Good morning, you fabulous human being! I hope that you’ve started your weekend with a decent lie-in. As you can tell from the time that this post was published, I did not have a lie-in myself. This is not a problem, partly because I really like mornings (sunshine! Coffee! Optimism! More coffee!!) but mainly because I’ve got an early rehearsal. My actors are a lovely bunch with a pretty good understanding of my eccentricities, but it would be a bit awkward if they turned up and found their director still in her pyjamas.
We are rehearsing for a show on Wednesday called Date Night, which is a series of three short pieces about relationships and how bad Generation Y is at them. (Apparently my generation is called that, but I don’t know why. Pun not intended.) Anyway, since I wrote all three pieces it would be a bit weird of me to start talking about them, so I’ll talk about the actors instead. They’re brilliant.
Actors in general are a fascinating bunch of people, and wider society thinks that it’s got the whole lot of them pegged. Wider society is missing out. Actors have lots of things in common: passion for performance, a desire to create empathetic experiences with an audience, a clear speaking voice and the ability to memorise enormous chunks of dialogue. But each actor is unique in the same way that human beings are, and they are blimming fascinating.
No matter how obvious I think a script is or how clearly I’ve imagined a character, there is always an actor out there who can turn my ideas on their head. It’s actually the main reason that I enjoy writing so much: our minds are full of strange, complicated thought processes – to quote the great Bill Bailey “my mind is unravelling like a tapestry with some angry kittens!” – but we only get one mind each. I am limited by my capacity to be be just one person, so whatever I write will be likewise limited. I can imagine situations and write characters, but it is the actors who take the scripts and make them work. The dialogue needs their unravelling tapestry minds as well as mine.
What do you think of when you read the word “actor”, by the way? Do you picture Kenneth Branagh, or maybe Laurence Olivier? Does the word remind you of tortured artistry or living on a pittance? Maybe even the idea of being a bit pretentious? You may well be right to think of those things. But among my social and professional sphere are a whole load of actors who have made me laugh until I’ve cried, actors who have given me chills, who have made me fall in love with their characters or made me want to run a mile. These are people whom I have grown up with, seen first thing in the morning, spent all day in a pub with and played Monopoly with: the people I know best in the world, in fact. But they have all managed to astonish me at some point by becoming somebody else when they’re on stage. It’s weird (and wonderful).
You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it’s a sensation that I don’t think I will ever become accustomed to. I hope that I don’t. Actors, like all people, have got the constant power to surprise you…BOO! Ok I’m sure you were expecting that…but hey, I’m not an actor.
Have the most unapologetically awesome Saturday.