A good week


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Had a pretty rough night with my head exploding and not being able to breathe, and I was feeling rather vulnerable at warm-up. So I stuck to myself and prepared for a two show day. There’s a big bikers convention on just outside of Stratford this weekend, so there must have been hundreds of bikers in town this morning, showing off their metal and their leather. Somewhat incongruous with the idyllic Avon river bank, but we love those juxtapositions.

Corrine came in to tell me that her taxi-cab driver had asked her on a date. She had expressed interest in going to the big biker concert tonight after the show to take pictures, and he had asked to take her. I mean, not take her in his taxi, but take her. That gave me a good laugh and brought me marginally out of my morning funk.

A good matinee never hurts anyone. Matinee audiences are a singular lot. They are people who really enjoy the theatre. They have not won tickets from their local charity auction, or been coerced into coming by their sister-in-law’s bridge partner. They choose to spend a gorgeously sunny Saturday afternoon in the dark, listening and watching a two thousand year old story told by thirteen chicks in Hades. We love them.

Home for a quick rest in between shows. And to meet up with Hilary and Kev, and their friend Michelle, who are coming to the show tonight.

Oh. Guess who else is coming. Peggy. Oh yes. That Peggy. Dame Peggy. Hmmm. No pressure.

I can’t imagine what Penny is going through. She speaks Margaret’s voice. And she is at the end of her rope with this cold. Poor thing. But Penny Downie remains undaunted. She goes on, as do we all, and give our story to Margaret, to Hilary, to Kev and Michelle, and it is the story that we have come to own with determined dedication to our “low art”.

Penny Downie as Penelope in The Penelopiad, photo Ellie Kurttz

It is strange though. One cannot help but be conscious that the thoughts you are speaking originated in the mind of a small, curly-haired woman who is sitting in the fourth row. That she has rolled these thoughts around in her head and on her page time and again, shuffling them, defining them, refining them. And you know that the chances of your own voice echoing in any way the voice of that small, curly-haired woman, are very slim. That the relationship you have with those words is active, not reflective. That you are acting, not reading. Simple as that. Through necessity, it becomes a different language, a different voice. My voice. And so I pull the curtain, and step on to the stage, and do what I have to do with my fellow actors in any given scene. And leave Ms. Atwood out of the equation. Sorry, Peggy. I have to. That’s my job.

Dressing Table with flowers from Margaret Atwood

We met in the Duck afterwards for a drink. She seemed happy to meet us all, and pleased with the production. I’m sure it will take some time for her to digest. And perhaps we will never know her real thoughts. A few informal pictures were taken, and then I went off to have pizza with Hils, and Kev, and Michelle, who had really enjoyed the show.

These moments with my English “family” make a long week, struggling with injury and illness, worthwhile for me. It’s so great to have my childhood friend come to see me onstage, to be proud of me, and on top of that, to really enjoy the production and the story. It makes the whole experience somehow more real when it is put in context of the whole of my life. Good. A good week.



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