The first day of my Lenten penance was almost a tough one. Everywhere i looked for food, there seemed to be very little items that did not contain some form of meat. Sigh Sigh. What am I to do? Well I had vegetarian Pizza that’s what i did. It wasn’t tasty but then again what do i expect without the sweet taste of cooked flesh entering my mouth and awakening my tastebuds to its soft and tender nature. Sigh ,I do miss chicken. Is it okay if I classify Chicken as a vegetable? After all, it is a staple in the diet of most Trinidadians.
Anyway onto the other reason that I write today. Acting..boy this thing is hard and the directors can drive you crazy. If you don’t know by now, well I am in a Derek Walcott play called "Beef, No Chicken" in the role of Cardiff Joe aka Alwyn Davies. He is an ex-miner , boxer and fiance to Euphony Hogan. He has just returned to his fiance from Wales where he has been for the last ten years. And she waited on him for that long. Crazy , isn’t she? But i digress, hmmmm…let’s see now…oh ok we had a reading of the play yesterday afternoon with some new cast members. Why do we have new cast members? Well we had a reading with the playwright about two weeks ago and he apparently did not like some of the originallly chosen cast members, so they had to go. Now while I know that I am still here in the play, it brings me no comfort to see cast changes especially to principal roles when the play is supposed to open on March 17th. Everytime i read my part, i sometimes feel as if I am not understanding the words or just not getting a feel for this character. The director hardly ever says anything to me but always makes reference to the fact that the cast is not a particualrly good one. Fine. i understand that he may be playing a psychological game with us to get us to improve on our performances but it is doing the opposite number on me.
The song "Nothing" from "A Chorus Line" comes to mind whenever I read a line or act a scene for this play. If you have ever heard it, trust me you will understand.
I am therefore a wreck everytime I go to rehearsal. I say my lines (have to use a semi British/Welsh accent – don’t know what the hell that is) and yet I feel as if i am doing it wrong. My accent is not the best and my acting isnt that great. I still have a lot to learn with regards to acting but so does everyone else. My fear is that he will blow up (as he normally does with everyone) at some late stage and tell me how bad my acting is. A little guidance would be appreciated but special attention would imply that i think that I am some sort of prima donna or worse a retard. I like to prove people wrong in their assessment of me but it is hard when no feedback is given so you dont know what to improve upon. Trust me when I say that i am not being hard on myself.
What further complicates matters is that most of the main cast are seasoned professionals and therefore know what they are doing. They just flow through the lines and seem to come up with ingenious ways to enhance their character’s mystique etc. I ams truggling to feel like a boxer without looking as if i have a mild form of Touretts. My acting experience in Trinidad is very very limited and my experience in "The Lion King" cannot compare to this as that was more musical theatre than a straight play (trust me when i say that there is a big difference). So in the midst of my insecurities, i am proceeding with being part of a funny production. It is not a farce but there are some really funny moments. A lot of them actually.
I guess this is what it means to be an actor. Someone once told me that "Singing is the soul exposed and Acting is you running naked through a million people" . I used to cling to the former phrase but now i understand both of them and the degree of exposure and potential humiliation associated with each. In the end, performing is all about conquering fears and establishing within oneself a sense of pride and some measure of fortitude and overall confidence in ones abilities. Hmmp why couldn’t i just take pill for this? Must the trial and tribulation part always go with the life lesson? Can I not learn it via a Lifetime Movie or on an episode of Seventh Heaven?
Anyway, we’ll see what the next few days bring. I will keep you updated on my potential public embarassment.