Whispers from the Wings

Death - not as painful as you think

May 11, 2012

Paterson JosephSorry sorry sorry. Have been filming and desperately trying to learn lines. And failing. So will catch up you all up with what's been happening.

Well, I died a couple of days ago. It was not as painful as one might think. At least, not in the end. Let me explain: All work places are about hierarchy. An office. A film set. A theatre rehearsal: they all want to be inclusive. They all want to be places where everyone has a voice. But at some point someone (the BOSS) has to say, 'You don't get that!' or 'We cannot do that.' or 'I was thinking something different.' And on a film set in the cold and damp those denials feel like personal slaps in the face.

I read somewhere that the main source of most people's stress is not being listened to. Feeling ignored. Feeling like they don't have a voice. And us, stupid actors feel like we should be listened to all the time. Maybe that's why we do what we do.

Anyways, I wanted more time. We are on a tight budget and so we were filming quickly. And in the rush I forgot to breathe (see previous blogs) and just go with it.

I wanted to put my hands up and say, 'Hey! This is my death scene! MINE! And I think I am not a bad actor. I think I want someone to give me the time, the space...the LOVE to do this right!!!' But I didn't. I tried to just get on with it. And in the rehearsal before we shot, I was rubbish. Bad. Poor. Not very good.

But then Paterson Joseph requested very clearly that he felt rushed (he is very good in this by the way, you might want to try and get a ticket to see what might be a definitive portrayal of a part that is larger than Prospero, Titus and Macbeth. No pressure Paterson.) and could we go a little slower. I could have kissed him! I just love actors sometimes. That is, when i don't want to wring their necks. It's a love hate thing.

I counted 15 people around or behind camera. 15! In this country we don't really get a chance to do as much camera work in our drama schools. Early in my career,I stumbled and bumbled around most of the sets that first foolishly gave me a break (RIP and thank you, The Bill). 15 people who are watching and waiting and hoping you get it right.

And there are marks on the floor and a lovely lady who tells you when you get your lines wrong (sometimes). And an even lovelier lady who tells you when you get your accent wrong (more times). All looking at you. And I have to tell you: I love it. All actors do. Because now we are the definite centre. The eye of the storm. And we either knock it out of the park or we go home.

And that's why we got into this business, isn't it? So we swing and swing hard and swing true. And...I started to feel very sad. An ache hit my heart. And I thought of this bloody sad play. And how terrible I am. And all the people I have hurt, and will hurt. All the mistakes I have made and will make.How sorry I am. And all the goodbyes. And the tears came rolling down and I couldn't stop them. I thought about death and all the things I would hate to leave. And how my character knew all this but just couldn't couldn't couldn't bear to stay.

How embarrassing.

How magical.

Bloody love Shakespeare!


Andrew French

by Andrew French  |  No comments yet

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Teaching Shakespeare