I’ve just been looking through old Word documents on my laptop, trying to free up some potential space on my hard drive, and I came across a document titled Dear Theatre. Unsure as to what it was, I opened it and found a letter that my housemate had asked me to write to help her with a script she was planning to write; either for the script writing module we both took in third year or for her own pleasure, I can’t remember. I’d forgotten that I’d written it but looking back over it I realised how unhappy I was at the time of writing it and how little self confidence I had at the time. There are still points in it that I somewhat agree with whereas there are others that I’m not too sure about now.
I thought I would share this little bit of literature, something I that wrote a little over a year ago, for you all to see.
Well, it’s me I guess. Little old me. Just me. Do you remember me? There are so many people that maybe you forgot about me? I don’t know. I just seem forgotten sometimes. I see so many people get cast in role after role after role, yet I seem to stand still. Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I don’t put myself forward enough. Is it my fault? Or am I just not good enough?
I like to be on stage. I like the thrill of mixed excitement and nerves when you’re stood in the wings waiting for the curtain call. I like to stand on stage and be someone else. I don’t always like being myself so being able to be someone else, even if just for an hour, makes me happy. Other people’s lives are far more interesting and faster than mine, so getting the chance to experience what it would be like to live someone else’s life is… I don’t know. It’s different. It’s different from my life, for sure.
When I was younger, I always seemed to be cast as the ‘evil’ character, or the ‘mother’. I very rarely got cast as the ‘pretty’ character, or the ‘popular’ character. Perhaps I was type cast? Maybe my talents lie in portraying evil step-mothers, like in Cinderella. Maybe I should attempt to work in Pantomime, even though it’s not really ‘proper’ theatre; at least not when compared to the likes of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Brecht or Pinter. What do you think? Or should I just give it a rest?
As much as I love being a part of live theatre, it doesn’t half scare me. No two performances are ever the same. What if something was to go wrong? What would I do? What would I say? And what about the audience? What would they think? An audience is the most terrifying part of theatre because you never know what they’re thinking. They may enjoy what they see, or they may hate it. They might hate me. Then what?
I don’t know whether or not I should continue taking part in theatre work. I don’t know if I’m good enough anymore. I used to think so, but now I’m not sure. Too much has happened and too much has been said to prove me otherwise. I don’t know if I ever was good enough or whether I was just kidding myself. Perhaps I should just teach. You know what they always say: those who can’t do, teach. But that’s not a very good saying. Because there’s no passion in the teaching. Only those who are passionate and want to teach should be within a classroom. Those who can’t do should find another route away from their first choice. But what would that be for me?
Theatre makes or breaks people, and I think that it will be my breaking point if I don’t do anything about it. But the theatre industry isn’t easy. It gives no mercy. Just the brutal, hard, honest truth.
So, am I good enough?
The reason my housemate asked me to write the letter in the first place was inspired by a performance we’d both been to see at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre shortly before. The performance, by Michael Pinchbeck, consisted of three parts: The Beginning, The Middle and The End. The part that inspired the most was The End in which Pinchbeck, in a post show discussion, said that it had started as a letter to theatre at the end of his career; his Swan Song. Despite the fact The Beginning and The Middle soon followed, technically discrediting The End as his Swan Song, it never the less inspired him and also my housemate, and in turn me.
Thinking back, I actually found writing this letter quite liberating. I almost felt at peace with myself. I’d said how I felt and it felt good; something I’ve needed to work on over pretty much my whole life. However, I can safely say that some of the feelings and thoughts I’d had at the time of writing this letter have since either disappeared or shrunken in size. I still have occasional doubts and worries, but that is completely normal. I’m still involved within theatre, but I have chosen to take more of a backstage approach to it from now. And I am happy with that.
I am happy. And that is something I’ve not been able to say for a very long time.
If you wrote a letter to theatre, what would you write? I’d be very interested to know.
Until next time,