Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Why give Macbeth a dildo?

This question haunted my day-thoughts. From the Sunday fry-up at Irish Lucy’s at eleven (in the morning) to my retirement (to bed) at a little after four (in the afternoon) (I’d made the error of drinking a number of lunchtime pints of Budvar over The Observer in Blackheath – there’s nothing like lager to drain the energy from your bones), the question ‘Why give Macbeth a dildo?’ consumed my cognisance.

I had hoped to embarrass the man. I had hoped that an inappropriate pressie would spark a light of humility within him. I wanted him to laugh at himself, Reader. Ever since my opening audition, in which he unnecessarily sat, I’d been astounded by his arrogance and monomania.

He wore stupid glasses and claimed on eight occasions to know Chris Martin.

I thought buying a dildo might shock Macbeth to self-knowledge.

Reader, I’m man enough to acknowledge my error of judgement.

Monday: things began ominously when I fielded a telephone call from the director at a little after eight in the morning. I had been dreaming of chasing dogs in a forest. I had been wearing a red satin cloak (in the dream) and shouting in a language that sounded Spanish.

“Come in early today, Kay. Come in for nine, please.”

She had sounded civil. Suspiciously civil. Stomach-wrenching civil.

Something was ‘up’. I suspected that it was the phantom of the dildo (idea for musical?) come to haunt me. I expected to be punished. I didn’t suspect sacking. Being placed in charge of collecting doughnuts was the worse I thought I’d endure as punishment.

Reader, I was mistaken.

When I arrived at the Thames-side rehearsal space, the director and Macbeth were stood waiting in the entrance hall. The security guard smiled. They led me to an office on the ground floor that contained a small table with two chairs on one side, and one on t’other. I attempted to sit on the side with two chairs, but the director directed me to the opposite side of the table. The room was impossibly small. I suspected the table had been originally constructed in the room, for it seemed unlikely that it could have fitted through the small entrance. It was a hefty challenge to pull the chairs from under the wooden table, so close were the walls. The strip lighting hummed above and spewed forth harsh white. After much fuss and squeezing and squealing of chair legs, I sat down opposite the director and Macbeth. The director was the first to speak. She exhaled hyperbolically.

“We’re forced to ask you to leave the production,” she said with the gravity of a policeman informing a mother that her daughter had been found dead in Wales.

“Fuck?” I said.

She repeated herself.

“What?” I said.

Macbeth spoke.

“You’re a sound actor, Kay. But you’re a poor person.”

The director frowned.

“This isn’t personal.” Macbeth shrugged and half muttered something about the dildo being personal. The director continued. “So there is no misunderstanding, we have composed a list of reasons why I believe it’s best that you leave our production. It speaks volumes that you’ve managed to accrue a mighty catalogue of misdemeanours in such a short space of time.”

Here is that damned list:

1) Altering appearance without contacting Director;

2) Refusal to engage in whole group activities;

3) Inability to arrive to rehearsal on time;

4) Refusal to take direction;

5) Wearing of inappropriate and offensive clothing to rehearsal;

6) Inappropriately sexual behaviour in rehearsal;

7) Harassment of female cast members;

8) Failure to learn lines;

9) Substance abuse;

10) Verbal abuse of cast members;

11) Homophobia;

12) Fabrication of CV;

13) Inappropriate present-giving.

I allowed the litany to soak into my consciousness. Finally, with grave timbre, I responded:

“I learnt my lines. You can’t say I didn’t learn my lines.”

Macbeth rose awkwardly to his feet, his chair hitting the wall behind.

“You’re a disgrace to the profession. If there were enough space to storm out of this room, I would. I don’t want to spend any more time in your loathsome presence, you see. You’re a laddish sham. And I’ll tell you something – the way you conduct yourself with Lady Macbeth is embarrassing. You’ve no idea. That woman’s too delicate for pondlife like you.”

“Julian,” barked the director. She softened her voice. “I think this is best for both the company and yourself, Kay.”

“I’ll go alright, but before I do – hear this,” I said and pointed to the director’s jammy face. I was going to say something coolly threatening and better profound. Instead I erred and ummed for a few seconds, clambered to my feet, pulled the door open and left, leaving the embarrassed and incomplete sentence trembling behind me.

I determined to contact Equity about this outrage. But I remembered that I’d also lied about being a member of a union.

Know this, Reader: Macbeth sacked me ‘cause he saw me as a threat – professionally and sexually. And that ain’t cricket.

I’d take him down. Take him down to Chinatown.

Friday, 27 August 2010

The cast encircled the bad-faced witch.

The cast encircled the bad-faced witch. She spoke sotto voce. I waited at the double doors.

In time:

They became aware of my folded-arm presence. And so the witch's voice fell away further. The circle broke; the cast, as one, acted as if they were simply having a coffee and chatting 'bout nuffin. I strode over, pointing:

“Witch, are you bitching about my shorts?” I asked, not unreasonably.

“What if I am?” she responded with spike.

“My cycling shorts,” I said, turning to address the rest of the cast. “I didn’t choose to wear them. There had been an accident … I’d lost my trousers. Ignore her.”

Nobody responded, instead the twenty turned back to the doughnuts in silence.

I could feel my anger blistering. Since rehearsal number one, there had been only two civil people. One was Macduff and he was a weirdo, and the other was Rosalind and she was gorgeous.

I studied the space for her. She hadn’t been listening to the ugly witch diss me. I found her in the far corner. She sat in a plastic chair, legs gracefully crossed, drinking coffee from a disposable white cup. She listened to Macbeth, in a chair beside her, bang on about something. Her face was blank.

I wasn’t rude. I waited. Macbeth was instructing Rosalind how to read the letter that he sends to Lady M early on. His advice was flawed. I didn’t offer my opinion. I waited. Rosalind was wearing a vintage dress (brown) with many a-bead around her neck. She looked yummy.

“What do you want, Richardson?” Macbeth said, finally noticing me.

“Sorry to interrupt,” said I, teeth-sharpingly polite. “Could I have a quick word with Lady M?”

Macbeth waved his hand towards her in acquiescence. My heart beat double-time. The words I’d planned to utter stuck fast in my gullet.

For this was Rosalind’s attractiveness, Reader. She blew sentences from your mouth. And I came close to nervousness for the second time in ten days.

Then, suddenly, I’d spunked out the words:

“You wanna go for a drink tonight?”

Rosalind smiled (and it was as if the temperature of the room had increased slightly), she blushed (Yes! Yes! Yes!) and turned to Macbeth. He sneered and made as if to speak. Rosalind cut him off.

