Whispers from the Wings

Pants and peeking and butts

September 24, 2012

'Everyone walks around half naked!' A friend of mine came to see the show a few weeks ago and I was asking her why she never stayed in the business (she was very good). She said she hated the rejection (fair enough), the low pay (hear, hear), and the casual sluttiness of actors. (!)

I took some issue with her comments, as I am tired of people supposing that acting is just one big chance for immature children to cop off with each other. there is laughter, yes. And touching, of course. We do not, however walk around half naked waiting to snog each other the minute we get into the wings.

But. At the moment, I have the pleasure to work with a Mr Ray Fearon. I served him drinks many many years ago in a pub in Stratford called The Dirty Duck. Some of you may have heard of it. I was a goggle eyed student who got the chance to serve some of my heroes drinks. Haydn Gwynne, Simon Russell Beale, Guy Henry and...Ray Fearon. Even then, there were girls who were swooning (and I do not mean this metaphorically) as soon as he walked in. Well, I'm here to tell you people, the intervening years have done nothing to lessen his magnetism and there are times when he does walk around backstage in a severe state of undress. It really is a sight to see.

But that is theatre. I was once in As You Like It with Sienna Miller and she had a change where she had to go almost naked before slipping into her final dress. Being the gentleman I am, I averted my eyes. As much as one could reasonably be expected to.

I always turn my head away if another actor is changing. But it is impossible not to see something. Sigh. When I was at Drama school, I assumed that there would be no men's changing rooms or women's changing rooms in professional theatre: we were all just actors. Does it not suggest a slightly immature way of looking at the instrument that is our body? Or presume some archaic sense of attraction depending upon...I don't know. I do know that I have seen more people in their pants in this show than I care to see for a while.

By the way: should dressers knock? I was wondering, as we have had several dressers since Stratford. Most knock, some do not. They are busy, hard working people and they often have their arms full of clothes, and I can see how it would be dull for them to knock all the time.

But. What if I am standing there naked, admiring myself in the mirror? I know, this sounds like I am now arguing against what I have previously said. Strange to have my pants known by relative strangers though.

Andrew French

by Andrew French  |  1 comment

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Nov 18, 8:43pm

A dresser should always knock.... twice!!

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Teaching Shakespeare