Tuesday, 23 September 2014

What next?

It's exactly a month since Desire and Pursuit came to an end - a week of three one-man plays that I wrote, directed and produced (and, mercifully, did not act in) at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. That month could - and in an ideal world, it would - have been a period in which I could reflect on my theatrical career, review the different strands on and off the stage and make a thoughtful decision as to whither, if anywhither, that career should go next.

The world is not ideal. Real life got in the way. The main distraction was my move from London to Edinburgh, which primarily involved dumping 100+ boxes of books and paraphernalia in a flat that has little room to hold them. That distraction, followed by 12 days back in London to show the Other Half I wasn't abandoning him, was planned. What wasn't planned was the illness of an elderly relative, which meant that the time I had expected to spend unpacking and thinking was spent in regular 140 mile round-trips to the hospital where she is being looked after by what appear to be angels. Thank you, the National Health Service of Scotland for your care - and thank Scotland for not voting for the mirage of independence which would have placed that service at risk.

Ok, ok, I'm wandering off the point. To return to the basic question: will I continue a career in the theatre? Answer: yes to a certain extent, but never, repeat never - no, repeat never ever ever - will I again take on responsibility for funding or promoting a show. I have not the time, personality or energy to keep banging my head against metaphorical brick walls, trying to get individuals and organisations interested in any theatrical performance in any shape or form. I'd be happy to act as a producer, taking care of administration and looking after other people's money on condition that I was obliged to lift not a finger in promoting the show. And note what I said about other people's money. I've spent enough of my own; someone else can take the gamble from now on.

So, promoting is out of the question. Producing is possible in partnership with someone who knows what they are doing in areas of funding and promoting. What's left? Directing, writing and acting.

Directing was fun. It's true I was only directing two actors in three one-man shows, but I enjoyed it. I understood what I was doing  and what I wanted to happen and I was able to work with two actors who responded well, which allowed us to create plays that had depth and intensity and held the audience's attention. That's a long way from directing several actors in a full-length play, but, having been an actor and watching others direct, I'm confident that given the right play and the right players, I could put on a full-scale production that audiences would enjoy and applaud.

So, directing is still on the cards. Don't know what, don't know when, don't know where or who with, but that door is definitely open and beckoning me. What about writing?

Ah... I haven't written much in the last few years - but the brain has been cogitating. There's a short story I wrote years ago that has much to recommend it as a stage piece, encompassing myth, reality, youth and age, desire and sex. I also have three one-woman plays just waiting to be produced. I'm not in a hurry to write for the stage, it's another door I'm aware of and one day I'll make the decision whether to open it.

Which leaves acting. I've only appeared on stage once this year - and that was after a fifteen month gap when my last role was in a short film which was never completed. It was a short part, a comedy, for two nights only. And it was fun. I'd come to the conclusion that the time and effort put into acting (rehearsals, traveling to and from the theatre, waiting backstage) is far greater than the reward of actually being on stage, particularly in roles that are unpaid, but that stint as the Commuter reminded me that at least I enjoy comic acting. Which means another door beckons.

None of this means I am about to devote all my attention to the stage. But I have just moved back to Edinburgh, a city I last lived in 40 years ago, where I can count my friends on the thumbs of one hand, and I need to find a social life. There is, I understand, a thriving scene in the city of amateur actors and drama schools. I have been researching both and have plans to take a short course and see whether my talents and availability are suited to am-dram - I don't expect to find a career but I may find friends. A month from now I should have some news. Hang on, if you can, until then.