“Tonight? OK.”

I was expecting her to respond negatively, so didn’t know quite what was expected now. I looked at my feet (Converse trainers). Macbeth spoke.

“This is a rehearsal. Not a speed date. Molest women in your own time.”

I was close to swearing, but my wrath towards Macbeth cleared my mind. I ignored him and read Rosalind my telephone number. She granted me her digits, and I drifted off to the coffee with a promise to text message.

It was fantastic, Reader. I felt so alive that I wanted to write poetry. I wanted to skip naked through wheat fields. I wanted to speak with children and teach them of the magic of woman.

I could do none of these, however, as we were to run through Acts Three and Four. This was shit as Malcolm has nothing to do until the end of Act Four. I planned to sit at the edge of the space and watch Rosalind. Fate, in the guise of the fat director, intervened.

Having asked Macbeth to take control of directing duties for a few minutes, she escorted me outside. The foyer was darkly lit and we waited for an inexplicable group of chattering old ladies to pass before speaking.

“This is awkward, Kay.”


“Don’t date Rosalind. Really.”

Whack! A smacker punch! Right across my chops!

“And why not?” I bellowed.

The director looked over her shoulder and told me to keep my voice down. She continued:

“She’s young…”

I interrupted.

“She’s three years younger than me. So what?”

The bitch wouldn’t look me in the eyes. She spoke quickly.

“It’s Rosalind’s first professional performance and she doesn’t need your distraction. For the next six months, she should see herself as Macbeth’s wife. Nothing else. I don’t want you distracting her. That’s it, Kay. Don’t argue. There’s no discussion.”

The director nodded. I shrugged. The director said ‘sorry’. I asked whether that fucker Macbeth had put her up to this.

“It makes no difference,” she whispered and returned to the rehearsal room.

I punched the wall, yelped in pain, and followed her.

I was seething, Reader. I’m sure that if I’d taken a picture of my face at that precise moment, veins would have been prominent on my distinguished forehead. I was determined to go for a drink with Rosalind, whatever.

On returning to the rehearsal space, the cast had used the hiatus to perform the gift-exchange ceremony. Almost forgetting my anger, I rushed to Manbag, ready to throw the wrapped dildo into the rough circle that the cast had formed. But everyone had already claimed their presents before I could pull out its long, black box. A solitary gift lay in the middle of the ring. ‘Kay’ was written upon its pale blue tag.

“I’ll get something else,” I said, the full weight of the situation falling upon my (broad) shoulders. The humour of buying Macbeth a dildo relied on my anonymity. And now it was tear-summoningly clear that it was I, and only I, who was left to give present.

“For me?” he said, in his stupid voice, and snatched the coffin-like box from my hands.

“Open yours first,” said Rosalind, smiling and so betraying her purchase of my middle-of-circle-lying present.

Macbeth realised his enthusiasm for gift-taking jeopardised his ‘coolness’.

“Yes, of course, open yours first,” he said and pointed.

I did. The sky-blue crepe paper fell away to reveal a collection of short stories by Raymond Carver.

“The other day, when we chatted, you said you liked his stuff,” said Rosalind, blushing and quickly adding: “Not that I bought it.”

They all laughed. Even Macbeth. I felt a step closer to death.

Macbeth stood tall. He held my long box with both hands. It was roughly wrapped in cheap wrapping paper bought in Woolworth’s. It displayed a few Reindeer chasing a sexy Santa Claus (female).

“Really,” I said. “I want to take it back. Get you something else. I’ve misunderstood the whole thing.”

Rosalind told me not be stupid. Macbeth said that it was bad form to demand return of gifts as yet unopened. I surrendered myself to Fate, praying somehow that the box would miraculously not hold an elephantine dildo. Macbeth’s feminine hands pulled the paper from the box and let it drift to the floor. The black cardboard remained, still yet to betray its filthy content.

“What could it be?” said Macbeth and shook it next to his ear. “It’s rather weighty.”

His quick fingers finally opened the box and out slid the two foot by six inch black beast. The impact of the shock-dropped cardboard upon the floor reverberated. The dildo wobbled slightly in Macbeth’s tight grip.

We seemed to stand still, silent for minutes upon minutes. The first person to react was a witch. She screamed:


Macbeth remained unmoving, staring at the still-wobbling phallus in utter disbelief.

“What the fuck?” said somebody.

“That’s not funny,” said somebody else.

I pushed my way out of the rehearsal space without looking back.

When I returned to the flat I found that I had an unread text message waiting on the ‘phone. It was from Rosalind. And it said:

Jules is upset. Prob best for us to leave drink for a while. R x’.

I tensed to threw my telephone at the wall, but remembered it was very expensive and swore instead.

Trauma. Pain. Distress.

Trauma. Pain. Distress.

This day was fashioned in the depths of hell by Mr Lucifer himself. I felt half a man.

Thursday night was bitchin’.

Friday a.m. was … n’t.

This velvet morning, I woke to an empty, mysterious flat. This was wrong. I should have been under He-Man duvet in Outer Blackheath. This, my friends, wasn’t Outer Blackheath.

The flat in which I woke was fucking freezing. The room in which I regained consciousness held no furniture. I had slept, curled, on an unforgiving carpet-less floor. Cold, white light flooded from the naked windows, amplifying dry skull pain. My mouth tasted of cigarettes, my shirt - speckled with sick and blood and black. I wore no trousers. My boxer shorts, thankfully, remained intact.

A quick (half-naked) exploration of the flat revealed it to be empty, save for me and my hangover. A most troubling situation. A further scout confirmed the flat to be lacking trousers, although I discovered my white shirt, tweed jacket, socks and shoes abandoned in the hallway. They smelt of garlic. I was standing in the small, white and DIRTY kitchen, drinking brown water from the tap when images of the night before flashed across my dulled mind.

Trousers off, twirling above my head. I was shouting. There were banks of faces watching me blankly. Pink Tom, turning, telling me 'it was only a quarter to nine and I was out of control’. A bouncer approaching, mean-faced.

Later – walking streets alone. Lost. A sudden compulsion to remove trousers once more.

Much later - a dancefloor. I was wearing trousers, but DIFFERENT trousers. Talking to a girl who thought I was a girl. I'm not a girl.

Red vomit.

I left the flat. And emerged into an area of London unknown. Acton Town. In the suburban street, I stood for six minutes, praying that someone I knew might walk past and assist.

They didn't.

And so I was forced to board a bus claming central town as its destination.

