Mcphereson The end of June
It’s the end of June and Summer is finally here. Many of my compardres have already departed for sunnier climbs; Connery is in Egypt, Moore has gone to Barcelona and Jacobi is being taken up the Urals by some mountaineers.
Alas, such travel is beyond me these days. Not that I haven’t ventured. I have ventured a great deal personally and professionally. I don’t think there’s a town in the UK which I have not appeared in in some production or another. Certainly many of them still remember me. My appearance in one long dust covered play was described as ‘a tour de force of the eternal human condition. Or it seemed eternal’.
One thing and actor must be able to do is portray the human condition. Be it happy, sad, angry, betrayed, envious, confused or some of the other emotions I can’t think of right now but I am sure they are around. I often use a technique I learned in drama college. “When you want to show sad, Tarquin” said old Macklby, our drama lecturer “remember something sad”. And it worked. That evening in a production of Antigone, I thought of something sad. In fact, I thought of several of the saddest moments of my life and ended up apologising to the King of Thebes for not doing my technical drawing homework.
But it is a technique I like to pass on to younger actors. “Think of something tragic” I say. This resulted in one of my students performing what I believe modern parlance to be a ‘killing’ performance of Hamlet that very night. I won’t name him, bless him, and I don’t want to imply that his success on television, radio and indeed in films is down solely to my gently coaxing out his inner Thespian. It would be wrong to suggest that all the awards and plaudits and praise should be mine also, and far be it from me to even postulate that his millions of pounds, beautiful wife, luxuary lifestyle is totally and utterly traceable back to advice in that toilet in Grimsby.
For myself it is the art that is important. I have no time to write lectures and acceptance speeches anyway. I simply find that awards and all the glamour and glitz that go with it to be too far removed from the art itself. How many of those awards have resulted in a true portrayal of a down at heel bookmaker, addicted to crack, on the streets forced to service businessmen to glean a small token sum for his next fix? I couldn’t portray that role, even if it were offered, knowing that on my mantelpiece I have a trophy which screams ‘YOU ARE THE BEST’. It would distract me. And then there’s the obvious production and crew who love to see these awards, and you would have to take it in and they would all be in awe and then you would have the extra burden of being convincing on camera/mic/stage/in the marquee knowing they all know this is not the real you, no matter how true to life and tear jerking your performance.
No, keep your awards, I say. Don’t even mention me. For me, ‘tis the art that is important. The ripping of the shroud from the dark corners of the human psyche, the revelation of who we all are, and how far we could all fall, that is the key, the reason, the truth.