So, with a heart beating out of my chest with nerves, and that all too familiar feeling of ‘Why oh why do I put myself through this, I could leave, right now, and stop being stupidly sadistic and just, well, stop putting myself in situations I’m scared of’, I performed fifteen minutes of Jo Harper and myself’s piece, ‘Can you hear me running?’ at Tamasha Theatre’s scratch night.
Most actors I know feel that adrenalin rise and that nervous stomach flutter as the half is called, but when you have not stepped on a stage in eight years, and the last time you sang in public your voice sort of ‘broke’ (not great timing in an audition) and then you found yourself over four years having investigations and surgery and very long silent periods of your life, then obviously the stakes were pretty high on this occasion. What would come out of my mouth? A squeak? A growl? Nothing? Who knew. But the time had come to take the risk.
I waited on a chair at the side and looked up to see Steve and my friends waiting in expectation. Some of them had never seen me properly perform. For most of the time since the boys were born, I’ve done mostly tv and commercial work, so this was a side I’d not presented before to a few of them.
The music rose, ‘Dog days’ by Florence and the machine, I stood, walked to a chair centre stage, took a deep breath and spoke. And…all is present…loud and clear.
The reaction was great and for those fifteen minutes the live performer was back, enjoying the rapport, the fun, the energy and lets face it as my husband said the fact that I just like to ‘show off’. Jo and myself were really pleased and felt we could take so much from the experience to move forward with the piece. Our next plan is to look at some funding so that we can develop the rest of it and hopefully get it to full production in the next year. One of the most strange and heart warming parts of the evening, apart of course from brilliant friends who’d turned up to support, was that there was a guy there who had been through exactly the same experience as me, the hospital visits, the speech therapy, the surgery, the recovery, the same consultants that I had brought to life on stage and is now working as a voice teacher. This was his story too, minus the marathon so I’d love to meet him again and see how he could help us with the play.
In other news, I had my meeting at the Royal Court which was fantastic. They’re not taking my play ‘Trace’ further although really liked it, and this was an opportunity for us to create a relationship and talk about my writing which felt like a huge honour. I left with some really useful ideas and just felt an added confidence in my work that I’d not felt before. I also left a play behind which I hope they like.
So having finally finished my tax return, which got the biggest prize this year for finding anything else in the world to do, (I think I actually cleaned the top of one of the kitchen cupboards at one point – or should I erm being doing that anyway? ), I can now look forward next week to a bit of a break, my chopping job on hold too for the time being.
July always makes me a little reflective and although, I’d fully intended not to make this blog too personal, it feels like creative pursuits can’t help but be fuelled by whatever is happening in your non computer life. So, my eldest starts secondary school this year, which is an ending to one era and beginning of another for us all as I have only one school pick up to do, and by some symbolic, cinematic, coming of age novelistic ( is that a word?) way, the last of the gerbils passed away this morning too. They found themselves being well travelled little rodents, having been with us to Malvern, Oxford, Wales, Devon, even Yorkshire I think. We drew the line at camping. Sometimes they served to me as yet another thing to feel guilty about if we hadn’t changed the bedding enough, or given them enough toys but they were cared for, fond of them as we were and it was sad to see Butternuts lifeless body this morning. Her heart was beating so fast yesterday and now just a little shell remains. The box is ready for the boys to perform the burial in the garden later on, next to where ‘squeak’ fellow roadie rodent is buried and once they’ve said goodbye, life, inevitably moves on in childhood to the next thing. I hope my eldest enjoys this summer before he has to put on a blazer, looking like he’s off to work and copes well as things are lost in life. Teenage years can be hard, I remember -(just about, not telling him I was drinking cider and black at fourteen) so hope the hormones don’t upset him too much. Which ties up with my ending very neatly in this post. I lost someone hugely influential in my life last September and watched that beating heart, up close, slow down and his colour fade until there was silence. I’d like to thing that he waited for me to get there so that I could sing to him one last time, ‘How great thou art’ his favourite and also ‘The sound of music’. He tried to sing along, thin and raspy as his voice was, the beat still there, that internal tapping that I have. So when my heart was beating madly on stage for the Tamasha night, I was nervous, but not afraid. It’s like when I’m running, that beating chest is a great reminder that you’re here, your heart’s pumping and while you have a chance then sing it loud and clear. And as Maria, Julie Andrews, herself having ironically suffered from vocal problems not too long ago sang before life started taking things away:
‘I go to the hills when my heart is lonely
I know I will hear what I’ve heard before
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music
And I’ll sing once more
Read more: The Sound Of Music – The Sound Of Music (maria) Lyrics | MetroLyrics
And on that note, that’s me over and out for the summer.