Before leaving the mysterious flat, I had searched through the bedroom’s bank of Ikea cupboards for something in which to wrap my legs. These wardrobes were full of frilly shirts, but as trouserless as my legs. I could only find cycling shorts. Having no alternative, I pulled them on. They were NEON GREEN. I see them still, Reader. In my nightmares.

I know not in whose flat I awoke. There were slight suggestions of blood on upon my shirt.

The bus’s display hadn’t lied and after forty minutes of travel, the red double-decker rolled up in Trafalgar Square. The place was a morning knot of Spanish tourists and pigeons and noise. Although conscious of wearing tight neon-green cycling shorts with a white dress shirt, suit jacket and EXPENSIVE SHOES, I was more aware of the terrible hollow hunger that pulled at my guts.

I bought some sandwich from Pret-a-Manger and ate it over The Guardian outside the National Gallery. Wet London’s temperature was winter cold, but the stab of hangover disguised the chill. I worried not for my heat. Instead, I revelled in munching my Panini.

Until, that is, I was approached.

“Kay? Kay Richardson?”

Without thought, I guessed it a punter requesting an autograph.

But I soon realised that I wasn’t famous (enough) yet.

So I looked up. Damn. It was the ugly witch from Macbeth. My heart sank. She was staring at my groin. The tightness of the green Lycra gave the area a pornographic tint.

“Hello,” I said and moved to position the newspaper over the contours of my genitals. “What are you doing here?”

I even smiled.

"Taking my parents to the gallery,” she replied. I noticed two serious grey people to her left. The man shook his head. The woman looked elsewhere.

“Well … enjoy,” I said, summoning as much enthusiasm as a Lycra-clad, hung-over actor in Trafalgar Square could (not much).

Ugly witch said:

“He’s the one I was talking about.”

And gestured to her parents to leave. As they moved out of earshot, Father asked if I always wore such clothes.

I threw down The Guardian  and finished my Chorizo Panini with a flourish. I didn’t care what the witch thought of me, or told her parents. Fact – she was only a fucking witch and I was Malcolm, King-to-be.

It was a subdued train journey home to Outer Blackheath. Thankfully, the train carriage was empty- nobody else had the opportunity to complain of my shorts.

I burnt them in the sink on returning home. It felt good. It felt potent.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Something Changed

Something changed. Arriving at the Menier Chocolate Factory, there was no table in the rehearsal room. Instead - a myriad strips of gaffer tape marked imaginary doors and tables and cauldrons. It was as if the room had been invaded by an army of white slugs (albeit it 2D and differing lengths). The trolleys of coffee and doughnuts, thank God, remained.

The director began the day with good news. She referred us to our rehearsal schedules. Although today she planned to blitz through Act One and Act Two, Friday had been reserved for some of the more ‘important’ scenes between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. That meant I got another free day. I gripped my fist with excitement. It meant that I could go out drinking with impunity.

This newfound cheer invested me with added impetus. I wowed all in each of my small appearances. Even Rosalind saw fit to approach me at morning break and praise my acting. I was a little hazy on a few lines and the director made sure she castigated me in front of the whole party.

At lunch Macbeth asked us to conjugate cross-legged in a circle and listen to some words. He spoke about the war in Iraq. He told us that the crimes being committed should inform our interpretation of the play.

I piped up and told him that this was ridiculous, that he was jumping on a bandwagon. He told me that he’d rather be on a bandwagon than a tank. I told him that he didn't make any sense. The director told me to shut up. I noted what Macbeth said:

Is Macbeth so distant from Tony Blair? Influenced by a foreign, evil party, he allows power to overwhelm his senses and commits bloodthirsty acts of war. Our play should be a play about politics, about the great injustices that our so-called leaders commit in our name. Our play should aim to open the minds of the dull public. We should aim to make a difference, talent. For what other reason did we all become artists?

I became an actor largely for the ladies and the adoration. I admit this to you, Reader.

One of the witches cried when Macbeth concluded his spiel. A few other losers began to clap. I excused myself to go to the toilet. Upon returning, the whole cast and crew were sat in a circle, heads bowed, holding the hands of those on either side. Standing alone behind them, I drank some coffee and ate the last doughnut. A few turned to look and shake their heads.

The director dismissed us with a reminder that the day after tomorrow would feature a complete run-through of Acts Three and Four, and would also see our “exciting” secret present exchange. To make us feel like a family, the director had allocated us a name each and briefed us to buy that individual a present. Gift making made one feel warm, she said, and she wanted to cultivate such warmness. My recipient was to be the big man Macbeth himself.

On the way out, I told Macduff that this was a Good Thing and, as presents were given anonymously, I would buy the twat something awful.

”Don’t. Try and get on with him. He’s not a bad chap,” said Macduff. “He’s been on BBC2.”

“He’s a portentous prick,” I corrected. “All that shit about Iraq.”

Macduff shrugged his shoulders and walked the opposite way along the Thames.

I wandered about Southwark for a while until I came upon the variety of establishment I was after.


Inside, I disregarded the dark walls. They were shocked with images and objects created by minds of the perverted. Pink, they were, and filthy. But without thought of embarrassment, I approached the shaven-headed minx at the cash register and asked her for the ugliest, largest dildo that they stocked. She smiled, I told her it was for a friend, and she disappeared through brown beads (strangely large, they were) into some back room of degradation.

She returned with a lengthy, black cardboard box – the kind one might expect musicians to keep their trumpets in. There was no label – only one phrase, writ bright in white, ‘The Dark Destroyer’. She eased the box open and slid out the phallus.

It was horrendous, Reader. It didn’t look like a penis. Lying on the cash desk, it seemed more like a dead, deformed boa constructor (albeit a black and veiny one). I have ‘known’ many a woman, and its monstrous dimensions could have offered no practical application.

The woman ran her hand along its length and sucked the metal bar that struck through her tongue (only means one thing). I asked ‘how much?’

It was forty pounds - forty pounds more than I wanted to spend on MacPrick. I hesitated; the woman picked up a magazine entitled ‘Muchachos’, and I pictured Macbeth’s face upon opening the present.

Face imagining.

Yes. It would be a hundred pounds well spent, never mind forty.

“Excellent,” I said. “I’ll take that.”

She seized my wrinkled twenties.

“And could you wrap it?” I asked with a sweet tone, designed to persuade.

She could, she said, but she wouldn’t, she said. I was handed a brown paper bag and had to shove the black box in myself.

