One of the paradoxes of blogging is that the less you have to write about, the more time you have to write, because you're not doing the things you would be writing about. Conversely, the more you have to write about, the less time you have to write it because you're too busying doing the things you have to write about.
Which explains my silence for the last few days: I have been too wrapped up with theatre, theatre and yet more theatre as performer, writer and audience to find time to communicate my activity to the wider world. So here's a quick summary.
First up is The Lower Depths. As reported earlier, I suddenly found myself promoted from Dimitri the landlord to Luka the mysterious vagrant - the character around whom the whole play revolves. Of course my euphoria at being offered the part swiftly evaporated as the reality hit me - while everyone around me was acting up a storm, my performance had to be so minimal that I wondered whether I was acting at all. Which meant that the first two days last week my stress levels rose considerably and my confidence fell proportionately. On Wednesday I had a day off - about which more below. On Thursday, I took more control of the part - although not always to the director's satisfaction. And on Friday, in three hours working alone with Mark, the new Dimitri, I finally began to feel that I was both inhabiting Luka and on the verge of projecting a coherent and enigmatic figure to the other characters and to the audience. And I still have a week to go to get there (enlarge the picture for production details).
The key to the part was smiliing - Luka's default expression, not mine. On Thursday and Friday the smile began to feel real, not forced, and with the smile came a glimmer of understanding of Luka's personality and of his reaction to the others around him. I'm still not where I want to be with this fascinating and infuriating figure, but I'm beginning to believe that I was indeed right to take on this role.
Second on the theatre front was the session on Wednesday on the one-man play Angel with director Emma King-Farlow. The first part of our meeting focused on the priest's character and background. I found it difficult to separate my writer's and actor's hats but by the end of the afternoon had begun to do so and to create a character that lived off the page. As I moved around Emma's living-room, which was temporarily transformed into a stage, I allowed her to gently push me towards the highs and lows of the play which will make it - we hope - a truly absorbing dramatic appearance. So I took that experience away with me and filed it away on my script and the back of my mind until the two of us meet again for our next session in the middle of June.
From Emma's home to Theatre Etcetera in Camden, where friend Chris Annus and I watched Titus Andronicus, a version set in 80s London, complete with Cockney skinheads. A powerful piece with violence appropriate to that setting, and an excellent ensemble cast, including Alexander Neal, whom I first came across when we acted together in The Duchess of Malfi a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, the last night was today, or I would be including a link for London-based readers to catch this production.
Finally, as we dined on falafel burgers before taking in the play, Chris and I came up with the idea of his acting my story A Sense of Loss - Death in Venice told through the eyes of Tadzio - in the Solo Festival in July. I had 48 hours to reduce a 7,600 word story to a 4,600 word drama, which Chris and I reviewed today, giving us the draft of a very strong and moving piece. Which means that four of my plays will definitely be performed during the July Solo Festival. Another week, another smug smile on my face...