So last night was the opening night for the showcase of short theatre pieces at the Pearse Centre. Which I wrote a piece for, and having lost my leading man, stepped into the breach. Quite nimbly if the truth be told – I didn’t consider another candidate. There’s a touch of the attention whore about me I suspect.
Anyway it all went very well – overall the standard was very high – among both the original pieces (which made up half of the programme) and the previously performed shows.
As we were on second last I got to see the other preceding pieces. I was impressed by how good they were – while at the same time, my heart was sinking. In my devious little brain I was thinking ‘Oh crap – everyone is great, I am going to be a big old failure’. I wished I still smoked.
I guess this has to do with the fact that I was appearing in my own piece. In any past performances I have been in I have always wanted to be the best I could be in it. And sometimes it went very well. And other times the stars don’t align and you end up feeling dissatisfied. But there are always mitigating factors to be found – you end up making excuses like ‘Well the audience was hostile, and the piece was badly written and we were under-rehearsed and badly directed’ (you never place the blame on yourself openly, you put on your happy face and blame, blame, blame).
But when it’s your own play that you are appearing in, and have directed, then the buck stops with 1 person. And when the piece is autobiographical, but you are not in the same frame of mind as when you wrote it, then it becomes rather personal. And dare I say it embarrassing. I was thinking ‘Oh my god, you big whiney bastard, why are you so goddamned miserable?’.
But I put my blinkers on and got on with it. And I got some very nice comments afterwards. So that was good. And nobody told me it was ‘interesting’ which I always regard as a comment someone makes when they loathed the piece but are too polite to insult someone who has just put themselves through the ordeal of a performance, so instead they utter bland reassurances about it being ‘interesting’ or ‘challenging’ or even worse, turning the question around and asking ‘Well tell me, how do YOU think you did?’
So a pleasing evening all told.
Afterwards we went for beverages in a local hostelry and some friends of a cast member from another piece sat with us.
One of them looked at me and said ‘I know you’.
Now I will be perfectly honest, my ego had been massaged by some of the earlier comments, the adrenalin from the performance was still flowing, and the pint of stout had relaxed my mood. I was feeling magnanimous, and in my delusional little brain, I was thinking ‘How could you, unless you saw me in Amsterdam?’
I smiled and said ‘Really, from where?’
‘Were you in St Nessan’s school in Limerick in the leaving cert class of 1991?’
Oh shit. A spy from Limerick. Ready to write a scathing letter to the Limerick Leader about that specky-four-eyed swot who now has notions about himself, up in the big smoke, writing all about himself. Always had notions that one. And he’s a big old nancy – always thought that about him too.
He introduced himself, the name rang a bell but I couldn’t place the face. But he knew all the names and places from my teenage years.
It was all quite pleasant really. But utterly unexpected. And quite frustrating as I couldn’t remember him. He was looking well. And in early middle age.
The horror – that means I do too.
Time stops for no-one.