If you’ve read the book then you may remember that
- playing a part in The Importance of Being Earnest was on my original Now List, and
- near end of the book (page 209 if you have the paperback) there’s a throw away remark that could suggest that I had achieved that item.
Indeed I had.
This time last year, almost to the day, two things dominated my life. I was finishing up the first draft of How To Do Everything and Be Happy, and I was preparing to play the character of Jack Worthing in Oscar Wilde’s most famous play.
I first read The Importance of Being Earnest at the age of twelve or thirteen, in Miss Pyrah’s English Literature class. And when I say read, I mean out loud, in front of thirty or so other kids. Back then reading out loud was possibly the worst experience I could imagine. Second only to having a love-note intercepted by someone other than the intended recipient. As Miss Pyrah handed out dog-eared copies of the script she proceeded, tyrant that she was, to allocate parts seemingly at random, and of course she picked on me. I realise now her casting wasn’t random at all, and though I, along with my class mates, feared this woman who we all assumed ate small children for breakfast, she was actually showing a huge amount of favouritism by casting me first as Algernon, and later as Jack.
By the end of the first act I had fallen in love with the play. I suspect Miss Pyrah always knew I would.
So, some thirty or so years later it was kind of inevitable that it would end up on my Now List.
Saying those words again, but without the script in front of me, and as if Jack’s words were my very own thoughts – I think it’s safe to say I’ve never been more nervous about anything in my entire life. Nerves that were both eased and aggravated knowing that I was performing alongside professional actors and actresses for whom I have a great deal of awe and respect. And whilst to you it might not seem as impressive as, say, mountain climbing or hand-gliding, when I was stood in front of that audience, made up of paying members of the public, the air felt just as thin, and the stakes just as high.
It was exhilarating. Terrifying. Wonderful.
Would I do it again?
No. Never. Ever.
What about a different play?
Although… Miss Pyrah did manage to instil in me a similar love of Shakespeare. Hmmmm.
Anyway, sadly I don’t have any pictures of me actually on stage, but below are a selection of back stage photos.
If you have any acting ambitions lurking on your Now List, or if you know the whereabouts of Miss Pyrah, I’d love to hear from you. You can use the comments box below.