The curtain rises on the scene
With someone shouting to be free
The play unfolds before my eyes
There stands the actor who is me…. The Actor – Moody Blues.
“No, no. Not like that, I want you to show a lot more emotion”. Damien Angellini was getting angry and impatient. I was getting irritable too. Sometimes he can be such an anal prig and this after all was just amateur theatre.
“Look Tom I want to feel your anger” he strode around waving his arms. “Real emotions come from here” he stabbed me in my chest with his index finger. “right from here, and I want to feel that anger all the way back in the foyer.” Damien might have been a good actor in his time, but here – now, he was impossible. “Emotion, Tom. E-mo-fucking-shin, get your head around that.” He lit a cigarette on stage, hell I thought that was illegal. He didn’t seem to care a shit.
“Your mother has just died and you hated her because she was such a cow – now take all of that rejection, take the teenaged angst and the disappointment and give me real naked, white hot anger, feel it Tom, really feel it.” I did, I clenched my fists and really felt the anger. We went through the scene again and I must say – it does help when you act with real feelings.
“You are the artist, Tom. You paint the picture”. Now he was sounding like the philosopher. “when you strut and fret on this stage of mine, remember you are the artist, Tom. You are the artist.” He blew a plume of blue smoke and flicked ash onto the carpet, rubbing it in with is foot. “Oh, and if you are the artist – you are looking quite the porky artist to me, you need to shed a few kilos”.
“What the f….” I thought this was getting insulting. Who the fuck does he think he is.
“Look, Tom – I can see you have worked out sometime in your life, but you are looking flabby around the edges. Now yours is a hero part, a big part. I mean imagine if Superman was so fat he couldn’t fly. Imagine if he had to walk to the damsel in distress because he just couldn’t lift off. Get the picture?”
I felt embarrassed – I knew he was right.
“You godda eat right, old son. And stay off the wine a bit too. You have to lose a few. Also – you need to work out again. Build up your strength, work on your agility. You are on stage for the whole play – so you need to work on your endurance too, this is a long play.”
“Ah fuck – Damien, this is getting too much”.
“Listen, I know how you feel” That I doubted. “Do you want me to find someone else for the part?”
“No, no I don’t.” I knew that I was made for the part, and besides I enjoyed the challenge, and this was a challenge. Damien was just being an asshole.
“Now I want you to bring something fresh to this part Tom, some positive mental energy.” Now getting all esoteric, he throws this butt on the stage and puts it out with is boot. What a prick.
“You godda learn Tom. Like really study for this part. More than you realise, this part calls for real understanding. Lots of knowledge. You need to get into the real background of this character, I mean reeeallly study. This is a play about life and all that it contains and your character is a really complex guy. You must study a lot more to understand life and the complexity of this human.”
All this was quite overwhelming. In such a short time the curtain will go up, the rehearsal over. I was getting nervous at the enormity of what I had taken on. And as for Damien, well Mr. Angellini could go fuck himself.
“Better we fuck it up here Tom, this is the rehearsal. Tomorrow – ha! Now that will be the real thing. No fuck-ups tomorrow”. Oh jeez – so soon, so soon and it will be the real thing. Fear.
“Tom – you will be ok – just bring to the play your own spirit. Besides your emotions and the learning, just be yourself, put your spirit into it – You’ll be ok, you’ll do good.” I doubted it, I was really scared.
“Now go home and get some sleep, you’ve got a big day tomorrow. “
Acting, like any art must come naturally. Some talents we are born with, but even then we need to work hard to make something of them. I tossed and turned that night. Somewhere in the small hours of the morning I fell asleep. A deep and dreamless sleep.
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then….and then?…..Is heard no more.”
The next morning I woke with a start – naked and wet. The lights were harsh and I was completely disorientated. Struggling to breathe. Where was I? The umbilical cord was cut and I was lovingly placed in my mother’s arms. “It’s a boy”. It was just after dawn on a beautiful Saturday morning. Mid autumn.
This much I can tell you – the dress rehearsal was over, this was life – the real thing. Damien Angellini stood at the back of the theatre and he was smiling. I just hope I strut right.