The Autograph Hunter

I walked onto stage at The Hammersmith Lyric tonight full of the confidence of spring. And the audience walked alongside like a good friend.They laughed and listened alternately. This was going to be a brilliant performance I could feel it in my bones. Then came the car crash moment: I froze. The words left my head like sparrows from the roof they disappeared into the wide blue sky.

 I entered the twighlight zone. “don't leave me” I thought “not now”. I wondered where I was “your on stage lemn” or why I was there “you're doing a play” and who they were “they are the audience” and what had just happened “Lines lemn, you forgot your freaking  lines”

Eventually I blurted out some kind of improvised line and from there the whole performance crumbled into a steaming pile of me. It was excruciating. It's a one man show and there's only one man to blame. Tomorrow night is press night and I am dreading it. i want to run away, get my bags, empty my bank account and dive onto a plane.

In the dressing room a lone brown envelpe sits by the mirror. The bulbs that surround the mirror are harsh. I look at myself then down to the envelpe which I tear open. It fills me with sadness with its stamped addressed envelope, scrawled note. “I am an autograph hunter and would appreciate it if you could sign a photograph of yourself or this blank card”. The blank card has fallen onto the floor.

5 thoughts on “The Autograph Hunter

  1. Lemn, lovely Lemn…(you don't know me nor I you, but by putting yourself on the line on stage, I know you are…).
    Isn't that art and life in a nutshell?…as Edward Bond once said: “Art is a lie that tells the truth” and the truth is that life is messy and painful and tricky and in the end, whatever we experience here in the UK pales into insignificance in the face of life for Gazans or indeed the majority of people on the planet…as a quote I heard on Radio 4 has it…”the world, for most people in it, is bungled desolation”…and yet and yet…go and see 'Milk' or 'Slumdog Millionaire' and reconnect with the vitality of being alive and talk about that…talk about drying on stage whilst it is happening (think Eddie Izzard / Billy Connelly)… And remember above all, it's by truly, truthfully communicating to the audience and wanting passionately that they should understand what you are saying that, as a by-product, you will impress the critics….NOT by setting out to impress them….
    Like every so-called 'good' actor and 'good' teacher does….it's the laser-like concentration on communicating with the co-learners about life and why life matters that leads to the epithet 'good'. In fact, the more one wants the praise of the critics / students…wants to be seen as a 'good' actor/teacher/performer…the less likely it is to happen….it's like 'peace'…it happens when you get other things right…not when you are trying to 'make' it….
    I'm coming to the Lyric on Friday night to see and hear YOU, not a 'show'….but to hear and see how a poet is reacting to / be-ing in this brilliant and fucked-up world…
    Go well,
    PS. Ay me….back to the funding application I should be writing…!

  2. Hi there Tag, just to make it clear though I shalln't be reading poetry I shall be performing my one man show. It's about an hour long. It is scripted and directed by John McGrath.

  3. Yep….knew that before I booked…but the person performing it is still you…and even if its John McGrath's shaping, it's your physical and emotional being that is doing the communicating….
    Hope Wednesday evening's experience was less stressful…looking forward to Friday…
    Keep going well,

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