The shows have just become better and better, and the first week of the run is over. It bothers me how relieved I am.
See, in the seventeen years I�ve been doing theatre, I�ve lived this odd contradiction. I love working on a show, all the preparation, the evolution of the sense of identity that the company develops, the actual staging of the thing where there�s an excitement in the air as you give something to the audience, they transform the energy you�ve raised and give it back to you, and it snowballs into an all-around magnificent performance.
However, I don�t like working with people very much, and I hate being the centre of attention.
This confuses just about everyone I know. �You�re on stage singing alone in front of five hundred people!� they say. �How can you claim to not like being the centre of attention?�
Easy. I�m in character. I�m someone else.
The wonderful lie about stage work is that you are simultaneously someone completely different living the story for the very first time, and plain old you, focusing very closely on where you are onstage, how the audience sees you, how the audience sees the stage and performers as a whole picture, what�s coming up next, and how you�re sounding tonight. It�s like multi-tasking with personalities. I love doing it, and I do it well.
This year, however, I�m just not into it. We have a terrific cast, a chorus that ranges from passable to outstanding, two phenomenal directors, and a fantastic show. I�m not enjoying it, and I don�t know why. Not knowing why irritates me, and when I get irritated with no apparent source I get angry, and when I get angry I get very cold and don�t like to be around people even less that I do on a good day. During a show, everyone gets all jittery and excited and they do all the stupid theatre stuff that I tolerate on those good days but which is sending me right up the wall this year � such as the two-cheek kisses and the �break a leg� wishes, all from forty people whom I work with but don�t necessarily like. I usually go into what my dear friend Rob calls �show mode�, where I don�t chatter with everyone else backstage and try to be by myself so I can keep focused on the show and my character. The two mind-sets don�t mesh very well, and as a result I just know that people think I�m stuck up and don�t like them this year. In our current disastrous financial situation we can�t afford to go out with everyone after a show either, to the spontaneous parties or to the official planned ones, and that�s probably not helping the anti-social beliefs that are developing.
So, in other words, I�m frustrated. There are a few people who don�t rub me the wrong way this year, and I love them dearly � particularly Richard, Rob, Andee, Annika, and Tara – and they�re my saviours backstage along with Sarah, Kay, Helen, and Christina. It�s nothing personal against everyone else; it’s just that these people somehow know how to cut through the crap going on and touch me gently, to make me calm. I�ve been doing theatre with Annika since we began, seventeen years ago; we�ve lost count of how many shows we�ve done together. Rob is my chosen brother, older, younger and twin, and I�d be without an anchor in a show (and life in general) if he weren�t around. Richard is like a younger brother who I care very deeply about. All three of them understand how I can�t seem to connect with this year�s show, and have the same professional approach to theatre that I do, and they make this run okay somehow. They also understand that I�m not a people person, and they never make me feel guilty about creeping out of the theatre right after the curtain closes, or pressure me to go out partying.
Hence I�m relieved that we�re halfway done. I don�t know why I�m not enjoying myself, and that upsets me beyond belief. I should be having fun. Well, I am having fun, to a degree; but it�s nowhere near what I usually get out of it. If we weren�t doing Yeomen of the Guard in 2003 I�d quit the society based on how I feel this year, but it�s such an awesome opera that I have to try for it. With luck, everyone will remember how blown away the cast and audience were by Rob and I in Ruddigore and we�ll be able to play opposite one another again. If luck�s not with us, well� I guess I�ll be sitting on the other side of the curtain.
The Big U, by Neal Stephenson
Brr. Was university really that bad for this guy? Some really philosophical concepts, and some truly terrifying pranks. Stephenson wins the award for Obsession With Pipe Organs In An Author�s Books. Lots of themes that are further explored in later works. Interesting.