When I was younger, my dad was in an Amateur Dramatics society in Malawi. The play I most remember him being in was Fiddler On The Roof, in which he was the Rabbi’s son – a not exactly major part, but one for which he had to grow his beard really long! All I can remember about it was that it was good, and that I spent most of the times being shushed by my mumbecause I kept singing along!
We used to go to pantomimes staged by the same AmDram Society, and they would always make cracks about having the world’s most unpopular man (my dad – the tax inspector!!) in the audience! It was all in good fun though!
I didn’t go to plays when I was at primary school in Scotland, but when I moved to the prep school we did school plays. I narrowly missed out on The Pirates Of Penzance, as I arrived a term after they had done that! The first play I had anything to do with was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – I was the understudy for the housekeeper and in charge of props! Not the most fulfilling role, but I made the fairy cakes that were used as props, so I got to eat them too! That fulfilled me enough! It might be sour grapes, but it seems to me now, that it was always the favourite kids who got the roles. It probably was too.
The year after that, we did Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat. This time I actually did get a decent role – I was meant to be one of the brothers, but I fell out with the music teacher so he demoted me to one of the Adoring Girls, and I had little more to sing than la la la! Bastard!
We didn’t get to go and see other plays at that school very often. I remember going to see a school production of My Fair Lady at a senior school in Edinburgh – I can’t for the life of me remember which one – and it was brilliant. The only downside to that was that we were put to sleep in their San (sick bay), and the mattresses in there were made or horse hair! I’m allergic to horses, so I had a great night’s sleep!! We did go to Edinburgh occasionally to see concerts in the Usher Hall – classical music mostly, and not hugely thrilling, but a good excuse to escape the confines of the school for a while!
At senior school I was sort of involved with a nativity play – I played my flute in the little orchestra that was accompanying some girl playing Mary singing some psalm or something. My memory on this is a little hazy – my best friend at the time and I had snuck off during the break, nicked a bottle of wine, necked it and staggered back to our places! So you’ll forgive me if my memory of that night isn’t quite as clear as it could be. At least I could sit down and pretend to play my flute – my mate had to stand on stage, and very wobbly she was too!!
As for what I went to see, the only one I remember is Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw. It was quite good, but I don’t remember the story. I think we also went to see Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard – but couldn’t swear to it!
At some point during this time – I can’t remember what year exactly – we went to a local village to see our local pantomime. It was dire – in fact, if you didn’t know better, you would have thought they were taking the piss. The highlight of the evening was winning a box of Black Magic in the raffle! I have never before seen anything so embarrassingly bad!
Once I was at school in Dumfries, that was it…no more plays! I was at a proper school – i.e. one that didn’t have its head up its own arse!
The only time I have been to the theatre since, was to the opera with my friend Moses – we went to Toulouse and saw The Marriage Of Figaro.
It was brilliant – I was amazed! I’ve never been a fan of opera, but I think what impressed me was that we got our own box for about €20 each, there was a small screen above the stage with subtitles so that we could understand, and I actually knew some of the music from it! I was pleasantly surprised!
I would love to see a West End show – Mamma Mia, Joseph or My Fair Lady would be brilliant.