I spent this morning as a ten year old boy from the southern states. We were supposed to be in a tree house, but the budget didn’t stretch to that. We had to make do with a portacabin. Considering I’ve rehearsed in a shipping container, it was a step up but it still felt a bit like I was being trafficked. I met someone for the first time, shook them by the hand politely, and five minutes later we embarked on a journey from first meeting, to becoming friends, to me teaching her to read, to her being unexpectedly bludgeoned to death by her father. Most of my friendships at that age were less complicated than that. Although there was that one time…

Central School of Speech and Drama is one of the (too) many drama schools in London, and a good one. I cancelled my audition there when I’d been offered my place at Guildhall as I loved Guildhall and there was no way I was putting myself through that hell again once I had a good place. But some of my most beloved artistic collaborators trained there, and some of my friends teach there now. So today I was employed by one to help the MA writers develop their scripts. The game is: Get actors. Actors read script. Ask actors questions about detail. Notice where it’s inconsistent or unclear. Rewrite.

It’s lovely to be instrumental in the development of these future practitioners and to see the concerns of their work. And in this collaborative medium it’s always useful for them to get some distance from what they’ve written. You often hear the teachers say: “You see! The actors agree with me that that bit is unclear to everyone but you.”

In the evening we got a promotion and moved up to the boardroom at the top of the school. We sat around a long table surrounded by framed headshots of noted alumni over the years. Under the scrutiny of dear dear poor dear Sir Larry, we read two episodes of a television family comedy. It was a bit like Brewster’s Millions in Essex on speed. Then more discussions culminating in a trip to the pub.

The temporary fellowships are some of the most striking parts of doing this for a living. You have to make friends quickly. Melissa the director is an old mate. I met her in a field some 8 years ago. She was sick and I was horrible. Somehow we kept each other. Also one of my oldest friends was there because I suggested her. We did Private Lives forever ago in Norfolk. Very flat, Norfolk. She’s ace. Doesn’t get blogs though, she told me. Nor do I to be honest. But somehow I’m still going. Mike is an actor I run alongside periodically. I’ll see him again soon I’m sure. We had the same agent some time ago and crop up a lot for one another. But the actors who played my friend in the first piece, my children, my sister… We all met tonight and had to go from 0 to 60 in ten seconds. I love it. It makes me forever inpatient with social niceties. It’s ruined me for society dinners where there are doilies and interaction has come down to a question and answer checklist. But I don’t get invited to them so it’s not really an issue.

Here’s our portacabin. Jo, my old mate, took it. She says the composition is excellent. And she did A Level photography…


Oops. Clicked submit instead of schedule. Hey how. Early one today.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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