Wobbly lines

My Fitbit tells me about my sleep patterns, in a graphic with lots of wobbly lines. It mostly tells me that I’m going from light to REM to waking, constantly, and barely ever managing deep sleep. It’s not going to be exact but that matches with my understanding of how I sleep anyway. Deep sleep happens immediately if I’ve been drinking and lasts about an hour max. Then the psychedelic storybounce from light to dream to wake to dream for hours. If I have to drink water or wee I hold the dream state consciously. I still have a reasonable hand on the tiller when i dream. Pickle is a new sleep hazard added to the mix. As the nights are getting colder she has taken to sleeping in the crook of my arm, sometimes tucking her body under my neck. We are both warmer for it but when I roll over she clambers on me to get to the other side and even if she’s small she’s not made of helium.

I usually feel I need three sleeps in order for dialogue to really drop in when it comes to learning lines. Less for when my character’s just wittering on to himself solo. But first and foremost, the old answer to the old question. “How do you learn all those lines?” You get asked it weekly, in one form or another. The answer, in one form or another is “It’s my job.” Unless you’re bored in which case “Actors just absorb them osmotically” or “I write them on a piece of paper and shove them up my arsehole, you should try it.”

I’m doing this thing on Sunday. This acting thing thing. But because I’m not even getting expenses, part of me has put it on the bottom of every possible priority list. I did it before and had fun maybe 6 years ago. It’s not there anymore.

Many years before that – another decade maybe – I did a terrible script unpaid at a pub theatre near me, and I regretted accepting it. I didn’t do the work I should have and I damaged relationships in the process because other people did do it. Since then I’ve always maintained and enforced “If you don’t wanna do the job don’t do the fucking job.” Even if it’s not paid, if you’ve accepted it it’s still a job.

I do want to do this job. You can call it revisiting my youth. You can call it a favour for friends. I call it being on stage with people I love. But I have to start to call it work too, because the fact I’m not being paid makes me call it bullshit and that stops the passion that’s at the heart of my life drive.

So I thought I’d put it in the blog.

It’s an actor friend who has a beautiful kid with the writer. (“How you’re saying it is fine, Al, but I think the writer puts it more elegantly…”) It’s another very dear friend who now comes to The Factory and is generally pretty bloody brilliant news. I enjoy playing with both. But play comes from trust. We have one show only on Sunday, and I want no part of my existence to be searching for the next word on that stage, nor do I want them worried about that. So enough blog and time to bust it through again before I sleep fitfully with more of those wobbly lines.


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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