Saturday, April 12, 2008

There's a moment in "Life is a Dream" I always find intensely moving.
It's towards the end of act two: Segismundo has been drugged and returned to his prison cell.
The idea is to deceive him into thinking that everything he has experienced in the palace was a dream.
The old man who has been his jailer suggests to Segismundo that he tries to behave better, perhaps even be kind in the future. Because
"The good you do is never lost.
Not even in dreams..."
It's possible to read that very cynically; but, romantic as I am, I've always taken it to express a profound truth.
After the firat night of the Dublin performance, Olwen Fuoere, the wonderful actor who was Rosaura in the first production, told me that Selina Cartmell was sending me greetings.
She had directed Olwen in an amazing production of 'Macbeth' everyone was talking about.
The name rang such a bell, but I couldn't remember who she was.
And then after the second performance, Ronan Leahy, who's a very wonderful Astolfo in this production, told me the same thing.
"You taught her, apparently", he said.
And then I remembered: it was at Glasgow.
It was a brief and for me pretty horrible time I was a lecturer in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Glasgow University.
I'd gone for the job out of desperation because I simply could not get enough work to keep my family (I'd become chronically unfashionable) and then when it came down ot it, I just hated it.
I hated travelling to Glasgow, I hated teaching Theatre as an academic subject, and above all I hated setting and marking exam questions. (That summer I'd marked more than 300 exam essays).
But the one thing I had enjoyed was teaching this small group of first year students.
And we'd devised, if I remember right, some performance based on Rumpelstiltskin.
And Selina, I'm sure now, was in that group.
She was really gifted, and I'd felt a real pang on leaving that job that i was also leaving her.
Ronan said: "She said you taught her to hold out for what you really believe. And always be true to it".
I don't remember doing that at all, but if I did that then somehow I managed to communicate something good.
And while dreaming: a bad dream, a nightmare. When life seemed pretty senseless mostly, and I was doing what i hated.
That was another of the gifts being with Rough Magic gave me.
I remember coming to the conclusion then, as I have just had to come to the same conclusion now, that I had to get out of the job because it was damaging me.
And that something better would turn up.
Which it did.
I need to remember that, too, just now.


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