On Saturday it was drama,
reciting lines and finding the right place
to stand and say our piece.

We talked about the context.
He with his historian’s eye
and me thinking of the costume,

the intrigues of make-up;
the tragicomedy of it;
the confined stage of it.

He spoke of the plot
as if it were simple,
as if there were no other scenes;

no second or third acts;
no love trysts or histrionics;
no heroes or villains,

while I wept copious
onion tears
as all good actors do.

Yes, it was just a rehearsal.
But I’m sorry to say,
that play is all but done.

Drama Queen

I met my husband at an amateur dramatics group nearly 40 years ago.  We fell in love during a production of Charley’s Aunt, got engaged while rehearsing for Middle Age Spread, and got married post What the Butler Saw.  This was over the course of three or four years, and including these plays, we were doing at least two productions a year – mostly performing, but sometimes working backstage. Working alongside a group of like-minded folk to produce something entertaining, and as top-notch as am-dram can be, was, I remember, fun, but also, hard work, frustrating and nerve-jangling,

When I got pregnant with twins we decided, quite rightly, that we couldn’t commit to gruelling rehearsals and set building any longer and hung up our make-up bags.  Neither of us have acted since.

Well, that’s changing.  You may know we moved, nearly a year ago now, and have begun building a new life some 200 miles away from the old one.  We left lots of good friends behind who we miss terribly.  We belonged to various groups: art group; poetry group; writers group, yoga class…. (gosh we sound a bit dull… but they were all fun… honestly!) and now we’ve lost all that.  So we had to go out and find some new way of belonging, and the best fit for us locally seemed to be the local amdram group.

‘It’ll be fun’ we said

‘like the old days’ we said

So we joined.

The people in the group are lovely and we’ve been attending the socials and readings and have now been given parts in a one act play which is part of the next production.

Aaaaggghhh……. I don’t think I thought this through….   I’ve only got a small part, but there are lines to learn, cues, and remembering to be in the right place at the right time.  My brain is forty years older.  I can’t even remember how to remember lines.  And….. and wait for it…. I have to sing! Alright, the character is not supposed to be a good singer (I can do that bit), but I’ve never had to sing on stage before, and it has to be a song from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the one blooming musical in the world that I’ve never seen! (I’ve been watching bits on youtube… my goodness its dire!)

Dear god, what am I thinking!  Currently we’re rehearsing twice a week, and yes, it is fun, and the play is funny (well, makes me laugh).  But I do feel a bit like the weakest link.

Lets get this straight, I’m not, and have never been, a talented actress. Not naturally talented, I have to work, think it through. I am rubbish at accents. It takes time for me to get it right.  My husband on the other hand has a natural talent that everyone recognises (hence his immediate leading role!). He can employ any accent at the drop of a hat.   

I know my limitations.  But 40 years ago I was getting leading roles, and my nerves didn’t get the better of me (not too often anyway) and I enjoyed the challenge.   Now, I must get over this inner panic, put my big girl pants on, stop being a drama queen, and learn to love the spotlight again.  So I’m off to learn my lines, and exercise my vocal chords…..  ‘Oh the banyard is busy, in a regular tizzy…………….’

Cast of Middle Age Spread, Ashtead Players, circa 1983
Me and Him, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Polesden Lacey Open Air Theatre, 1984
Time and the Conways, Ashtead Players, circa 1985
Me and Him as Arthur and Sybil in Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, Ashtead Players, circa 1985