So after 10 weeks, which seemed to have flow by, the drama classes were to draw to an end with each of us performing our monologues in front of a live audience. I thought I would be really nervous but on the day felt remarkably calm. The week before when we did our last class I was thinking “how the hell am I supposed to do this in front of an audience” but as I said on the day I was feeling ok about it. I had lots to do in the office that day so maybe this helped as I did not really have time to think about it. I had put some time aside in my diary to make sure I reviewed my lines one last time, but unfortunately got caught up in a meeting so never had the chance.
I left work a couple of hours early so I had time to go home shower and “get into character”, unlike some of the mothers on my course I had not really given all that much thought to a costume so had to raid my wardrobe for suitable clothing. My character was a mid-thirties misfit that is a bit of a geek, naturally I was worried about not having enough “boring and geeky clothing” to suitably dress my character, but as it turns out I didn’t struggle… clearly time for my wardrobe to have a makeover.
I got dressed and went round to a friends apartment where a few of us were meeting for a glass of wine (for the nerves), and on arrival was told how “old I looked in costume” , at this stage should I have told them I was actually wearing my own clothes and the glasses I had on were also mine!? One of the other actors was walking around the apartment in character, and the other actor was putting in far more effort than I did in getting ready, I sat on the couch with a glass of wine thinking maybe I should be doing more, and was still strangely calm.
We took a nice pleasant stroll to the theatre (ok community centre) and when we got to the venue our drama teacher was running around like a headless chicken and lots of our fellow actors were stood about practicing their lines in various sates of stress, at this point the atmosphere in the room was palpable, and I got my first flutter of nerves. We had just enough time to do one final run through, no stopping between monologues to talk about how we did. I had been word perfect for the past few weeks so was not unduly worried about having to get my lines right, it was more doing it in front of strangers that worried me.
So off we go, with our collective nerves having gone from death-con 1 to death-con 3, my performance was in the middle of the running order, I listened to each performance with adulation at how well everyone was doing, everyone seemed to have risen the bar a notch. Then it was my turn, I listened for my prompt and took centre stage, and began “Diana, look at me Diana…….”, Oh fuck what’s next? I completely forgot my lines… I fumbled through by simple making it up, the gist of it was there with the odd line being correct but I rewrote the script as I spoke!!!! How the hell did that happen? I had known the words for weeks, where did they go? Now I was nervous as hell, my little heart was pounding as I tried desperately to avoid the pitiful looks from my fellow performers.
I was still stood there in shock when were we were all herded off so that the audience could be let in and we could get ready to come on and give the performance of a lifetime. I went into a dream like state and just kept thinking “what are my lines?” I was drawing a complete blank, could not think how they went, was still trying to conger up my lines when suddenly there I was, centre stage again, light on me audience waiting expectantly…. And out they came, I could hear someone speaking my lines, oh it was me, I was doing it, I was performing, and before I knew it was over… I’d done it and I was as high as a kite on the adrenalin. It worked, it all came together at the last minute and I felt great. The last ten weeks had all been worthwhile for that one moment.
I set out doing this course because I wanted to do something that would challenge me, put me out of my comfort zone, and it did just that and more. I actually enjoyed it. I’m no Laurence Olivier, but I think I did ok, and am now signed up to do the next course….