Week Eight

27 November 2008

I’ve got a rather large, arse-shaped secret. I’m in a pantomime! I must admit it is something of a curate’s egg, but listen, I’m being paid and someone’s got to keep me in Merlot.

I thought/dreamed it was going to be the Keith Allen spectacular and I’d be cast as the Fairy Godfather in a lovely tutu and glittery tights and get to chat up Lily at the cast party. Oh no, an arse it is, and off-west end at that. Don’t laugh. And yes, I’m the back end of a horse. I said stop sniggering and cut that well practiced (in the last 48 hours anyway) joke that the casting is highly appropriate: it’s not doing my fragile actor’s ego any good at all.

Well, it’s true, I have rather put on weight over the course of this term (despite the dance/pilates/Alexander/meditation classes we’ve attended). So, it may well be entirely appropriate that I am, a metaphorical and actual back end of a horse. At least it’s not a bus. So, I’m not going to tell you what show it is (I know you’ll all be queuing up) and anyway, my esteemed dramatic training institution is very very snooty about people appearing as actors in anything while they are training, god forbid a pantomime horses arse. But I am rising (or is that bending?) to the challenge and at least no-one will see my visage. We haven’t had a dress rehearsal yet so I haven’t had to stick my face into the other half’s sweaty butt so far but I’m very much not looking forward to it. However, I have met the true arse of the piece: the director.

He keeps referring to me as John Prescott? Or at least us, that is ‘the horse’ as John Prescott. Neither of us are even Northern. Being the back, does that make me Prescott? What a wanker. And the joke doesn’t even make sense, at least not to me. Unless it’s some Tory wank joke about Prescott being a horse’s arse. The director has got a tweed jacket and Chelsea boots and keeps flirting with one of the ugly sisters and I guess he does look like some kind of early 90’s throw-back Tory; I didn’t think they existed anymore. Well, I suppose there’s Cameron. Wanker.

So this is an illegal foray into paid work. We aren’t allowed to perform, can you believe it? That’s what they are training us for! We can’t even perform our improv group (‘Just say yes!’) which is a joy to all budding dramaturges everywhere: trust your audience and a play of epic proportions will be written before your eyes. We’ve been practicing this week and have decided (oooh, us anarchists …) to subvert the powers that be and get a few improv gigs behind their backs. We need the laughs. We need an audience. We need the adoration. Goddamiit, there’s only so much Brecht, Stan and Grotowski that you can take before you need some fucking laughs. We’ve got a troupe of twelve of us. Brave soldiers in the land of improvisation.

At the audience’s command (via the compare) last night we became epic characters in a new 19th century melodrama of Gulliver’s Travels. There was a taxidermist, a dentist, a chiropodist (it was a marginal–medical conference by default) and various sundry characters. We sang monumental songs and made history. What we were all doing in Gulliver’s travels only a postmodern analyst could possibly know. But they laughed. God bless them, the audience laughed. And we went home happy.