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.

10 comments:

Florida Girl Meets the Midwest said...

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Your posts are funny, interesting and you are a talented writer. And after I read the "you wanna sleep with me" bit I was not sure that that was what I was going to get.

I am no blog-rock star, far from it, but I did get more traffic when I committed myself to a succinct voice/style so that my readers could always count on me for the same experience on return visits - and then attempted to participate in other blogs like mine.

Best of luck on your journey.

Kay Richardson said...

Thank you for you kind words, Florida Girl. I shall search for similar blogs to mine. And, of course, return to yours!

Mad Jack said...

So you resemble the great W.C. Fields in nose only and you're carrying half an insect around on your proboscis. Little wonder people stare.

For those of us across the pond, what is Equity, and what is the significance of "Oi!"?

Nice post, by the way. If you're getting paid, you might need an agent, but be certain what the agent will do for you before you sign anything. And read the contract! If it isn't in writing, the agent won't do it. Case in point, consider the experience of Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby. She won an Oscar and couldn't afford to attend the ceremony - Eastwood helped her.

I'm still voting for ant poison in the tea. Just a tiny smidgen. Just enough to turn the fat weasel into a pretzel for the next six weeks or so. You'll never be suspected, and if you are, well, you're an actor - right? If you can't successfully lie to the police you ought to consider a new line of work.

You know, you might consider leaving a few dead ants and powder in those hard to reach places just in case shit comes to sweat. Just a thought.

Terry Stonecrop said...

Sorry about the wasp bite. Ice on the area also helps. So do antihistamines but they can make you groggy.

Hope things go better tomorrow. And good luck with Rosalind:)

H.J. Hancock said...

I like how you smell everyone. The Fifth Sense.

Kay Richardson said...

Thanks for your advice, Mad Jack. Equity is the actors' union in the UK.

Terry! Your advice is gratefully received too. I prefer your legs to Mad Jack's.

If I were to smell you, HJH, I bet the scent would be heavenly.

litlstrawberry said...

^^ You seem a very humorous guy...w/ a bit sarcastic.

I'd agree that acting is a noble profession... I took acting classes last year and it was FUN!! I think I am going to take more...just to have the FUN out of it. :P

oh, do let me know if you ever invent one robot who sew clothes automatically. lol.

Carolyn said...

Thankyou for visiting my blog.
I love your writing style. Maybe if things with Rosalind don't work out the next great London novel could be your thing!
An actor in London sounds so exotic and exciting compared to my lifestyle... though the nitty gritty of tubes, Macduffs and wasps brought reality back with a bit of a thud! Wasp stings are naaaasty... hope you remain painfree.

Kay Richardson said...

Little, your words are as pretty as your face. Thanks for reading. I shall let you know re: robot.

Kay Richardson said...

Carolyn, many thanks. I don't think writers are as attractive to women as actors, so that's a decision I will have to delay. Many thanks for your fingers and eyes for the words and the reading.