Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Good Fairy And The Voice Of The Future

I have a facebook friend who has a part in a pantomime. He’s posted before and after pictures of himself: dressed in his street clothes, and in make-up and costume.

The make up makes him look both more than his usual self - brighter, handsomer, more engaging - and also, strangely more like his real self. More like the inner self he maybe feels himself to be, somewhere, as we all do, yet which in normal life he never quite manages to manifest.

Looking at him made me remember my first panto - Bristol Hippodrome 1962 - which was also my first experience of professional theatre. 

And how that was what I most loved: the fact that the people on stage were recognisably people and yet also so much more. Funnier, more full of love and pathos, brighter. More vivid. Bigger. More alive.

And maybe that's how I still want my characters to be...

He’s playing Buttons from the look of him. Buttons who I used to love and feel so very sorry for. And -absurdly - I found myself feeling a pang of envy. Sadness, too: that I’ll never get to play Buttons. Not ever…

Another facebook friend, also in pant, is playing the Good Fairy. She shared a lovely story of how she was holding a little girl’s hand on stage just after the song sheet and the girl looked at her and asked:

“Are you real?”

And she thought about it a moment and then said


And then felt guilty about it, but didn’t need to.

Because of course she was. Absolutely real.

And I realised I also wanted to play the Good Fairy…

I seem to have spent a lot of energy this past week reading pant reviews and struggling with the same regretful pang.

And the same anger, too:

That an incompetent and malicious music teacher made me ashamed of my singing voice; and that a viciously prejudiced culture made me ashamed of my whole self.

And that together they prevented me, all those years ago, from really hearing the message that panto gave me. From really understanding that the stage was my artistic home and that was where I truly belonged.

But I won’t feel sad.

I’m sitting down on the plane to study Nova’s amazing, beautiful and visionary speech from Peter Handke’s “The Long Way Round” which Chris Goode wants me to perform in a reading.

A reading that forms part of his project to form a permanent Company.

It’s not quite the Good Fairy: but it is the voice of New Age, and it really excites and inspires me.

Though I doubt Chris’ll give me a big frock….

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