I don’t suppose the standard of service makes much difference to the likelihood of customer return in sex shops. Still, I would have been more inclined to come back if she’d acted a little more friendly.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Rosalind, sweet Rosalind

From 1000 until 1430, we listened to the director (and too often Macbeth) delivering notes as to our characters/motivations/relationships and delivery. I sniffled and feigned note-taking whilst actually drawing pictures of girls playing tennis. I also wrote poems. Here’s one about Rosalind:

Rosalind, sweet Rosalind

Reminiscent of Sienna Miller,

And I’d like to fill her

Top full of wine and expensive food.

Maybe then she would kiss me and

let me kiss her, a rudey nude.

Those kisses sent by Angel's lips,

God-blessed as found on Helen's face.

Such lips as pretty as a monkey's

(eating some nuts in some woody place).

That body as perfect as a hornet's

(buzzy, busy, body bee).

Oh forsake Macbeth for he is brain death

Out, out, damn twat, you could say

And I’d respond: hip hip horaay

And ask you to the pub. 

I didn’t use a rhyming dictionary, Reader.

It’s a simple journey from London Bridge to Charing Cross, whatever they say, and within thirty minutes of the director uttering ‘I’m now here to speak to you individually, but I suppose you can leave if you wish’, I was stomping up the Strand (on which Charing Cross station stands), looking for number 123a.

It was dead easy to find, a hop skip and a jump (not literally) up the road. I entered the building, and as the lift wasn’t working, pumped thighs up 17 flights of stairs to the ‘A’ section. Smiling like Jack Nicolson and breathing deeply, I approached the round woman I guessed to be Bukowski’s secretary. She sat behind computer and raised counter.

“I’ve come for Mr Bukowski, the Agent,” said I, smiley-smiley.

She said nothing. I sat in one of the scattered chairs opposite. I waited for an hour. Bukowski must be busy, I thought, and read two editions of National Geographic from cover to cover. Bloody Amazon Forest.

As the time spent waiting rolled into its second hour, I re-approached the round woman. Her jowls wobbled as she raised her head to address me.

“Can I help you?” she said without looking up. She spoke as if she possessed half a tongue.

“Yes,” I replied. “I’ve been sitting here for two hours. I don’t mean …”

She interrupted.

“No, you haven’t.”

“Yes, I have,” I replied. “I’ve read two National Geographics.”

She stared as if I were insane.

“You’ve been here, waiting? For two hours? I would have seen you.”

I argued no further.

“Can I see Mr Bukowski, please?”

I smiled THE smile.

“There’s nobody called that, love. There’s Mr Brown. He’s not here today.”

I suspected the lady to be simple.

“A theatrical agent. I’m Kay Richardson. I heard he was taking on new clients.”

The fat woman looked up and smiled, revealing two rows of cracked, yellow teeth.

“Theatrical agent?” (She had difficulty pronouncing ‘theatrical’) “Why would there be one of them here?”

I sighed.

“Because you’re an agency, lady.”

She smiled wider.

“This is an Outlook clinic for the homeless.” I smiled now. She continued. “If you take a seat, I’ll get someone to speak with you. Run through your options, like. Are you on medication?”

I didn’t reply. I left. Fucking asking me if I was on medication.

Pink Tom. I double-checked the address. It was the right place, but the bastard had given me duff information. No doubt he remained jealous of my success in grabbing the role of Malcolm in a mid-sized production of Macbeth.

At home, I telephoned him. He admitted that Bukowski never existed. It was a practical joke. He claimed he didn’t even know that the address existed, let alone it was some homeless charity. Tom was offensively unapologetic and refused to justify himself. ‘Because I can’ he repeated.

I fumed.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

I awoke afflicted still by sickness.

I awoke afflicted still by sickness. My head beat with a bongo drum of pain. My mouth tasted of ant powder. Chalky and bitter (a good name for a band?). A quick trip to the kitchen (yet dressed, still naked) revealed the annihilation of the ants. This happyened* me. The powder covered most surfaces, however. And I sighed. Clearing the mess demanded effort.

Today’s tasks – go to rehearsal and wear appropriate clothes and don’t anger anyone.

I sensed Lady Macbeth turning away and I was determined to ingratiate myself in her affections. The day previous, she had laughed at something Macbeth had said. She should have been laughing at my witticisms, goddamit. I was yet to even speak (properly) to her, although much time had been spent looking.

I discarded a beret, a silk scarf, jackboots, velvet waistcoat and MASSIVE SUNGLASSES before falling upon a perfect costume:

Headwear – My hair. Slightly gelled. Like a COOLBOY.

Neckwear – Open, no tie/cravat, slight suggestion of chest hair.

Shirtwear – Shirt. Deep green with lighter green motif of flower.

Trouserwear – Tight. Black. Drainpipes. Pockets deep.

Footwear – My Addidas trainers. Cool. Greenstripe.

Coatwear – No coatwear. It was a warm winter’s day in London.

The journey to rehearsal was not without incident. On the trashy grey train to London Bridge, an errant wasp bit me on the nose. I screamed. The pain I felt is indescribable in words – RAGGGHHDFHFGHEHH. A group of working class children pointed and laughed. Forgetting my nose’s pain, I stared grimly and ground my teeth until their pointing and laughing subsided. A past passenger had scratched ‘loser’ upon the window’s glass. I resolved not to see this as an omen.

Why wasps should be on trains, I didn’t know. Perhaps the wasp understood a train could transport it hundreds of miles? Perhaps many wasps travel on trains? Perhaps the bastards should be charged for their journey? Of course, they don’t carry money. They could pay in honey. No, that’s bees. Stings. They could sting those who haven’t bought tickets in exchange for free journeys. Imagine. I would always buy a ticket if I knew, when caught ticket-dodging, a wasp would sting me. (Of course, I always buy a ticket.)

Such wasp/ticket/intelligence wonderings were far from my thoughts at half nine, however. My nose pained like a bleeding fucker. Arriving at London Bridge station (£7.80 for a return from Lewisham, daylight robbery), I could feel each pulse of my heart through my nose. I knew, then, that I was still alive, but I also worried that throbbing nostrils might reduce my chances of an uneventful rehearsal. I didn’t want to be accused of purposely distracting people with an oversized nose.

And fellow commuters were beginning to stare at my face.

It was a most worrying situation. I was, of course, accustomed to chicks CHECKING ME OUT. This, however, was a wholly different circumstance. Punters were eyeing up my nose. Some grimaced; others smiled. What was a boy to do? I descended into the bowels of the station – to the toilets.

Some tramp once showed me that if you yanked the turnstile towards you, you could squeeze in without paying twenty pence. And so yank, I did.

An unsightly image stared back from the puss-smeared toilet mirror. My nose had doubled in size and was as red as the red planet (Mars). Half a wasp remained squashed above my right nostril. This was removed. The nose was doused with water, but the pain remained.

