I realised a day or so after my recent blog about beards that I hadn’t actually mentioned my dilly dallying with a theatre group up until that point. This is probably more to do with me not mentioning much at all over the past 8 months than any deliberate attempt to hide anything. But there was possibly also a sense of impending doom (or at least, impending embarrassment) that I at least subconsciously wanted to hide.
But now seems like a good time to come clean and admit to what I’ve secretly been involved in since September last year. It started with a friend’s mention of the fact that her theatre group were putting on Spamalot this year. I didn’t really know Spamalot, but I’ve been a long time Monty Python fan, of the ‘memorised most of the scripts’ ilk. So I thought I’d go along to the launch evening and see what it was all about. After all, if I was ever going to get involved in anything like this, madcap comedy was always likely to be the drawcard.
That night in itself was an experience. I felt like I’d stepped into a different country, full of people who speak a completely different language. They were effusive, and touchy, and feely, and greeted each other loudly across the room, followed by hugs and kisses. I just sat quietly in the corner, trying to avoid the mêlée, cursing myself for having got a lift, rather than propelled myself (as I’d probably have escaped post haste).
But my barber happened to be there, and every 6 weeks thereafter she collared me (literally and figuratively) with questions, and it got to the point where I didn’t really have a choice but to go to the start-up meeting, which then led to auditions, which then led to me getting a part. Not exactly the part I wanted, but a very close second. And then, suddenly, it was too late. Hooked. Trapped. Too late to escape.
Over the course of the following seven months, my engagement with the group rose and fell. There were times I really enjoyed it, and there were probably a few more where I seriously wondered what the hell I was doing there, because I clearly didn’t belong. But generally, the more I went, the more people I got to know a bit better (generally the slightly quieter ones, it must be said), the more I enjoyed it.
And then, all of a sudden, there was the rush of this last week, with costumes arriving, props appearing, dress rehearsals, the set being built in the theatre, tech rehearsals, the orchestra arriving to join us (which, I must say, with my background, is the part I really related to. Nothing adds more to the richness of the experience than the additional complexity of the music). After months of slow, drip, drip, crawl towards being ready from the acting, singing & dancing point of view, the blistering dash to get it performance ready is a real head spin.
But writing now, the day after the first performance, there’s an overwhelming sense of achievement. This is on three fronts – there’s me not stuffing up my part, as well as the coming together of the whole group to produce something fantastic (standing ovation! rousing applause! delirious laughter!). But there’s also the little bit of me feeling chuffed that I’ve tried something completely new, out of my comfort zone, and managing to get through it, and come out the other side better for the experience. I can’t yet say I’m fluent in their methods of communication, but at least I understand what they’re saying. And it’s not ‘them’ any more, either: it’s us.
And now I get to do that all over again, five more times. Five more times to say “Below me…” with no hint of double entendre (honestly:), five more times to get the footwork in the Finale slightly wrong in (no doubt) five subtly different ways, five more times to sing along backstage with the brilliant Backstage Oral, and help out the exuberantly efficient props manager). I’m already wishing it was a bit more than that, but I guess I’ll have to make do with that until next years’ production.