK and the world with Henry V and The Winter's Tale. Click here to find out more.

Read Nicholas Asbury's blogs as Propeller tour the UK and the world with Henry V and The Winter's Tale. Click here to find out more.

Giggling is a fact of life when you're an actor. Certainly in the Propeller company. Just over a week ago, we were in technical rehearsals for The Winter's Tale, which has just opened in Cheltenham. These involve long hours standing around on stage with seemingly nothing to do, while all the technical tomfoolery gets plotted around you. People are working hard, and things start to get tetchy – there's only a few hours until the show, and it always seems that we're behind. But then someone starts to giggle (who knows about what?). The giggling turns to laughter. The mood changes; perhaps we can do it after all.

This is, of course, why: coming together to telling a story as interestingly as possible, the adrenaline rush of knowing that an audience will be watching in a few hours' time. No one works in theatre for the money, so everyone is there for this same reason. As a consequence the humour that pervades even the most pressured situation is universal.

In the week and a half that we have been here in Cheltenham, I have seen little more than a car park. The rest of the time has been spent teching in the newly refurbished Everyman Theatre, which looks resplendent since the designs of Frank Matcham, the great Victorian theatre builder, have been cleaned up and restored.

We opened The Winter's Tale, and have now brought back Henry V after last performing it in Girona in December. It's always nice bumping into an old friend, and comparing the broadsword that is Henry to the scalpel of The Winter's Tale is going to be one of our delights over the next six months of touring. In the next five weeks we'll be in Sheffield, Manchester, Australia and New Zealand. Later on this year it will be Beijing, Shanghai and London.

Acting is a crazy way to make a living. You have to handle rejection, insecurity, being out of work for long stretches of time. When you do get work, you are underpaid – generally speaking – and away from family and friends for long periods. The compensation is that the company starts to become your family. The in-jokes, spats and love all become our way of life. (As do, I'm afraid, the farts.)

There's nothing quite like the experience of being in an all-male theatre company. Handing around some orange and almond cake the other day, Chris refused, saying: "I couldn't get into my dress yesterday." We, of course, started giggling.

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