Legs Akimbo Pt. 3. Horror's End   Leave a comment

Right, can’t be arsed to be too long-winded, but:

So we get out of the assembly horror and have a bit of respite, but I feel so shitty and ashamed that it doesn’t really feel like it. It was a bit like being in a fire and then getting out of the fire, but horribly burnt. At this point the kids had to write out some scenarios for us to act out later on, and so my fellow thesps and me had a little while to go and y’know, relax. What we ended up doing was watching a little film that somebody had put together of Caroline, Lucy and a PROPER MALE ACTOR doing their stuff AS IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN. The good and gentle KID SEX DRAMA FACILITATOR guy had it on his laptop. I felt inadequate and foolish sitting alongside him, because I knew he must have been wondering what the hell I was doing pretending I could act. He probably thought it was an episode of Faking It being filmed for Channel 4. The Snapshot Theatre Company promo on the laptop was disturbingly different from my subjective experience, especially the bloke, whose effortless ability to provide a low-key simulation of real-life seemed designed to put the seal on my status as FAILED HUMAN forever. It was sort of interesting, albeit in a dreadful way, to see how it was done properly, however, and so I tried to gird my loins (or whatever it is) and vowed to at least attempt to copy aspects of what he was doing, like not visibly shaking and speaking in a real voice and so on.
Eventually the kids’ scenarios arrived. There seemed to be a fine line between the OK one’s that had tried to grapple with the task assigned and some sort of Daily Mail reader’s nightmare of what sex education might bring out of or put into kids’ minds. I’d been quite impressed with the kids in the assembly and their input, of which more later, but left to their own devices a significant number seemed to think they’d been asked to write a porn film that was also a tragedy. A worrying number, for instance, felt the presence of more than one female in the cast obviously called for them to tackle the issue of lesbianism. More than one of the scripts ended with one of the girls being unsure of their sexuality, pregnant, and suicidal. The more extreme the scenario, the less sure I felt of my ability to attempt to act it out, and not run away like a craven dog. My only hope, as I saw it, was to get some serious rehearsal underway so that I could at least know what I was doing, even if I was doing it incredibly badly. Unfortunately Caroline (and especially Lucy) were so confident in their abilities, if not in mine, that they seemed to regard the idea of preparation as a tiresome chore. It probably was a bit of a chore for them, especially as they’d decided to more or less ignore the kids’ scripts and act out some scenarios they’d done many times before.

However, once we finally got down to it, rehearsal seemed to be a gradual process of me becoming worse and worse rather than better, as each time I returned to what I’d just fucked up it felt more ridiculous to attempt verisimilitude. It was very frustrating. I had to pretend to be a 15 year old who just isn’t ready for sex. Lucy convinces Caroline that the reason I’ve invited her round is to mount a brutal assault on her maidenhood, but in actual fact I just want to watch a video. It seemed a bit implausible to me, and I suspected that the audience might do too, especially the boys. Caroline has to jump on me for an awkward snog, twice, and I have to laughingly push her away, bewildered by her attentions. I just couldn’t get the fucking thing right. I’d seen matey do it in the video and he was brilliant. Mind you, he was doing it front of about 10 people, and I was about to perform for 300 (they split the assembly in two for two separate sessions). Anyway, the rehearsal, such that it was, sucked a lot, and I didn’t feel any better about the prospects for the rest of the day. What’s more my lack of confidence seemed to have infected Caroline, who, flustered by my ineptitude, kept ballsing things up as well. I feared the worst, or more of it anyway.

Actually, in the end it wasn’t so bad. I improved eventually. I discovered some determination when all the terror ran out, and since being awful was more uncomfortable than being bad, I tried to struggle for the latter. Apart from fucking up royally on the hotseat in the first session when I was asked if I’d had sex before (this was the scenario where I was meant to be virgin-boy) and, panicking, and thinking of the second scenario where I was meant to have done “it” once, I replied “yes, once”, which made a mockery of the purpose of the thing, and caused all sorts of hideous plot rupture situations that the kids may or may not have been aware of. There was also a bit where I had to shout “slag!” at Lucy with some venom, and I was so wound up about having to do this in front of loads of teens and their teachers in an assembly hall that I think I went a bit over the top, and my genuinely raw emotional state came through as some kind of unfettered psychosis. The kids liked that bit though. They cheered!
All in all however, I was still fucking rubbish at acting, and that has given me pause for thought. You see I’ve sometimes wondered whether I might be able to act, since my pop career seems so slow to build and my other professional qualifications are few. My experience that day made me reconsider, as I’m sure you’ll understand. Later on that night, smoking spliffs in front of the football, I found myself marvelling at the slickness of the pundits, and since then I keep feeling an awful empathy with all sorts of TV people. There are a lot of cunts on TV, but I feel that the general public might not always be aware of hard it is to be a cunt sometimes.

Lastly, just wanted to mention how bizarre it was to re-enter a school environment after quite some time. Apart from the horror, it would have been a pleasant surprise, and it gave me some hope for my own child’s educational experience. In recent years I’d revised my position on state schooling from seeing it as a necessary evil to instead considering it to be an evil evil, and I’d started to wonder whether my kid mightn’t be better off learning how to bake bread under the tutelage of some witless earth mother than having his soul crushed by all the awful, soul-crushing things that proper school has to offer. Anyway, the Bottisham experience gave me some hope, firstly via matey’s SEX SPEECH, which I’ve mentioned before, and then due to the kid’s themselves. In particular I was amazed at how willing they were to join in with the interactive element of the SEX DAY. I remember back in the day at my school we had some visitors from the music department of the senior school (to which we would soon be transferring) who were trying to give a flavour of what to expect should we choose to take music. To this end some beardy bloke tried to get 300-odd kids to sing Yellow Submarine. And we wouldn’t. Nobody opened his or her mouth. So he desperately tried again with some encouraging clapping gestures. And again. Silence. Then he left and we all got bollocked, which was nothing to what the humiliation of singing would have been. Even when I was at university I remember seminars where nobody would speak, even when it was obvious that some people had actually done the reading and knew exactly what to say. In three years of seminars I don’t think I personally ever spoke without being asked to. To me this indicates a lack of maturity to which I can only attribute the mistaken belief that I would be able to stand up in front of hundreds of people and pretend to be a professional actor.

So I was quite surprised to hear the kids piping up with what they were supposed to say, a bit like proper adults or something. They didn’t seem to think it was uncool, and they didn’t sound uncool when they did speak, at least not to me. In fact it was almost like it was the cooler, brighter kids that did join in and make suggestions. Of course a couple of kids made wisecracks, but personally I was glad o
f the light relief, and I had to stop myself grinning in case it encouraged them. So, yeah, the kids are alright. I was fucking glad to get in that car at the end of the day though, even if Lucy does drive like a maniac. Watch out for yer drama types. They’re not on the level.

Posted July 11, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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