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 Iï¿½ve been doing theatre, Iï¿½ve 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 thereï¿½s an excitement in the air as you give something to the audience, they transform the energy youï¿½ve raised and give it back to you, and it snowballs into an all-around magnificent performance.
However, I donï¿½t like working with people very much, and I hate being the centre of attention.
This confuses just about everyone I know. ï¿½Youï¿½re on stage singing alone in front of five hundred people!ï¿½ they say. ï¿½How can you claim to not like being the centre of attention?ï¿½
Easy. Iï¿½m in character. Iï¿½m 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, whatï¿½s coming up next, and how youï¿½re sounding tonight. Itï¿½s like multi-tasking with personalities. I love doing it, and I do it well.
This year, however, Iï¿½m just not into it. We have a terrific cast, a chorus that ranges from passable to outstanding, two phenomenal directors, and a fantastic show. Iï¿½m not enjoying it, and I donï¿½t 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 donï¿½t 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 ï¿½ such as the two-cheek kisses and the ï¿½break a legï¿½ wishes, all from forty people whom I work with but donï¿½t necessarily like. I usually go into what my dear friend Rob calls ï¿½show modeï¿½, where I donï¿½t 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 donï¿½t mesh very well, and as a result I just know that people think Iï¿½m stuck up and donï¿½t like them this year. In our current disastrous financial situation we canï¿½t afford to go out with everyone after a show either, to the spontaneous parties or to the official planned ones, and thatï¿½s probably not helping the anti-social beliefs that are developing.
So, in other words, Iï¿½m frustrated. There are a few people who donï¿½t rub me the wrong way this year, and I love them dearly ï¿½ particularly Richard, Rob, Andee, Annika, and Tara – and theyï¿½re my saviours backstage along with Sarah, Kay, Helen, and Christina. Itï¿½s 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. Iï¿½ve been doing theatre with Annika since we began, seventeen years ago; weï¿½ve lost count of how many shows weï¿½ve done together. Rob is my chosen brother, older, younger and twin, and Iï¿½d be without an anchor in a show (and life in general) if he werenï¿½t around. Richard is like a younger brother who I care very deeply about. All three of them understand how I canï¿½t seem to connect with this yearï¿½s show, and have the same professional approach to theatre that I do, and they make this run okay somehow. They also understand that Iï¿½m 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 Iï¿½m relieved that weï¿½re halfway done. I donï¿½t know why Iï¿½m not enjoying myself, and that upsets me beyond belief. I should be having fun. Well, I am having fun, to a degree; but itï¿½s nowhere near what I usually get out of it. If we werenï¿½t doing Yeomen of the Guard in 2003 Iï¿½d quit the society based on how I feel this year, but itï¿½s 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 weï¿½ll be able to play opposite one another again. If luckï¿½s not with us, wellï¿½ I guess Iï¿½ll 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 Authorï¿½s Books. Lots of themes that are further explored in later works. Interesting.