Stopping only at a corner shop to buy painkillers, I arrived at rehearsal with three minutes spare. My heart grew with pride. I would be sure to speak with the director on arriving, to ensure she acknowledged my early arrival.

She wasn’t there. Neither was Macbeth. They didn’t turn up until half past eleven. I almost shouted something at them, but didn’t – showing admirable restraint. And anyway, the half hour I spent in their absence was really rather enjoyable.

I spoke with Lady Macbeth.

Her name was Rosalind and she was twenty-one and had only recently graduated from drama school. This Macbeth was to be her first big gig. Of course, I’d lied about my qualifications to get the role of Malcolm and, whilst repeating these lies, hoped Rosalind was as ignorant about rep theatre in the southwest of England as the director obviously was.

Rosalind was perfectly pretty and immensely charming. Fine blonde hair framed a face of ruddy-cheeked delicacy. So sweet was she that no mention was made of my nose.

I plummeted towards asking Rosalind if she might consider going out for a drink with me maybe some time, when the director and Macbeth materialised in the room. Rosalind’s eyes met my glance and at the second I might have spoken, I failed to do so. I resolved to ask her out by the end of the week. She smiled ‘talk later’ and left to take her seat next to the Bastard of Cawdor, Macbeth.

Rehearsal began with the director justifying her late arrival. Macbeth and she had been discussing the production and, with only TWO MONTHS (loads of time) until first night, they were both concerned with the lack of progress that was being made (stupid monkeys). The deputy stage manager (another tiny, smiley, thin-haired woman whom I’d never seen before) gave out new rehearsal schedules. We were to begin blocking (working out how we’d move about) the fucking thing on Monday. Tomorrow, we’d listen to notes from the director. The director explained that it would also be the last day she expected us to work from scripts. As this was only a week's difference from the original plan, she couldn’t see it presenting problems.

My mouth opened to moan of such injustice. But the cast remained uncomplaining and I remembered my aim for the day- an uneventful rehearsal. For the second time that morning, I manfully resisted the urge to speak out.

The read-through began from Act 1, Scene 1 and we finished the play without interruption of Macbeth or coffee. I was close to enjoying the process and caught the eye of Rosalind three times. We broke for a late lunch and I found myself eating the company-provided stale sandwiches next to MacDuff. All the doughnuts had vanished. My eyes searched the room for Rosalind, but she had disappeared too. Earlier, she had smelt faintly of cigarettes. She may have gone for a fag break. I determined to buy some Marlborough on the journey home.

Macduff smelled of sweat and wore a Pixies T-shirt. It accentuated the roundness of his belly. His face belonged to an animal abuser. It was coated in a layer of sweat and moved colourlessly. He began speaking to me with an ‘Oi!’. As he stood a huge bloke, I smiled palely and listened. He asked what ‘the fuck’ had happened to my nose. I explained. With a grunt, he changed subject and inquired what I thought of that morning’s events. Before I could respond that I’d only had two doughnuts, he stated that it was a ‘fucking disgrace’ and Equity had rules about breaks and he’d asked his agent about this director and had been told she was fantastic, an actor’s director, but he thought this ‘bollocks’ now. He asked if I had an agent. When I told him I hadn’t, he laughed, told me to get one, and wandered off to speak with Banquo about Equity.

When I arrived back at my ant-powder-covered flat, I spoke to (my friend) Pink Tom on the telephone. I asked him about agents. He told me I definitely needed one, and couldn’t believe I had no representation. I asked for his agent’s number. He refused to give it. He was worried we were similar looking fellows (wrong – I am far better looking) and we’d be in competition for jobs. And it would be a waste of my time anyway as she wasn’t taking on any new clients.

Suddenly, with enthusiasm:

“Tell you what, though, mate. I hear there’s a guy on the Strand who’s after new talent. He’s just had a lot of deaths and is fed up with working with older actors. You should go and meet him.”

I asked for a telephone number. Tom didn’t have one. He told me to visit this agent unannounced – it would show initiative. I made a note of his name (‘Bukowski’) and address. I thanked Tom and decided to visit this guy after rehearsal tomorrow.

The day ended with a hovering of dead ants and a documentary about child abuse. Settled in bed, nose finally painless, my eyes closed upon a mind hoping to dream (of Rosalind?).

*Shakespeare invented words.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Acting is the noblest profession.

Acting is the noblest profession (Although, I admire those ladies who work for the animal cruelty charities and have to investigate claims of mistreatment to Chihuahuas. That’s quite noble). I could never demean myself by working in an office. Still, Reader, I respect those bastards who do.

I am a sensitive soul and my mind is (and will always be) devoted to more weighty problems than the stationery order, or what Pete did to Trish’s brother in the taxi back from Inferno’s (teabagging).

No.... THE UNIVERSAL ... this is what matters. Not Saturn, Mars, Uranus ... Nor any of the celestial bodies stuck, as if with very strong glue, in the darkly black firmament ... no, not them ... but ... love, death, jealously, THE MEANING OF LIFE. And Acting, my friend, is the alchemistical medium through which these profundities can be understood. Take my hand. I will lead.

This said, today’s rehearsal was fucking tedious. We continued to read through the play. Macbeth was still an annoying shit, and Malcolm, my character, still didn’t have enough lines. Occasionally the director would suggest certain movements (even though we sat still around the fucking table) and the sycophantic sods would nod their heads and note every word upon their pristine scripts. Malcolm will move across the stage in a regal fashion, she tells me. A regal fashion? How innovative! And what exactly is a ‘regal fashion’?

I took the time to ask the director. Macbeth laughed, turned to Lady Macbeth, and muttered something to her ear. She laughed.

“What’s a regal fashion, then, Jules?” I asked, finger-pointing at his stupid face.

I called him Jules as he had begun the morning session by asking everyone to refer to him as ‘Macbeth’.

He threw me a soppy grin.

“Restraint and grace, Malcolm. Two qualities I suspect you will be hard-pushed to find,” said he.

There were titters of laughter. I told Macbeth to fuck off. That wiped the smug smile from his face. Nobody dared laugh then. In fact, nobody spoke for a while.

The day had begun poorly when I woke at five o’ clock murmuring 'ants'. My sleep had been tempestuous, as no remnant of the He-Man duvet remained. Where did it go, you ask? The floor. The floor. The floor.

Reader, I woke with a sniffle. This was, no doubt, the love-child of the unforgiving suburban trek from Outer Blackheath to London Bridge that rehearsal demanded. I should be paid danger money, such is the train temperature and awfulness of my fellow commuters. Top Gear fans to a man.

