My alarm clock started shrieking at midday. That contraption is capable of such hysteria. I staggered to the bathroom and blearily stared into the mirror. What a shocker. My face was smeared with cheap Dealz Halloween makeup. It was offset beautifully by my puffy, bloodshot eyes. How had this happened?
Well that’s obvious. Last night was the second and final night of the theatre showcase. In time honoured tradition the cast and crew went carousing afterwards.
The show was fantastic. I am making this claim with a biased point of view, I admit. Being backstage or onstage through-out I don’t have a neutral vantage point by which to judge. But I loved it. I hope the audience shared my opinion.
Having ‘Blood Sugar’ as the opener was rather exciting, but stressful at the same time. Would the audience identify with the vegan vampire of Temple Bar, and his Undead dentist. If it flopped I’d have been gutted.
Dying a thousand deaths of terror while the lights dimmed and the audience hushed, I took a gulp of air. The lights came up. Head up, shoulders back, I strode onstage like a Limerick pony, and we began.
I was more pleased with this second performance than the first. I was louder (as instructed by my glorious dictator – I mean director – I know she reads this, so thanks a million Ms G), and more engaged. Once a show starts, my nerves evaporate, and I get involved. I WAS that vegan vampire, goddamnit.
The venue is small, and the stage is small. And he audience was crammed in – reaching to within about a foot of the stage. I generally try to avoid looking at the audience – finding a spot on the wall at the back of the theatre and speaking to that when facing a crowd, is the way to deal with this.
In this space it was difficult. My friends were in the front row. If I had reached my hand out I could probably have tapped them on the shoulder.
Never mind. I am a consummate amateur. I wasn’t going to let it phase me.
The show progressed. My cameo in the second piece I was involved in – ‘The Stranger’ – went swimmingly. I played the Robert, the gay brother, home for his father’s funeral. This was a real stretch for me, considering how butch I am.
This was immediately followed by ‘The Burden’ – the creepy, haunted boat tale. I played the older fisherman with a dark secret, who along with the younger fisherman realise that they are not alone on their boat out at sea.
The finale of the piece involves me having a bit of a breakdown as I address the monster/ghost/demon, pleading with it to leave us alone. If they handed out awards for amateur theatre then this would have been my Oscar moment. Having a big dramatic monologue while having a breakdown is not an easy task.
As I lifted the lamp to address the monster and began the speech, I heard a noise. I ignored it. The noise continued. What kind of fresh buggery is this, I thought to myself.
I carried on. The voice-activated mobile phone speaker in the front row of the audience also continued. I nearly collapsed. The lights on the stage are hot. But it was sheer, unadulterated fear that was causing the rivers of sweat on my forehead.
What could I do now?
Well there’s only one answer to that. And it was to continue as if there was no interruption. The phone continued its cacophony for a few seconds. In all it probably only lasted about ten seconds. It felt like an hour.
I got all my lines out in the correct order. The horror and revulsion I was trying to portray came not from acting, but from a very real place.
As I went offstage at the end, the others in the cast congratulated me. They’d not heard the phone and had not noticed anything untoward. What a relief. I dodged a bullet there.
After the show we all went to the pub. In full make-up. Well it’s Halloween. We looked quite appropriate.
I discovered that the phone situation had been caused by a friend trying to take my picture, but they’d pressed the wrong button, so their phone started chatting to them.
It was actually a good thing. The intention was noble and flattering. And technology is devious.
I was told how convincing my speech had been. I nodded wisely, trying to imply that it was the minutes I’d spent, training for my craft that enabled me to display fear, so expressively onstage.
We stayed out late. Very late.