I apologise. I’m nowhere to be seen in the blogasphere lately (‘hooray!’ says everybody). My life is currently a little bit mental, so sitting down and writing a blog just seemed like an impossible task. It still is, so this probably won’t be a long one (‘hooray!’ says everybody). This craziness is totally self-inflicted, so I’m trying not to whinge about it. Okay, I am totally going to whinge about it, because to do anything else would be so totally out of character that you’d all be thinking there was some ‘invasion of the body snatchers’ type deal going on. As you know, from past (but very similar) blog posts, I am soon to be starring as The Roly-Poly Bird in an local performance of Roald Dahl’s ‘The Twits’. I’m really sorry to go on and on and on about my upcoming theatre debut (YET AGAIN), but it is an all-consuming issue in my life right now. D-day is fast approaching. The 15th February, actually. That’s…like…less than two weeks? Yes, in less than a fortnight I am going to be up on stage for the first time since school, very possibly making a total bloody arse out of myself. I am so afraid of the looming prospect that I can’t quite put it into words. And I call myself a writer (ahem).
I have to say this production has been a complete whirlwind – perhaps only ten weeks of rehearsals (discounting the week off over Christmas), and BOOM, off you go, Adele, get up there and perform! Eeek! I have somehow acquired approximately 88 sets of lines (some are short lines, but some are sizeable chunks). I do appreciate that Mr and Mrs Twit have a far bigger task than myself and are doing it admirably, but my part has somehow become the third largest (what with all the extra narration thrown in). And I’ve found it a little bit tricky to get my head around it all. I guess this maybe wasn’t the ideal first production for me; I guess I was expecting a smaller part to wet my beak, as it were (do you see what I did there? I’m The Roly-Poly Bird! I know, this blog isn’t just thrown together. Most of the time…). So this is a bit of a baptism of fire. Maybe it’s the best way. I’ve been thrown in at the deep end, and I’ll either sink or swim.
I have a newfound respect for actors. I always used to sit in the audience watching a play, or watching a TV series or movie, and I’m ashamed to say that I often thought, ‘I could do it better than that’. But the vital thing I’d forgotten was that whilst that actor was trying to portray a character, they were also attempting to remember a vast number of lines. That’s two very difficult things to do at once. I never really took stage-fright into account either – until now. I can totally see my mind going blank on the night. I know my lines. I’ve worked damned hard so that I know my lines, but the added extra pressure of stage-fright was never something I’d factored into the already very big equation.
I’ve recently been using an online/virtual cue card system to help with the line-learning process. It’s called Quizlet (thank God for modern technology! And thank God for daughters that know about modern technology [Erin]!). What you do is write in the line before yours, then write in your line on the ‘virtual’ reverse of your cue card. Then you test yourself on a daily basis (sometimes three times a day if you’re as terrified of f***ing up as I am). It’s fantastic. But it isn’t foolproof. If the person with the line before yours forgets their line, you’re screwed. If the person with the line before yours doesn’t speak like a robot (as does the audio voice in Quizlet) you’re equally screwed. Also, Quizlet gives you no overall sense of the play as an entire entity (and not just a random bunch of lines). So I regularly have to read the play itself to memorise the order of events. But still, thank God for Quizlet.
A friend of mine paid me a compliment recently. I don’t think he wanted to because we’re very British and compliment-paying isn’t really in our nature. Nevertheless, a compliment was paid. He said he admired how I’d ‘thought about doing a thing, then did a thing’ (i.e. not just dreamed about going to an audition, but actually getting up and going). Maybe it’s something about being in my forties, I stopped just dreaming about writing and publishing books in this decade too. Anyway, I was very grateful for the compliment. The trouble is, just thinking about doing a thing, then doing a thing doesn’t always necessitate that you’re going to do the thing with any level of success.
There have been times over this last couple of months that I’ve wanted to punch Roald Dahl (God rest his soul) right in the neck for the overly-repetitive lines I’ve been given (though it’s really more the fault of David Wood who adapted The Twits into a play). But I’m trying to think of the positives. Maybe I’ll get a big old buzz out of this. Maybe I’ll be hooked on treading the boards. Or maybe I’ll be a miserable failure and I’ll wish I’d never told anybody I was even in a play, then at least I could have performed to a hall-full of randoms for four days in a row – instead of people I actually know. I’m such an idiot.
Anyway, I just needed to vent about this very current fear of failure I’m facing (that’s a lot of ‘Fs’ in one sentence, isn’t it?). I’m not merely afraid of letting myself down, but a cast-full of very talented actors and a long-standing theatre group who are only as good as their last production. Still, next time I speak to you, I hope very much to be talking about something completely different other than amateur dramatics. No, that’s a lie, I will almost certainly be dissecting how the play turned out in minute detail – hopefully for all the right reasons – not because of how unbelievably terrible I was. But the post after that – yeah, that one will defo be about something else…like cats or something (‘hooray!’ says everybody).
PS: Sorry, 1000-odd words is still kind of a long blog. I guess I really needed to vent…