On waking: my head pounded as if a thousand angry (but tiny) builders were constructing a discotheque (tiny) in't. A sea of snot ran, unashamed, from my delicate, sculptured nostrils.

My malaise hadn't crippled me yet, though, Reader! After telling Macbeth to fuck off, I took the train to Lee and visited the Dark Shop in the Arcade.

For, in the night, the ants had broken through the great chip barrier. On departing for morning rehearsal, I’d left a tempest of swirling insect bodies in the kitchen. My visit to the Dark Shop was now more urgent than ever. The anty bastards had even swarmed upon my Jammy Dodgers. An almighty retribution would be mine.

On occasions of taking the train to Lee, I would stow my notebook in my trousers TO MAKE NOTES. Who knew if, in some near future, I would be called upon to play a tall, black, whiny woman on her way to Lewisham 'to get dat Becky's fonecard'? My notes upon such a woman would then prove invaluable.

There was one woman on the train whose beauty defied note taking. Flaxen-haired, she was. And eating an apple.

Eve? If you, traingirl, offered me a taste of your fruit, I would bite alright. Even with the knowledge that I would be cast out of Eden (the 1632 to Dartford).

Pure beauty. Fine bone structure. Doing her nails. Wearing a tracksuit. Not two metres away. I swapped seats, sat next to her. Her eyes. Slightly crossed. Met mine. A connection. A knowledge. Different people, we were. BUT AT THAT MOMENT THE SAME. Two battered dinghies on the park-pond of life. I missed my stop and she smiled.

I was overcome. I spoke. I suggested. She shouted. She left.

Perhaps she was right to use such language, to throw such accusations. The tall, whiny lady told me she thought so.

And so ... after a forty-minute walk (due to the missed stop), I found The Dark Shop did have ant-killing material. Ridiculously expensive it was, but the shopkeeper ‘swore down’ that the ants would die, ‘innit’. A swift jog home (no money left for bus and I was fit), and I was ready for some antocide.

The ant killing substance was a powder and it came in striking packaging. A black tube with only one word written upon it:

KILL! (the exclamation mark is my own)

The stuff itself looked similar to cocaine. I dabbed a small amount of ANT KILLER on my tongue, to be sure. It wasn't cocaine. It forced me violently sick over the sofa. Vomit over and sofa cleaned, I covered the writhing mass of ants on the kitchen floor (it looked like a crazy carpet) in the substance. Leaving the ants to die, I moved to my bedroom for a lie-down, briefly stopping at the bathroom to throw up a little more.

Thursday, 12 August 2010



Evenings were an oasis of creativity in the empty desert of labour. I’ve always dedicated evenings to working upon my own material, ever since I was 12 and writing a play about a twelve-year old boy kissing the sexiest girl in his school year (Sarah Stones). This play was never produced, but Sarah Stones told me that it was ‘sweet’ and allowed me a kiss of her cheek. Evenings didn’t feature Macbeth rehearsals. I was told the justification, but now forget. It was probably something to do with poetry readings and that.

This particular evening, mind, I was forced to abandon my writing to fight ants. To keep my artistic oar in, you see, I planned continued work on my astounding script. Vague Blizzard was four years in writing. I would not see it as complete until I was happy that every word was the bestest word that could be used in whatever particular sentence context it was to be used in.

Then came the ants …

Reader, it was an almighty struggle and there were losses on both sides. It was a little after 1115 that I discovered their anty presence and dropped an old Sunday Times (style section first) on my right foot in alarm. The nail of my big toe instantly turned an aggressive shade of purple.

Such pain, of course, was of little concern to me. I had ANTS with which to do battle. Boiling water damaged the kitchen's floor and seemed quick to escape down the crack between fridge and wall. It was, however, most effective in slaughtering the anty buggers.

Vodka was least effective.

I also constructed a rudimentary flame-thrower with a lighter and bottle of deodorant. It didn't kill too many ants, but it sure did intimidate them (you should have seen them tremble on their stupid ant legs). And the kitchen smelt less of old onions.

Ants: I hate them.

Crawling into bed, I didn’t believe that the lightweight barrier of frozen chips would prevent them (ants) from crawling in from the (other) crack in the wall under the window. I knew also that, although there was an inexhaustible supply of water with which to kill them, I couldn’t live with a permanently wet kitchen (I also suspected that the water was seeping into the downstairs flat). There was electricity and stuff. No, the devious bastards.

I decided to visit the Dark Shop in the Arcade and buy WEAPONS OF ANT DESTRUCTION (upon the next occasion of leaving the flat).

‘Ants’, I thought as I pulled He-Man duvet to face. Before submitting to the waves of exhaustion, I scribbled into my bedside notebook:

An idea – Vague Blizzard could feature ants. Perhaps in a symbolic fashion. They could represent Susan’s (the protagonist’s girlfriend) internalised anger at Pete’s (his girlfriend's) late-blossoming homosexuality? The ants could be gouging upon the carcass of a huge dog. Obviously, it being a stage play, the ants wouldn't actually exist per se, but be referred to in snatches of dialogue. eg - "Those ants, Pete. Look at them swarm upon our poor dog."

Monday, 9 August 2010

I wake two minutes before the alarm is due.

I wake two minutes before the alarm is due. If I don’t set the alarm, I don’t wake. This, I have never understood. If I had chosen to be an academic, I might have been interested in such phenomena. I am not an academic, though. I am an artist (better).

When I awoke upon my second day as a professional player, the red digital display stood at 0730. As rehearsals were only forty minutes away and started at ten, I allowed my body to fall unconscious in warm sleep again. To dream of tennis-girl.

Upon the next occasion of waking, the display still read 0730. So blurred by fatigue was I, it didn’t occur that this might be strange. It was only on my third waking, with morning light streaming through the side gaps of the blind, that I found it peculiar that the clock should continue to read 0730.

Either time was fucked or my alarm was broken.

My wristwatch (expensive and trendy) told me the truth. Time wasn’t fucked, my alarm was broken. The correct time was 0947.

“Fuckers!” I screamed and jumped naked from the bed, genitalia bouncing.

There was no reaction as I entered the rehearsal space at a quarter to eleven, forty five minutes late. Of course, nobody else was behind time. And so there was only one seat free. It was next to the ugliest of the witches again.

I, fairly noisily I concede, pulled my script (now in two separate pieces) from my Manbag and tried quickly to identify which scene was being read.

As I listened to Banquo being killed, I thought my lateness excused. Perhaps the director wasn’t so bad? The more relaxed a working environment, the better the dynamic between actors and more arresting the final piece. This is a theatrical truth, Reader.

