The show is over. Closing Night is something of a sacred thing for actors, a time where The Line that one is allowed, in fact encouraged, to go right up to the edge of but never cross, is smudged and smeared into the straight and narrow path, and we latter-day acolytes of Dionysus test the limits of our own discipline and memory by willfully incorporating as many chaotic improvisations as we can think of, the aim being to see how long we can run while simultaneously trying to trip ourselves – and, at least inadvertently, each other – up. It’s kind of perverse in a way. A bit like going right back to the beginning, the early rehearsals where you’re just supposed to throw things out there and see what works and throw away the rest; Closing Night is where all of those thrown-away things boomerang back with gathered momentum and take their place on the stage with you, welcome or not.
It’s a bit like finishing a manuscript, and then adding in all the bits that you cut out during the drafting process to send away to an agent.
Well, no, not really. It’s kind of its own thing. That’s the nature of live performance: it is a living thing, and it never stops changing.
I’m always skeptical about doing shows when I’m trying to commit to other things. Like study. Or novel revision. And sure enough, I got very little of either of those things done over the last three days, which I made myself promise I would use for both of those things. Or at least the study bit. I mean I did a bit, but it was a reading I was meant to have done earlier in the week anyway, so how much it ‘counts’ is a dubious calculation at best.
But I’m glad I did this show. I needed to act again. I had a small, precise part, something I could sink my teeth into without having to remember a whole ton of stuff, and I had a lot of fun doing it. It was very flattering to be asked to come in and fill the role when the original actor had to quite due to work commitments (who is, incidentally, a brilliant actor and directed me in my favourite role I’ve ever played, Giles Corey, in The Crucible), and an absolute delight to get to work with such a talented and committed cast and crew, many of whom I have had the privilege of working with before as well.
I could say that acting is another form of storytelling and that’s what’s so great about it, but it’s nothing so abstract or philosophical as that, truth be told. Acting makes my blood flow. That’s really all there is to it. That’s why I do it. Everything else is just a bonus.
And now I have a void where the show used to be, and I need to try and let myself not rush to fill it. I need to let myself reach outwards instead of pour inwards, to expand instead of contract, and return to the other things that I was absorbed in the enjoyment of before the play, and the people in it. Study. Tallulah. Evenings to fill with application, mornings to rise into and stretch out from through the rest of the day, the week, the year, the moment. Other things. Things that have their own places. I need to let them stay in those places, and let this void have its own.
Because for all the disruption that this has caused me in terms of focus and my budding schedule, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Later. Like next year later. But still.
And honestly, I haven’t really missed any more study than usual this week. I’ve never used weekends for it up to this point. However, I haven’t had assignments to do either, so the next couple of evenings are going to be so much fun. Time to catch up. I’m worried that the quality of my work is not going to be particularly great. But if I’ve learnt anything from the past year and two-thirds of writing, it’s that doing the work and letting it be what it is is not just the hardest part, but also the most satisfying, the most affirming. To let go, and keep going.
Here’s to a flipton of writing.