The stage is never spotlit. The backdrop is never a black canvas against which you stand out, bringing colour to the opacity of nothingness. The air does not buzz with anticipation.
Seats are half-filled, attentions latch on and off like flies tongues around mounds of dung. The only eyes that look at you are really searching beyond you, through you, to a hidden figure which they hope will fill the stage with an animated vigour of potential. Those eyes are yours. Staring, through the smudged oil stains of a bedroom mirror as you practice your lines, alter your voice, raise and lower your hands in the mock performance of your life, before you enter stage right.
I wonder whether one is a ‘performer’, or actually an individual artisan? If you’ve cultivated a reputation as a singer, then the wire mesh head of a micro-phone does not leer at you, jesting, but smiles expectantly. Yet, when you dare to remove the melody and simply speak the lyrics, it begins to distort itself. The natural body shapes that give a presence to the performance, become ungainly, awkward, mistimed and mis-judged. It almost feels as though someone is daring you to strike out into another field of – performance.
Yet Billy did say that all the world’s a stage, and we are merely players – so taking on a new role shouldn’t seem too dire…