However, when the scene concluded, Macbeth stood and approached the director. He spoke a few hushed words into her overly-large ear, and the director watched me, nodding. She replied ‘300 per cent correct’ and Macbeth returned to his seat (next to Lady M, looking fine, my man).

As Macbeth sat, the director announced that she would like ‘a quiet word with Kay before starting the next scene’. A soldier asked if this pause would replace the scheduled half-eleven break. The director told the soldier that, yes, it would. This response wasn’t received gracefully, by soldier or cast.

The director requested I follow her out to the foyer. I expected a dressing down for my tardy arrival. I was ready to take it on the chin. A fair cop, Guv … etc … etc …

“Julian,” she began.

“What?” I interrupted.

“Macbeth,” she said.

“Ahh,” I responded.

“Julian has voiced his discomfort with your apparel.”

“My what?” I said.

Of course, I knew what she meant, but saw no need for such pretentious expression.

“Your T-shirt, Kay. It’s offensive. You need to cover it up. Do you have a jacket or a jumper?”

My t-shirt was not offensive. In fact, it was terribly expensive. ‘Girls are gay’ it exclaimed in lime green on a black (and tight) background. I’d bought it off e-Bay from a man in Japan.

“This cost me eighty pounds,” I responded.

The director told me to wait in the foyer. And I did for three whole minutes, blood bubbling. When she returned, she held a cream cardigan between thumb and forefinger.

“Wear this. Don’t moan. And turn up on time in future,” she moved as if to return to the rehearsal, and then hesitated, holding the door half-open. “Have you learnt your lines yet?” I shook my head. “Learn them,” she said and wobbled away.

In truth, I wouldn’t have usually worn the t-shirt. It possessed a history of creating stir. But it had been a rush to leave the flat and I had grabbed the first items of clothe that my desperate hands fell upon.

This also explained my wearing of such an extremely tight pair of jeans. Like a second skin, they were. It was when the ugly witch missed her third cue in a row that the director asked me to follow her outside once more.

“It’s Kay. He’s fiddling with himself,” the witch had said.

I fear the bearded lady may have mistaken my ‘readjustment’ for something less innocent.

The director stated that she didn’t care whether I was masturbating or not, but she knew for sure that I was being incredibly distracting and in anybody’s book my trousers were massively inappropriate. She’d not seem them earlier as she’d been distracted by the offensiveness of my T-shirt. She told me that she knew certain men in Soho that would have hesitated to wear such trousers.

I was dismissed. She would read the few lines that remained for my character. I was told to go home, ‘sort out my head’, and buy some clothes appropriate for rehearsal. I did go home, but I didn’t say goodbye to anybody (when I returned to the rehearsal room to collect my Manbag).

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Thursday, 5th August

And I was not nervous.

I was prepared.

Sober Thursday night, I’d slipped under He-Man duvet extra early. Alcohol, I’d resisted. TV – switched off. This was a new regime, ruled by steely dictator who would suffer no insurgency. I wouldn’t oversleep through tiredness. No. I didn’t desire the proper actors to think me lazy or ill-disciplined. I didn’t want to stand out like the new kid in class with flash haircut and sexy mum. No.

This, Reader, was my first bona fide professional production. I’d flirted with amateur fringe theatre (distinct from AmDram). I’d performed comedy in Edinburgh. But I’d never been on a paid contract to emote dramatically.

And, upon this slate-skied winter morning, I was very close to being on time. Although three red buses were missed and two grey trains delayed, I arrived at the Menier Chocolate Factory (trendy South London site of rehearsal space) at 0959 – with one whole minute spare. Time enough to be early (but no time to toilet).

In Reception, however, a pug-faced security guard spunked away ten golden minutes. He claimed that my Red Box Blue Company had no booking at the complex and refused persuasion. I swore. I shook my fist. It made no difference. He asked if I were ‘mental’. And I said I was.

Five frustrating minutes passed. And my loud protestations were ignored. I made a run for the stairs. The security guard caught me in granite arms, shouted of the Police, and ordered me to leave.

I cried (acting, of course). And it was only when tears were spilled, that the (stupid) man (finally) consulted a superior on his walky-talky.

“Turns out I was wrong,” he said, after consultation. “Soz.”

I was directed to the third floor. The security guard advised against walking the stairs. He said that five people had died tripping down them in the last four years.

The lift was massive and smelt of old dogs.

My rib-cage tensed as I pushed open the set of tall, white double doors from which hung the sign ‘Red Box Blue Company – Macbeth’. But, Reader, I was ready.

The rehearsal space that opened past the doors was, disappointingly, just a large room - about the size of three tennis courts. A chunky conference table, central, dominated the area. Not one acting soul sat at it, however. They were busy with the doughnuts.

The walls were dark wood; the floor much lighter. There were no windows. The ceiling was high and caused the scrum of actors (surrounding some coffee and doughnut-loaded trolleys at the far end) to appear far shorter than they truthfully were. Their scrummy backs were turned to me. Most wore hideously fashionable slacks. One type wore braces. Later, I was to discover that this was Macbeth. Such braces should have pricked fear. Learn, Reader: never trust a man who wears braces (unless he’s over 60 or works in 1980s Wall Street).

Framed by door, I didn’t prevaricate. Yet interestingly, I headed not for the doughnuts. I had spotted the director, you see, and like an (s)Exocet missile, I shot unerringly towards her. She stood at the edge of the doughnut crowd with a frown. Target reached, I didn’t explode and kill; rather, I smiled and extended my hand. This director-woman possessed Worzel Gummidge-hair. And teeth that God had inserted as an afterthought. As she’d auditioned me and offered the part of Malcolm, I decided to look past the bad face.

I was greeted with the mock enthusiasm you’d reserve for somebody whose name you’d forgotten. I reminded her that I was to play Malcolm, King Duncan’s son. The lines on her forehead grew deeper and she asked if I were sure. I told her that I was sure. Double sure, innit.

“I’ve got letters and that,” I told her. “You sent them me.”

She called some runner to fetch her notes, which she studied at length before shaking my hand and saying ‘of course you are’. She did not smile. She murmured ‘Kay Richardson’ into her chest. And frowned further.

“You’ve cut your hair. I didn’t recognise you,” she grumbled, like some divorcee meeting dodgy ex-husband.

Yes, I had shaved my shoulder-length locks to a much more manageable justgotintobed-look. A symbolic disassociation from a past of auditional failure, it was. There followed a slight conversation as to how I should have consulted her, the director, before such a radical change of haircut.

