The age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Life's a bitch

I can still feel the blood pounding in the back of my head. My hands have been balled up into fists for so long I’m finding it difficult to type and I have a series of crescent shaped marks in the soft flesh of my palm left by my own fingernails. My eyes are bloodshot, my jaw is cramping and my teeth have been ground down to powder.

I wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

This morning I had the ‘pleasure’ of sharing my commute to work with three young actors from Birmingham’s esteemed School of Acting. These charming individuals spent the entire 20 minute bus ride complaining loudly in identical, theatrical automaton voices about every single other person on their acting course. No stone was left unturned in their seemingly eternal quest to root out every glitch, every weakness, every wrong inflection and mispronunciation in their colleagues’ performances.

“Did you see Rachel’s attempt at Juliet in her showcase? You know some people just can’t cope with classical texts, I don’t know what they were thinking giving it to her. It’s such a gift of a role and she does nothing with it.”

This kind of talk went on for the duration of my time on the bus. Discussed clearly and unashamedly for everyone to hear. Each of their friends were considered in turn before being summarily dismissed; picked apart and dissected using the blunt tools of a theatrical vocabulary cannibalised from A-level Theatre Studies set texts and applied with all the finesse of Neanderthal man learning to cross-stitch. What utterly contemptible morons. Not once did they turn the dim spotlight of their 2-watt critical facilities on themselves. In fact, as far as they were concerned, and by some astronomical coincidence, we, the humble bus-riding travellers of Birmingham, were luckily enough to be sharing our morning commute with the only three perfect exponents of theatrical technique that the BSA had ever seen. Even within the group a vile game of one-upmanship was being played out, with passing allusions to their own genius dropped in among the general vitriol, poison and unthinking crap they were spouting. All topped off with the pathetic caveat ‘Of course I love the girl but…’ as if this would make the whole insidious conversation any more palatable.

I hate this aspect of theatre. I hate the bitchiness, the insecurity, the need to beat down others to make yourself feel talented. What’s the point? Surely theatre is a collaborative art form which benefits immeasurably from a tight, supportive company intent on making each other look good? It’s moments like this that make me thank God that I didn’t follow my youthful dreams and fight tooth and nail to act professionally. Those idiots on the bus haven’t even finished their training and they’re already well schooled in the cowardly art of two-facedness. Do drama schools now teach Bitching as a module alongside Stage Combat and Lecoq?

And I have to say it makes me doubly grateful for how lucky I’ve been with amateur companies like the Crescent. The one-upmanship is still undoubtedly there but its tempered by an atmosphere of encouragement, support and a general ineffable joy in being able to practise the art of theatre. Perhaps as acting becomes a job that joy fades and all that is left are the harsh comments and bruised egos.

Of course there’s a twist in the tail and it’s one that I’m aware means I lose the moral high ground forever. Because by another astronomical coincidence I’d seen that trio of actors before. At a series of showcases at the Crescent Theatre of all places.

And they were shit.


Blogger Layla said...


What a funny story!! :)

8:57 pm  

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