The Acting Class
by Peter Cheevers
Published by Ether Books 2016
I know what I will do, that's it - got my weekends planned. Living as I do in a sleepy shire, (one hour out from London). I decide I will attend an acting class each weekend in the ‘big smoke’.
So I arrive in London, it is 9 a.m. and I stroll around Soho before the class begins, soon I am hit on by the homeless like birds flapping for pickings around a land-fill; one in a surprising display of linguistics compliments me on my 'elegant attire’,
I tell him to cut the bollocks as I hand him my small change.
The tutor at the acting class is quickly revealed to be uber talented, speedily she puts her finger on the minutiae of one's physical over compensations and failings; ‘no frown acting’ she opines; ‘stop trying to look concerned with that look at me I am really thinking face, no compensatory hand in the pocket acting; don't try to make yourself secure in that way and don't compensate by jutting out your chin, and when you are trying to be casual don't lean against the wall, in that studied casual way and no eyebrow acting.’ Right.
Then she is on to the classics, and the iambic pentameter of da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM of William Shakespeare's Sonnet 12: When I do count the clock that tells the time.
The students try the Sonnet out; it doesn’t take our tutor long; ‘don’t stop to admire your delivery, leave your inner critic alone and stop monitoring yourself and don’t go on reset for the next line and don’t be scared by the sound of your own voice; no need to get into character that's’ all so Terence Rattigan 30s repertory acting’; a student tries an American accent ‘noo, no, no’ she chides, ‘American accents always start in a high register, ‘Hey, you guys’ she emits as if abseiling from atop a mountain. "All these don’ts, what am I do?" "Just be!" she advises me and you know she is on the money.
Earlier on she had talked about how she admired scientists and how their discoveries are just part to the next discovery, 'relative truths', then, I don't say because if I do argue with her I would probably do so leaning against a supportive wall in that self protective way with my hand in my pocket, to give out the appearance I am in control and casual about it too and there would be my knitted brow to demonstrate I was really thinking about what I was saying and that chin of mine jutting out in a display of compensatory assertion. So, I don't say anything as I think of my day job in the ‘real’ world; of being harried on overcrowded trains on the way to and from work and compare it to the relevance of non eyebrow acting.
Just be’, ho hum, easier said than done. I conclude this is a perceptive and very talented person, until she muddies the waters and starts offering 'truths' on the current UK political landscape and what then becomes evident is the lack of rigour in her lazy argument and that easily arrived at claim to the 'truth' for her views. No room then for ‘truths’ being relative, or truth being a precious commodity, just the claim that her views are the truth, that will brook no argument, her finger wagging response to my slight offerings on her views highlights the weakness of her argument.
‘We are all the same and that is that’ she avers, as she lays claim to some idealised universalism. I am amazed as she has already made it known to the class she is gay, so you are you the same, exactly the same as the person who wishes to throw you off a roof because of your sexuality but one gives up in the face of the mind numbing mantra 'it is the truth'.
The other 'actors' are a rag tag who appear to be almost manic in their desire to perform and be seen by their fellows to do so; no sensitive hesitation then from these 'actors'; rather cruelly I am afraid, it passes my mind that these people should be in therapy, when they are not seeking out job seekers allowance which I find out in a discreet census in the tea break that most of them are. It becomes almost unbearable to watch them and the talented tutor’s endless indulging of them. Astonishingly I find out at the lunch break that most of them have agents. Whaaat! Who said that the acting profession is replete with stupidity? What a scurrilous thing to say about that 'sensitive' group of people and their oh so perceptive agents. As for that truly talented tutor, if only she would have heeded ‘cobbler, stick to thy last’ and stuck to her remit.
I cut the class short and steal away, deeply disappointed, ah well, just have to think of something else to do for the weekends. Now, there is this Cookery class I have been looking at...