“You didn’t employ me because of my hair, though,” I said, smiling, and she didn’t reply, but looked away.

Somebody mentioned a wig and before I could utter any response, I was left alone with only a black coffee and raspberry jam-filled doughnut to keep me company (I didn’t remember picking either up).

The doughnut was soggy. The jam was bitter.

Seconds passed before a woman approached. I could tell she was fussy as she had tiny eyes. She alleged that she was assistant director and had massive breasts. This ‘assistant director’ suggested that I took a place at the table “as everybody else had done so and I was delaying the start of rehearsal”.

Any read-through, Reader, is dull. Even my past amateur shit would bore me faceless. This reading, however, was something special. It was fucking tedious. And I was yet to visit the lavatory, which made the whole process doubly painful. The director introduced everyone around the table (she needed a reminder of my name). And, instead of listening, I wondered whether I should ask to be excused to visit the toilet. I considered whether emptying (by drinking) one of the many mineral water bottles that stood upon the conference table and then pissing into it surreptitiously (under the table) was a workable plan to alleviate the growing sting of bladder.

I decided that it wasn’t. But I didn’t ask to be excused either.

Know well: I have an abnormally low boredom threshold. This is a genuine disability. One Summer, I applied for an orange disabled parking badge. I have no car and cannot drive, but these documents fetch a wedge on the black market. (SE London is itself a MASSIVE black market – I was once offered an Uzi in a library in Eltham).

Yeah, so they started reading the play and it was dull and they were all trying to outdo each other with their Scottish accents and words just fell into words and time just mistily drifted.

A sudden moment of clarity – I’m sitting upright, my (already) dog-eared script lies on the wooden table under my hands and there is no reading of Macbeth in the air. I stop thinking about a tennis-kit-wearing teenager I saw on the train. Mouths are open with expectation. Eyes, unblinking, stare. There is much silence.

Macbeth spoke first.

“We’re waiting,” he said.

Without a Scottish accent, his true voice was reedy and dripped with private school inflection. Its ability to annoy was matched only by the ridiculously ostentatious haircut that sat upon Macbeth’s round head. It reminded me of a Peacock. I wondered if he’d asked the director’s haircut permission. Macbeth possessed the bagged-eyes of an age-denying thirty-something that had been on some rubbish BBC2 soap until last month when it was cancelled due to falling audiences. I watched it once – lots of thirty-somethings playing twenty-somethings with nothing funny to say. It was deeply shit.

I imagine he lives in Hoxton. Or Clapham. A Hoxton-wannabe. Yeah. Tennis skirt.

It was this that I thought, as he continued:

“We’ve reached the second scene, friend.”

I made some excuse – I was waiting to find the correct voice. I assured the director that I had been concentrating. I mentioned to the group that I was disabled and found it hard to concentrate when bored. There were a few sniggers.

I cleared my throat, surveyed those myriad eyes that fell on me from all angles, and began:

“This is the sergeant who like a good and hardy soldier fought 'gainst my captivity,” I said and it was bloody brilliant.

I nodded and smiled at a watching witch. I was the shit.

The director asked if I intend to portray the Scottish Malcolm with an English accent. I told her that I did. She weakly smiled, lips parting to reveal vampiric canine teeth. My body involuntarily shuddered.

The read-through lasted from 1030 until 1400. A break fell upon us at 1200. I ate the last jam doughnut (some rings remained) and drank as many cups of coffee as time allowed (seven). I spoke with no-one until the busty assistant director hassled me again to my seat at 1405, this being the precise moment that I remembered my need for the toilet. The director’s inventive plan was to read over the script once more.

J’accuse: It was Macbeth whom caused this second reading to crawl at such a ridiculous pace. He stopped after almost every (of his) line, asking the director if the delivery had been appropriate. An arm delivery of fist to face would be appropriate, said my brain. The director was always sure to congratulate Macbeth upon his ‘fab’ reading.

At twenty past one, Macbeth broke the drama and threw his script upon table with theatrical flourish. He exclaimed:

‘it’s not enough!’

Something was lacking, he declaimed. Umms followed ahhs followed umms, until Macbeth decided that it was the Lady Macbeth at the root of his worriment. He realised that he needed to sit next to her. This would enable their dynamic to evolve, he banged on.

Now I (Kay Richardson) had somehow managed to grab the seat to the right of Lady Macbeth, undoubtedly the foxiest woman in the room (think English Rose). And on her divine left sat the immovable director.

Macbeth sprang to his feet and pointed.

“You, Malcolm, swap places!” he shouted and dashed around the table, expecting me to obey.

Shaky head. I refused to move.

I was happily positioned, as it was, close to the fair Lady Macbeth. I could smell her perfume and was planning to make future chit-chat.

You see, my position was also at the prize end of the table that offered proximity to coffee and doughnuts and toilet exit. And … I was (and still am) uncomfortable with sitting in a seat that is still warm from another man’s bottom-heat.

So I crossed my arms, shouted No! and shook my head some more.

Sweet Lady Macbeth asked me, in the most angelic manner, to (please) move. She even smiled. I countered her request by suggesting that the director should shift. The director announced that she was happy with her position; it was central and afforded her sight of the whole cast.

“But it’s a round table,” said I.

The director shrugged.

There followed a few awkward minutes. A number of voices failed to cajole me into swapping positions. I saw my stagnancy as a matter of principle, and I wanted to display to the whole group (at this early stage of production) that I was NO pushover.

Silence fell.

Finally, one of the witches who had originally been sitting next to Macbeth offered to swap seats with Lady Macbeth, thus affording the Macbeths proximity. It was agreed and Macbeth grumpily returned to his original place.

In your face, I thought.

I said nothing, however.

Despite my victory, I was still pissed off. I’d lost Lady M and my new witchy neighbour was hideously annoying. She owned a triangular nose and her skin pulsed a definite green. She also mouthed others’ lines as they read. I elbowed her on three occasions to stop this.

I delivered the rest of my lines in as sulky a manner as manageable. Interestingly, I thought a moody Malcolm to be an innovative interpretation. The director, when she addressed the cast at the end of the reading, intimated that she did not concur.

And so my first day of professional acting ended. I said farewell to a few other cast members, and made doubly sure not to speak to Macbeth. I left him boring Lady M in a plastic chair.

I sat silent during the train journey home to Outer Blackheath. I wanted to tell the thirty hooded teenagers that ran up and down the aisle of my carriage from London Bridge to Lewisham to fuck off running about. I didn’t, though. I’m no hero. They probably carried blades. The youth do.