(The Dude is not included here… this is another bunch of thespians)
After I attempted to poison myself on Friday evening (by allowing re-heated tuna to cool too much), and then nearly suffering the embarrassing ignominy of finding out I was poisoned while walking to The Dude’s place the next morning, I found a rather inspiring Saturday awaited.
Prior to my mobile discomfiture, it was half term week here in old England (and much of the rest of the UK too). This period is usually accompanied by parents tearing their hair out wondering what to do with bundles of bored energy. However, The Dude’s mother came upon, perhaps, a perfect solution.
There’s a small interactive theatre company based at the Kings Theatre in Chatham called Spotlites. These folks are always putting on fun activities for kids of all ages over the holidays. The Dude has attended many. Last week, they organised “A Play in a Week” course of activities. It did exactly what it said on the tin. A bunch of kids, of varying ages and abilities, and acting experiences, gathered in the theatre and learned a play – Tom’s Midnight Garden – from Monday to Friday, and performed the play on the following Saturday evening (the day of my almost…).
Joining this ad hoc company meant doing a lot of reading and work for the wee nipper during a week he was not at school. Still, it beat doing homework. When I got to the script to help The Dude, I found he was playing a twelve year old boy and a twenty-two year-old man. He’s only nine. In practice, he struggled with the lines of the latter and I told him, so long as he got the gist of the speeches and maintained the flow, he’d be fine.
I recalled my last forays onto the stage in Russia and at the University of Leeds, learning lines in Russian: the first, just after I got off the plane at Moscow airport for a performance in just over a week’s time. I had one of the lead parts.
Needless to say, during that Saturday, he was a touch nervous. So was I. How would he react? Would he lose his nerve? Would he forget all his lines? Would he miss his cues? Would it make or break him? His mum and I both wanted this to be an enjoyable, fun experience for him so that it would build his confidence and self-belief. We paid our £12 ticket money and duly waited for the performance.
“Theatre is a voyage into the archives of the human imagination” (Natasha Tsakos)
And like the theatre, life is a journey, and our experiences are the archives we create. We each contribute to that archive, to that story for the imagination.
The short journey The Dude embarked on began promptly at 7.30pm. The first boy out, I could see, lost some nerve as he looked up and saw, what must have been to him, a sea of faces. I felt for him. He stuttered through his lines, but all credit to the chap, he kept going. And I wondered, I feared for The Dude, would he fall the same way?
My concerns and my fears, I found in a short while, were utterly baseless. The Dude was brilliant. I’m not just saying that because he is my little boy, my kith and kin. He was really good. He came on stage uninhibited, full to brim with confidence and vigour, and he delivered his lines clearly and fluently. There were one or two mishaps, all in keeping with the rest of the cast, but he definitely made a contribution to a good overall performance, a solid contribution.
I left that theatre on Saturday evening proud as peacock for my little guy. And The Dude left filled with the energy that comes from a job well done and a risk superbly taken.
Long live the theatre, that’s what I say.
Picture Credit: http://www.hit-theatre.org.uk/images/HIT_1_small.jpg
Title Quote: William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet (I preferred the French translation)