Monday, December 18, 2006

Outside My Comfort Zone

Although I work in an actors’ agency, I’m certainly not an actor, though I do a lot of roleplay work for the training and assessment of medical students, doctors, nurses and other healthcare people.

However, a company that I work for sometimes asked me if I’d be in a play for a medical conference, in just a small role (phew) and I thought it sounded interesting, so I agreed.

The rest of the cast were all Proper Actors and they were excellent.

The venue was the Great Hall of Leeds University. The last time I was there I was doing the Shakespeare paper in my Finals – yes, a few years ago now, no need to point it out - so at the time I wasn’t too interested in how it looked, but it does look rather impressive.

Because I had to take the hired lights for the open-air performance of A Christmas Carol – see Saturday’s post to this blog - back to the hire shop, early this morning, I arrived at the Great Hall before eight o’clock and it looked very good in the dawn light:

I was the first one there. Stained glass -

and an empty stage.

Because I was so early, this gave me a bit of time to think about what I was doing, and also to set up the stage – this made me feel better as I like stage-management and have done quite a bit of it over the years. The actors arrived, we did a quick run-through and then we were on at ten.

It was a good script: the three actors in the leading roles were superb (one of them starts rehearsals for a play with Prunella Scales after Christmas) and I managed to say all my lines and in the right order too. The audience paid rapt attention to the play and laughed in the right places. Success.

But it was really, really scary: the Proper Actors were as scared as I was: and we were all a bit hyper afterwards when it had gone well.

Why do actors do it? I suppose partly because, for them, the enjoyment of the work and the buzz afterwards outweighs the terror beforehand. Not for me though. I did enjoy it, but it didn’t make me think that I wish I could be an actor: it just served to renew my respect for good, hardworking actors who simply get on with the job with no fuss. Hail to them.


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