The rise and fall

The play is over for now.
It was a wonderful experience. It usually is.
And after the shows are over comes the inevitable fall.

This day last week we had a workshop for all the people taking part in the play. This was a rude awakening for me – I was completely underprepared. I did not even know my lines with only 5 days to go.

Granted it was a 12 minute piece which probably prolonged my laziness as I kept thinking to myself  ‘Ah sure, it’s only 12 minutes, you’ll be GRAAAND’.

Well last Sunday was the wake-up call that I needed.

As a result the week was spent in a flurry of rehearsal (when no attending to the coalface of administration that is my day job of course).

As I was directing the play as well as appearing in it, another person from the group kindly volunteered to come watch us rehearse on Monday to give us suggestions about movements and pointers about how it looked from an audience perspective. That was a great help and by Monday evening it felt like things were getting into place.

Tuesday evening was spent in a frenzy of line learning – I am one of those annoying people that likes to be able to recite my lines sequentially without even thinking about them. If you ever meet a guy babbling and mumbling incoherently to himself on a bus, there is a possibility that this is me.

Wednesday was another official rehearsal. The improvement from Sunday was obvious. We were both off book (that’s a term us luvvies in the business of show use to describe having learned all your lines – it is not usually so close to performance that this is meant to happen) and the look of panic and horror on the organisers faces had faded.  We weren’t going to ruin it all.

After the rehearsal we went for a goodbye drink for the actor that was meant to be playing my role – he was leaving the country to start a new life abroad.  I hope it all goes well for him but I couldn’t stop myself from wishing that he was still doing the play, as it would have meant less pressure on my dainty little shoulders.

A director of a play I was in a few years ago said that when the lights go up, then the director’s job is over and  it is completely up to the actors. I would have liked that get out of jail for free card. But as this was a play I was writing, directing and co-starring in – and it was based on my own experiences over the past 6 months, it was rather a lot more pressure than I would normally be comfortable with.

Blind terror is probably the best desciption of what I was feeling. Not terror at performing – I get nervous before going onstage, but I have done it often enough to know that this is completely normal and in fact is beneficial as it keeps you focussed on the job at hand. My terror stemmed from the fact that the play I wrote comes from a specific time in my recent past and is basically a meditation on where my life was going and whether I was making good life decisions. While writing it, I never envisaged it appearing on a stage. Theoretically I did of course, but in a more remote, distant time in the future, in a fictional land far, far away. I had not been planning to re-enact some of my own very recent life in front of a paying audience. What if they hated it? What if they thought I was a whiney, self-pitying little moron who is far less interesting than I thought I was.

Too late for worries now though.

Thursday was the tech rehearsal and I had a good old nose around the theatre. Like most of the theatres I have performed in, it was small. Theatres are amazing places. They are so scruffy and unkempt and falling to pieces behind the scenes, but that little stage with the lights glaring on it hides all of that. Not that this theatre was in bad condition. But like all theatres there seems to be something unfinished and temporary about the backstage area.

Friday and Saturday night was showtime. It was magical.

The feedback from people was good. I choose to believe them.

And now it is Sunday – the dreaded day after the run is over and you’re sitting at home thinking ‘I have nothing to rehearse’.

I may start another play – but this time it has to be a work of fiction. Autobiography posing as fiction is not a genre I plan to re-explore any time soon.



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