I’m in a play

From Tuesday the 10th to Saturday the 14th of December, I will be appearing in Sherlock Holmes’ Christmas Casebook at Skipton Little Theatre. Doors open 7pm, curtain up 7.30, tickets are £8 (£4 if under 16 or a student) and can be booked in advance by calling 07527 141176, or by emailing skipton.little.theatre@gmail.com. Come and see my Irish accent!

I was in a play at SLT this time last year as well. Of course, this time last year, I was also still at MTG. It was my third year there, which meant I had been there two years too long. They had treated me so badly (the specifics of which I won’t go into, otherwise I shall just get angry and frustrated and be unable to sleep) over the previous months that I was on the verge of Depression – and combined with some personal-life complications, I actually did go Down. It was left to a surprise text message from the director of the play at SLT offering me a part to rescue me.

I naturally jumped at the chance. My first time doing some actual acting since summer 2009, if you don’t count the end-of-year showcase at the end of my first year at MTG, which I don’t because it barely required any effort. The part was Tommy in Breezeblock Park by Willy Russell, a major part. This was perfect, this was a big part in a quality production at a local theatre that I could use to demonstrate to management at MTG the sort of thing I was capable of – my level of ability, my range, my competence and confidence as a performer. So, I invited them to come and see the play, and perhaps show them that they were wasting my talents the way they were currently (mis)using me, so that they might see there was a better use to which I might be put at MTG. Because at that point, I wanted to stay at MTG – I got on well with most of the people there, I had mates there, and it gave me a chance to interact socially with people on a day-to-day basis. What it wasn’t doing was giving me the opportunity to flex my creative muscles, which was pretty much the primary reason I’d applied to go there in the first place, and if they saw me in Breezeblock Park they would realise I had creative muscles to stretch.

No one came. There was no organised trip, and no one came to see it independently. So, I guess I now knew exactly what management thought of me, and how well liked I actually was.

My part in this production is considerably smaller than in 2012, but that in no way means I will put less effort into it, or treat it as not worthy of my time. The production is a good one, my talents are being put to good use, and I am allowed to be useful in other areas as well. At MTG it was, “this is your part, do this and only this, you must not do anything else.” So if I was instructed to sit on an upturned box and bang a couple of rocks together, that was what I had to do. No chance to be helpful, no opportunity for innovation, and certainly no chance of being listened to by the director if I had a helpful suggestion based on my decades of acting experience. In a couple of years, I will have racked up my 20th year as a member of SLT, and I joined them roughly ten years after I first started acting. A few weeks ago, we had a play reading, to raise our local profile and to get people involved. I went along and read a part. I got a text from the organiser afterwards thanking me for bringing that part to life. He’s not someone who’s easily impressed, and if he thinks I brought a part to life, then you can bet your boots that part was brought to life – simply by sitting and reading from a sheaf of paper.

I am very glad to be involved with SLT again, despite the transport costs between Skipton and Keighley. They have, except in one or two rare circumstances, been very supportive, helpful and co-operative, even in my early days. It is because of this attitude, that extends to everyone, that they are able to consistently: Attract and retain high-quality performers from around the area and outside it; Put on plays with high-quality production values five times a year; and Attract high audience numbers.

In other news, there is one week left of the fundraising campaign for King Cobra Theatre’s production of Henry V: Here & Now at next year’s Edinburgh Festival. Please give generously – if we don’t meet our funding goal, the production quality will take a huge dive. It may not mean the death knell of the production, but it will certainly make it much more difficult to produce the show. The more money we raise, the better. We’re not asking you to give with no reward – admittedly the rewards are not stellar, but you do get something. Please, PLEASE, donate and tell everybody you know.

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