Tonight, something new. I’m on stage with Theatre Wakefield’s A Christmas Carol.
You know, Uncle Scrooge before he was a duck. This is my first time acting since I was in grade school. I’ve always wanted to try it, but the closest I’ve come was professional wrestling school for an article for Smoke magazine. I finally contacted my local community theatre group, and here we are.
This is different. The total reliance on others, and the very public reliance of others on you, is intense. It shares a lot with team sports, but one person on stage has much more ability to screw the whole thing up than any one person on any field.
I’d never really known this story. I mean, I knew the story: mean old miser, bunch of ghosts, Tiny Tim, and redemption. My only actual experience of it was some old black and white snippets. It always seemed so cheesy. I didn’t even know it was a Dickens story. But being a Dickens’ story, it is quality. Scrooge is simply one of the great character’s of story. I had imagined him as being over the top and one dimensional, but, in this script at least (adapted by a Theatre Wakefield member), he is very real, very well drawn, sharp and funny and not any less evil. Again, I imagined the redemption arc to be contrived and forced, but Dickens was better than I credited him (or whoever I thought it was).
All of this new understanding of what a great story this is, and the great actors I was working with to bring it to life, made my other realization about stage acting all the worse: being backstage for all but my small bits, I don’t ever get to see the show.
Acting is a trip. A rush, a high. On stage, you are so in the moment, and the moment itself seems charged with electricity. Afterwards, the electricity stays in you. I remember in Slings & Arrows, the brilliant show about a small-town, big-name theatre company (now available on Netflix), Paul Gross’ character reminisces about playing Hamlet or Romeo opposite his real-life (in the show) girlfriend, and how they’d rush home afterwards for supercharged sex. I get it. I get the love and addiction theatre people have. It is an essential experience.