Today was school play day.
It reminded me of the time when I first took to the boards.
When I was a nipper, I was condemned for a year to Ring College, which is a Gulag in Waterford where they speak nothing but Irish.
At the end of October, they had a tradition where the parents were invited down for a sort of open day. This was grand for us because for one day at least we didn’t have to wear chains, and we actually got fed. Part of this open day was a play put on by the
I got a call a couple of weeks before the open day to go to the
commandant’s headmaster’s office. I knocked and entered and the commandant headmaster says to me “Say this: what is the way to Dungarvan” [in Irish, of course]. I was a bit surprised by this, because I knew he was a local and should know the way to the local town, but I didn’t fancy another week in solitary, so I told him. He got very irate and demanded that I try again. What he never bothered telling me was that this was an audition, and that I was supposed to ask with great drama, what the way to Dungarvan was. Having told him the route in great detail, several times, he finally threw me out.
With a logic that defies all explanation, I was cast in the lead role.
Of course I had a mountain of script to learn. I was never the best when it came to learning stuff off by heart, and this was compounded by the fact that it was all in a foreign language, as at that stage, my knowledge of Irish was barely sufficient to ask if I could go to the toilet.
The night of the play was a fiasco.
The hall was crowded and my time came to enter [stage left]. Naturally my mind went a complete and utter blank. I frantically whispered for some hints, but the others were as clueless as I, and I found myself wordless and clueless on a spotlit stage in front of a large hall packed with parents.
Improvisation is easy enough, unless you are doing it in a foreign language in which case it is next to fucking impossible.
The evening passed without incident. The parents hadn’t a clue what was going on anyway, as they couldn’t speak Irish either, so I survived. What’s more, I only got three weeks in solitary, with bread and water and it could have been a lot worse.
It was a long fucking time before I took to the boards again.