What’s it like being a part time, useless, amateur actor then?
Are we all sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
It all kicks off at around 3am. You wake up to banish the Dad’s Army nightmares and the ghost of Denis Norden and then the seismometer needle gives a definite shake and tremble. So, at five past three, you start revising your lines. The trouble is that about half way through you fall asleep only to wake up with a jolt to start the whole process again. At around 4 o’clock you fall back asleep again, exhausted, but content in the knowledge that you’ve remembered your lines at the tenth attempt, only to be woken again at 7 o’clock by your dear wife requiring her morning cuppa and demanding to know what you were thrashing around in bed about half the night. Not that you can remember because you’re brain dead at this point and simply on tea-making autopilot.
During the day though, strangely enough, everything goes pretty much to plan although your lines are still whizzing around your brain at regular intervals. Every now and then you dive for your hard copy which is always somewhere at hand in case of emergencies. At least once a day you banish yourself to the garage so that you can recite your lines aloud and for The Long Christmas Dinner in the most excruciating false American accent you’ve ever heard (you’re incapable of anything better).
After dinner and a hard day in the garden (all of 15 minutes in reality) you feel like a nice bath. Ah - relax. But no, the dreaded lines make another appearance.
Eventually you crawl into bed for another recital and sleep soundly until 3am when it all kicks off again.
Am I alone, the only useless amateur actor with this problem? At rehearsals everybody seems to do everything so easily - except me. Or is this just an illusion?
Oh - the joy!
Anon y Mouse
It seems like a long time - a month. But that’s only 3 rehearsals away until we’re all thrown in at the deep end. Vague tremors of panic start to set in. The seismometer needle has just started to quiver and we cannot ignore it. The earthquake of performance day is just around the corner. The tsunami is building. My well rehearsed lines have escaped me to be replaced by well known quotes from “Dad’s Army” - Corporal Jones’s “Don’t panic, don’t panic” or worse, Private Frazer’s “We’re doomed! We’re all doomed”. Then Denis Norden makes an appearance with the reassuring words “It’ll be alright on the night”. And all this is at the unearthly hour of 3am. The light of dawn banishes all these negative thoughts - almost.
Anon Y Mouse
Life backstage really starts with no stage at all, just a few thin wooden battens taped to the floor of our rehearsal hall. We’re told that these represent the margins of the stage and the set. The gaps between the battens represent the entrances and exits. The batten along the front is supposed to be the edge of the stage and we mustn’t cross it. Hilarity strikes when we inevitably do just that, or inadvertently walk through an imaginary wall. It’s all a bit Harry Potterish in the initial stages of our rehearsals but we quickly get used to it.