Extracts from Chi and I by acclaimed actor, director and playwright, David Wood : Part 2, Life as an extra, 1963
Soon after I had gained a place at Worcester College, Oxford, I was asked to be an extra in the second season – a soldier in Saint Joan and a policeman in The Workhouse Donkey. As a summer job before going to university, this proved to be a fantastic and eye-opening experience.
As extras we were introduced into the productions in the final days of rehearsal. First, we were shown the set of Saint Joan with its two sets of steps descending from the back wall down into the Dauphin’s court scene. We five, plus professional John Rogers, came on three from each side, carrying a tall pike topped with a sharp-looking metal spear. The director, the no-nonsense, sharp-tongued John Dexter gave us the cues and told us where to stand absolutely still for much of the scene. Not long after, we were plunged into the first dress rehearsal. Wearing our breast-plates, helmets and woollen leggings, we made our entrance.
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