Friday, 10 September 2010

My time in the RSC.

My friend, Alex has asked me to write about my time in the RSC and as it seems I now take requests like a wedding DJ that is what I'm going to do. Yes, that's right! For seven months of my life in 2002 I was in the Royal Shakespeare Company. When my mother told my Grandma that I had got a job with the RSC she thought I was now working for the RAC and, bless her orthopedic socks, was very impressed.

I played a fairy in Midsummer Night's Dream (because I'm cool) and also had the role of Philostrate who gives a supposedly funny speech near the end. Every night I stood on stage in a ridiculously unflattering toga bashing out that unfunny speech and every night the audience laughed knowing full well that it wasn't funny but wanting to look smart. At first I took the job quite seriously. I was 21, fresh out of drama school and keen to impress. Then I fell into the clutches of the eldest member of the cast.

He was a Northern chap in his 50s who'd been consistently employed in the theatre for 25 years. Let's call him Barry. The problem was that Barry absolutely hated fucking acting. Truly hated it. He was properly hilarious but, weirdly, hated it when the audience laughed. Whenever it was time for him to go to the stage his shoulders would slump and he would mope towards the wings (theatrical term) in agony. Barry's way of countering this detestation was to piss about. Because I am what's known in the business as 'game for a laugh' he focused a lot of his attentions on me.

One night I was stood at the back of the stage in my stupid toga concentrating on the scene in front of me. Being the fresh faced wannabe that I was I reacted to the action with what's known in the trade as 'facial expressions'. This was despite the fact that none of the 1000 people in the audience would have been looking at me. Barry, the theatrical veteran, who was stood close by in an equally stupid toga, leaned over and said, under his breath... "Stop acting, you cunt.". The man was a hoot. Another night, in the same scene, he whispered (but not especially quietly)... "We're doing the wrong play! We're supposed to be doing "Importance of Being Earnest!".

Gradually, this tomfoolery spread to the younger cast members. 100 performances in and things just got silly. One night I was stood close to a stage exit waiting to give my tedious speech. Another actor, let's call him Jerry (why not?), was stood just offstage by the same exit armed with a dictaphone. Over the course of a minute he played the same fart noise into my ear 40 times. Farts are always amusing but in this instance it brought about uncontrollable laughter on my part. This wasn't stifled laughter that only eagle eyed viewers might spot. This was proper mouth wide open, tears rolling down face, laughter. Unable to concentrate on the action on stage I began to panic. Terrified of missing my cue, I started my dialogue, interrupting another actor's speech. In the pompous theatre world that is a crime tantamount to baby buggery. The serious actor whom I'd interrupted was livid and as soon as the show was over let me know about it. In retrospect he was right to do so. I probably made him feel quite vulnerable and ruined his evening. In my defence his speech was so ball achingly dull I don't think that anyone noticed.

I like a lot of Shakespeare and love theatre (OMG! I just LOVE it!) but when you don't have a particularly interesting part, doing the same play 130 something times is BORING. A fault of mine is that I'm not all that good at hiding boredom and it was most likely spotted by the decision makers in the R to the S to the C. That may be why they never asked me back and I spent 2 and a half years working in a call centre.

In my last blog I touched on the bellends who go to trendy bars in East London. This video says everything I tried to but is far funnier. I should mention that I posted this on twitter and failed to credit my friend and zeitgeist beacon Imran Ahmed for sending it to me. Twitter etiquette is a minefield.

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