Hello, ‘tis I once more! ‘Who?’ I hear you cry. I know, you’ve almost forgotten me. You’ve almost (happily) deluded yourself into believing the only Adele you’ve ever heard of is the famous one who doesn’t need a surname – like I do. But don’t worry (you weren’t worried), I’m still here! Just about. Now, I’ve been deliberating over this particular blog, and I really don’t want to put you through yet another ‘thespian’ post, and yet I’m going to. Look, rehearsing and performing are the ONLY thing I’ve been doing these last two months, so if I didn’t talk about that, the only thing left to discuss would be my unhealthy love of cheese. And I’m not sure even I could spin a thousand words out of that. So, I’m afraid a postmortem of my acting debut must be written before I can move on to pastures new.
To recap – and in case I didn’t bore you to death enough with it the first thirty-eight times – I have just been in a play; Roald Dahl’s ‘The Twits’, to be precise. Yep, I’ve dipped my toe in the dramatic waters of theatre; it’s all over – done and dusted. And did I enjoy it? Well yes, by and large, it was a blast – a very bloody stressful blast. No, honestly, it was great, but during the preceding weeks there were many, many, many times when I said to myself, ‘why the hell are you putting yourself through this?’ and ‘I am NEVER doing this again!’ and ‘why doesn’t anybody in my family put their sodding shoes back on the shoe wrack?’. But said I wanted to live dangerously; I said I wanted to step out of my comfort zone, and I can categorically state I stepped WAAAAAAYYYYYY out of it. Yet, in spite of the nail-biting angst, I’d say the performance nights were a big success. People came, people laughed (when they were supposed to), and nothing too terrible happened. Actually, the show was totally sold out weeks in advance – which I understand is unheard of – and certainly not because of me. You’re thinking of the wrong Adele. But the full-house-ness (real word) didn’t please me a great deal, it merely increased my sense of trepidation more so.
The biggest drawbacks to this thespian lifestyle arose due to my own crippling self-doubt. I’ve got to admit I spent the lead-up feeling continually anxious; I confess I let fear of failure consume me a wee bit. It was far worse than publishing my novels for public inspection for the first time (I could still hide away in the comfort of my own bedroom under a duvet when I did that). But there is nowhere to hide when you’re on the stage. I was so afraid I’d **** it up, I spent weeks and weeks worrying about it, and weeks and weeks more pouring over my lines like a demon. If I’d worked this hard on any of my exams when I was younger, I would probably be a very successful woman right now (but I didn’t – hence I am not). But that’s what fear does to you, and I was truly afraid. To be fair, that fear resulting in strict revision paid off; I didn’t forget a single line on performance nights. I may have come on too early once, and not come on soon enough to remove a table on another occasion (ha-ha-ha, I can laugh about it now), but other than that, I didn’t really put a foot wrong. The trouble is, even the few mistakes I did make, at the time, I beat myself up over them. I couldn’t just tell myself, ‘well, never mind, it’s an amateur production’. I assured myself the mistakes wouldn’t have happened if somebody else had been chosen to play my part. I assured myself that the theatre group were ruing the day that table-forgetting woman ever turned up at the auditions. I assured myself the audience were rolling their eyes in irritable contempt. But that was anxiety talking, self-imposed anxiety. If I stop and think about it logically; I largely did okay. I can’t tell you if I acted terribly well, I was far too busy trying to summon-up my lines at the right time, and at what point to exit and enter the stage, and how many seconds I had left to change costume again to be entirely certain if I did the role any justice. You movie and TV actors with your cuts and retakes don’t know you’re born!
Still, the best part is, I’ve worked with some lovely adults, teens and kids – all extremely talented with bright dramatic futures ahead of them. The cast were just very likeable people of all ages – and the kids couldn’t have been sweeter or more polite. The ‘Twits’ themselves were true pros, the monkeys had skills beyond their years, and the puppeteers were magnificent. I’m not so sure about the Roly-Poly Bird – she was a bit ropey. I must admit I did envy those kids in the cast sometimes. They seemed to take everything in their stride – happily mucking around in the greenroom, blasting out music on their phones from ‘The Greatest Showman’ pre-show. Some of them even had a school production going on in unison with our play, and they never seemed phased (maybe they were, but they didn’t show it). I wish I’d done a bit more am-drams when I was a child, perhaps it would be second nature to me by now. I had less to worry about as a kid, but lots has happened since then, and I’m just not that happy-go-lucky youngster anymore. When you’re an adult, that unshakeable notion that every little thing you do must be performed flawlessly and with perfect precision is far too heightened. Well, it is for me.
So, the million-dollar question; would I do it again? Right now, I’m not entirely sure. There are actually auditions this week for an upcoming July production (a show I secretly quite fancy a part in – there’s a small part for a baddie I feel I’d like to have a crack at – well, somebody mentally disturbed. And who’d make a better mentally disturbed baddie than me?). But, I’ve weighed up the pros and cons and I’ve decided I’m not going to attend. No, I’m sorry, you can’t convince me otherwise. I’ve made my choice. I am greatly in need of a break. I just require a few months without anything to worry about; without anything scary looming in the near future (well, things that I can control, anyway). Maybe I’ll audition for the next show after that, we’ll see. I do have this deep-seated desire to sing publicly, and not just karaoke in my friend’s front room (God knows why), so I’m counting on a musical so that I can strike that dream off my bucket list next. Or maybe I’ll just join a choir. My friend Jo assures me there is nothing better for your mental health than singing as a part of a group. She read an article about it (possibly THIS one). I
google it do the research so you don’t have to. You’re welcome. But as life-affirming as singing in a group may be, I still want a solo (just so we’re clear; I’m still an introvert with an extrovert trying by very drastic measures to get out).
What I will say about my dramatic experience is that it has really made me want to start writing again – books, not just blogs. I don’t know why, and I haven’t been magically gifted with some plot inspiration because of the play – unfortunately. I’ve simply been reminded writing is a slightly less stressful hobby that I truly miss. And hopefully, once I’ve had my little hiatus (mostly consisting of lying around on sofas eating cheese), I’ll really miss treading the boards too. You never know.
NB: I pinky-swear that I will most definitely be talking about something other than ‘acting, darlings’ next week. However, I couldn’t swear on a stack of bibles that the blog won’t be cheese-related.