I started today with Shakespeare. If this is the start of an onslaught of such content this year, I shall be happy.
The video (for those that do not want to click) is the English actress Joanna Lumley – who I think is just fabulous – doing the ring speech from Twelfth Night, a speech that many, many directors have had to endure over the years from hopeful auditioners. It is a great speech, with loads of punch that an actor can use to show off both their comic and dramatic skills. Viola, dressed as a man has been sent to deliver a message on behalf of her master (who believes she is a boy) to Olivia with whom her master is in love. Olivia is not the slightest bit interested in his affections but on seeing Viola in disguise, falls madly and mistakenly in love and from there hilarity ensures.
I did once audition for drama school but as usual went about it the wrong way. I did not ask anyone to help me and so prepared both pieces with no direction and no feedback. That speech was the one I was going to do and even now the rhythms and inflections of my intended performance are burned into my memory so it was a joy to watch which lines Ms Lumley threw away and which she held on to. I love a good throw-away line, possibly because I have been complimented more than once on my ability to deliver them.
Of course the audition went horribly wrong. A week or so before I was due to go in, I bought a book of female monologues -Shakespearean monologues and dropped everything when I read the speech by Lady Macbeth which begins, ‘The Raven himself is hoarse / that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan/ under my battlements..’ It was the language was what lured me in, but it did not occur to me to read the rest of the play before the big day. I am no Lady Macbeth, that is for sure. Cross-dressing and identity confusion, tick. Dramatic anti-heroine and sexy wife UHHUH [you know: the noise that they make on that panel show when the family guesses the wrong answer].
So I flunked horribly and never tried again, but it did prompt me to leave the country and travel to London where I lived for six months going to the theatre in the West End all the time so it was kind of worth it. The plan was to return triumphant and audition again, but I never did.
So, inspired the morning started with thoughts on how to present a number of pieces. There were loads I would like to do, but how? There is no point in just doing them to camera – for a start, I am no Joanna Lumley and also why would I do that when The Guardian seem to be gearing up for a series themselves? Then I thought maybe I could do them as voice overs, but to what? I don’t have the patience to stop-animate Lego figures (plus I can’t afford them – Christ, Lego is expensive!) and I am not at all good at drawing so that drawing-continuously-on-a-piece-of-paper thing while narrating, which looks cool and easy but is actually pretty difficult would also be out of the question. By this time two hours had past, I had walked the dogs and was late for work. So I went to the office and the second I stepped out of the lift, the idea completely left my head. It was like entering a creativity vacuum. All thoughts of Shakespeare just evaporated like dry ice.
On the way home, I was driving behind a truck. Clearly some truck drivers had been concerned about car drivers’ lack of awareness about how long it takes to stop a truck and had decided to address this with stickers. There were two on the back of this truck. ‘Only IDIOTS,’ they started, then obviously someone was inspired by design to amend the shouty capitals, ‘Only IDIOTS’ [yeah that is much better – Ed], ‘Only IDIOTS cut in front of of trucks.’
Now I was not expecting Shakespeare, but just how much good did they expect this to do? For a start to read the sticker, you would have to be tailgating the truck anyway, and as we all know, only IDIOTS do that and for seconds, if I was going to be the sort of idiot that is going to cut in front of a truck, then I the last place I would be looking is on its back doors, because I would be more concerned with watching the tiny gap ahead into which I planned to squeeze myself seconds before a dirty great big truck rammed itself into the back of my car.
Nice try, truckies, but I am afraid you are about as far away from setting the world alight with language as I was at being Lady Macbeth. That’s showbiz.